The Jeep Gladiator is a bakkie version of their iconic Wrangler model and like the Wrangler it offers the ability to remove body panels for a full open-air driving experience. The Gladiator used to be a USA only offer but has now been adapted to the European market and sources say that Australia could be getting this model. Here at Adventure Afrika we think South Africa should also get the Gladiator – here’s why:
- We are a bakkie loving people: The bakkie or pick-up market is one of the most contested in South Africa. Toyota alone sells thousands of Hilux models with it often being the top-selling vehicle in any given month; followed by Ford and various other manufacturers. The bakkie offers the best of both worlds and thanks to advanced technology, manufacturers can now offer refined driving experiences as well as improved practicality when it comes to bakkies. Taking that into consideration the Jeep Gladiator which is essentially a bakkie will fit right in.
- The Jeep Wrangler is a relatively popular vehicle in South Africa: With many people forming clubs and groups which are dedicated to the Wrangler owners will easily find a place to share their enthusiasm for the brand. The Wrangler is also a popular vehicle for those who want to add aftermarket items to improve the vehicles already impressive off-road ability or even just its visual appearance. Many of the leading aftermarket fitment suppliers carry a wide range of items for the Wrangler so the Gladiator will be easily catered for as it shares the same platform.
- It will conquer Africa with ease: The new Jeep Gladiator evolves the iconic Wrangler formula by adding increased levels of versatility, freedom and superior on-road driving dynamics to its unmatched all-terrain capability. Its unrivalled off-road prowess comes courtesy of the Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4×4 systems, third-generation Dana 44 axles, Tru-Lock electric front- and rear-axle lockers, segment-exclusive sway-bar disconnect and 32-inch off-road tyres.
- It has decent engines: The all-new Jeep Gladiator engine range offers the proven 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine – available only in markets outside Europe (which means countries like South Africa) – and a new 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 engine. The petrol motor develops around 209kW and 347Nm of torque. The diesel, on the other hand, develops just over 190kW and 600Nm of torque. The diesel would be our choice. An 8-speed automatic gearbox is standard on both offerings.
- Did we mention how capable it is: Jeep Gladiator delivers legendary off-road capability courtesy of two advanced 4×4 systems. The Command-Trac 4×4 system, standard on Sport and Overland, features a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, and heavy-duty third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 3.73 rear axle ratio. On the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, a Rock-Trac 4×4 system features heavy-duty third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1. Gladiator Rubicon models offer improved articulation and total suspension travel with help from a segment-exclusive electronic sway-bar disconnect. With the standard eight-speed automatic transmission, Gladiator Rubicon has an impressive crawl ratio of 77.2:1, which makes scaling any obstacle on the trail easy.
Despite our wishes, the Jeep Gladiator will probably not come to South Africa and we wish we could convince the manufacturer otherwise! It would make a welcome addition to the Jeep Wrangler range and because it is a bakkie it would appeal to a wider audience. Should Jeep bring it to South Africa? Yes, we think they should.