Jeep Gladiator vs Wrangler: Complete 2021 Comparison Guide

| Last Updated: September 8, 2021

We all love a good mash-up. 

From buffalo chicken pizza to peanut butter and jelly; Americans love when two great things crash together incredibly. So, is the Gladiator the ultimate Jeep mashup or is it just a Wrangler with a pick-up truck bed thrown on its back? 

We’re going to discuss everything you need to know about these two amazing vehicles so you can decide which one is best for you. 

Let’s get into the weeds and head up the trail to see which Jeep is the king of the mountain! 

TL;DR: Jeep Gladiator vs Wrangler

As you start to form an opinion about what type of Jeep vehicle is best for you, it’s important to keep in mind your ultimate needs and wants. Each of these vehicles has distinctive pros and cons that make each of them compelling in their own unique ways. 

Jeep Gladiator

Jeep Wrangler

Pros

Jeep Gladiator

Utilitarian Pickup Bed

Large, Accommodating Rear Seat

Class-Leading Towing

Jeep Wrangler

Sub $30K Starting Price

Unbelievably Capable Off-Road

Huge Variety Of Powertrain Options

2 Door and 4 Door Available

Cons

Jeep Gladiator

Higher Starting Prices

Lower Break Over Angle

Fewer Powertrain Options

Only 4 Door Cab Available

Jeep Wrangler

Very Little Storage / Utility

Low Towing Limits

Smaller Backseat

Best For

Jeep Gladiator

A Jeep enthusiast who wants a vehicle that can tow with ease, carry gear, and offers additional interior space

Jeep Wrangler

A Jeep enthusiast who wants a quintessentially pure off-roading machine and can sacrifice additional utility

Relevant Characteristics Between Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler

As much as these vehicles appear dramatically different on the outside, under the skin they share a remarkable amount of similarities as well. In the end, this is a good thing because that sought after, unique Jeep DNA is shared between these two beasts. 

Jeep Gladiator vs Wrangler Specs

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2021 MSRP

Jeep Gladiator

$33,565 – $51,765

Jeep Wrangler

$28,315 – $49,515

Engine(s)

Jeep Gladiator

3.6L V-6 w / 285 HP & 260 LB.FT of Torque

3.0L Diesel V-6 w / 260 HP & 480 LB. FT. of Torque

Jeep Wrangler

3.6L V-6 w / 285 HP & 260 LB.FT of Torque

3.0L Diesel V-6 w / 260 HP & 480 LB. FT. of Torque

2.0L I4 Turbo w / 270 HP & 290 LB. FT. of Torque

Hybrid 2.0L I4 w / 375 HP & 470 LB. FT. of Torque

Transmission(s)

Jeep Gladiator

6 Speed Manual (V-6 Only)

8 Speed Automatic

Jeep Wrangler

6 Speed Manual (V-6 Only)

8 Speed Automatic

Dimensions

Jeep Gladiator

Overall Length: 218”

Wheelbase: 137.3”

Jeep Wrangler

Overall Length: 2 Door: 166.8”
4 Door: 188.4”

Wheelbase: 2 Door: 96.8”
4 Door 118.4”

Trim Options

Jeep Gladiator

Sport
Willys
Sport S
California Edition
Willys
80th Anniversary
Overland
Mojave
High Altitude
Rubicon

Jeep Wrangler

Sport
Willys
Sport S
Islander
Willys
80th Anniversary
Freedom
Sport Altitude
Sahara Altitude
High Altitude
Rubicon

Fuel Economy

Jeep Gladiator

3.6L V-6: 19 City / 22 Hwy

3.0L Diesel: 22 City / 28 Hwy

Jeep Wrangler

3.0L Diesel: 22 City / 29 Hwy

3.6L V-6: 19 City / 22 Hwy

2.0L Turbo: 21 City / 22 Hwy

Hybrid: 50 MPGe

Towing Capacity

Jeep Gladiator

Up To 7500 Pounds (depends on trim)

Jeep Wrangler

2 Door: 2000 Pounds
4 Door: 3500 Pounds

Payload

Jeep Gladiator

1700 Pounds

Jeep Wrangler

900 Pounds

Approach Angle

Jeep Gladiator

43.6 Degrees

Jeep Wrangler

43.9 Degrees (Rubicon 4 Door)

Departure Angle

Jeep Gladiator

26 Degrees

Jeep Wrangler

37 Degrees (Rubicon 4 Door)

Breakover Angle

Jeep Gladiator

20.3 Degrees

Jeep Wrangler

22.6 (Rubicon 4 Door)

Similarities and Differences 

If you’re thinking that the Gladiator is the Jeep you’ve been waiting for, you’re not alone. Few vehicles have garnered more interest, buzz, and love than the Gladiator and we’re here to help you understand the key differences between the venerable Wrangler and the Gladiator.

