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69 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I found this article to be pretty insightful, took a look at the 2019 Ranger and 2020 Gladiator and did a comparison of the two trucks.

Here are the 5 differences they noticed -

1) Jeep Gladiator has solid front axles, can go further
Like the Jeep Wrangler, every Jeep Gladiator is four-wheel drive, so it has a bit more capability than the Ranger baked into the standard price. But adding to that off-road prowess is a Dana 44 front and rear axle, the front version of which is only found on the Wrangler Rubicon. This heavy-duty axle helps the Gladiator push through all manner of inhospitable terrain and gives it that incredible front-wheel articulation; what a solid front axle doesn't do is improve driving dynamics.
2) Ford Ranger has a more advanced powertrain
The Jeep Gladiator has a tried-and-true Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 mated to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission. It's a solid setup that should be generally reliable, if mostly uninteresting. But over in the Ford camp, they've embraced both turbocharging and additional forward gears. The Ranger has a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder (270 horsepower, 310 pound-feet of torque) paired to a 10-speed automatic, which is the highest gear count in the midsize pickup class. Calibration is solid, and the transmission swaps cogs rapidly to keep you in the power band and the truck feels quick on its feet as a result. It's just more fun to drive—unless, of course, you prefer a manual transmission. Ford doesn't offer it, while you can row your own on all Gladiator trim levels.
3) Jeep Gladiator Has UConnect, One of the Best Systems Out There
Ford's latest version of SYNC is miles better than it ever has been, with full support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play. But Jeep's UConnect system remains best-in-class, and honestly one of the best in the industry. It supports the phone connections for those who want to use Car Play and Android Auto, including dedicated USB-C ports, but it also has advanced features for satellite radio. Most importantly, the touchscreen has a lightning-quick response time.
4) Ford Ranger Feels More Spacious Up Front
The Gladiator has overall more volume in the cab, but the Ranger's 43.1-inches of legroom up front for the driver is better than the 41.2-inches on the Gladiator. Combined with its flat dash and flat windscreen, the Jeep just feels smaller up front. If you're coming from a Wrangler you're likely used to it and it won't bother you. But if you're coming from anything else, you might feel cramped. It also doesn't hurt (literally) that Ford continues to make some of the most comfortable front seats in the business.
5) Jeep Gladiator is Getting a Diesel
We mentioned earlier that the Jeep Gladiator currently only has one engine available, but we are expecting a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel to become available in Gladiator, tuned to dump out 442 pound-feet through the eight-speed automatic. If torque is your thing, you'll want to wait around. Meanwhile, the Ford Ranger's four-cylinder will likely stick around as the only option until the next generation truck debuts next decade.
Based on this points I'd give the edge to the Ranger. I'm not surprised the Jeep is the better off-roader, and it's not a deal breaker for me that the Ranger doesn't come with a diesel engine. I'll take the more responsive engine and larger leg room. I think the Jeep is way to big to use effectively on a daily basis. Also if I wanted a Jeep I would just stick with a regular Wrangler.

What does everyone else think of this comparison?

69 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Forbes compared the two pickups and what was interesting was they emphasized how different the trucks are.

Which one is better, though? My (non) answer is that it depends. The Ranger appeals to a more practical side, while the Jeep is a more emotional buy. They’re so different, in fact, that saying one is better than the other wouldn’t be fair to either. Both are great trucks, but in completely opposite ways. The Ranger is more usable and comfortable as a daily driver, while the Gladiator has a removable top and is more fun and capable off-road. Where you land on the preference spectrum will depend completely on how you’ll use the truck. As the family’s primary chauffeur, my money would buy a Ranger, but only because it’s easier to live with while hauling two kids around. I’d go team Ranger also because I live in a part of the country that makes driving with the top off uncomfortable (maybe even dangerous) for over half of the year, as our Maine summers pass quickly into cooler weather.

69 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
IMO, none of this matters much. It will once the new Ranger arrives. Current Ranger is an old model.
How do you think the new Ranger will fare against the Gladiator and what changes would you make? I'd like to see Ford make it a bit better off-road but that's not a deal breaker or anything.

