As with its powertrain, the Wrangler offers more options. Neither rig is likely to leave their driver stranded under reasonable conditions. If it’s your first time buying a “real” Jeep, and you plan to use the thing as a family hauler, consider the easy-to-use Selec-Trac system found in Sahara models.
Clearance and Angles
As with most things in life, Wrangler customers you get what they pay for, especially in terms of clearances and angles. Standard on Sport models are 245/75/R17 tires, affording a total of 9.7 inches of ground clearance and an approach angle of 41.4 degrees. Bumping up to the Sahara shod with 18s raises those measures to 10 inches and 41.8 degrees respectively, while the Rubicon goes on to a clearance of 10.8 inches and an extra couple of degrees on the angle of attack. Be mindful if you choose a 4-door Unlimited, as breakover angles suffer by about five degrees on all models, dropping from 27.8 to 22.6 on the Rubicon, for example. A departure angle of about 36 degrees is standard across the board.
By now, most gearheads know the Glad is a lot more than simply a Wrangler that’s been gifted a truck bed. This is borne out by these types of off-road measures. Sport and Overland trims enjoy approach and breakover angles of 40.8 and 18.4 degrees respectively, while ground clearance is measured at an even 10 inches. Stepping to a Rubicon grants a 43.4-degree angle of attack and a 20.3-degree breakover. All Gladiators have a departure angle of about 25 degrees.
Thanks to longer overhangs, especially at the rear, the Gladiator gives up much in terms of outright off-road measures compared to the Wrangler. This is doubly true when comparing it to a 2-door Wrangler. It’s hard to fit a pair of dirt bikes in the back of a two-door Wrangler, though, so consider your priorities carefully.
Regardless of engine option, transmission choice, or axle spec, the 2019 Wrangler taps out at 3,500 lbs in terms of towing capacity. This speaks more to the capability of the chassis than anything, as the same powertrain can haul a lot more weight in other FCA vehicles.
Properly kitted, Jeep’s pickup can haul a not-insignificant 7,650 lbs, a number that plays with the best midsizers and even a few half tons. Spec carefully if heavy towing is on your list of Gladiator activities, as lightweight versions equipped with 3.73 gears and a manual transmission can max out at just 4,000 lbs. Slushbox Glads fitted with that same rear end spec are only 4,500 lbs. At minimum, go for the 4.10s if you plan on doing a lot of heavy hauling.
Gladiator wins this one, hands down.
In the not-too-distant past, Wranglers were considered agricultural at best, often lavishly equipped as a Romanian prison. Today, air conditioning is standard across the board while snappy LEDs illuminate in ways that knackered old incandescents could never imagine. On snazzy trims, FCA’s excellent 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen is standard kit, as are items like rear parking assists, a reverse camera, and blind spot monitoring. The days of prehistoric ventilation controls in the CJ are long gone.