Stellantis South Africa (SA) has just added its entrant to the bakkie wars in South Africa – the Jeep Gladiator.
The pickup is available in only one model in the domestic market, namely the Rubicon.
“Unquestionably a double cab and instantly recognisable as a Jeep, the all-new Gladiator is the ultimate vehicle for any outdoor adventure,” says Stellantis South Africa MD Leslie Ramsoomar.
“There has been tremendous demand for this unique vehicle from our loyal Jeep customers and double-cab buyers all over the world. South Africans’ affinity to pickups or bakkies is well established and we believe the Gladiator offers them a true lifestyle alternative in this popular segment.”
What could probably appeal to the local market the most in comparison with the domestic competition is the US product’s versatility.
A four-bolt design at the top of the windshield’s frame allows for the windscreen to fold down.
A header bar connects the A-pillars and stays in place when the windscreen is folded down. This allows the rearview mirror to remain where it is when the windscreen is folded down.
The windscreen is not the only removable bit.
Lightweight aluminium doors feature the Torx bit size stamped directly onto the hinge to eliminate guessing which size bit is needed to remove the doors.
A tool kit with the necessary Torx bits to remove the doors and lower the windscreen is provided as standard equipment.
The Gladiator also features body-colour sport bars, which are welded to the body and feature integrated grab handles for front occupants.
A Sunrider soft top provides an open-air option, and allows for partial and fully open top positions.
The soft top features retainers that slide into a track for rear window removal.
There is also a black three-piece hardtop which offers more options for open-air driving.
Two Freedom panels and quick-release latches enable a fast removal and installation of the hardtop. The hardtop features a manual rear-sliding window.
What all of this provides is dozens of different door, top and windshield combinations.
When it comes the cargo bed, the tailgate is damped and capable of stopping in three positions, while cargo can be secured with a power-locking tailgate.
The carbo bed also has under-rail lighting and integrated tie-downs. A Trail Rail Cargo Management System provides additional storage options to organise and secure cargo.
The full-size spare tyre and mount is located under the bed, behind the rear axle and can hold up to a 35-inch tyre.
The Gladiator’s load bed is lined with a scratch-resistant layer and a roll-up rigid loading cover.
The Jeep Gladiator makes use of a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine delivering 209 kW of power and 347 Nm of torque.
It is engineered to provide a broad torque band with a focus on low-end torque, as required for extreme off-roading.
The Gladiator utilises an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The vehicle has an approach angle of 43.6o, a breakover angle of 20.3o, a departure angle of 26o, and ground clearance of 249 mm (to the rear diff).
The body-on-frame vehicle allows for up to 800 mm of water fording, up to 2 721 kg of towing and 693 kg of 4x4 payload capacity.
Safety features include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, a rear back-up camera, adaptive cruise control and electronic stability control with electronic roll mitigation.
Inside the vehicle features Uconnect 8.4NAV, with all the necessary communication, entertainment and navigation packages.
Stellantis SA says the Gladiator is the latest iteration in a long line of Jeep brand trucks that goes back to 1947 when Willys Overland introduced a one-ton truck with four-wheel drive based on the CJ-2A.
The Gladiator is priced at R1.26-million, and comes with a maintenance plan of 3 years/100 000 km and a warranty of five years/100 000 km.