2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon (car review)

“What we do in life, echoes in eternity.” So says Maximus Decimus Meridius – aka The Gladiator. Look, we’re not too sure about eternity, but for the week we had it, we’re certain Ol’ Maxi boy would lose his poo to take Jeep’s similarly named steed into battle.

Big red, as we’ve affectionately named her, is the second generation of J-series, tracing its American heritage back to their introduction in 1962. The re-incarnation of the Gladiator is essentially a Wrangler with a tray (or a portable pool).

Big, tough, muscular and rugged, just throw in some black accents and Rubicon decals and you have intimidation at its finest. Clamber into the driver’s seat and you’ll find the cockpit is adorned with buttons and gadgets.

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In usual Jeep 4×4 fashion, it’s sure to entice its occupants with the lure of adventure and exploration. The Gladiator Rubicon even has remote start functionality, and its four-wheel drive system is built to handle literally anything.

From off-roading to suburban settings, nothing is too rugged. Fire up all 24 valves of the 3.6-litre Pentastar petrol engine, engage its 8-speed transmission, and tap into 209kW of power and 347Nm of torque as you traverse the urban or off-road jungle.

2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

“Hey Siri, play Guns N’ Roses – Welcome To The Jungle”. If ‘The Gunners’ don’t do it for you, connect your own device to the Gladiator’s Uconnect 4 equipped 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system and plug-in for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto goodness.

A media hub consisting of two USB-A, a USB-C, AUX and 12V enables you to blast your tunes via whatever media library you own. Even Chris de Burgh’s Lady In Red sounded magical delivered via the Alpine premium 9-speaker audio system, featuring a sub-woofer.

There’s AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio too, along with satellite navigation. A 7.0-inch multi-view display in the instrument cluster keeps the driver informed as well, and an anti-theft alarm system, parking aids, and adaptive cruise control come standard.

Heated seating and steering, some Rubicon embroidery, durable plastic trimmings, “oh crap” grab handles, six cup holders and plenty of storage options make up the Jeep’s interior legacy.

There’s ample space for child seats, teens and adults in the back too, although some second row charging ports wouldn’t go astray. To keep you and your loved ones safe, there’s trailer sway control, and a full speed forward collision warning system.

dash
Inside the 2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

You’ll also find blind spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, LED’s inside and out, automatic headlights with auto levelling, and a crystal-clear rear vision camera for back-end obstructions and off-roading awareness.

You can head on over to the Jeep website and ‘wrangle’ up a spec sheet yourself, for the full list of standard goodies (see what we did there?). When you’re feeling adventurous, the Gladiator has a special ability too.

You see, it can slip into something more comfortable, to suit your driving conditions and requirements. Removable doors, removable windows, and a 3-piece removable hard top all feature, should you want to get properly naked.

Sand, dirt, mud, wading through the H2O, or rock crawling, are all possible, and the Gladiator even sports removable carpet and floor drain plugs to simply wash away the remnants (don’t trash the exclusive leather trimmings doing it though).

When you fancy taking the path that brings you closer to nature, Jeep have made the Gladiator battle ready with electronic front sway-bar disconnect, 77.2:1 crawl ratio, 2-inch diameter FOX aluminium-bodied shocks, and a Rock-Trac active on demand 4×4 system.

front seats
Inside the 2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Tru-Lok front and rear locking differentials also feature, along with a skid plate under the fuel tank, transfer case and transmission, and heavy-duty rock sliders with step assist, to protect all those important bits when you’re one-on-one with the wilderness.

For some extra support you get hill start assist, traction control and electronic roll mitigation. The Jeep Off-Road Pages (included app) provides you with an in-depth view of your Gladiator’s off-road capabilities too.

It will show you things like your vehicle dynamics, a real-time view of your steering angle, rear axle locker and wheel articulation, suspension modes, pitch and roll, which Selec-Terrain mode is active, and a host of gauges.

To add to the 2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon’s off-roading resume, it bears official Jeep ‘Trail Rated’ badging. This means this bad-ass Jeep passed a series of tests in five categories: traction, water fording, manoeuvrability, articulation and ground clearance.

But back to the beast itself. The gorgeous 17-inch Granite Crystal alloy wheels are wrapped in some aggressive looking BF Goodrich 255/75 muddies. The in-cabin road noise is easily drowned out by turning up the beats or going topless (which is an option).

rear seats
Inside the 2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

No ideal daily commuter, the Gladiator Rubicon is a fit for purpose off-road goliath. It’s on road manners are good, but its sheer bulk and a propensity for body roll when cornering, could offer up some unexpected drift options in heavy rain.

It has a 3-star ANCAP safety rating, and a braked towing capacity of 2,721kg. Jeep claims a combined fuel consumption of 12.4-litres/100km and we averaged 14.0 during testing. Priced from $87,250 drive away, there’s an absolute bevvy of accessories on offer too.

Available in eight exterior colours, including the Firecracker Red of our test vehicle, there are two interior leather trim choices as well (Black or Dark Saddle). It comes with a 5-year 100,000km warranty, plus lifetime roadside assist.

As an owner, you also get to belong to an exclusive little group who love nothing better than to wave at fellow Jeep owners. It’s a thing, with fellow enthusiasts making up a dedicated community, some of whom organise drive days and group events.

To find out more, check out Jeep Australia’s website. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.

tray
2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Our test vehicle was provided by Jeep Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, contact your local Jeep dealership. Special thanks to our friends at Amaroo Park for venue access.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
8
Exterior styling
8.5
Interior look and feel
8
Technology and connectiity
8
Family friendliness
8
Value for money
8

SUMMARY

Pros – it’s a Jeep; off-roading tech and capability; aggressive and rugged styling.
Cons – second row need more than window switches and vents; wants for a 360-degree camera setup; fuel consumption.
Jason Fernandez
Jason Fernandez
Jason Fernandez is a lover of hero cars. He's owned some of the best from the Japanese and Euro performance houses, but JDM cars hold a special place in his heart. To Jason, every vehicle is a blank canvas, just waiting to get its own personality. Well known to the Sydney car scene, Jason has a passion for all things automotive.

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<strong>Pros –</strong> it’s a Jeep; off-roading tech and capability; aggressive and rugged styling.<br> <strong>Cons –</strong> second row need more than window switches and vents; wants for a 360-degree camera setup; fuel consumption.2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon (car review)