In the world of trucks, generally most people think about “work” trucks like the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, or GMC Sierra 1500. Hauling sheetrock, moving bricks and occasionally towing a boat or aircraft here and there. But there are also “fun” trucks running around too. The most notable is the Jeep Wrangler, more recently the Ford Bronco, and to a lesser extent, the Toyota 4Runner. Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford to have one of each of these kinds of off-roaders, so what is a potential owner to do? Well, thankfully Jeep has figured out a way to bridge the gap between fun and work with the 2023 Jeep Gladiator.

Power for the Gladiator comes from one of two engine choices. The base engine is the corporate motor that refuses to get much better or be replaced. The aluminum block and heads, naturally-aspirated Pentastar DOHC 3.6-liter V6 has been around in one variation or another for more than a decade in the Chrysler universe, and continues to power a litany of vehicles. In Gladiator form, it produces a respectable 285-horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

On the other end of the spectrum is the newer, and more efficient 3.0-liter DOHC EcoDiesel V6 that produces a slightly less 260-horsepower and a ridiculously impressive 442 pound-feet of torque. How much more efficient? The diesel nets an incredible 21/27/24 city/highway/combined, while the gas-powered V6 can only muster up a best of 17/22/19 city/highway/combined.

In either case, you also get your choice of two transmissions. There is a standard 6-speed manual transmission, or an 8-speed automatic. The diesel does get a slightly beefed-up version of the automatic to handle the increased torque, but most owners will never be able to tell the difference. There are also six different drive modes available: On-road, Gravel, Snow, Mud, Rock and Sand.

As far as performance goes, most Jeeps outside of some hot-rod SRT versions are not known for their exceptional track prowess, and the Gladiator is no exception. At its best, the big 5,000 pound truck can run from 0-60 MPH in a reasonable 7.3 seconds and through the quarter mile in 15.6 seconds at 88 MPH. Braking from 70-0 MPH takes 195 feet, and around the skidpad the 2023 Jeep Gladiator posts a subpar 0.74 g. In terms of real ‘truck’ performance, the Gladiator can haul a max payload of 1,700 pounds and tow up to a substantial 7,650 pounds.

But anyone that buys the Gladiator thinking its going to be a Trackhawk has been massively mislead. Where Jeeps shine are in their ability to perform when the road ends. There are nine Gladiator trims to choose from: High Altitude, Mojave, Rubicon, Texas Trail, Overland, Willys, Sport S, Willys Sport, and Sport. Depending on which trim you choose, there are what feels like almost infinite options available. A black or body-color hardtop, a zipperless soft top or a ‘Sunrider’ top, which covers the rear passengers with a hardtop and a soft top that allows the front seats to be able to enjoy the sun on demand by folding back. You can have heavy-duty Dana 44 axles, steel skid plates, big 33-inch tires, a disconnecting sway bar.

Inside, you can get a standard-issue 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment center, or upgrade to 7.0- or 8.4-inch units that come standard on the more expensive trims. The five-foot steel bed can be had with a 110-volt outlet built-in, and there is also an upgraded stereo available that can be had with an optional subwoofer and trick rear speakers that can operate wirelessly to take beyond the cabin to a campsite or tailgate party if so desired.

Although prices for new cars have been a little out of control lately, the Jeep Gladiator seems to be holding steady compared to so many cars and trucks that are asking far over MSRP. With so many trims available, the price range for the 2023 Gladiator is quite a significant range indeed. At its cheapest, you can have a new Gladiator in the lowest Sport trim for $40,570. On the other end of that range is the top-of-the-line High Altitude, which checks in at a lofty $55,790.

Keep in mind however, the best aspect of owning a Jeep can also come back to bite you when it comes time to fork over the cash. The incredible amount of options available to customize your Gladiator can be awesome when it comes to making it your own, but it will cost you. Fully loaded and in top trim, the Jeep Gladiator can crest the 70-grand mark after taxes and fees. But with the range of versatility the Jeep Gladiator brings to the table, there is a strong argument that can be made it is an incredible value even at its top price. That is because 70K is still a lot cheaper than having to buy one truck for work and one for fun, and with the 2023 Jeep Gladiator, you get both of those all in one.

The 2023 Jeep Gladiator
2023 Jeep Gladiator drive modes available: On-road, Gravel, Snow, Mud, Rock and Sand

Related: Welcome the Gladiator!

Photos: Jeep

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