100 Posts
Motor Trend gave their own comparison of the Ranger XL and the Gladiator. Overall they said the Gladiator was the better buy.

One approach to choosing a work truck is to select something as no-frills as possible; a truck you can beat up, leave dirty, and not worry about—at the expense of actual enjoyment. Another is to buy past basicness for something suited to daily versatility, plus fun on those weekends we all work for in the first place.

Squaring off the Ford Ranger XL and Jeep Gladiator Sport around those factors bodes well for either. But when only one can be chosen, we'd pick the truck that works as well on a jobsite as it does far beyond. Step in the ring and find out why.

On The Road
Our Ranger test truck was a SuperCab 4x2 model equipped with a 270-hp, 310 lb-ft turbocharged 2.3-liter I-4, connected to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It's relatively quick—0-60 comes in 6.3 seconds. Features editor Christian Seabaugh called the powertrain a "bright spot," saying, "Though it can be a bit rough, the engine is efficient and has a torquey punch—it really feels work-capable." It returns good fuel economy, too, rated at 21/26 mpg city/highway.

Compared to similar trucks, its steering is enjoyably car-like, feeling quick and direct. However, don't mistake that for sport or composure. Detroit editor Alisa Priddle took issue with its soft suspension, saying, "The body roll can make you sick as it wallows down the road." Features editor Scott Evans noted the same, saying, "The body is never not in motion, which means you're constantly moving around, too." There's plenty of dive under braking, compounded by the pedal's bafflingly nonlinear response.

The Gladiator's engine is a 3.6-liter V-6 making 285 hp and 260 lb-ft, here connected to—believe it or not—a six-speed manual transmission. Don't get excited, though; this drivetrain is hardly an enthusiast's dream. The engine is gutless low in the rev range; you have to take it to 4,000 rpm to get any meaningful twist. That's made worse by the long and widely spaced gears. "First goes through 30 mph, second through 60, and third through around 100," Seabaugh said, continuing, "For a truck that's supposed to work and off-road, that's insane—I'd halve those ratios." The Gladiator gets to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds.

The shifter isn't inspiring to work, either, with a bulky knob, long throws, and play in the gates, plus a high clutch catch point. The available eight-speed automatic is the better choice; it could also improve fuel economy over this manual truck's rated of 16/23 mpg city/highway.

Ride and handling will feel familiar to previous Jeep drivers. It's similar, although perhaps smoother, than the Wrangler it shares DNA with. That is to say, it's bouncy, unsettled, and requires constant input on the slow steering, all of which are very much part of the Jeep experience.

Off To Work
Put your wondering to bed: The Ranger's 6-foot box tops the Gladiator's 5-foot cargo area. Priddle quips that 5 feet is "barely big enough to qualify as a pickup, but it gets the job done." Those 12 inches might matter to some, but how each vehicle utilizes that cargo space might matter more.

In the Ford, six hard-mounted tie-downs aid versatility, but the undamped tailgate hints at cost cutting. By comparison, the Jeep's bed features a few party pieces. Four tie-downs are fixed in place, but our test truck had four additional adjustable tie-downs that slide on rails near the top of the bed. The tailgate is damped and has a mid-open position to help contain longer items. Molded into the front of the bedliner are two tire tread marks, intended to help motorcycle enthusiasts align bikes side by side. Both of our testers had spray-in bedliner and a 110-volt power outlet in the back.

Compact work trucks need to be able to haul and tow confidently, even if their capabilities don't compare to bigger players. Our 4x2 rear-wheel-drive Ranger was rated for a 1,860-pound maximum payload and 7,500-pound towing capacity, and we found that it carries and pulls impressively. Evans called the Ranger's trailering aptitude "the truck's greatest strength," noting that the torquey engine and big side-view mirrors make things easy when hitched up. After a stint towing a 7,200-pound trailer, MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina said, "That this engine can tow such weight so effortlessly is noteworthy."

