The Ultimate Overland Jeep Gladiator is Coming
The coronavirus might have slowed the release of some highly anticipated 2020 vehicles (Ford Bronco Anyone?), but that hasn’t slowed down excitement for some of the cutting-edge equipment headed our way. With the Wrangler now being offered with the 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel, we now have a better idea of what to expect in the soon-to-be-released diesel-powered Jeep Gladiator. In the Wrangler, the compact oil burner is putting out 442 lb.-ft of torque and 260 hp. Backed by an eight-speed automatic, it’s the most powerful and sophisticated powertrain ever placed in the open-top wheeler.
For those in the market for a midsize truck, the diesel option may prove to be worth the wait. Currently, the Gladiator’s fuel economy numbers sit at 16 City and 23 Highway. We’re currently averaging a little over 16 mpg on our 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, which is riding on 35-inch-tall Nitto Ridge Grapplers. These numbers are for the engine the 3.6L V6, and the only current engine option. To figure out what the EcoDiesel could net for fuel economy, we looked up the specs for the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel. In the JL, it is slated at an EPA estimated 22 City and 29 Highway. With EPA estimates being nearly identical between the platforms with the 3.6L, it’s a safe bet that the EcoDiesel figures should be close between the Wrangler and Gladiator as well. Thanks to the Gladiators 22-gallon fuel tank, this could mean we are in the works to have a Jeep truck with the potential for netting over 600 miles per tank! This would mean it would supersede the current long-range fuel-efficient off-road champion, the diesel-powered Chevy Colorado ZR2, by over a 130 miles.
For those whose hobbies include long treks into the wilderness, this extra bump in range is fantastic news. With Jeep recently launching the desert-rated Mojave edition for the Gladiator, they now have the go-fast and rock crawling world (Rubicon) sectors covered. However, the one area we haven’t seen any real spin-off packages is with the middle tier package- the Overland. As one of, if not, the fastest growing off-road sector, the car-meets-camping world of overlanding has companies from nearly every camp in the auto industry trying to capitalize on the family friendly adventure appeal. This is why it stands to reason that the next big package to launch from the Jeep camp would be a diesel-powered camping-oriented package that blends features from the Mojave, Rubicon, and of course, Overland model. This would likely be based off of the Overland model and offers major benefits for those looking for a turnkey basecamp. Here is what we’re thinking (and hoping) we’ll see.
All signs point to Jeep using the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 that is found in the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Pumping out 260 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft of torque, in the Wrangler platform, we could see those numbers bumped up a bit given that the Gladiator has a significantly higher tow rating and larger grille opening. Jeep already told us the towing figures on the diesel-equipped Gladiator would be less than that of the existing gasser, but this is mostly due to the heavier diesel engine. With a 22 City and 29 Highway EPA rating in the Wrangler, the EcoDiesel Gladiator should produce some class-leading fuel economy numbers as well.
Currently, the factory highline fender flares are reserved for the Rubicon and Mojave Gladiator models. Overlanding doesn’t require a 40-inch-tall tire. But, having the ability to run a large set of treads with little to no lift is a universally accepted build strategy. This could lead to Jeep offering a highline option for its Overland platform. We’ve found that you can run a 35x11.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler on the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon without a lift thanks to the highline flares. For those living out of their rig on the weekends, having something closer to the ground will be easier to use overall. So, a highline fender set would be a good play by Jeep.
Camping Options from Mopar
What if you could order your Gladiator direct from the factor with a roof top tent? How about a full drawer system to organize your gear? There’s a good chance you will be able to do so in the future, making it where you can truly have a turn-key Overland Gladiator that’s adventure ready. Mopar launched an expanded line of add-ons that you can order directly from your local dealer earlier this year for the Wrangler Platform. It only stands to reason the Gladiator will see more Mopar support very soon. The question really becomes, how much of a premium are you willing to pay for this convenience?
Increased Interior Options
Overlanders spend more time in their vehicle than most. While stepping into the Overland-trim Wrangler gets you a bit more interior luxury over the Sport trim, we could see bigger changes coming. If you look at the all-new Mojave Gladiator for example, you’ll find a unique set of seats and stitching throughout. While we don’t think it would be as over-the-top as the Wayout Concept shown here, we could see some material choices and optional accessories that are a step above what’s currently offered.
Expanded Power Group
You need power when you are off the grid. Jeep’s optional bed outlet and built-in switch panel is great for powering up accessories. With the built-in brake controller on the way, we suspect we could see these auxiliary power options expanding. Most people might not know there is already a second battery on all Jeep Gladiators that’s primarily intended for the stop/start feature. Bumping up the size of this battery with the diesel could prove to be an excellent play for the diesel and give Overlander’s a dedicated secondary battery for power needs off the grid. While we’d love to see solar panels on the roof from the factory, we don’t think that’s in the cards just yet.
Dual Sport Suspension
The Mojave Gladiator got 1-inch boost along with some incredible internal-bypass Fox shocks. Given Jeeps established relationship with the performance shock manufacturer, it’s not out of the question to think that an OE adaptation of Fox’s in-cab controlled valving adjusters could make its way into the Gladiator. This could be huge for those hauling extra gear for a weekend in the mountains or simply towing a heavy load.
It is pretty well established at this point that if you want to row your own gears, you won’t be doing it with the diesel engine. If that’s fine by you then know that you’ll be getting an eight-speed 8HP75 automatic transmission. We’re seeing that 3.73 differential gearing is the norm for the Wrangler Rubicon with the EcoDiesel, though we hope 4.10s make it over to the truck. Couple the gearing with 442 lb.-ft of torque, we also don’t see the need for a 4:1 transfer case low range. So, the Overland model’s current 2.72:1 low range should be plenty. The big question is will you finally be able to order an Overland with a rear locker?
What It Could Look Like
Jeep has shown us future products before, and we didn’t even know it. It’s something they like to do at the Easer Jeep Safari. Since this EJS was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, we’ll revert back to the last year’s Wayout concept. We image the steel bumper group could be part of this along with some sort of unique step/slider option that would make accessing the roof easier. A factory snorkel option, unique color combos, and more camping-related cues could also be on the horizon. With trucks such as the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison competing for the same dollar, there’s now more incentive than ever to offer specialized truck packages. While the Overland currently exist, we think the diesel will finally allow Jeep to ramp up the namesake into an utterly amazing exploration platform. Either way, we are excited for what the diesel is going to bring to the already very versatile Jeep Gladiator.
Want to see the a more extreme version of an Overland Gladiator? Feast your eyes on the O.G. 40.