A common criticism regarding today’s automotive universe is there are just a whole lot of vehicles out there that look alike. That’s especially the case for many sedans and small utility models, and trucks don’t escape from that trend altogether either.
The Chevrolet Colorado follows what you’d call a more classic approach, with somewhat ovoid shape, seen on multiple other models like the Ranger and even the aging Nissan Frontier, for example.
Jeep’s new pickup, however, comes with unique styling that reflects the brand's DNA from all angles and traces its origins back to the 1940s. All the reference points are there: Jeep grille, round headlights, outer latches on the hood, retractable windshield, removable doors, swing door in the rear. The Gladiator is 100% Jeep.
The ZR2 version of Chevrolet features more aggressive front and rear bumpers, raised suspension and off-road tires to complement its styling and capabilities.
Some wonder why Jeep took all this time to bring a new pickup to market (see our Top gallery of Jeep pickups through the years). Five of the 10 best-selling vehicles in Canada, after all, are trucks. The Gladiator and Colorado are not among those elite five, but the growing popularity of the midsize segment of the market means that could change very soon.
Jeep aims for a product that is recognizable at first glance, because only a Jeep looks like a Jeep and it wouldn’t be a Jeep if it didn’t. And in case you’re wondering, the Gladiator is not a Wrangler with a bed. Beyond the physical resemblance, the Gladiator offers a wheelbase that is 48 cm longer than a Wrangler and 76 cm longer in total length to be able to accommodate a 5-foot box in the back.
Another interesting feature is the Gladiator's rear suspension, which comes from the new RAM 1500 with a multi-arm configuration that significantly increases the comfort behind the wheel - an important element if you intend to drive this truck on a daily basis.
The Gladiator stands out with its very-robust-but-still elegant approach. For one, it features a navigation screen with all the necessary controls at your fingertips.
The cabin is designed for off-roading with all buttons for electronic lock differentials, stabilizer bars and auxiliary switches. In between these switches and the old transfer box selector, the measuring instrument cluster can display pitch and roll data as well as steering angle information.
You also have a forward-facing camera that’s very useful when off-road driving for seeing big obstacles directly in front of the Gladiator’s nose. The navigation system also displays longitude, latitude and altitude when in off-road mode. This environment breathes – no, declares - adventure.
A veteran under the hood
Jeep relies on a proven workhorse to power the Gladiator, a 3.6L Pentastar V6 that delivers 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The 6-speed manual transmission is standard on all models, and for $1,595 more you’re entitled to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Somewhere in 2020 (Jeep did not specify when precisely), a 6-cylinder 3.0L turbodiesel engine will join the family, offering an output of 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. For those who intend to pull stuff, know that the Gladiator can two 3,470 kg (3,175 kg with the Rubicon) and offers a load capacity of 726 kg. FCA is estimating the diesel engine will mean a towing capacity of 11,000 lb, or 4,990 kg.
The master of all terrain
If you intend to get your wheels nice and dirty, you’re in the right place. Just like the Wrangler, the Gladiator comes with a Command-Trac 4X4 system for the Sport S and Overland, and the Rock-Trac 4X4 for the Rubicon model.
With reinforced third-generation Dana 44 front and rear suspensions - very durable components - plus a 4:1 "4LO" ratio and standard Tru-Lok locking differentials, the Rubicon can tackle slopes as steep as 43.4 degrees. You have a two-speed transfer case, locking front and rear differentials, a detachable front stabilizer bar and a very low gear that allows the vehicle to crawl at low speed without driver intervention.
Off-Road+ mode adjusts throttle, transmission and stability control for different situations. In the 4HI mode, the parameters are changed for higher speed performance, for example when passing through sand or mud. In 4WD low mode, it works in the opposite direction, adjusting everything to better climb over the more technical obstacles at lower speeds.
The Colorado was not originally designed as an off-road model, but Chevy now produces two versions that can venture with confidence off the beaten path. The Z71 offers a set of off-road suspensions with locking rear differential, and has descent control and underbody shields. The closest model to the Glatiator is the ZR2, designed for serious off-road use. It offers a multimatic suspension that dampens the toughest roads.
