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|7,650||Max Towing Capacity (LBS)||7,500|
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator has arrived after significant anticipation and is gaining its foothold in the midsize truck segment on its rugged, capable wheels. Meanwhile, the competition in this very popular market has had to step up their off-road game to keep up with the Jeep’s offerings. Ford’s Ranger is in the second year of its new generation, and the manufacturer has enhanced the 2020 Ranger to include a variety of features that enhance the overall experience. With several “Best In Class" ratings, the Ranger has an advantage over a large portion of the competition. Still, the Jeep Gladiator has one thing the other’s lack: a solid heritage in the off-road tradition. This leaves many truck enthusiasts wondering whether a truck should have off-road capability, or an off-road vehicle should have truck capability. This adds yet another level of competition to the mid-sized truck segment, as previous specifications considered towing and payload capacity, engine size, and fuel economy as primary factors. There are, of course, very important details when reviewing any performance or work-type vehicle. When comparing the 2020 Jeep Gladiator vs 2020 Ford Ranger, however, there’s far more than meets the eye to either contestant.
Both the Ford Ranger and the Jeep Gladiator keep their engine options limited for 2020; however, Jeep offers a diesel option, while Ranger remains true to gasoline.
The Jeep is powered by a 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine. This admirable engine option offers 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. This combination hits a sweet spot in the off-road capable truck market, as it’s able to tow up to 7,650 pounds of cargo, while still plenty ready to take on a variety of trail conditions, including hills, water, mud, and more.
All Gladiators are strictly all-wheel drive and come with a six-speed manual transmission. However, an eight-speed automatic transmission is optional. Some may be less than impressed with the limited bed size, as the Gladiator is only offered with a five-foot bed, but the towing capacity and rugged capabilities of the vehicle should make up for that.
The Gladiator includes a fuel economy of 16 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway, which is in line with most of Jeep’s SUVs.
In comparison, the 2020 Ford Ranger is available with only one engine, albeit a very capable one. The 2.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine provides 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. As a result, the Ranger is equipped to tow up to 7,500 pounds, making it comparable to the Gladiator in that sense, but it still falls a bit short.
The Ranger does offer an impressive fuel economy, however, at 21 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway for rear-wheel drive models, and 20 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway for all-wheel drive models.
Ranger drivers do have the choice of a six-foot or five-foot truck bed, which can be useful for those who are going to need that room for lengthy or larger cargo. Its engine is also paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission.
The true test of a truck is its ability to handle whatever comes its way. In this test, the Ford makes an admirable effort; however, a Jeep is born to roam.
All of the 2020 Ford Ranger trims are equipped with stabilizing features, such as a hearty steel frame and bumpers and an off-road chassis. The 4x4 models also offer electronic “Shift on the Fly” technology, which allows drivers to choose high or low mode four-wheel drive, and two-wheel drive for regular pavement roads.
Those looking for greater off-road capability can choose the FX4 Off-Road package. This optional package adds on to the typical trim levels with off-road monotube shocks, all-terrain tires, electronic locking rear differential, and heavy-duty skid plates to protect all of the truck's crucial elements. This package is further equipped with the Terrain Management System, which includes four driving modes: Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, or Sand. Trail Control technology allows drivers to engage a cruise control-type feature that manages each wheel’s throttle and braking levels while the driver concentrates on navigation.
Then there’s the Jeep Gladiator. Equipped with the Jeep brand 4x4 system, each tire is enabled with the traction it needs, with even higher levels of articulation, which adds stability to each tire, no matter what the terrain. Gladiator is carefully designed with a higher air intake, 11.1 inches of ground clearance, and a proprietary water sealing system that allows drivers to ford bodies of water up to 30 inches deep.
The Gladiator is also equipped with some amazing standard features, like heavy-duty front and rear tow hooks. The standard Dana 44 front and rear axles are stronger and more durable than typical axles as well, providing the necessary stability and rigidity to take on the trails.
For those looking for the ultimate adventure, the Gladiator Rubicon takes the off-road game up several notches. Tru-Lok front and rear locking differentials, FOX shocks, and the Rock-Trac 4x4 system add the stability off-road drivers need when tackling complicated obstacles. 33 inch off-road tires and high clearance fender flares keep the Rubicon rolling in the right direction, too.
Jeep also offers next-level available technology for the Gladiator. The optional TrailCam Off-Road Camera is a fun feature that lays grid lines on the display to help drivers choose their own adventure, with its own washer that keeps mud off the camera, so the fun doesn’t have to end early. OffRoad+ technology lets drivers take control of throttle, transmission shifts, and traction control to assist in crawls and soft terrain.
Jeep recently announced a new trim that will join the Jeep Gladiator's lineup that happens to be Jeep's first Desert Rated model. The new Mojave trim will arrive later in 2020 and is designed to conquer everything the desert can throw at drivers. This includes features that help with traction, maneuverability, ground clearance, and ride control.
Both Jeep and Ford throw in bonus technology to make the ride comfortable and enjoyable no matter where the road leads.
Jeep now includes Bluetooth technology, allowing drivers to sync up their smart devices so they can enjoy their favorite jams on the trails, or contact friends and family to keep in touch on the road. A Keyless Enter ‘n’ Go system allows drivers to keep the key in their pocket, unlocking the door on request when the fob is within five feet.
There are several additional package items that Jeep fans can opt into to make the Gladiator more like a truck and less like a Jeep if they wish to look beyond the adventure factor and into regular road usage. For example, a premium sound system can be added to any trim level, or an auxiliary switch package, which allows drivers to connect four electrical devices to in-cabin switches. This function is exceptionally helpful when operating trailers at night. A spray-in bed liner or semi-rigid tonneau cover can be added, as well.
The Jeep Gladiator also offers the one key feature that has won the manufacturer fans all over the world: the ability to remove the top and doors. In fact, it’s the only convertible-style truck on the market. It comes with the standard Jeep soft top and fold-down windshield that drivers of the brand have come to know and love. The doors are removable, too. That being said, those who wish to buck the trend can opt for a black hardtop with removable roof panels, and the Overland and Rubicon models have available body-color hardtops, as well. A thicker, premium soft top can be purchased, which adds a layer of insulation to the cabin.
While the Ford Ranger offers key features that Jeep does not, including heated and power-adjustable seats, a remote start engine, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and power-folding mirrors, there are no comparable features to the open-air Jeep. That being said, Ford does offer impressive safety technology, such as a Post-Crash alert system, Curve Control with AdvanceTrac Roll Stability Control, Lane-Keep Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Trailer Sway Control. All of these safety features stack up nicely and can be incredibly helpful for long-haul driving or towing.