We’ll be covering the following topics:

  • Exterior 
  • Interior 
  • Powertrain 
  • Off-Road Capability 
  • Utility and Towing

Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler Differences 

Here’s the major discrepancies between the two models:

Exterior

Well, the differences here should be rather obvious but in case you missed the memo, the Gladiator has an honest to goodness, 5’, the all-steel truck bed behind its cab. From the back seat forward, the Gladiator and the Wrangler are identical save for slightly wider slats in the front grill

The Gladiator retains the Wrangler’s fold-down windshield, removable doors, and other bespoke exterior styling cues but it is only available as a 4 door. The Wrangler continues to be offered in a classic 2 door model.

The overall length of these two vehicles is also (obviously) affected by the 5-foot bed with a Wrangler Unlimited coming in at 188 inches with a wheelbase of 118.4 inches. 

Photo credit: bosakmotor.com

The Gladiator adds a whopping 31 inches of length to the Wrangler with 19 of those inches going to the wheelbase and the rest hanging off behind the rear wheels. This stretched wheelbase is another element of the Gladiator that must be considered for those that want to take this beast hardcore off-roading (more to come on this topic). 

Interior

Inside, the differences between these two shrink dramatically. Depending on your trim level, these two vehicles look the same in the front seats. Where the interior changes come into play is the rear seat of the Gladiator. Remember that stretched wheelbase? 

Well, the engineers at Jeep gave Gladiator rear-seat passengers a 3” improvement in legroom. Although the Gladiator shares the Wrangler’s narrow, removable doors; this is a huge standout feature if you intend to regularly share your Gladiator with friends and family. 

Continuing the rear seat story, Jeep provides a flip-up bend seat with lockable storage bins right under the seats! Check behind the rear seats and you’ll find another awesome Easter egg; a righteously rugged Bluetooth speaker made by Alpine. Its location isn’t just a mounting point but it’s a charging dock as well. This fits right in with the mission of this truck and adds a little more “special dust” on the overall package. 

Powertrain

Two engines are available in the Wrangler but not in the Gladiator. First, The turbocharged four-cylinders with 270 HP and 295 lb. ft. of torque continues to offer Wrangler owners an incredibly torque-rich powerplant. 

Next, Jeep is also offering a mild-hybrid system for the 2021 Wrangler which adds in a mild hybrid assist and puts out a fairly astonishing 24 MPG highway and instant-on torque that’s perfect for rock crawling. Jeep opted against offering these engines in the Gladiator because they were not fit for the towing mission of the Gladiator. 

Off-Road Capability

The Gladiator options in Fox shocks and utilizes a slightly beefier axle and a unique set of coil springs (borrowed from the RAM brand) in the rear. 

Photo credit: buckeyesuperstore.com

So does the Gladiator properly earn the “Trail Rated” badge that’s been bestowed upon it by Jeep engineers? Yes, the Jeep Gladiator (especially the Rubicon model) is an absolute beast off-road and arguably the best in the mid-size truck class. 

However, when you set it against the Wrangler, the Gladiator is slightly less capable off-road. This comes down to one thing: length. The Gladiator’s 219-inch length and 19-inch additional wheelbase simply make it more difficult to maneuver in extreme, rock crawling scenarios. 

What makes the Wrangler fantastic off-road is its excellent departure, arrival, and break-over angles that are a direct result of the short wheelbase, proper suspension set-up, and overall vehicle design. 

Since there are 11 inches of bed hanging off the tail, the departure angle of the Gladiator is impacted slightly. The same goes for the break-over and those additional inches lower the break-over and could cause your Gladiator to get hung up on obstacles that a Wrangler could scramble over easily. 

Utility and Towing Capacity 

One of the absolute largest differentiators for the Gladiator is that it is designed to tow and haul. The standard, V-6 Wrangler is designed to tow a maximum of 3500 pounds, while the Jeep Gladiator towing capacity is up to 7,650 pounds

This is currently the best in class among all midsize trucks and even creeps in on some full-size trucks as well. The aforementioned bed holds a maximum of 1700 pounds vs. the Wranglers more paltry 900 pounds. Jeep also includes features like a trailer brake controller and specifically designed cameras that make hooking a trailer easy. 

Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler Similarities

Exterior

From the back seat forward, the Gladiator and the Wrangler are identical save for slightly wider slats in the front grill. The Gladiator retains the Wrangler’s fold-down windshield, removable doors, and other bespoke exterior styling cues but it is only available as a 4 door. The Wrangler continues to be offered in a classic 2 door model.

Interior

Depending on your trim level, these two vehicles look the same in the front seats. The only thing you’ll notice is the small styling cues and badges that separate these two vehicles apart such as Gladiator infographics and Gladiator sill plates. 

Powertrain

The Gladiator retains two of the available powertrains from its Wrangler cousin: the Pentastar V-6 and a brand new Diesel V-6. Originally, the Gladiator was launched with only the 3.6L Pentastar V-6, which pushes out 285HP and 260 LB. FT. of torque. This engine is available with either an 8-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual. 

Photo credit: motorauthority.com

In 2020, the Pentastar was joined by a brand new, high-torque diesel engine dubbed the “Ecodiesel”. Crucially, this 3.0L powertrain puts out a stout 260 horsepower and even more impressive 442 LB. FT of torque. Transmission choices for the diesel are limited to the 8 speed automatic. 

Off-Road Capability

The Wrangler and the Gladiator are both offered in Rubicon trims which, off the showroom floor, offer the unmatched capability you expect in a Jeep vehicle. Both vehicles offer the same solid axles, locking differentials with crawl control, huge off-road tires, and off-road shocks. 

Utility and Towing

This is the biggest differentiator between the Gladiator and the Wrangler, however, there are some similarities. Both the Wrangler and the Gladiator can tow and haul cargo but the limits, as noted above, are substantially lower in the Wrangler vs. the Gladiator. 

Advantages of a Jeep Gladiator 

If you wouldn’t mind sacrificing some off-road ability (out of the box that is) and want the option of additional utility and second-row space, then go with the Gladiator, it’s a great alternative! They start right around $35k and can scream up into the high $40k / low $50k easily. Again, if you don’t mind a basic option level, the base Gladiator is fairly well equipped and offers great value and a fantastic starting point for custom builds. 

From towing a boat to hauling motorcycles out to the desert; there is an incredible number of situations where outdoor enthusiasts will find the extra utility of the Gladiator quite handy. 

Advantages of a Jeep Wrangler 

If you’re looking for the ultimate off-roader and don’t need the additional utility of a truck bed, go with a 2 or 4 door Wrangler. Your cheapest entry point is a 2 door, base Wrangler which is ready for modifications and comes in at under $30k. Of course, you can opt yourself right up to the bad-ass Rubicon model but you’ll be paying some serious money for this privilege. 

Photo credit: thecarconnection.com

At the end of the day, the real advantage of Wrangler is the ultimate capability off-road and its classic styling. For those that don’t need the extra utility or towing capacity of a Gladiator, you can’t get a better adventure vehicle for the money than the Wrangler. 

Need other information: Jeep Wrangler vs Tacoma

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the proper Jeep experience, you can’t go wrong with either of these fantastic vehicles but you’ll have to consider some fundamental questions: what do I want my vehicle to do and how much do I have to spend? 

If you’re looking to haul or tow, then the Gladiator is the only choice for your needs as it is made to accomplish those tasks with ease while still offering a big dose of Jeep goodness. If you’re only looking for the best off-roader, and don’t need the utility, then the Wrangler is a clear choice. It’s also substantially cheaper to start! 

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People Also Ask

Although the Gladiator has been on the scene for a while now, there are several common questions that people have when researching and comparing this unique vehicle. 

How Much Longer is the Frame on the Jeep Gladiator than the Jeep Wrangler?

Due to the addition of the truck bed, the frame of the Gladiator is a full 19 inches longer than the Wrangler.

When Did the Jeep Gladiator Come Out?

The Gladiator made its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November of 2018 and went on sales in the Spring of 2019.

Does the Jeep Gladiator Have Death Wobble?

Yes, the Gladiator is susceptible to Death Wobble and it is currently under investigation by FCA.

Is the Gladiator an Upgrade to the Wrangler?

Loaded Question.. Upgraded utility and towing capacity? Yes. Upgraded off-road capability? No. Upgraded interior appointments? No. We compare these and more above!