Ever since Jeep first announced the return of the Jeep Gladiator, diesel enthusiasts have wondered when a diesel version would be available. The answer to the question is “later in 2020.” And while East Hills Jeep tells us that while exact dates aren’t available just yet, many technical details have been released. Here is what we know.
The Gladiator will be outfitted with a VM Motori-built 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel engine. VM Motori S.p.A. is an Italian engine manufacturing company which is wholly owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). VM headquarters and main production facilities are located in Cento, in Emilia-Romagna, Italy.
This is the third version of the VM Motori-built 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel. It features the same overall architecture as the engines produced from ’14-’19, including the rugged CGI block and forged-steel connecting rods. New aluminum alloy pistons feature a low-friction skirt coating and thinner rings for reduced cylinder wear and offset piston pins to help reduce NVH (piston noise). As for power, the EcoDiesel slated for the 2020 Gladiators will produce 260 hp and a best-in-class 442 lb-ft of torque (vs. 420 lb-ft previously).
Improved Drivability and Fuel Economy
Keeping the EcoDiesel both eco-friendly and economical, a dual loop exhaust gas recirculation system has been added. This new design adds a low-pressure system to the mix, which pulls exhaust gases after the diesel particulate filter (DPF). This minimizes turbocharger energy losses and helps increase fuel economy.
Front-Runner Tow Rating, but…
Diesel enthusiasts may be surprised that the EcoDiesel version of the Gladiator will come with a lower tow rating than those powered by the gas-fueled 3.6L Pentastar V6. The ratings, however, are close. The Pentastar-powered Gladiator with the Max Towing Package will pull some 7,650 pounds but the EcoDiesel version will pull a little over 7000 pounds. It should be noted that the Pentastar’s 7,650-pound maximum trailer rating is only available on Sport models with the eight-speed automatic and a 4.10 axle ratio.
EcoDiesel Gladiators will come standard with an eight-speed 850RE automatic transmission, specifically designed to handle the engine’s low-rpm torque output. Also specifically tailored to the VM Motori EcoDiesel engine is the torque converter and modulated converter clutch. The 850RE comes with an ultra-low 4.71 first gear and a 0.67 double overdrive ratio.
One unique feature that comes standard with the 850RE transmission is Selec-Speed Control. It manages vehicle speed in 4-Lo while driving and without requiring throttle or brake inputs from the driver.
Heavy-Duty Dana 44’s
Front and rear, you’ll find a coil sprung solid Dana 44 axle. The third-generation Dana 44’s under the Gladiator feature axle tubes that measure 10mm thicker than the versions found on the Wrangler. Both front and rear Dana 44’s are graced with Tru-Lok lockers with the rear D44 being equipped with a Trac-Lok limited slip differential. For improved articulation at the push of a button, an electronic front sway bar disconnect is optionally available.
On Rubicon models, a forward-facing off-road camera can be optioned, providing added visibility while on the trail. Everything the TrailCam picks up can be viewed through the 7.0-inch (or optional 8.4-inch) touchscreen display. The camera can be cleaned by a nozzle located directly beneath it to spray the lens with windshield washer fluid.
Five-Link Rear Suspension
The Gladiator utilizes a five-link rear suspension. The system, yet again another exclusive for the mid-size truck segment, features two upper and two lower forged-steel control arms for longitudinal control and a track bar for lateral control.