In high school, everyone wanted to ditch the school bus and drive themselves to school. Most of my classmates didn’t care what they drove to school. Only a handful of students were lucky enough to get a new car. Then only a handful more were able to get a car that wasn’t built more than 12 years prior. One vehicle stood out, it was an old, clunky Jeep. It stood out in the parking lot because of its bright yellow paint job. And everyone knew who owned it. And as many stared at the boxy vehicle, they yearned that it was theirs, as they drove off in a big, yellow (boxy) school bus. Hey…at least she had wheels!
In college, one of my very good sister-friends had a Jeep Wrangler. Hers was turquoise. She was one of two people in my group of friends that actually owned a car on campus. And when you are at college, in the middle of nowhere, having a car was like having the key to the city. I have so many fond memories of road trips in her jeep. Her jeep was the very first Wrangler that I ever drove. One year we went to Philly and I remember having the windows down, top off, and blasting music as we were stuck in traffic on Broad Street! We were in the middle of Penn Relays, enjoying life. Just me and my girlfriends!
FCA hosted a media day earlier in May. They presented both the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon and the all new Ram Heavy Duty. Two very prominent vehicles in the FCA family, with two very different consumers in mind. The Gladiator Brand Manager, Brandon Girmus gave us an overview of the Jeep Gladiator. Jeep hasn’t produced a Jeep pick up in about 27 years. Jeep enthusiasts have been waiting for an updated reemergence of this style truck, which is probably why many dealerships are having a hard time keep these trucks in stock. And while the Jeep brand has deep military roots, it’s the civilian Jeep lovers that are pushing the vehicles to new heights.
With both a pronounced boxy Jeep look and full cab, the Jeep Gladiator combines ruggedness and functionality in one vehicle. Not to take away from the Ram Heavy Duty, but the Gladiator is a vehicle that I could see myself climbing steep cliffs, in an open concept cabin, while towing a Winnebago Minnie Drop. When asked about how the interior would hold up to the elements (weather), Girmus mentioned that the Gladiators went through a 24 hour soak test, to ensure that items like the push button start remained functional in the event it got wet. The Gladiator’s interior features a wash-out capability. There are one-way drain valves in the floor to let the water flow out. They also include a portable, waterproof, bluetooth speaker that is housed just behind the rear passenger seats.
When I took the truck out for a drive, I thought I’d feel more superior on the road than I did. I literally had to jump into the truck, to get inside, but once inside, I didn’t feel as tall as I thought I was. The interior didn’t seem as rugged as you’d think. Jeep made sure that Gladiator owners were comfortable inside the cab even in the rugged outdoors, by offering dual climate control,heated seats, heated mirrors and a heated steering wheel.
I’ve already convinced myself that I need this vehicle for a camping trip. After talking to my fellow automotive content creators, we’ve decided that we want to go glamping! That’s the best part of being a woman, we can be rugged when we need to be and still go glamping when we want!!!
Special thanks to Lisa Barrow (FCA US – East Region Communications) for putting the media day together. It’s not easy being a woman in this industry, and she’s been a prominent figure in this automotive space.