The mid-size pickup market is not necessarily the biggest in terms of selection, but it is certainly competitive. While there aren’t many different trucks out there to choose from, the ones existing are fighting for their share of market space, which means there are a lot of strong contenders in this category. To break it down easily, let’s take a look at two of our more popular choices, the 2020 Ford Ranger vs 2020 Jeep Gladiator.
The Ranger name has been around since the 1950s at Ford, but the Ranger we know today originated in the 1980s as a more compact pickup option that would replace the Ford Courier in the United States. From 1983, the Ranger had a production run that lasted until the 2012 model year, when it was then discontinued. Returning for the 2019 model year and continuing to be produced today, the Ranger snapped back at a time when consumers can’t get enough of rough and versatile vehicles that can handle a variety of situations.
In a similar fashion, the Jeep Gladiator barreled onto the mid-size pickup scene in 2019 and seems to have no intention of slowing down its fast pace, making its way into a market that Jeep hadn’t touched since 1992 when the Comanche was taken off the production lines. The original Gladiator, though, goes farther back and was last seen in 1988, although it was first produced in 1962. For Jeep, it was a bold move to release a pickup at this time, and so far, it seems to be paying off.
Still, how do these two pickups compare to each other? Let’s check out some of their highlights.
Prices and Trim Levels
While you might find a whole slew of different models available on some vehicles, with the 2020 Ford Ranger vs 2020 Jeep Gladiator, it’s more about the quality rather than the quantity.
The 2020 Ford Ranger is available in three different trim levels. They are, along with starting MSRPs, the XL ($24,410), XLT ($28,460), and Lariat ($32,500). In comparison, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator has four different trim levels, including the Sport ($33,545), Sport S ($36,745), Overland ($40,395), and Rubicon ($43,875).
Both the Ranger and Gladiator come with just a few different models, but you can tell by how the prices are spread out between the trims that each model is going to have some unique differences. For example, the Ranger XL and XLT start about $4,000 apart from each other, which will mean there are definitely going to be some nice features to make up for that difference in price. And the same goes for the Gladiator models. If any of these models were a lot closer in price, as you will see on some vehicles, the differences would usually be minimal, which would beg the question of why there would be any need for multiple trims that cost almost the same price.
Obviously, the Jeep Gladiator costs quite a bit more than the Ford Ranger. In fact, the lowest Gladiator trim has a higher starting MSRP than the highest Ranger trim. If you’re looking for a mid-size pickup in the sub-$30,000 range, then the Gladiator would not be for you. However, the Ranger XL and XLT would fit into that budget perfectly.
Engine, Performance, & Capability
There are always going to be reasons why one vehicle costs so much more than another. Usually, some of the main factors will be what’s found under the hood and the vehicle’s capabilities.
In the case of the 2020 Ford Ranger, all models will come with a 2.3L EcoBoost engine with up to 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. While the 270 hp is some decent power, the real winner here is the best-in-class gas-powered 310 lb-ft torque rating. With more torque, the Ranger becomes an extremely capable machine. When properly configured, you’ll find the 2020 Ranger has a maximum towing capacity of 7,500 lbs and a maximum payload rating of 1,860 lbs. With those kinds of numbers, you can tell this is a pickup that’s ready for an adventure.
With the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, the people at Jeep knew they had to make a splash and be competitive from the get-go. With a standard 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine that has up to 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, they’ve done it. Also, when properly configured, the Gladiator has a maximum towing capacity of 7,650 lbs and a maximum payload rating of 1,700 lbs. You might expect some lesser numbers from the famed off-road brand, but they’ve put out an impressive pickup.
The Gladiator takes the Ranger on straight horsepower, but the Ranger tops the Gladiator on torque rating. Still, the Gladiator will have a higher towing capacity overall, but it falls a bit short when you compare its payload rating to the Ranger. Overall, the two vehicles are pretty equal when it comes to their performance and capability numbers.
So why does the 2020 Jeep Gladiator cost so much more than the 2020 Ford Ranger?
It comes down to their off-road prowess. If you’re a part of the Jeep lineup, you know you’re coming with some fantastic off-road capabilities, but it’s not always so clear when it comes to going off-roading with something that’s not a Jeep.
For the 2020 Ford Ranger, you can be sure it also has some off-road chops. As you already know, the engine is pretty powerful, but you also get standard high-strength steel for your frame, bumpers mounted on the steel frame, and other off-road components. If you add on the FX4 Off-Road Package, you’ll get even more. If you’re in a situation where the 4×4 might come in handy, just turn a dial with the electronic shift-on-the-fly (ESOF) system. And when you are ready to switch back to two-wheel drive, you can do so just as easily.
The FX4 Off-Road Package comes with tuned off-road monotube shocks, all-terrain tires, electronic-locking rear differential, steel front bash plate, front skid plate, and additional skid plates for the electronic motor, transfer case, and fuel tank. You’ll also get the Terrain Management System that includes the four selectable drive modes of Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand. Plus, you’ll have Trail Control, which is a cruise control system designed for use when you could use some assistance navigating over rugged terrain.
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator indeed comes with Jeep’s own Trail Rated badge, proving it can handle some of the most rugged terrains around with its Dana 44 axles, skid plates, and tow hooks. But, it’s not the only mid-size pickup around that can handle a tough trail. Clearly, the 2020 Ford Ranger is trying to prove that point as well, and it successfully does. The Jeep Gladiator is obviously some fierce competition, but the Ranger has more bang for your buck. The Ranger meets the standards that the Gladiator set at a cheaper price. So, if you want a less expensive mid-size pickup, the Ford Ranger would be a great choice, even for off-roading adventures.