The Jeep Gladiator is putting on a 10-gallon hat and some ostrich-skin boots, y’all, because the poor thing is just sitting on dealer lots. Jeep thinks it can turn that around with a little Texas persona.
If there’s one thing that’s certain in car sales, it’s that Texas loves trucks — lots of them. That business plan has worked for Ford with its King Ranch pickups, and it’s worked for Chevy with its Silverado Texas Edition trucks. Even Toyota capitalized on the Lone Star State’s insatiable thirst for pickups with its 1794 special Tundras.
It’s Jeep’s turn with the Texas Trail and yes, it’s for sale only at Texas dealers:
Here’s what the 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail trim brings to the table, according to Jeep’s announcement (emphasis mine):
The Gladiator Texas Trail features 17-inch Mid-Gloss Black Aluminum wheels wrapped in 32-inch mud-terrain tires. These features, combined with the Jeep Command-Trac 4x4 part-time, two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, enhance the Gladiator Texas Trail’s off-road capability.
The unique Texas Trail hood and tailgate decals include the year 1836 as a nod to the Texas Declaration of Independence. The Sport S-based Gladiator Texas Trail also includes standard side steps, Trailer Tow Group, black hardtop, black leather seats embossed with the Texas Trail graphic and Technology Group with 7-inch radio and Convenience Group.
The new trim starts at $40,435, which is about $2,000 more than the starting price of the Gladiator it’s based on, the Sport S, which starts at $38,400. It’s just been announced, so it’s too early to tell whether it will move the needle.
I still think the Gladiator doesn’t stick in the minds of drivers the way it’s meant to. It just doesn’t read like classic Jeep trucks.
Jeep should have kept the dimensions of the Wrangler Unlimited and cut the rear door, making it a two-door pickup with an even more sizable bed. I think then it would have appreciably read as a truck first and a Wrangler second.
Another problem is that the Gladiator is competing with the Wrangler itself. The four-door Wrangler was a revolution for Jeep. The streets were flush with them when they came out, and more often than not, it’s still the Wrangler model I see on the road.
The Gladiator doesn’t look like it’s doing enough differently to justify its price premium, even though it very much is! It is good at being truck, no doubt, but it doesn’t look the part. As it stands, it’s just an expensive Wrangler with a weird bed. And now, it has Texas stickers.