The dual-cab ute segment is going to get another contender when the 2020 Jeep Gladiator lands locally by the middle of next year, but the picture remains unclear on pricing – and now a diesel engine looks unlikely.
The big Jeep won't have off-road bragging rights all to itself either, now that the Ranger Raptor has a firm foothold and with the release of Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior imminent. However, there is no other dual cab available as a convertible.
Despite Jeep's reiteration that the Wrangler and Gladiator are different vehicles for different segments and different buyers, there's no doubting the family bloodline and documented off-road chops. The V6 petrol engine, proper low range transfer case, locking front and rear diffs and off-road capability all promise to be very familiar if you've spent any time testing a Wrangler – there's no doubt about it.
Interestingly, the Wrangler Rubicon is available in Australia with a diesel engine – although not the same diesel engine the US model gets. We get a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel, while buyers in the US can access a 3.0-litre, V6 turbo diesel.
Given the proliferation of diesel engines at the dual-cab end of the market, it would seem likely the Gladiator would be a hot ticket item in Australia with an oiler under the bonnet.
Speaking at this week's launch of the Gladiator in New Zealand, Jeep representatives didn't rule a diesel engine out entirely, but there are also no guarantees we would get one. Queries about a diesel engine were met with a response of 'we will consider it' or 'it's under study' or 'you will hear more about that'.
So, what we know for now is that we will see Gladiator land with a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol engine, mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The engine makes a decent 213kW and 353Nm and will feature serious off-road ability in the Rubicon model – as is the case with any Jeep wearing a Rubicon badge.
While pricing and specification hasn't been formally announced, CarAdvice understands there will be two specification grades available in Australia – Overland and Rubicon – but you can use Wrangler Unlimited pricing as a rough guide.
The Unlimited Overland starts from $63,950 before on-road costs, while the Wrangler Rubicon petrol starts from $65,490 before on road costs. Those prices point to a starting price for Gladiator beyond the 70 grand mark, before on-road costs.
Where the Gladiator sits in the real world in the competitive set is an interesting proposition that the local market will decide as it becomes available. For example, its five-link rear-end and suspension system ensure only the aforementioned Ranger Raptor and N-Trek Navara Warrior really compete with it.
While its 2700kg braked towing capacity doesn't match the best of the dual cabs, for example, it does beat the Ranger Raptor. Yet its payload is rated to 620kg, which again won't sit it up with the best in the segment. However, it's also unlikely that anyone will be buying a Gladiator to use as a work truck.
CarAdvice will report on local pricing and specification as soon is it is available.