Just a year ago, Jeep had dispatched over its then all-new, gas-powered Gladiator Rubicon to us. Recently, we had the opportunity to test the diesel version of what is the only four-door 4X4 convertible in the market. Like to climb, trail and crawl, or haul tons of cargo, go water fording? In an open-air vehicle? Then this should be your ride!
Under the hood of the body-on-frame 2021 Gladiator sits the optional 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 engine ($4,000) putting out 260 horsepower @ 3600 rpm and 442 pounds-feet of torque @ 2800 rpm. The go-anywhere capable vehicle, with high and low transfer case gears, is mated to a typical 8-speed auto gearbox.
Our test drive, the Overland, was a standout dual three-piece hardtop and a soft top with removable doors, exposed hinges, fold-down windshield, front/rear hooks and tubular side steps. That this is a Jeep is even more apparent from the traditional seven-slot, keystone-shaped grille, flanked by rounded halogen headlights, square tail lamps, and a flat, clamshell hood reaching down to trapezoidal fender flares. The 4X4 is designed for off-road conditions such as traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation and water fording. Skid plates will protect the front, transfer case and fuel tank.
The cabin sticks to the original Jeep’s handy capability with 103 cubic feet of interior room. Storage cubicles are scattered throughout, including a bin under the rear seat floor. As are several 120-volt outlets. The instrument cluster is simply laid out with rounded speedometer, tachometer, temperature, fuel, oil and volt gauges. Also included are dual a/c, manual tilt/telescopic steering column, cloth seats, six-way manual driver and four-way front-passenger seats, push-button start, 7-inch UConnect touchscreen, leather steering wheel, lockable console and door armrest, and a 5-foot cargo bed. A roll-up tonneau cover is available for $595.
Standard safety features are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic stability, traction and trailer-sway control, anti-roll system, rearview camera, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.
Except for slightly loud road noise and engine, diehard Jeep aficionados will love the amazing talents of the rugged Gladiator. Simultaneously, the quintessential SUV with over seven decades of tradition is adept on neighborhood streets. Its off-road or on-road prowess makes the diesel version a remarkable and much-needed addition to the Jeep roster.

Tires: 255/70R18 all-season
Wheelbase: 137.3 inches
Length: 218 inches
Width: 73.8 inches
Height: 75 inches
Suspension: independent 5-link coil system
Steering: electro-hydraulic power-assist
Weight: 4,742 pounds
Tow capacity: 6,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 18.3 gallons
City: 22 mpg
Highway: 28 mpg
Base price: $40,395s
Price with options: $61,730
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