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Super Utility Truck Loads Up on Jeep Heritage, Innovation and Rugged Function
One of the two new Jeep concepts unveiled at the 2005 Detroit auto show January 9th was the Gladiator. Named after a 1960s Jeep pickup truck, the Gladiator is categorized as a mid-sized “Flexible Utility Truck”. The Gladiator features a 2.8-liter common rail turbo-diesel engine with 163 HP and 295 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Other features include a rear seat access hatch on the driver’s side, a peel-back canvas roof, drop-down rear glass and 13.7″ of ground clearance. The unique bed expands from 5-6″ to 6-8″, accomplished by a rear seat that slides beneath the bed with the entire rear bulkhead sliding forward into the cab along rails.
The Gladiator is a lifestyle pickup with all of the rugged functionality of the famed Jeep Wrangler. It is a super utility truck that features an open-air canvas roof, removable doors and fold-down windshield so driver and passengers can get in touch with the outdoors, and an expandable pickup-truck bed and clever storage compartments to offer truly useful cargo capacity.
“Jeep Gladiator is an authentic statement of Jeep brand heritage that explores what shape and features a modern Jeep pickup might have,” said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President – Chrysler Group Design.
Jeep enthusiasts will likely recognize the Gladiator name from the 1962 fullsize pickup truck model. Other Jeep elements on today’s Gladiator that blend style and function include the seven-slot grille, an open-air passenger compartment, a Command Trac® part-time 4×4 system, front- and rear-locking differentials, a front winch and full skid plates.
While the heritage rings true, Gladiator is also a thoroughly modern pickup, intelligently engineered for an active lifestyle. The Jeep brand has always embodied function in a right-sized vehicle, and the Gladiator continues that theme by offering more utility and storage than would be expected in a vehicle scaled for maneuverability and ease of driving.
There is a driver-side cabin-storage access panel as well as a lockable storage panel in front of the rear wheel. The 4-foot-wide bed space is expandable with storage that can extend inside the cabin when more length is needed. The bed can be transformed easily from its standard length of 5 foot, 8 inches (1,725 mm) to 6 foot, 8 inches (2,026 mm) with the midgate expanded, and ultimately to 8 foot, 11 inches (2,723 mm) with the midgate expanded and tailgate down.
Gladiator is powered by the modern and efficient 2.8-liter, 4-cylinder common-rail turbo diesel engine that provides 295 lb-ft of torque and 163 hp. It delivers ample power to all four wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission and a traditional part-time transfer case.
The front and rear suspension are multi-link designs for a smooth ride over all surfaces with plenty of suspension travel for capable off roading. Coilover shocks are used at all four corners for superb control. The rear incorporates dual, concentric springs for a comfortable ride while offering a 1,500-pound payload. Key off-roading specifications include a ground clearance of 13.7 inches (348 mm), break-over angle of 23.2 degrees and an approach/departure angle of 47.6 /38.0 degrees, respectively. Tires in the front and rear are 34 inches in diameter (265/75R18) mounted on 18×8 inch wheels.
On the interior, Gladiator is thoroughly contemporary with a utility theme. The color palate includes Armour Green with Dark Slate Gray accents. The seats are weatherproof and the interior is designed for hose-out ease of care. Not surprisingly, Gladiator features all the necessary technology for finding the way there and back including GPS, a navigation system and a communications system.
“This vehicle blends classic cues with contemporary functionality and innovation,” said Creed. “The timeless silhouette – even the bedside-mounted spare of classic Jeep pickups– is merged with a modern chassis, a turbo diesel powertrain and a flexible, expandable truck bed.”
At this time no production plans have been made for the Gladiator, but as is typical with many concept vehicles there are design hints as to where Jeep may be headed with future models. Jeep plans to introduce several new vehicles in the next two years. The new 7-seat Commander will debut as a 2006 model late next summer while a SRT performance version of the new Grand Cherokee is slated for the same model year. An entry level Jeep called the Compass and a redesigned Wrangler will most likely appear for the 2007 model year.
Axles: Solid front and rear with switchable lockers
Engine: 2.8-liter Common Rail Turbo-diesel with 163 HP and 295 lb-ft torque
Gearbox: 5-speed manual with NV231 transfer case, Part-time 4×4
Suspension: Five-link suspension with front/rear coils
Ground clearance: 13.7″
Max width: 76.6″
Front Overhang: 28.3″
Rear Overhang: 38.3″
Track, Front/Rear: 65.6″/66.2″
Weight: 4,160 (approx.)
Bed length: 5′-8″, expandable midgate increases length to 6-8″
Bed length, tailgate down: 8′-11″
Wheels: 18″ x 8″ with Goodyear MT/R265/75R18 tires