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2021 Jeep Gladiator 80th Anniversary pricing and pics revealed

For its sophomore year, Jeep's versatile pickup gets a new EcoDiesel engine as well as a couple of trim packages and minor tech changes.

2021 Jeep Gladiator 80th Anniversary Edition - front three-quarter view
The 2021 Jeep Gladiator gets a subtle new 80th Anniversary Edition model.

Having only been on the scene for a single model year, you might not expect many changes for the 2021 Jeep Gladiator, and well, you'd be right. That doesn't mean that the midsize do-all pickup based on Jeep's venerable Wrangler SUV is returning for its sophomore season empty-handed. On the contrary, there's a new diesel engine for the Gladiator, plus two new model trims, including the 80th Anniversary Edition and Willys. 

Headlining 2021 Jeep Gladiator developments is the availability of the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine that joins the existing 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. This is the same diesel V6 that was wedged in between the Wrangler's flat fenders last year, and unsurprisingly, it conjures up an identical 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque when paired to a mandatory 8HP75 eight-speed automatic. For comparison's sake, the VM Motori diesel built in Cento, Italy, has 25 fewer ponies than the gas version, but a whopping 182 more pound-feet of twist than the Pentastar. 

EcoDiesel fuel economy

As is true with its torque, the EcoDiesel's fuel economy increases precipitously, moving from the Pentastar's 17 miles per gallon city, 22 highway and 19 combined (automatic transmission) to 22 mpg city, 28 highway and 24 combined for Sport and Overland models. The Rubicon's bigger tires and other changes result in a lower 20/25/22 rating. Despite being slightly lower than the equivalent (lighter) Wrangler Unlimited Sport or Overland's 22/29/25 ratings, these are impressive efficiency increases. With an 18.3-gallon tank, the EcoDiesel should be able to outlast your bladder, going around 500 miles between fill-ups.

EcoDiesel tow ratings

Despite the increased torque output, Gladiator's max tow ratings are still highest with the base Sport model when equipped with the 3.6-liter gas engine and 4.10 rear axle -- that combination nets a trailer rating of 7,650 pounds. In midgrade Overland and desert-ready Mojave trims, the EcoDiesel nets a 500-pound capacity increase to 6,500 pounds. In Gladiator guise, however, the diesel's mandatory 3.73 rear end only hauls 6,000 pounds worth of trailer, versus the Pentastar automatic's 7,000.

Regardless of powertrain, the Gladiator's towing ability continues to vastly outpoint the Wrangler SUV, which can only muster a maximum of 3,500 pounds.

EcoDiesel price

Jeep has yet to detail how much the EcoDiesel engine option will cost, but it's reasonable to assume it'll be priced similarly to the Wrangler, where it carries an eye-watering $4,000 premium. Combined with the higher cost of diesel fuel in most parts of the US and the need to keep a Diesel Exhaust Fluid tank full, you're looking at a powertrain best suited to well-heeled buyers who really love diesel's stump-pulling torque and longer range.

It may not look like much, but with 442 pound-feet of torque, it's got it where it counts, kid.


2021 Jeep Gladiator 80th Anniversary Edition price, features

Like the Wrangler before it, the Gladiator pickup is all about varying degrees of capability and customization. To that end, Jeep has wasted no time bringing out a hail of models, from the basic, cost-leader Sport to the barrel-chested Rubicon and more recently, the high-speed Mojave desert runner. In January, Jeep rolled out the North Edition trim, which bundled a slew of minor winter-minded features, and in February, it unveiled the new High Altitude, something of a citified take on the Gladiator, complete with 20-inch wheels and body-color everything. 

For 2021, there's a new 80th Anniversary Edition. Like the equivalent Wrangler, the Gladiator 80AE is a pretty modest trim package. Changes amount to 18-inch Granite Crystal alloys, body-colored fenders, Neutral Gray Metallic exterior trim bits and special commemorative badges outside. Inside, there's a standard 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment, black diamond embossed cloth seats with 80th-Anniversary tags and Berber floor mats.

Pricing starts at $43,235 including $1,495 destination, and the model is available in Bright White, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal, Hydro Blue, Sarge and Snazzberry paint colors.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator 80th Anniversary Edition features subtle aesthetic tweaks.


2021 Jeep Gladiator Willys

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Willys has a bit more performance substance than the Anniversary model, as it's marked out by its Firestone 32-inch mud tires mounted on 17-inch gloss-black wheels, Trac-Lok limited-slip differential and rock rails. The package also includes matching blacked-out grille and "WILLYS" hood decals. The package is very similar to what's already offered on the Wrangler, which originated the Willys trim as a nod to the 4x4's genesis as a military vehicle.

The Gladiator's cabin is untouched for 2021, but that's fine by us.


Gladiator tech changes

As for the rest of the 2021 Jeep Gladiator lineup, the changes are modest. Full-time four-wheel drive becomes available on the entire Gladiator model range, including the Selec-Trac hardware on Sport, Overland and Mojave and the Rock-Trac system with 4:1 low-range for hardcore climbing. 

In terms of tech changes, the base Gladiator Sport will be available with optional LED headlights (a worthwhile upgrade whether you regularly hit the trails or not). Additionally, Overland models will be available with Trailcam, a forward-facing camera designed to show what's immediately in front of the vehicle. The latter is particularly helpful off-road for negotiating obstacles, or when the chassis is tilted at extreme angles and you can't see what's ahead of you. 

2021 Jeep Gladiator models are beginning to trickle into dealerships as you read this, so you should see them at a trailhead near you very soon.

Now playing: Watch this: Ford Raptor vs. Jeep Gladiator Mojave: Desert running...

First published Sept. 1.