(Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Network)
LOS ANGELES – When it comes to a conquering hero, look no farther than the Jeep Gladiator as the hit introduction of the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Enthusiasm ran so high Wednesday that Fiat Chrysler officials had to limit how many could make their way into the tent for the unveiling of the Wrangler-inspired truck by orders of the city fire marshal. But after all the hoopla about the midsize pickup built to climb over boulders, what are seven fun things to know about the pickup, which arrives next spring at a price yet to be announced? Here they are:
The number "419" is mysteriously stamped into the side of the bed, at the left rear. It's a nod to Toledo, Ohio, where Wranglers are built. Gladiator shares the front-end look of the Wrangler even though it was built on a midsize-truck platform. Toledo's area code is 419.
2. "Freedom panels."
Not many pickups are as open-air as the Gladiator. There are "Freedom panels" that can be removed from the roof. Even the windshield folds down so drivers can feel the breeze in their face.
Gladiator isn't Jeep's first Gladiator. The name has done battle before. It graced a previous Jeep pickup model from 1963 to 1972, when it was changed to just the J Series pickup. Jeeps with pickup beds are nothing unusual. The brand has had them since 1947. They've been gone, however, since 1992.
4. Full-size spare tire.
Yep, there's one in there. It is tucked underneath the truck bed, behind the rear axle. Those who go off-road know the need to have a worthy replacement tire. The pickup also has towing hooks fore and aft to pull it out of trouble, just in case.
Flip up the rear seats to reveal a hidden storage bin. Fiat Chrysler excels at finding nifty places to tuck little hidden boxes, and this Jeep is no exception. Another interesting touch: The aftermarket bed bike rack is mounted atop a bunch of sliding drawers.
6. Push-button start.
It doesn't sound Jeep-like, but it'll be standard on all Gladiators.
7. Ford that stream!
Gladiator will be capable of wading across water up to 30 inches deep. Want more? A snorkel – a pipe that extends almost to the roof of the vehicle – is also on the way to allow it go even deeper. How much deeper, Jeep officials won't yet say. Also helping Gladiator's river-fording prowess is 11.1 inches of ground clearance.
SOURCE: USA TODAY