The 2023 Gladiator combines Jeep capability with pickup utility. Does this off-roader work as a daily driver? We look at trim levels, specs, and more.
Now in year three of production, the 2023 Jeep Gladiator traces roots to the 1960s model of the same name, a history we look back on here. This Wrangler with a pickup bed continues to deliver the uniquely Jeep style of automotive engineering. Which is to say, old-school ruggedness intended to enable your wildest off-road dreams. Updates over last year’s Gladiator includes a new Freedom special edition model with a military-themed design, the Willys model now has a 7-inch digital gauge cluster, and High Velocity, a nuclear yellow shade, joins the paint palette.
2023 Jeep Gladiator – jeep.com | Shop 2023 Jeep Gladiator on Carsforsale.com
Grunty turbodiesel option
Old-timey manual windows
Doors and roof come off
Snazzberry paint discontinued
No standard driver aids
Packages required for the good stuff
The throwback modern Jeep pickup
Every 2023 Gladiator comes powered by a naturally aspirated 3.6L V6 producing 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This venerable Pentastar motor pairs with a 6-speed manual to drive all four wheels. Offering a stick these days is far from typical, but Toyota’s Tacoma is another midsize pickup that, like the Gladiator, leans old school and does the same. You can read our comparison of the two here. An 8-speed automatic is a $2,000 option as is the EcoDiesel, a 3.0L turbodiesel V6 rated for 260 horses, and a brawny 442 torques. It bumps the bottom line by four grand but adds another feather in the Gladiator’s cap of coolness.
Though the Gladiator is of course street legal, the solid Dana 44 axles front and rear, stack of skid plates, and multitude of 4WD modes speak to the fact that this truck is best suited for driving on unpaved surfaces. A dual-range transfer case is standard with 4-high and 4-low. An optional Selec-Trac system adds an Automatic 4WD mode and the beefy Rubicon model comes with Rock-Trac, a full-time system that brings an 84:1 crawl ratio.
All Gladiators are rated for fording 31 ½ inches of water, but only the Mojave comes with hydraulic jounce bumpers and beefy FOX shocks with external reservoirs. With its “desert-tuned” suspension, Jeep positions the Mojave as its Baja runner, replete with steeper approach and departure angles versus base Gladiators and 11 ½ inches of ground clearance.
The base 2023 Jeep Gladiator can tow 4,000 pounds. Not bad, but opting for the 8-speed automatic, 4.1 rear axles, and the Max Tow package bumps that figure up to 7,700 pounds. Diesel-powered Gladiators are rated for 6,500 pounds and all models can handle as much as 1,710 pounds of payload. Trailer Sway Control is lineup-standard with options to add on a trailer brake controller and trailer-hitch zoom camera.
A 2023 Gladiator with the gas-powered V6 is rated for a dismal 16 mpg in city driving and 23 on the highway with the manual transmission. Opting for the automatic adds 1 mpg to the city rating, but subtracts one from the highway side. For more efficiency, the EcoDiesel comes in at 22/28 mpg in city/highway driving. The 18.3-gallon fuel tank on these models translates to over 500 miles of highway range.
It must be said that the standard hand-crank windows in the 2023 Jeep Gladiator are a touch of retro-tastic fun. Of course, the novelty will likely wear off after the third time you need to stretch across the front row to unroll the passenger-side window. But it’s all part of the Gladiator’s charm. Want power-adjustable seats? Look elsewhere. This is an off-roader first, don’t want to worry about the elements making a mess out of electronics – particularly with the windshield folded flat, doors removed, and roof wide open.
There are nods to comfort like available leather upholstery and heated front seats but that all requires spending on pricey packages or buying the ritzy High Altitude model. Otherwise, it’s a cloth and manual climate control affair for the most part. Rear legroom is better than a Wrangler at 38 inches but stuffing a fifth adult in that back middle position would just be rude. An optional rear under-seat storage bin helps keep valuables secure and the 5-foot cargo bed comes with tie-down hooks as well as a three-position damped tailgate to make hauling longer cargo simpler.
Jeep does a fair job of keeping the 2023 Gladiator up to date on the tech front with a standard 7-inch infotainment touchscreen running Uconnect 4 software. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also part of the deal, while an 8.4-inch screen and 7-inch digital gauge cluster are available on higher trim levels.
You can opt for an Alpine audio system, but it only adds one speaker – for a total of nine – along with an amp and sub. A forward-facing trail cam is available to aid in low-speed maneuvering and niceties like built-in navigation and connected services are included with higher-spec models.
There is a notable lack of standard advanced driver aids, which seems out-of-touch with current trends but some may appreciate the lack of beeping and vibrating systems. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert are included only in the priciest High Altitude model, or as a package elsewhere. Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) can also be added with a package. It would be nice to see more airbags as the Gladiator only comes with front and side bags for the first row.
The base model, Gladiator Sport has steel wheels, manual windows and locks, and the option for black or tan cloth upholstery. A 7-inch touchscreen handles Apple and Android integrations, and for $30 you can add a cigarette lighter and ashtray.
Alloy wheels and fog lamps dress up the Willys Sport with 32-inch mud-terrain tires adding some capability to go along with the limited-slip rear differential and steel rock rails.
Heated side mirrors and keyless entry are nods to modern times on the Sport S. It also has power-operated windows and locks. For $945, you can add the Advanced Safety Group with FCM, ACC, and automatic high beams.
The Willys model adds convenience in the form of remote engine start, comfort with automatic climate control, and added tech via the 7-inch configurable gauge cluster.
From Overland trim and above, the larger 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation is included. This model also features an auto-dimming rearview mirror and Amazon Alexa Skill.
In honor of the US military, the Freedom edition has American flags on the fenders and a rear Oscar Mike badge. Steel front and rear bumpers are winch-capable and the cabin features leather-trimmed cloth seats.
The hardcore off-roader of the group, Rubicons sit on 33-inch rubber, sport rock rails, and can disconnect the front sway bar at the flip of a cabin switch.
With a performance hood, shiny FOX suspension components, and a Desert-Rated badge, the sand-storming Mojave looks the part. Orange cabin accents and bolstered sport seats further accentuate the theme.
20-inch black rims, full LED lighting, and a monochromatic finish give the High Altitude a certain Mercedes G-Wagen swagger. Cabin luxuries include quilted Nappa leather upholstery and a stitched instrument binnacle.
Jeep’s basic vehicle warranty runs for a 3-year/36,000-mile term and the powertrain is covered under a 5-year/60,000-mile term. Roadside assistance is on hand for five years or 100,000 miles and complimentary maintenance runs for three years.
2023 Jeep Gladiator – media.stellantisnorthamerica.com | Shop 2023 Jeep Gladiator on Carsforsale.com
Combining all the legendary off-road capability of the Wrangler with a short pickup bed means the 2023 Jeep Gladiator is the ultimate adventure vehicle. It can go most anywhere and with that open 5-foot box out back, owners can cart all the toys and gear they can handle.
The 2023 Jeep Gladiator is not exactly cheap, so a used model is a good option as we note on this list of Best Used Crew Cab Trucks. If you do go the new route, this rundown of the latest new vehicle incentives is worth reading. My money would go to a base Sport model with the 6-speed stick to enjoy all the inherent capability without breaking the bank.
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