There comes a time in every car guy’s life when he has to accept the fact that Jeeps are pretty darn cool. Driving a 2023 Jeep Gladiator for the first time was that moment for me.
The 2023 Gladiator is ugly, noisy at high speeds, and it gets pushed around a lot in the wind. That said, it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a truck.
My full review of the 2023 Jeep Gladiator Sport
The fact that I paid out of my own pocket to rent the Sport model you see in these pics means that this is going to be one of the most honest (and blunt) 2023 Jeep Gladiator reviews you’ll ever read. I have no sponsors to cower to, and nobody I need to impress. These are my pure / unfiltered thoughts.
Honestly? I find the Gladiator to be one of the ugliest vehicles on the road. That said, “ugly” can be a virtue. The fact that it looks like no other pickup truck is a good thing. I consider it to be so different (and so ugly) that I can’t help to appreciate how much of an ugly duckling it is. It’s so ugly that it’s cool. Makes total sense, right?
Those of you who read my list of Jeep Gladiator pros and cons have already seen me praise the interior (to the point where you may have assumed that I have been a lifelong Jeep fanboy).
I appreciate the ruggedness and overall simplicity. I like the fact that the entire interior is made up of materials that can be hosed down and wiped off. It looks like a truck, it feels like a truck, and absolutely none of it is frilly (or luxurious). It’s exactly what a Jeep interior should be IMHO.
The 2023 Gladiator (Sport Edition) is easily one of the most ‘easy to live with’ trucks that I’ve ever driven. Steering feel is light (maybe a bit too light), and it’s as easy to drive as a 2017 Kia Forte. Outward visibility from the driver’s seat is OK. The only major blindspot (the one that really ticked me off) was over my left shoulder.
Perhaps the thing that impressed me the most when driving 2023 Gladiator was how well it handled rough roads. Compared to the 2021 Toyota Tacoma (for example), the Gladiator glides over bumps without feeling like the rear end is on the brink of losing traction. It feels planted and smooth on nearly all surfaces.
The engine and transmission
The 3.6 L V6 in the 2023 Gladiator is rated at 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. My opinion? It’s not enough. It felt plenty powerful enough to maintain higher speeds, but getting up to speed is the problem. Pulling away from stoplights feels lethargic. Merging onto the interstate feels scary.
Storage and utility
Even though the Gladiator is technically a pickup truck, it features one of the smallest pickup truck beds on the market. This isn’t the truck for anyone who needs to carry large / bulky things on a regular basis. A 4 x 8 sheet of plywood? Forget about it.
It’s worth mentioning that the towing capacity (7,700 lbs) is fairly decent for a truck of this size. It certainly doesn’t feel strong enough to be able to pull that much weight – but I’ll take their word for it.
As you can see, the Gladiator in these pictures is the base spec. It’s the lowest tier ‘Sport’ model, which features street tires (245/75R17), and tame (street tuned) suspension. That said, it was still incredibly capable of veering off the pavement and getting into situations that would pretty much destroy lesser midsize SUVs.
Maybe it’s because it’s shaped like a brick, but I found the gas mileage to be nothing short of horrible with the 3.6 L V6. I averaged a measly 19 miles per gallon over the span of two days – which was shocking considering how I basically drove it like a pansy.