After years of consumer requests, the Jeep Gladiator debuted in November 2018 to much fanfare. With the first year plus of these pickups on the market, we look to answer the question: Is Jeep Gladiator reliability a concern?
Plus, can it outperform the poor reliability track record of the Wrangler? Let’s take a look.
A look back – 2020 Jeep Gladiator dominant kick off
When the first Jeep Gladiator pickups rolled off the lines and into journalists hands, the awards starting flowing (North American Truck of the Year, Truck of Texas, Truck of Northeast, Top 10 Best Interior Car and Driver, FourWheeler Truck of Year, TFL Gold Hitch Award, etc…). Journalists saw how much fun the pickup can be with its removable doors, top, fold-down windshield and slew of off-road gear.
The truck is really the answer for many Wrangler owners for an off-road vehicle with a bed while not going the Toyota Tacoma route. About the only downside to a switch from Wrangler to Gladiator was the length of the pickup making it a little more difficult to operate in rocky terrain.
However, that hasn’t slowed down sales.
Through the 2nd quarter of 2020, Jeep has sold 34,827 Gladiator pickup trucks representing a 380% increase year over year. While this large increase is likely due to dealers not having many lower-trim Gladiators on lots during the second quarter of 2019, it is still a pretty impressive growth considering COVID-19 took the wind out of everyone’s sails.
Sales strong, reliable as well?
With somewhere around 75,000 Gladiator pickups now being driven by consumers, it is interesting to see what the early complaints are and how many recalls plus technical service bulletins there have been. The short answer is a lot.
Looking at Carcomplaints.com, NHTSA.gov and Consumer Reports, we see all sorts of interesting reliability data like we found for similar stories on Ram 1500, Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Silverado, Ford F150, etc.
Starting with Carcomplaints.com, we see 3 recalls, 134 technical service bulletins and 105 complaints on the pickup.
The recalls fix a lack of grease in the monoblock joint on the rear driveshaft for 3,733 pickups, a clutch pressure plate that may overheat for 33,237 vehicles and a rearview image remaining on the display screen too long affected 318,537 Wrangler and Gladiator pickups.
For the numerous 2020 Gladiator TSBs, a document sent to dealers from Jeep describing how to troubleshoot or fix common problems. These TSBs are required to be published by law. Many of these TSBs are for small issues like the radio volume being stuck on high, noise from the front axle area over bumps, oil fill level light issues as well as how much oil to put into the 3.6-liter Pentastar engine.
These issues are pretty common to crop up in the first model year of any vehicle.
Consumer complaints are really a key item to look at. Considering the pickups we are looking at likely all have less than 20,000 miles on them at this point, the complaints should be minor.
They are a bit more than that.
Looking at the complaints on NHTSA.gov we can see the majority of them deal with steering. Owners are complaining the Gladiator seems to wander on the road at speeds higher than 30 mph. They complain it is often hard to control and bring back into the lane as they drive down the highway and while we don’t know which trim level they have — the Rubicon for example has knobby, off-road tires resulting in less precise steering control — we do see these complaints represent the bulk of the issues. Out of the 91 complaints on NHTSA, 68 are over the steering.
The bulk of the other complaints deal with the powertrain and specifically the engine. Interestingly, two of those complaints relate to the above steering problem while the others are random issues with oil leaking, rear locker engaging on its own and one owner experiencing smoking from a manual transmission Gladiator.
Finally, looking at projected reliability from Consumer Reports, we see concerning results.
Projected reliability, we should note, is rather difficult since this is a new vehicle for the Jeep lineup. However, the powertrain is used in other vehicles as well as many of the suspension parts are used throughout the Jeep lineup.
With this said, it’s no real surprise Consumer Reports gives the Gladiator a 2/5 for predicted reliability. This is likely driven by the poor reliability the publication often gives the Jeep Wrangler.
The facts are while Wrangler owners are some of the most devoted consumers in the marketplace, their rig hasn’t been the best for avoiding problems. However, the current trend on Carcomplaints.com should give shoppers some peace of mind the issues might be in the past, and the Gladiator should be more reliable than older Jeep products.
What do you think? Are you concerned about the Jeep Gladiator reliability track record?