The Jeep Gladiator was introduced for consumers who wanted a Wrangler-based truck, and Jeep provided pretty much exactly what many people had asked for. The Gladiator looks a great deal like the Wrangler inside and out and is almost as off-road-capable as the Wrangler, so it comes as little surprise that the midsized Jeep pickup has sold very well.
However, since the Gladiator came onto the scene, the Wrangler has gotten an array of new options and/or features that are not available for the Jeep pickup. The most reasonable requests focus on offering the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and the 4xe hybrid package from the Wrangler. The 4xe package has helped the Wrangler become the bestselling plug-in hybrid in the U.S. market and, having driven the hybrid Jeep, it seems like a drivetrain that would work nicely in the Gladiator. On the more extreme end of things, more than a few Jeepers with deep pockets would gladly pay big money for a Gladiator Rubicon 392, but so far, we have only seen the incredible V8 package in the Wrangler.
We aren’t sure why Jeep hasn’t introduced the 2.0-liter turbo or the 4xe hybrid for the Gladiator, both of which seem to fit into the company’s plans of offering more efficient drivetrain systems. One possible factor is engine cooling, which is key to a vehicle whose towing capacity is a substantial part of the equation. However, the engineers tend to be quite good at overcoming obstacles like that. More likely, the reason for not moving faster is that the midsized Gladiator pickup has continued to beat key competitors in sales.
Through the first quarter of 2023, Jeep has sold 13,575 Gladiator pickups. During that same time, Ford sold 11,500 of the ultra popular Ranger, Chevy sold 13,256 Colorados, and GMC sold just 5,016 Canyons. In other words, the Jeep Gladiator is the best-selling midsized American pickup for the first quarter of 2023. It also beat the Honda Ridgeline, which moved 12,918 units through the first three months of the year.
The leader in the segment is – and has been for many moons – the Toyota Tacoma, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. During the first quarter of 2023, Toyota has sold 53,583 examples of the Tacoma. You read that right – in the same quarter where Ford, GM and Jeep combined to sell 43,347 midsized pickups, Toyota sold more than 53,000 examples of their midsized pickup. That number isn’t going to be challenged by any other truck in the near future, especially since the next-generation Tacoma has just been revealed, so the real battle in the segment is for second place, and that spot is held by the Nissan Frontier at 16,926 units sold.
Based on the sales success of the Wrangler 4xe, it seems pretty likely that a Gladiator 4xe would lead to a big enough boost in sales to help the Jeep jump into the second position in the segment, but so far, no Trail Rated hybrid pickup exists. With the Gladiator leading all American midsized pickups in sales, perhaps the Jeep brand is content to stick with the current list of options and models, but with the Colorado and Canyon launching new models, Jeep will need to make some moves to freshen up the Gladiator – a hybrid package and maybe one with the 392 Hemi would do the trick.