Jeep introduced the Gladiator in 1962, as full size pickup truck variation of what later would become the Wagoneer SUV. By the early 1970s, the Gladiator evolved into the Honcho, which was also based on the large Wagoneer. Jeep replaced the Honcho with the smaller, Cherokee-based Comanche in the late eighties, before discontinuing the pickup body altogether in 1992.
There has been much skepticism about Jeep re-entering the pickup market, considering the disappointing sales of the Comanche nearly fifteen years ago, and the steadily emerging competition ever since then. However, the recent arrival of a new Jeep concept seemed to suggest that the American automaker may be planning to give the pickup another try.
Jeep reintroduced the Gladiator in 2005, really as a demonstration vehicle to help publicize the future direction of the company. It served as a preview for the new Wrangler, which arrived in 2006 with a similar shape and overall dimensions. It was most directly a foundation for the new four-door Wrangler variation. The Gladiator was 205 inches long with a 138 inch wheelbase, and about 75 inches in both width and height. The bed strentched to a very accommodating length of just under six feet. The bed could expanded one additional foot, extending into the cab, by folding the rear into lower compartments. Ground clearance was 13.7 inches, thanks to the massive 34 inch tires.
Despite DaimlerChrysler’s intention to use the Gladiator solely as a marketing tool, a cult following quickly developed. There are now many rumors surrounding the possibility of production.
If the attributes of the concept Gladiator are retained, Jeep’s new pickup will be powered by a 2.8-liter inline four turbo diesel engine. This power plant will generate 163 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, and will be paired with a six-speed manual transmission.