Oh, Jeep. Look, pickup trucks, as a rule, just don’t really come as convertibles. There are plenty of good reasons for this, like weight and body rigidity, but most importantly, it doesn’t seem to be a feature that many truck customers need or want. But Jeep doesn’t care about lame stuff like that. Once you understand that, then you’ll understand why the Jeep Gladiator is the only pickup truck with a convertible top.
Why aren’t there more convertible trucks?
I want to go ahead and get the Range Rover Evoque out of the way. Even though it isn’t a pickup truck and Range Rover eventually had the good sense to kill this hideous creature, it still informs this conversation. Even if it weren’t uglier than the bottom of my shoe, the Evoque convertible was doomed to fail. It seems clear that the drop-top luxury SUV isn’t something the people want.
Interestingly, the Jeep Gladiator, an honest-to-God convertible pickup truck, is not only selling like gangbusters, but it’s kind of cool.
The Jeep Gladiator is special
Aside from it being the only convertible pickup truck, Jeep operates on a different set of rules than the rest of the car world. The Jeep Wrangler – the basis for the Gladiator – hasn’t rated well for comfort, reliability, safety, or damn near anything else in a long time. However, none of that seems to matter. People love Jeeps. I love Jeeps. Good, bad, or otherwise, something within us makes us want a proper Jeep.
The Gladiator sports a different, longer chassis than the Wranglers in which it models its looks after. Also, borrowing from the CJ8 Scramblers from the ‘80s, it wears a truck bed on the back of a Wrangler. It is cool.
Continuing the Wrangler to truck transformation, the Gladiator kept the Wrangler’s removable top. That’s a convertible truck, people.
Is the Jeep Gladiator a good truck?
This depends on what your definition of “good” is. Again, the world of Wranglers and Wrangler-based trucks isn’t about being “good” but about driving a Jeep. However, I understand that that isn’t the most helpful answer.
Consumer Reports was not impressed by the Gladiator. However, it did rank higher than the Wrangler, interestingly. The 2022 Jeep Gladiator comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6, making 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque through a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional eight-speed automatic. There is also an optional 3.0-liter turbodiesel option—manual transmissions and convertible for a pickup truck. I’m just sayin’…
The Jeep Wrangler, in its toughest configuration, can pull 7,650 lbs. While that is a decent spec, the gas mileage is a killer. The Gladiator is getting an oppressive 16 mpg city and 23 highway. The diesel version is rated at 22 mpg city and 28 highway.
The fuel economy isn’t the only sacrifice you’ll make for the convertible pickup truck. The interior also leaves a little to be desired from a truck that starts at $38,765. Remember, proper 4×4 Jeeps value off-road capability more than anything else. As such, the interiors can come off a bit spartan and harsh. That said, thanks to that longer wheels base, Car and Driver says that the leg room, like the headroom, is mighty plentiful.
The only convertible truck is cool
Convertible trucks as a segment might sound extremely lame and groan-worthy from every angle, but the only one we have currently on the market is really cool. It’s not all that great, objectively speaking, but many of us out there see ourselves living the Jeep life. Instead, we buy decent and practical vehicles like a Toyota. Let’s work on that.