Our Gladiator's capacities were affected by its manual transmission. Certain automatic-equipped Sport models have a maximum payload of 1,105 pounds, but the stick shift elevates that rating to 1,600 pounds. However, whereas automatic Gladiators can be equipped to tow up to 7,650 pounds, manual models max out at 4,000 pounds. Even pulling that relatively light weight, the low-torque V-6 struggles. "It's easy to stall because there's no twist," Evans said. "Once you're moving, all the power is on the top end, right where you don't want it." He succinctly summed up our sentiment: "Maybe don't trailer with the manual." Again, the eight-speed automatic would help remedy those foibles.

Interior Gear
Given its rough 'n' tumble pretenses, the Gladiator's interior is appropriately focused—far from luxurious, but not cheap. Much of it is hard plastic, but touchpoints are treated with soft padding or leather-like materials. Buttons across the dashboard are well laid out and operate with solid tactility. Our tester's upgraded 7.0-inch touchscreen was bright and highly responsive; Apple CarPlay ran seamlessly on Jeep's Uconnect infotainment system. The view from the rear camera is remarkably high-resolution.

Driver's seat ergonomics were perplexing. The seat doesn't slide back very far, which, combined with the shallow footwell, results in an upright, chair-like position with limited legroom. It was somehow compromised for petite and tall members of our editorial team. That said, second-row space is ample, and the locking, removable storage box under the seat bottoms is a brilliant option.

Hop in the Ranger XL, though, and the Gladiator suddenly seems lavish. Its interior is an expanse of chintzy hard plastic, devoid of niceties to make it feel anywhere beyond basic. The molded plastic steering wheel reminds you of the car's cheapness every time you touch it, which is frequently. A low-resolution infotainment display about the size of a credit card completes the low-end feel.

While the Ranger's driver's seat offers more space and adjustability, its second row is extremely cramped. "Are we serious with these rear seats?" Evans asked. "Who does Ford think it's kidding?" Even kids would find legroom limited, but more problematic to their use is the completely vertical seatback position. While these seats also have storage beneath the cushions, it's a comparatively limited amount. Given its uselessness for carrying passengers, Ford would have been smarter to allocate this space to improved area for cargo or gear.

When driving either truck, noise is omnipresent. In the Jeep it's justified; the upright windshield and dirt-ready tires generate lots of resistance. Its folding soft-top roof is sound-permeable and generates some flapping noises, but the tradeoff is that you can let it back for open-air enjoyment. It's confusing, then, how the Ranger is nearly as noisy given its more raked windshield and hard-top body. Wind and engine noise are constant, making the truck seem even less refined.

Truck For The Buck
Value is a deciding factor for many work truck buyers, but value is subjective. Some may approach it purely as a cost consideration, in which case the Ford is the clear choice. A basic Ranger XL starts at $25,495; our lightly optioned truck rang up to $29,445.

Impressed as we were by the Ranger's peppy engine and laden capability, it comes across as cheap—and we don't mean inexpensive. Basic and brittle interior materials, a useless back seat, tinny exterior sheetmetal, and a noisy, unrefined drive make it hard to believe this is a 2019 vehicle. Even a decade ago, it would have felt entry-level. For those seeking a truck purely for work, the Ranger may be acceptable for getting to and from a jobsite, but not much else.

Value can also be considered in usefulness per dollar, in which case the Gladiator makes better sense. Its base price is more expensive, at $35,040, and our test truck loaded with plenty of options tallied an eye-popping $46,185.

Still, it seems like the better buy, and the better truck. Even with its lackadaisical engine and agriculture-grade manual transmission, it's a better tool for time spent clocked in or out. Good light truck capability and superior build quality count on weekdays. On weekends, it packs the versatility and adventurous charisma that make Jeeps so fun. Not to mention, it has usable seating capacity for driving with coworkers or family.

For these reasons, the work-hard-play-hard Jeep Gladiator wins this comparison over the bargain-basement Ford Ranger XL.
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