2021 Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel First Drive: Diesel Makes It Better

2021 Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel First Drive: Diesel Makes It Better

No one would blame you for thinking that adding a diesel engine to a vehicle’s lineup is a bad idea these days – not after the VW emissions cheating scandal. While this is really not a good idea for passenger cars given the additional costs and lack of consumer appetite, it is still a great idea for trucks and their work-oriented missions that often get them off the road. . For their part, Jeep executives like to say the second question they heard after: “Will you make a Jeep truck?” was: “Will there be a diesel?” The 2019 launch of the Jeep Gladiator answered the first in the affirmative, and the EcoDiesel variant does the same for the second. And it’s a better truck for that.


FTW Diesel Torque

The formula is exactly what you’d expect from it: Jeep installed the corporate 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 available in the Wrangler and Ram 1500 in the engine bay of the Gladiator, along with a beefed-up version of the familiar. eight-speed automatic transmission. As elsewhere, the V-6 produces 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, just a little less horsepower than the standard gasoline V6 and a lot more torque.

As in the Wrangler, the EcoDiesel spins a 3.73: 1 rear axle at all trim levels, including the Rubicon. (The Mojave running in the desert won’t offer the diesel engine.) With all that low-end torque, the more aggressive 4.10: 1 rear isn’t needed to crawl through rocks, and the higher gear improves. fuel consumption. -class 22/28/24 mpg city / highway / combined. It’s better than any other midsize truck, if only slightly, and it’s also the most torque. Power is on the lower end of the class overall, but not by much.

Torque is more important with trucks, of course, and one of the non-diesel Gladiator’s shortcomings is its distinct lack of low-end grunt with the gasoline V-6. This engine will make power if you run it, but people don’t drive like that, especially in pickup trucks. EcoDiesel solves the problem. It does its full torque shootout from 1,400 rpm and keeps it at 2,800 rpm, the point at which power is in line before its own peak of 3,600 rpm.

Driving happy diesel will make you happy

The difference is very obvious behind the wheel. Our test vehicle was a Rubicon model, which has the biggest, heaviest tires and highest curb weight of any Gladiators, putting the most pressure on diesel (and dropping the city EPA and highway of 1 mpg each). No sweating. The Gladiator diesel jumps off the line and pulls cleanly in its limited rev range with much more authority than the gasoline engine. Because this is not a sports car, the throttle calibration is not aggressive. You have to put the pedal to the metal if you want the truck to jump, but when you do, it does. At any speed, on a steep hill, on the freeway – you name the place, it’s happy to oblige, and there’s no dropping four gears and redlining the engine like the gasser. In fact, other than a bit of rattling at idle and full throttle, the engine is extremely quiet. Of course, the Gladiator itself has a lot of noise inside and out, helping to mask any indecision from the diesel.

Speaking of nothing, he also has great burnouts.

In the other direction, the high compression ratios of diesel engines mean that you don’t have to overwork the brakes when going downhill. When going down an 8% grade, just lift the accelerator to maintain a constant speed for miles.

EcoDiesel = All-terrain champion

Off-road, diesel is a delight. As noted, diesel engines are the king of dirt, and the EcoDiesel Gladiator virtually idles on anything in its path. Where the gasoline engine often needs to be accelerated and work hard to climb on things, the diesel hardly wakes up. Using hill descent control and low gears, you can tiptoe down a steep path at just 0.6 mph. The Gladiator already felt unstoppable in off-roading, and now it’s even more formidable when the asphalt ends.

We’ll be attaching our test equipment to a diesel Gladiator as soon as possible, but in the meantime we can make an educated estimate of its performance. A Wrangler with the same diesel was only slightly slower at 60 mph than one with the gasoline V-6, so the diesel Gladiator is likely to perform the same. If so, it will hit 60 mph in the low 8 second range while feeling a lot happier doing it.

Trailers and hauls less diesel trucks than Jeep

However, there are tradeoffs to be made. Maximum towing capacity on diesel models is 6,500 pounds, compared to 7,650 with the gasoline engine. This is entirely due, according to Jeep, to the cooling and not to the capacity of the engine. Towing ratings often depend on cooling, as engines work much harder than normal and create a lot more heat. Without playing with the Gladiator’s seven-slot grille and rock-ready steel bumper, engineers simply couldn’t supply air to the radiator and intercooler anymore, so maximum towing capacity had to be limited.

In a similar sense, the payload is a function of the weight of the vehicle. According to Jeep charts, diesel adds 260 to 365 pounds to the Gladiator’s curb weight, and as a result, payload capacity suffers. A gasoline-powered Gladiator can handle 1,700 pounds, right at the top of the class, but diesel peaks at 1325 for the Lightest Sport, 1075 for the Rubicon.

But the Gladiator Diesel offers a huge range

On the flip side, fuel mileage and range are on the rise, theoretically allowing you to go over 500 miles between pit stops. As with the diesel Wrangler, Jeep engineers had to shrink the fuel tank to make room for the urea tank that feeds the emissions scrubbing equipment. Do the math with the price of fuel and the economy, and you’ll find that the value proposition is about the same as the Wrangler diesel, meaning you’ll have to drive your EcoDiesel Gladiator over 300,000 miles to save. enough money on fuel to offset the $ 4,000 cost of the engine. (Engine choice also requires spending $ 2,000 to get the ‘standard’ eight-speed automatic, so the actual price is $ 6,000, which means adding another 100,000 miles to balance the books. .)

And that’s the catch. The Gladiator already has the highest starting price in the class at $ 35,040, and the starter diesel rings in at $ 41,040. This money will put you in a full-size truck with a diesel, and almost in a heavy truck with a diesel. Another thing to note is that you can’t get diesel with the manual transmission. As with the Wrangler lineup, too few people are expected to buy the diesel engine or manual transmission on their own to justify their coupling.


If you’re going to buy a Gladiator anyway, it’s probably worth buying the diesel. Big Six is ​​an expensive jump, but the truck rides so much better on and off the road that it feels fully justified. We’ll have a better understanding of the 2021 Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel case once we load the bed and hook up a trailer, but so far it’s been fine.

Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel 2021
DISPOSITIONFront engine, 4 wheel drive, 5 passengers, 4 door truck
ENGINE3.0L / 260 hp / 442 lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V6 turbo-diesel engine
TRANSMISSION8 speed automatic
WEIGHT ON BOARD4,700 lbs (manufacturer)
L x W x H218.0 x 73.8 x 73.1-75.0 inches
0 to 60 mph8.0 to 8.2 seconds (MT is)
EPA FUEL ECON21-22 / 27-28 / 24 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY / ROAD160-171 / 125-135 kWh / 100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.83-0.91 lbs / mile
ON SALECurrently

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