The Jeep Gladiator pickup gets a new diesel engine option for 2021. It’s the same 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 you’ll find in the Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500, pushing out 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. But with its $6,000 premium over the standard powertrain, is it good enough to warrant that extra cost?
- Tons of low-end torque
- Smooth highway manners
- Fuel economy benefits
- Unmatched off-road chops
- Diesel engine is expensive
- Payload and towing ratings suffer
To find out, we head for the sand dunes of Glamis, California. Theoretically, at least, the increased low-end torque and revised gearing in the eight-speed automatic transmission should be a boon for off-roading, letting us keep momentum without needing to change gears. The other benefit of this engine is fuel economy, and the Gladiator Rubicon EcoDiesel is rated to return 22 miles per gallon combined. (Sport and Overland models can achieve 24 mpg.) After 500 miles of driving and a hard day in the dunes, we’re seeing 21.8 mpg. Pretty good.
The Gladiator has an Off-Road Plus setting that sharpens the throttle response in four-wheel-drive high gear for quicker bursts