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A red 2019 GMC Canyon is shown at a rear angle.

How Does the New Jeep Gladiator Stack Up to the 2019 GMC Canyon?

That’s a good question, and one that I think requires taking a closer look at these two vehicles in order to answer properly. 2020 models have already started rolling out, and one of the most anticipated offerings is the all-new Jeep Gladiator, which is designed as a real Jeep answer to the pickup truck market. It seems only fair, then, to look at the 2019 GMC Canyon vs 2020 Jeep Gladiator and see how they stack up.

One of the big selling points of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator is how much power it provides while still keeping a lot of essential Jeep elements. The maximum towing capacity of the Gladiator is definitely impressive, but the 2019 GMC Canyon, which is GMC’s smallest and least powerful truck, actually beats it. If you start looking at full-size pickups from GMC or any other major manufacturer, then the towing capacity of the Gladiator falls woefully short.

The Gladiator and the Canyon have essentially the same maximum payload, and the engines in the Canyon are substantially more powerful than the one from Jeep. Ultimately, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator is an excellent option for anyone that specifically wants a pickup truck with Jeep sensibilities. But if you want a truck for truck’s sake, then the 2019 GMC Canyon is probably a better choice.

Engine Comparisons

A red 2019 GMC Canyon, which wins when comparing the 2019 GMC Canyon vs. 2020 Jeep Gladiator, is in front of red rocks.

When I’m comparing two pickup trucks, one of the first things I look at is how their engines stack up against each other. Since the engine is the heart of a vehicle and so many other factors often rely upon it (like towing capacity and overall feel as a driver), it’s a great place to start. There’s one important thing to note here: the Jeep Gladiator has only one engine available while the GMC Canyon has two.

First off, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator has a 3.6L Pentastar V6 Engine that provides up to 285 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s certainly impressive and includes stop-start technology to help optimize fuel economy. Speaking of which, the Gladiator gets an estimated 16/23 MPG in the city and on the highway – but remember, this is the only engine available.

By comparison, there are two different engines you can get in the 2019 GMC Canyon, depending on the configuration and trim level you choose. The starting option is a 3.6L V6 Engine, much like what you get in the Jeep, which offers up to 308 hp and 275 lb.-ft. of torque. As you can see, the Canyon’s engine provides more horsepower and more torque. When it comes to fuel economy, the Canyon with this engine gets an estimated 18/25 MPG in the city and on the highway – both are superior to the Jeep Gladiator.

But, there’s also an available 2.8L Duramax Turbo-Diesel 4-Cylinder Engine available with the 2019 GMC Canyon, which provides only 181 hp but an impressive 369 lb.-ft. of torque. While that’s less horsepower than the Jeep, it’s a whole lot more torque – more than 100 lb.-ft. beyond what the Gladiator can do. Plus, the diesel engine gets an estimated 20/30 MPG in the city and on the highway. No matter which engine you go with in the 2019 GMC Canyon, it beats out what the Jeep has to offer.

Towing Capacity and Payload

Once I look at the engines in two different vehicles, then I want to know what that really means in practical terms. After all, a more powerful engine could simply push a more substantial vehicle to the same level as a lighter one, making a numerical difference essentially meaningless. For a sports car I tend to look at 0 – 60 times, but with a pickup truck, I want to know about towing capacity and maximum payload to see how much work it can get done.

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator does have very impressive numbers for what it is: a Jeep that dreamt of being a truck. With the right configuration, it has a maximum towing capacity of up to 7,650 lbs. and a maximum payload of up to 1,600 lbs. Both of those numbers are quite impressive for a mid-size truck, which is how Jeep rates the Gladiator, but how do they compare to a dedicated mid-size pickup like the Canyon?

The 2019 GMC Canyon has a maximum towing capacity of up to 7,700 lbs. when properly configured and a maximum payload of up to 1,605 lbs. As you can see, in both categories the Canyon comes out on top over the Gladiator. To be fair, however, the differences are quite small – most drivers will never take advantage of 50 lbs. of additional towing or 5 lbs. of payload capacity. The point is, however, that the brand-new 2020 model from Jeep can’t beat the 2019 model from GMC, which you would expect. Especially when you consider that the 2019 GMC Canyon starts at $21,500 MSRP and the Gladiator starts off at $33,545 MSRP.

Tech and Comfort Options

The black interior of the 2019 GMC Canyon is shown.

Some people would say that it’s what’s on the inside that really matters – though they usually say that about people and how we behave, it’s not a bad approach to comparing vehicles either. After all, you’re going to spend most of your time with your vehicle driving it, which means you’ll be inside enjoying everything it has to offer in there. So let’s take a look at the tech and comfort options that these two trucks can provide you with at their highest trim levels.

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, which is the highest trim, comes with a 6-way manual adjustable driver’s seat and 4-way manual adjustable front passenger seat, both of which are cloth. You can get leather seats, but they are an available option, not standard. It has a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display, and a standard sound system. An 8-inch display is available, but not standard, as is an Alpine Premium audio system, and there is a 7-inch driver cluster display.

By comparison, the 2019 GMC Canyon Denali, which is the highest trim, comes with a 6-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, 4-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, both of which are leather-appointed and heated. It comes with an 8-inch Infotainment display with Navigation standard and a 7-speaker Bose premium sound system, plus a wireless charging area for compatible devices. There is a 4-inch driver display, which is really the only area where the Jeep Gladiator comes out on top. Otherwise, the standard features of the Canyon Denali offer much more luxury than the Gladiator Rubicon – and the Rubicon starts at $3,000 more than the Denali.

Going Off-Road

Finally, let’s be fair to the 2020 Jeep Gladiator and look at the off-road potential for both of these vehicles. After all, a Jeep’s niche is typically its ability to go off-road and handle the most challenging trails out there. In that respect, the Gladiator is quite impressive with the ability to ford up to 30 inches of water, terrific articulation, and up to 11.1 inches of ground clearance. For an off-road pickup, this is definitely a solid choice.

By comparison, the 2019 GMC Canyon has an off-road trim level that makes it a decent choice for off-roading. The All-Terrain trim level gives you an off-road suspension package that includes an underbody transfer case shield and advanced hill descent to protect the underside of the truck. It offers more than 8 inches of ground clearance standard, which falls short of the Jeep Gladiator. In this respect, the Jeep does offer a potentially better off-road vehicle, but you give up a lot of features and pay a lot more money for it.

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