"There's no other truck on the segment or even in the market that has the silloutte we've created here."
For months, we've been seeing spy shots and even leaked images of the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck. Now, the 2020 Jeep Gladiator has finally made its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show and we had a chance to sit down with the truck's Chief Designener Taylor Langhals to discuss what makes it so unique.
Straight away, we had to ask what it was like to design a vehicle that was already based off an existing platform. In actuality, the "[Gladior's] platform is unique," said Langhals. "We set out to create an iconic sillouette that was unmistakable as not only a Jeep, but also a truck. We want people to be able to look glance at it and down at the road and be able to know it's a Jeep and it's a truck and it's our Gladiator."
"I think there's no other truck on the segment or even in the market that has the silloutte we've created here," added Langhals. "Yes, there is some influence from Wrangler but it is very much it's own truck." Perhaps this is also why Jeep decided to forgoe calling this a Wrangler, and instead gave it its own unique name. Langhals says the Gladiator name "dating back was the first real [Jeep] truck so that played a lot into the naming of it.
Of course, the Gladiator's uniqueness is on full display when you remove the doors and roof. Jeep will offer a soft-top and hard-top roof for the Gladiator, which is unlike any other pickup on the market. Langhals explained that "we had to create a new soft top system that is different than a Wrangler," due to having a bed sitting behind it. "With all of the different configurations, you can have a hard-top that creates this unique encapsuled truck or you can have a soft-top and make it look so different with all of these options."
Langhals even told us he "had a lot of people asking [him] yesterday if they were even the same truck because they look so vastly different when they are all stripped down versus put together." Just take a look at some of our photos of the Gladiator with and without the roof and it's easy to see how different it can look in different trims and configurations.
Even though the Gladiator can look very different depending on trim and roof configuration, there are a few key design points Jeep needed to hit to ensure the truck was perfect. "We knew starting out that we wanted it to be a crew cab, we wanted it to hold a 35-inch underslung spare, and we wanted it to have a five-foot box" Langhals explained. "All of those things, plus the sold axels, kind of create the equation you see there. It's kind of the math equation that makes that thing."
Clearly, Jeep is sticking to a formula that keeps its customers happy and offers a unique experience. When asked about other pick truck concepts like the Comanche and how fun it is as a designer to experiment with different designs, Langhals told us "It's so fun. It's one of the best perks of the job. Unlike most companies, we go out to Moab every year to go wheeling with our community and we hear their feedback. It's a great opportunity for us to research."
Even the decision to offer the Gladiator with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel engine with 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque was a consumer-driven decision. "I think the whole truck was consumer-driven," Langhals added. "We listened to the feedback from consumers. Everyone's been asking for this, I know I've been dreaming about it."
We did ask Langhals if any other Jeep-based pickup trucks would be in the cards and which Jeep he would dream of turning into a truck, and he simply replied "honestly, this was it for me. This was the one."
As we know, the Jeep Wrangler is one of the most customizable vehicles in the world and the Gladiator will be no different. At launch, Mopar is already set to offer 200-plus parts and accessories including bed-mounted cross rails, bed storage systems, tonneau covers, and more. So, if the extreme level of customization offered as standard it isn't enough, Mopar already has you covered. "We've created a canvas for people to go out and accessorize it," said Langhals.
The Gladiator is truly a unique truck, so we wanted to see where Jeep believes customers will potential migrate from in order to buy it. "Wrangler still has a very strong following," Langhals answered. "I've heard a ton of people telling me I have a Tacoma and now I want to buy this thing. I think we are going to pull from the other parts of the mid-size segment and maybe even new people who haven't experienced a truck before."
We think other mid-size trucks have a lot to worry about because the Gladiator is here and it is looking to dominate.