One of the most significant recent pieces of news in the automotive industry has been the entry of Jeep into the midsize truck market. For the 2020 model year, Jeep introduced a new model, the Gladiator, which combines the ruggedness we expect in a Jeep SUV with the versatility of a pickup truck. Like other models in its product line, the Jeep Gladiator is 4X4 standard, providing handling and off-road capabilities like its big sisters. Just like a pickup truck, the Gladiator has a payload area for cargo and comes equipped with trailer hooks for towing. But how good is the Gladiator? In order to find out, we put it up against one of the best midsize trucks on the market, the 2020 Ford Ranger. This truck is dependable, affordable, and versatile, giving you pretty much everything you’d want in a midsize pickup. In other words, the Gladiator has its work cut out for itself in this comparison. Let’s find out which midsize pickup truck prevailed in the battle of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator vs 2020 Ford Ranger.
Trims and Price Points
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator has six different trims with clear differences between them. The base model is the Gladiator Sport with an MSRP of $33,545. Like all Gladiator models, the Sport has four doors and is 4X4 standard. In addition, the Gladiator Sport has a normal duty suspension. When you move up to a Gladiator Sport S with a base MSRP of $36,745, or a Gladiator Overland with a base MSRP of $40,395, you get a normal duty plus suspension. The top three trims, the Gladiator Rubicon with a base MSRP of $43,875, the Gladiator Mojave with a base MSRP of $44,120, and the Gladiator North Edition with an MSRP of $45,915, feature a specialized performance suspension. Also, the Gladiator Rubicon comes with a 4:1 Rock-Trac heavy-duty part-time 4WD system, something that is not featured on the other four trims. These differences are in addition to other features that come with the upgrade, so changing trims in the 2020 Gladiator involves getting more truck for your money.
The 2020 Ford Ranger comes in only three different trims. The base model is the Ranger XL, and it has an MSRP of $24,410. For this amount, you get the standard Ranger with a Super Crew configuration. This is a two-row truck that can seat up to five passengers in its cab, with two full doors and two half doors. If you want a four-door Super Cab, you will have to pay extra for this addition. Also, if you wish to have 4X4, it will cost extra, since the Ranger XL comes rear-wheel drive standard. This is the same for the other two trims, the Ranger XLT with a base MSRP of $28,460 and the Ranger Lariat, with a base MSRP of $32,500. In addition, all three trims have the same engine, transmission, and suspension. The only difference between the trims are larger and fancier wheels and tires as you move up in class, and the addition of nicer fabrics, more paint options, and other creature comforts.
Although the Jeep Gladiator starts at a higher price point, it still has an advantage in this area because there more and better options. In terms of trims, the Gladiator is better than the Ranger.
Drivetrains and Performance
All 2020 Jeep Gladiators come equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 24 valve VVT engine with an electronic start-stop system. This automatically turns the engine off at traffic stops to conserve fuel and reduce emissions and then restarts the engine as soon as you take your foot off the brake. The Gladiator’s engine produces 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. This engine is paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, but an 8-speed automatic 850RE transmission is available as well. The EPA estimates that drivers of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator will get 16 miles per gallon in city driving and 23 miles per gallon on the highway.
The engine on the 2020 Ford Ranger is smaller but quite powerful. It is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder 16-valve gas engine with auto stop-start technology. It comes paired with an electronic 10-speed automatic transmission that can produce up to 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. The 2020 Ford Ranger has an estimated fuel economy of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 miles per gallon in highway driving.
The one thing you will notice right off the bat between these two trucks is that the Jeep gives you better pickup than the Ranger, which can seem a little sluggish and underpowered, especially when hauling a large payload or towing a sizeable trailer. Moreover, if you are looking to go off-roading, there is no real contest here. The Gladiator, like all Jeeps, is built with a mindset of driving in less than optimal conditions. Its design, suspension, and standard equipment are an off-roading enthusiast’s dream. You can easily drive your Gladiator in places you wouldn’t dream of driving a Ranger unless you are willing to spring for the high cost of the optional off-roading packages on offer from Ford, which also requires you to incur the charge of upgrading to a 4X4.
The Ranger is not without its pluses. First, it will give you better gas mileage, mainly if you do a significant amount of your driving in city conditions. Also, the Ford’s engine, while smaller, does produce more torque than the engine in the Gladiator. But because of the fantastic pickup, standard 4X4, and off-roading capabilities, the Gladiator wins in the performance section.
Payload and towing
In recent years, it seems that the major automakers have been improving the performance of their midsize trucks in the areas of payload and towing. This is welcome news to us truck enthusiasts who don’t look at the rear payload or the trailer hitch as just some cute, cosmetic details. They are there for a reason, and we would like to be able to use them. In the case of both of these trucks, their manufacturers have stepped up and answered the call.
The 2020 Ford Ranger has been rated to be able to tow up to 7,500 pounds of trailer and carry up to 1,860 pounds of cargo in its trailer bed. This is similar to the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, which has a maximum towing capacity of between 6,000 and 7,650 pounds and can haul up to 1,700 pounds of payload. These are relatively similar numbers, with the Jeep appearing to have the edge on payload and the Ranger seeming to win out on towing. However, the Jeep Gladiator numbers are based on the fact that all models are 4X4 standard. This is different from the Ranger numbers, which are based on a 4X2 configuration, and decrease when you opt for a Ranger 4X4 configuration. While this is not very significant, it is still something that you should keep in mind when deciding between the two trucks and gives the Jeep Gladiator an overall advantage.
Which is Best?
While the Ranger is the cheaper option, it is obvious why it is so inexpensive in comparison to the Jeep Gladiator. The Gladiator has many advantages over the Ranger, including more customizable options, standard 4X4, and insane off-roading capabilities. These reasons add up to make the winner of this comparison, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator.