2021 Jeep Gladiator Overland 4×4 EcoDiesel
Class: Compact Pickup Truck
Miles driven: 196
Fuel used: 8.3 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 23.7 mpg
Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B|
|Power and Performance||B-|
|Fit and Finish||B|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||260-hp 3.0-liter|
|Engine Type||V6 diesel|
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22/28/24 (city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Diesel
Base price: $40,395 (not including $1495 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Firecracker Red Clear-Coat exterior paint ($245); leather interior-upholstery upgrade ($1595); Trailer-Tow Package ($350); Cold Weather Group ($995); Premium LED Lighting Group ($1295); 8.4-inch Radio and Premium Audio Group ($1895); Jeep Active Safety Group ($895); Adaptive Cruise Control with Full Speed Forward Collision Warning+ ($795); hardtop headliner ($555); Cargo Management Group with Trail Rail system ($895); roll-up tonneau cover ($595); 8-speed automatic transmission ($2000); 3.0L V6 turbodiesel engine ($4000) remote-proximity keyless entry ($545) body-color Freedom Top 3-piece hard top ($2395); spray-in bedliner ($495)
Price as tested: $61,435
The great: One-of-a-kind looks, attitude, and functionality; off-road prowess
The good: Torquey diesel engine delivers respectable fuel economy; broad range of available features; long wheelbase provides decent ride quality for an off-road-focused vehicle
The not so good: Pricey options really drive up the bottom-line price; steering feel demands frequent minor corrections in highway driving
More Gladiator price and availability information
The trick for optimal off-road driving, be it inching over uneven rocks or squirming through soupy mud, is to get sufficient power to turn the wheels without generating a lot of counterproductive wheelspin. Nothing that burns fossil fuels meets that need quite like a diesel engine because of its strong, quickly developing torque, and now the Jeep Gladiator has one.
For 2021 Jeep makes the same 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 it dropped into the ’20 Wrangler available in its compact pickup, now in its second year on the market. As used in the Wrangler and Gladiator, this EcoDiesel engine from VM Motori in Italy is rated at 260 horsepower that peaks at 3600 rpm, but its considerable 442 lb-ft of torque is in play by just 1400 rpm and holds for up to twice that many revs. (A version of the same engine for Ram 1500 pickups is more powerful.) That is a bunch more torque than Gladiator’s other power choice, a 3.6-liter gasoline V6, generates.
Test Drive: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
An EcoDiesel was under the hood of the 2021 Gladiator Overland tested by Consumer Guide editors, albeit in on-road driving—a less-natural habitat for the engine. It is a $4000 option available for all Gladiators but the desert-running Mojave, and it requires an upgraded 8-speed automatic transmission, which costs a further $2000.
It’s a little harder to appreciate the turbodiesel’s virtues on the street, where its measured application of power can seem a little sluggish. At start-up and at idle there’s not much of the clatter so familiar from larger-displacement diesels, though determined acceleration will raise the noise level somewhat. Still, once the EcoDiesel starts feeling its oats, it will maintain a good head of steam for sustained zippy highway runs. The effective 8HP75 automatic kicks down promptly when bursts of power are called for. Depending on the model, a diesel Gladiator can tow as much as 6500 pounds, though the gas V6 provides the most available towing capacity at 7650 pounds.
Quick Spin: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport
EcoDiesel Gladiators have a smaller 18.3-gallon fuel tank than their gasoline-fed companions, but with an EPA highway-mileage estimate of 28 miles per gallon, that gives them a potential range in excess of 500 miles. Even the feds’ city estimate of 22 mpg and combined projection of 24 mpg are considerably better than what’s expected from the gas engine. CG editors extracted 23.7 mpg overall in evenly mixed driving, but one hit 26 mpg with more than two-thirds highway travel.
Quick Spin: 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
The Gladiator rests on a 137.3-inch-wheelbase chassis that’s part Wrangler and part pickup truck. Heavy-duty Dana 44 axles housing 3.73:1 final-drive gears are used at both ends. They are linked by “Command-Trac” part-time 4-wheel-drive with a 2-speed transfer case. A limited-slip rear differential is included with the diesel engine option. The extended wheelbase and all-coil-spring suspension make the pickup the best-riding Wrangler derivative around, especially models like the Overland that come with 255/70R18 all-season tires that are more compatible with street and highway driving than the dedicated off-road rubber.
First Spin: 2021 Ram 1500 TRX
The sticker for the Overland that CG drove started at $41,890 with delivery, which is the same price as the 2020 example the editors sampled, and we will point you to that report for details about equipment and passenger accommodations. However, our ’21 test truck wasn’t finished until it had reached $61,435 with individual and package options that included heated leather seats and steering wheel, LED exterior lighting, Uconnect infotainment with an 8.4-inch screen and navigation, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring, adaptive cruise control, cargo-bed management system, 3-piece removable hardtop roof panels, and much more. That is a breathtaking total for a compact-class pickup, a number that would fetch a pretty nice full-size truck. A turbodiesel Jeep Gladiator can help you “get away from it all” but that shouldn’t include all your money.
Test Drive: 2020 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab
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Listen to the very entertaining Consumer Guide Car Stuff Podcast
2021 Jeep Gladiator Overland Gallery
2020 Jeep Gladiator Overland
Consumer Guide Car Stuff Podcast, Episode 57; 2021 Consumer Guide Best Buys
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