The V6 is the standard engine, while the Duramax diesel with 369 lb-ft of torque is optional. The ZR2 has superior width of 90 mm and height of 50 mm to improve off-road capabilities. Below, tubular rockers and protection plates help protect the chassis.
In the Colorado, comfort is the main focus. Everything that needs to be has been installed conveniently within the driver's line of sight. In addition, surfaces within reach are soft to the touch and padded, for example the steering wheel, gear selector and the top of the centre console. However, anything out of reach is a hard and unattractive plastic, which is frankly not acceptable. And while GM has changed the exterior of the vehicle, inside you don’t get the sense of adventure you get from the Gladiator.
Just like the Gladiator, the ZR2 is prepared for serious adventures in inhospitable terrain. You've got a suspension raised by two inches over the standard Colorado, electronically lockable front and rear differentials, an all-terrain application of Dynamatic's Dynamic Suspension Spreader Technology (DSSV), cast iron suspension arms, rocker protectors with front and rear bumpers modified to provide better ground clearance when driving off-road.
The bumper also incorporates a thick aluminum guard to protect the radiator and engine oil pan, and the transfer case is protected by an additional shield. It's complemented by exclusive 17-inch aluminum wheels with Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac 31-inch all-terrain tires.
To add a little style, you can choose the spare tire holder mounted in the box and installed by the dealer.
On the performance side, the Colorado is more versatile than the Gladiator and can be equipped with three different engines. The base models use a 2.5L 4-cylinder that develops 200 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. This is the only engine that can be combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox. A 3.6L (308 hp/275 lb-ft) V6 comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission and a 2.8L (181 hp/369 lb-ft) diesel engine with brake on exhaust and a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The ZR2 comes with either the V6 or the Diesel and is capable of towing 3,500 kg (Diesel), which is a few pounds more than the Gladiator.
While both vehicles are very capable off-road, if you’re one of those who take that activity seriously, the Gladiator will merrily keep on going after the ZR2 has had to surrender to its limits. This Jeep is really built to overcome the most difficult obstacles thanks to elements like a disconnectable front stabilizer bar.
If you spend more time on the road than in the woods, the Colorado is more comfortable, quieter and will treat you in a more civilized way than the Gladiator, the hard-top roof of which lets air in to create wind noises at more than 100 km/h (a situation that’s even more extreme if you opt for the soft roof). The Chevy pickup also offers more onboard technology and more equipment for less money.
Both trucks are designed and built for off-roading. The trade-off, when it comes to making a buying decision, is whether you want a little more comfort or a little more off-road effectiveness.
Designed right out of the gate for off-road and outdoor use, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator gets our vote. Colorado acquits itself well when the going get rough, but adapting a model that doesn’t carry the adventurer DNA from conception means you inevitably miss a little something in the end, relatively speaking. The Gladiator is destined for a bright future.
2020 Jeep Gladiator
Off-road worthy of a Jeep
A more refined daily driver
We liked less
Front suspension a little bouncy
Very straight windshield subject to stone chips
2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
Excellent choice of configurations
ZR2 version without complex
We liked less
Fit and finish
Lots of pricy options
|Specifications||2020 Jeep Gladiator||2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2|
|Transmission||6-speed manual, 8-speed auto||8-speed auto|
|Fuel comsumption (city)||11.8L/100 km||15.0L/100 km|
|Fuel comsumption (highway)||9.8L/100 km||13.0L/100 km|
|Fuel capacity||83 litres||79.5 litres|
|Output||285 hp||305 hp|
|Torque||260 lb-ft||269 lb-ft|
|Cylindres||6 cylinders||6 cylinders|
|Cylindrée||3.6 litres||3.6 litres|
|Bed||5 ft||6 ft|
|Towing capacity||3470 kg||3175 kg|
|Length||5539 mm||5395 mm|
|Width||1875 mm||1918 mm|
|Height||1933 mm (toit dure)||1834 mm|
|Wheelbase||3487 mm||3258 mm|
|Warranty||3 yrs/60,000 km||3 yrs/60,000 km|
|Price||$44,595 to $52,595||$46,100 to $47,600|