Prepare yourself for a controversial statement; are you sitting down or near your fainting couch? Good. In looking at the 2021 Chevy Colorado vs 2021 Jeep Gladiator, despite all of the impressive things the Gladiator has going for it (and let’s be clear, it does have some impressive features), I would pick the Chevy Colorado. Yes, I know, that might sound crazy, but I’m sure all of my Chevy fans out there would agree with me.
Now, you might assume I’m biased and just another Chevy owner with no interest in Jeep. But that’s not true – I own neither a Chevy nor a Jeep vehicle, so I really don’t have a proverbial horse in this proverbial race. What I do have, however, is a strong intrinsic desire to look at two different vehicles, like these two trucks, and see how they stack up. To look beyond all of the obvious specs and see what you really get at the end of the day. So let me tell you the reasons why I’d pick the Colorado over the Gladiator.
Reason #1 – The Price
We might as well jump in with a big one for me, and – to be honest – one of my biggest issues with Jeeps in general: the price tag. Now, I know some people have no issue with this, and they are happy to pay whatever Jeep asks of them, and that’s great for them. For me, however, money isn’t just money, it’s time; every dollar represents a certain amount of time spent earning it. And there’s no getting that time back – you can make more money, but you can’t make more time. I place a high value on my time, so I value my money too.
Looking at the 2021 Chevy Colorado, we can see that it starts off at $25,200, which seems like a fair starting price for a midsize truck. Now, if we look at the 2021 Jeep Gladiator, on the other hand, we see that it starts at $33,565 MSRP. That’s a difference of more than $8,000, which is to say that the Gladiator is about 33% more expensive than the Colorado. And the Jeep model is also a midsize truck, so this is a fair comparison.
Now, are they absolutely identical across the board? No, they’re not. But the differences aren’t significant enough to justify that price difference. And this continues across both models: the most expensive Colorado model, the ZR2, starts at $41,600 – while the Gladiator Rubicon starts at $44,140. At the high end, the difference has diminished somewhat, but it’s still there.
Reason #2 – The V6 Engine
Now let’s look at performance and engines. For one thing, the 2021 Chevy Colorado has three different engines available, compared to the Jeep Gladiator’s two engines. To be fair, the third engine of the Colorado is its starting 2.5L 4-cylinder engine, so it’s not a massive issue. But if you’re not looking for a V6 or diesel engine, then Chevy gives you an option that Jeep doesn’t.
Now, specifically, I’m going to take a moment to look at the V6 engines for these two midsize trucks. Yeah, they both have diesel engines too, but I know plenty of people that have zero interest in a diesel truck, so the V6 is really a better gauge of what most folks are interested in. And in this regard, the Colorado definitely comes out on top.
Although it’s not the starting engine, upgrading to the V6 with the Colorado is a minor cost increase, so it’s really not an issue. That being said, Chevy’s engine is a 3.6L DOHC V6 that delivers 308 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Sure, that’s not revolutionary, but it’s a great engine for a midsize truck and makes the Colorado a lot of fun to drive every single day.
By comparison, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator has a 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine that offers just 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. So you can see that is quite a bit less horsepower and torque, enough that you’ll likely feel the difference. It’s also worth mentioning that the standard version of this engine on every trim comes with a 6-speed manual transmission. There’s an 8-speed automatic available, but not standard. So if you want a manual, then that’s all well and good; but you’re going to pay more if you prefer an automatic.
Reason #3 – The Fuel Economy
Fuel economy might not be the most important thing for every truck owner, but it does matter – both for the environment and for your wallet. The 2021 Chevy Colorado, with its V6 engine and the right configuration, can get an estimated 18 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway. That’s pretty good for a truck and definitely enough to keep you away from the fuel pump for a while, especially for weekday driving.
The 2021 Jeep Gladiator, with its less powerful V6 engine, can get an estimated 17 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway. Now, to be fair, that’s a minor difference for city driving, but it’s a pretty decent difference for highway driving. So if you find yourself doing a fair amount of driving every day on the highway, to get across town or get to work, for example, then the difference here can really add up.
Personally, I need to be on the highway enough that even that small difference would likely matter. Combine that with the better horsepower and torque of the Chevy engine, and it simply looks better to me than Jeep’s V6.
Reason #4 – The Off-Road Performance
I know I might be about to lose some of you, but hear me out: for off-road functionality and options, I prefer the Chevy Colorado to the Jeep Gladiator. For one thing, I like that the Colorado doesn’t have to be an off-road machine. If you want a midsize truck for a wide range of uses or just to get around town, then the Colorado is definitely a better option.
That being said, the Colorado continues to be the most impressive pickup for going off-road on the market, thanks to its ZR2 trim. This trim includes an off-road appearance package, plus an off-road suspension that includes a Multimatic DSSV damping system. It has a transfer-case shield, increased ground clearance for going off-road, and comes with 17-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires. It’s indisputably an awesome off-road truck.
Now, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator is also a great off-road truck – of course it is, it’s a Jeep. And if you choose the Rubicon trim, then you get some great off-road features like Fox performance front and rear shocks. But consider this: in addition to its more powerful V6 engine, the Colorado ZR2 comes standard with a more advanced 4×4 system than the Rubicon that includes full-time as well as part-time settings. Further, the ZR2 can lock its rear differential while in 4-Hi, while the Gladiator Rubicon can only engage its locking differentials in 4-Lo. Finally, the ZR2 has a shorter wheelbase and superior breakover angle, making it more nimble on narrow trails.
Ultimately, these are both fine midsize trucks, but the Chevy Colorado just has more to offer. It has a better V6 engine with an 8-speed automatic standard and costs a lot less at pretty much every comparable level. And on top of all that, it’s just as great an off-road pickup as the Gladiator. So why bother with the Jeep?