And you can buy one now.
We don't know who built the first six-wheeled off roader, but once it was done and engineers knew it was possible, the floodgates opened. In the past five years we've seen dozens of these beasts, based on the Mercedes G-Wagen, the Ford Raptor, and even one that is Corvette-powered. Now it's time for a new take.
The Jeep Gladiator 6x6 by Next Level out of Irvine, California is the dream born out in metal. It features an extended 8-foot bed, which is helpful when transporting construction materials, though we're guessing this vehicle won't see a lot of Home Depot duty. It provides full-time four-wheel drive with on-demand six-wheel drive. It starts at $145,000 and as of now can only be purchased at one authorized Jeep dealer in Huntington Beach.
Buyers have three options for engines, none of which, for the moment, are V8s. Your cheapest option is Jeep's workhorse 3.6-liter V6 making 285 hp and 260 lb-ft. You can upgrade to the turbocharged 2.0-liter four making 270 hp and 290 lb-ft. You can also spec the 3.0-liter turbodiesel making 375 hp and 470 lb-ft. That seems like it'll push those six wheels with gusto. The transmissions are Jeep eight-speed automatics.
It rides on 20-inch wheels with 37-inch off-road tires. The rubber in the pictures is a set of Toyo M/T Open Countrys, so we'll assume that's what Next Level will be using. Fox supplies the suspension for all six wheels while a steel bumper, LED headlights and a Warn winch are all optional.
Next Level offers five different seat styles for the Gladiator 6x6. They're hand-stitched from Napa leather and feature extra bolstering for "spirited driving." There are several leather colors and stitch colors available as well.
In addition to the new seats, your 6x6 gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reverse camera, Bluetooth and navigation. In fairness, you can get a 4x4 Gladiator with the same features.
Next Level is a partner with Rezvani on these Jeeps, a company that knows how to do a 6x6. "They do the bed stretch, the paint, the new interior with the seats and extra bolsters," said Next Level's Chase Corning. "We do the frame stretch, the third axle and all the other stuff to make it work."
He also told us that the company is starting with the stock engines, but V8s will come later.
This is the first vehicle for Next Level, which has one on the lot in Huntington Beach, and another one is being built as we speak. We asked how long it takes from order to completion. Corning explained that "once we have the parts and the Jeep, it takes about a month to put together."
Whenever we get too judgy about these ridiculous vehicles, we just have to remind ourselves that everyone has a certain amount of free time and a certain amount of free money and they're allowed to do with it whatever they wish.