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Gentle giant

Justin Harper
Justin Harper • 5 min read
Gentle giant
Jeep Gladiator is the perfect companion for that adventurous ride
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Jeep Gladiator is the perfect companion for that adventurous ride

The Jeep Gladiator is one hell of a truck. It is big, it is bulky and it is definitely not boring. This gargantuan pick-up has been built with adventure in mind, and you can definitely experience a good portion of that in our urban jungle, even though we lack the mud, sand and rocks it is designed for.

American carmaker Jeep, which is part of Fiat Chrysler and also sponsors of Italian football club Juventus, invent- ed the sports utility vehicle (SUV) before the term was even invented. It has been making rugged and tough jeeps since the 1940s so it knows a thing or two about off-roading vehicles.

While its best-selling models are the Wrangler and the Cherokee, you should not write off the new Gladiator, despite its hulking frame. In fact, the Gladiator looks a lot like a Wrangler with a truck bed attached. I have to admit I was slightly intimidated when I first set eyes on it, and my immediate concern was how I was going to park this mega-truck. It measures a whopping 5.591m long.

Jumping into the cabin, and I do mean jumping, you realise just how high off the ground you are. If you thought SUVs give you a superior seating position, then the Gladiator takes it to a high- er level, quite literally. Once you have settled in, you get a chance to admire the interior. Stylishly rugged and practical, it’s the sort of cabin I wish more car manufacturers adopted.

If you look at the promotional material for the Gladiator, you will see it is most at home in the jungle, in mud and the beach. You can take the doors off, the entire roof and the cabin to give you complete open-air freedom. It was a cloudy day so I didn’t risk taking off the entire cabin, plus it is more than a one-man job. Instead, I effortlessly took off the front two roof panels to turn the Gladiator into a bona fide convertible for the driver and front-seat passenger.

SEE: Modern luxury

You just unclip the clasps, lift the panels off and throw them into the back seats. In fact, there’s a special storage box just for them. It is also a secure place to keep your valuables. This is really useful if you do strip the Gladiator down to its bare essentials and want to keep your valuables safe when you are parked.

Driving the Gladiator on the road turned many heads and pretty much allows you to do whatever you want. Who is going to mess with this beast, and try to cut you up? It is intimidating for other drivers, but I think they secretly wish they were driving it too. You feel all-powerful, outdoorsy and just want to go and chop down a tree somewhere.

While size and strength may be on your side, speed is not your friend. It may have an eight-speed automatic gear-box but the Gladiator is classified as a commercial vehicle, much like a lorry or contractor’s truck. This means it has a 78kph speed limit on Singapore’s roads. Go above this and a built-in de- vice sets off a beeping noise warning you to slow down.

It is pretty easy to go above this enforced speed limit given the Gladiator has a 3.6-litre V6 engine, but you soon learn to adapt your driving style to ac- commodate it. In fact, it makes you a safer driver. As it is a commercial vehicle, it uses G-plates rather than an S-plate.

The test drive model I took was the Overland version, although there is an even more rugged Rubicon to choose from. Sadly, I never got to take the Gladiator off-road to see its full capabilities, but this is something I am very keen to try one day. For now, I will just have to imagine it crawling over rocks, rip- ping through mud and navigating a giant sand dune.

As I drove this rugged, off-road truck I had a good think about the sort of person who would drive it. I also had a long chat with the Jeep team to find out who actually has been buying it. Most people love its practicality and versatility. The flatbed is very easy to open and you can throw so much stuff in the back. Keen cyclists can get bike racks

fitted in the back, and it will accommodate the whole family’s two-wheelers. For the more adventurous, it can easily handle a couple of kayaks.

The Jeep Gladiator I think is also about a lifestyle choice. Even if you do not have the opportunity to be outdoorsy all the time and go off-roading, it is making a statement that you would like to. And it really is a functional and stylish truck to drive around. I was truly converted by the end of my 48 hours with it. It took me out of my comfort zone, and now I do not want to go back.

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