So you’ve found yourself at a Jeep dealership because you’ve finally made the decision to buy a Jeep Gladiator. You knew you would be getting one as soon as you saw the initial announcement that Jeep would be making a pickup truck and now you’re finally here. You have to have one—and now. Really, it wasn’t a question once you saw that Jeep was bringing a pickup back into production, 27 years after the last true Jeep featured a pickup. So now the question is, what trim are you going to choose? This is a tough decision and one that will take some serious research and budget-conscious deliberation.
If you are reading this, you probably know a thing or two about Jeeps. You might even own a Wrangler, which will have similar trim options, so maybe you have a head start there. If you own a Rubicon, say, then you might be looking for a pickup truck more than a stout off-roader. But if you own a Wrangler Sport, you might be more in the market for the Rubicon trim, so let’s take a look at what our options are and see what makes the most sense.
There are four trim options for the Gladiator: the Sport, Sport S, Overland, and Rubicon. The Sport is the base model while the Rubicon is geared for serious off-roading, and the Overland designed with comfort and luxury in mind. Remember, you are buying a Jeep, essentially, so all models are off-road capable and offer incredible versatility. Even the base model Sport delivers serious off-road prowess. And with a starting price of $33,545, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these models.
Sport vs Sport S
It’s hard not to overstate this—the Jeep Gladiator is the only convertible pickup truck out there. That’s a nice feature to start with, and it only gets better when you look closer at the options available. The Sport is the base model, but it’s a base-model Jeep with serious off-road chops. You also get the truck bed for only about $2,000 more than a standard four-door Jeep Wrangler. The Sport and Sport S models have more towing capacity and higher payload ratings than their counterparts, the Overland and Rubicon. The Sport models can tow as much as 7,650 pounds, compared to around 6,000 and 7,000 pounds for the Overland and Rubicon, respectively. Of course, this depends on the many options available but is something to consider depending on your needs.
The Sport models also have a maximum payload capacity of 1,600 pounds, while the Overland comes in at around 1,140 pounds, and the Rubicon at 1,190 pounds. These are all big numbers, but, again, this is something to consider if you are using the truck more for towing and hauling than off-roading. Being the most affordable of the four trim levels, the Sport model seems to carry the most inherent value.
The Sport S comes in at $3,200 more than the Sport for the starting MSRP. What do you get for this? For one, you get an upgrade on the wheels; aluminum versus the black steel wheels that come with the Sport. If you’re nostalgic for manual windows, you’ll want to go with the Sport, but if you want automatic windows, the Sport S has them standard. Inside is where you’ll notice the most difference between the two. Standard on the Sport is also manual door locks, while the Sport S has power door and tailgate locks with keyless entry. You’ll also find a leather-wrapped steering wheel in the Sport S and heated power side mirrors. Both the Sport and Sport S have the same off-road capability, so the difference is really in the technology and convenience of the features.
The Overland trim adds 18-inch wheels, a body-color grille, dual-zone automatic climate control, a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and USB inputs for the second row. What does this mean? It means the Overland model gives you a more refined driving experience. Plus, there are more optional packages available to you.
Both the Overland and Rubicon trim models have a lot in common. 4-wheel drive is standard for both. For the top, you can choose the Sunrider top, dual top option, Freedom Top, or body-color hardtop configuration. The engine is also the same. The 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 is the only choice for now. Trailer sway control and remote keyless entry are standard on both, as well as keyless entry. The list of similar features is long: hill start assist, a back-up camera, electronic stability control, front side airbags, daytime running lamps, and four-wheel disc brakes.
With less aggressive tires and a lower ride height, however, the Overland is designed for a more comfortable on-road driving experience. The emphasis with this trim model is on daily driving, which is why it also comes equipped with many luxury features, such as leather-trimmed seats standard (an option for the Rubicon), Normal Duty Plus Suspension (versus the Rubicon’s Performance Suspension), Heritage Tan Cloth Seats, and Trac-Lok Anti-Spin Rear Differential.
The Rubicon model will not disappoint off-road enthusiasts. Just like the Jeep Wrangler version of the Rubicon, this one is built for serious off-roading. Consider what comes standard: Winch-Capable Steel Front Bumper, Forward-Facing TrailCam, FOX 2.0 Performance Shocks, Tru-Lock Lockable Front and Rear Dana 44 Wide-Track Axles, 4.10 Rear Axle Ratio, Performance Suspension, 4:1 Rock-Trac Heavy-Duty Part-Time 4WD System, Electronic Sway Bar Disconnect (of course), and 33-inch LT285/70R17C All-Terrain Tires (33” Mud-Terrains optional).
That’s some serious off-road capability right out of the factory. The Rubicon is ready for some of the toughest trails without you having to modify anything, which is a tremendous statement to make. With the tires, angles, axles, and shocks to take on just about anything you throw at it, the Rubicon is better prepared for off-roading than any other factory-built vehicle out there. Another positive for the Rubicon model is how well the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon holds its value, so we’ll assume this will be the case for the Gladiator version as well.
Jeep is certainly not making it easy on us with so many options to choose from and so many decisions to make. What do you want from this truck? That’s the question you should be asking yourself. Will you be taking this pickup straight from the dealer lot to the trails, or will you be using this truck as your primary driver? These are the kinds of questions you will have to ask yourself. Luckily, even if you don’t opt for the trail-ready Rubicon, you will still have one of the more off-road capable mass-market vehicles on the road. And if you want a no-nonsense convertible pickup truck with manual windows, built for hauling and towing, with serious off-road chops to boot, then Jeep’s got you covered there too with the base-model Sport.
Of course, don’t forget about the Overland, or the Sport S—the Overland for its refined driving experience and the Sport S for its technology and convenience. What have we learned from all of this? Apparently, you can’t go wrong. There’s something for everyone, and with these Jeeps, there’s really no chance of taking a wrong turn.