QOTD: Should You Be Allowed to Own This?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd should you be allowed to own this

On Wednesday, November 29th, 2018, the world changed forever. Jeep fans finally got what they wanted, and Fiat Chrysler will almost assuredly get what it wants — boffo profits and an even stronger Jeep brand.

Yes, the upcoming Jeep Gladiator seems like a vehicle that just shouldn’t exist in today’s increasingly un-diverse auto landscape. Leave it to FCA to unveil something brash and desirable, not a micro-mobility solution lusted over by tech writers and urban utopians and those who feel their own personal lifestyle is the only proper one to have. And a Sport trim? That was a surprise, leaving us very curious to see this model’s starting price.

If handed the money for a run-of-the-mill, crew cab, full-size 4×4 pickup (today’s default family hauler, it seems), would you skip past the very capable offerings from Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, Ram, Toyota, and Nissan, and head to your nearest Jeep retailer for a chance to drop your top? Now, let’s ask this: should you be allowed to buy one?

As auto journos in Los Angeles gazed at the brawny Gladiator like it was sitting in a swivel chair, smoking a cigarette, getting ready to uncross its legs, debate started to crop up on the Twitters. As usual, the hot takes began trickling in from those who probably do not live the same lifestyle as you, dear reader.

In fact, it seems that some of these voices might not even have a friend who lives an average lifestyle. By average, I mean they own a single car that meets most of their needs within a fairly tight budget, as that’s where their income lies. Commuting is very likely a part of their mundane lifestyle, one which definitely doesn’t contain any OEM-paid trips to the Scottish Highlands to test the latest pinnacle of performance perfection. The vehicle that does sit in front of their home is not a tuner special or a rare exotic or some other weekend playtoy — it’s a mass-market product that could be mistaken for the one next to it in a grocery store parking lot. Yes, reliability and maintenance costs were a consideration while buying, though the dealer might have offered them a “smoking deal” to ignore JD Power ratings. This friend does not speak in chassis codes, nor does he or she spend their lives obsessing over the minutiae of competing JDM imports from the early 1990s.

Auto Twitter often reveals the presence of a bubble so thick, the Washington D.C. beltway looks like Saran Wrap in comparison. Lately — well, since Monday’s GM news, especially — some denizens of Auto Twitter have taken to suggest that Americans are buying the wrong vehicles. It’s wrong, and it angers them. You’re making the wrong choices, people! With Wednesday’s reveal of the aspirational and attainable Jeep Gladiator, things have only gotten worse.

The Gladiator is hardly a oxygen-spewing creature birthed in Toledo for the express purpose for spreading hugs to panda bears and solving the world’s environmental and social ills. It will not deliver Prius-like fuel economy, nor will it fold up and stow away in the trunk of a car. It’s a big, heavy truck that wants to scrap it out in the massively profitable truck segment. And, because we don’t live in the Soviet Union, we’re allowed to buy one, just as the OEM is allowed to build and sell one, assuming it conforms to existing safety and environmental standards.

Should the auto landscape continue to offer low-priced, fuel-efficient sedans and hybrids? Totally. I’d love to see a market that gives all buyers a chance to buy what they want. Hell, I drive a Cruze because it’s roomy enough, powerful enough, and gets great gas mileage, all for a price that’s tolerable for tight budgets. I’ll be sad to see it culled. Instead, Auto Twitter gives us a vision of a world where self-chosen overlords choose what people should be allowed to buy, based on their personal moral convictions or lifestyle preference.

Do some people just wish to own a big, flashy, road-hogging, gas-slurping status symbol? You bet. They paid a lot of tax on that vehicle and, depending on jurisdiction, more tax on the fuel they consume.

Do others just like the satisfaction in knowing they have supreme (if unused) off-road capability, should it be needed? Sure. It’s all legal. Just like buying a new Porsche 911 Carrera, 911 Carrera S, 911 Carrera Cabriolet, 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, 911 Carrera 4, 911 Carrera 4S, 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet, 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet, 911 Carrera T, 911 Targa 4, 911 Targa 4S, 911 Turbo, 911 Turbo S, 911 Turbo Cabriolet, 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, 911 Carrera GTS, 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet, 911 Carrera 4 GTS, 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet, 911 Targa 4 GTS, 911 GT3, 911 GT3 RS, or 911 GT2 RS.

Creating a system where, assumedly, a government overseer judges your need for a certain vehicle’s capabilities (with an eye on the environment) will assuredly lead to a world with even less choice. What’s of less use to society — a Porsche of the non-Cayenne or Macan persuasion or a Ford F-150? Is a roadster that gets 29 mpg more useful to a family than a five-seat, all-weather, all-terrain pickup that gets 22 mpg? Surely there’s no need to own a quirky French project car from the 70s or an RX-7 or that that vintage Porsche when a modern, more practical alternative exists. How antisocial and selfish of you!

People assume that, in the utopia of their dreams, they’ll be the one calling the shots. Everyone else will have to change their ways. Not so. They’ll have to sacrifice just like the rest of ’em.

To bring this long-winded rant to a close, I ask you, B&B: does the Jeep Gladiator turn your crank? Why? And, should we be allowed to buy it?

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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2 of 93 comments
  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Nov 30, 2018

    I like this thing, I honestly do. I want a convertible, I'd like to have a truck and I don't need it to be a towing or hauling monster. Something to throw bikes into, pickup some mulch,etc. A 4 door Gladiator soft top would tick many boxes in one vehicle in my driveway and having a 4x4 wouldn't be the worse thing, except for feeding it.But since I travel all the time and don't put much beyond 9k a year on my car, it's not a huge deal. But, just build and price for a normal Wrangler S with minimal option is 40k. Others have mentioned ADM and we all know this will be true initially, but I still can't see 40k+ for a Wrangler. It's just not a 40k vehicle to me, let alone 50k for a Rubicon or whatever other 20 "special editions" FCA will sell you. Viewed from the "it'd be like buying two vehicles with one" I suppose it's not a bad deal. But it's still 40k for a rather crude vehicle. And I still like to go around corners, not off-road. I've heard others say that Jeep is an American Land Rover. Not the best vehicles, but still expensive, but Jeeps at least carry their value, especially Wrangler. My last experience was with a two door Wrangler as a rental around 2000. It was kind of fun,especially since this one had the 4.0, but it lost its novelty fairly quickly. I'm sure the new one is a much better vehicle than that one, but still, it's hard for my mind to see 40k for a Wrangler. Our Sienna SE had a 43k sticker and it's worth 40k over a Wrangler's 40k.

  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Dec 02, 2018

    This just in, pickuptrucks dot com listed the cargo specs are as follows: "Payload capacities also differ depending on trim, transmission and axle ratio. Manual Sport models with the 3:73:1 ratio can carry the most payload at 1,600 pounds. Automatic 3.73:1 and 4.10:1 Sport models can carry 1,105 pounds. Adding the Max Towing Package ups carrying capacity to 1,535 pounds. Overland models can carry either 1,140 or 1,120 pounds with the manual or automatic transmissions. Rubicon models can carry 1,200 pounds with the manual transmission and 1,160 pounds with the automatic."