By on February 10, 2020

Image: FCA

Jeep dealers are now discounting Gladiator models by as much as $9,000, indicating demand for the Wangler-based pickup has seriously cooled off. Considering the insane markups we saw at launch, that’s not much of an insult.

Now that Fiat Chrysler only reports sales on a quarterly basis — an obnoxious trend sweeping through the industry like a plague — we don’t know how many Gladiators leave dealer lots month-to-month. It looks like the pickup averaged a hair above 5,000 U.S. deliveries every thirty days in 2019. That’s a far cry from the midsize pickup segment leaders, but it was also the first year of Gladiator production.

With oodles of character, legitimate off-road capabilities and higher-than-average pricing, it’s also a bit of an odd duck. While interesting designs can occasionally be too much for a (sometimes large) subset of shoppers, pricing can make or break a car’s sales prowess. Some are of the mind that Jeep expected too much from consumers and that these lofty discounts are proof. 

Automotive News recently framed the Gladiator as its own worst enemy. The base model starts at $35,040 (including delivery fees) whereas the brunt of its segment rivals can be had for about ten grand less. Dealer incentive bulletins from January indicated that Jeep was cool slashing $2,000 off 2020 Gladiators while other manufacturers offered similar (sometimes higher) incentives on their midsize pickups. However, a mashup of dealer discounts and a new rebate has resulted in Gladiator deals getting much sweeter in some areas.

Image: FCA

From Automotive News:

Some dealerships already are offering discounts of up to $9,000 on the Gladiator less than a year after its release, according to shopping site CarsDirect. In a dealer bulletin obtained by Automotive News, FCA offered support starting in mid-January in the form of $2,000 bonus cash on all but the Rubicon trim. Jeep’s website listed a $2,000 sweetener available in certain regions through March 2.

Some dealers say Gladiator sales have slowed after a blazing start that saw early adopters scooping up higher-end trims. But they aren’t ready to panic yet.

Some dealers say the pickup is selling about the same as the Wrangler. Others complain that demand has cooled and worry the Gladiator is cannibalizing Wrangler volume. The big picture doesn’t reflect this; Wrangler volume was down an almost negligible amount in 2019, with Gladiator scooping up about four times the volume lost in sales — resulting in 40,037 U.S. deliveries.

Image: FCA

Considering Ford’s Ranger saw over twice that volume, and with Chevy’s Colorado doing better than that, it would seem that FCA made a mistake. Yet direct comparisons aren’t easy to make. With a starting MSRP of $35k, Jeep makes quite a bit of cash on every Gladiator sold — and it would have known this before it hit the market. Dealers report customers eager to add options and climb trim levels, which isn’t abnormal for a brand new model. Jeep also has an excellent list of aftermarket parts and a consumer base that’s happy to take advantage of it.

That’s not to say the Gladiator is better or so totally different that the inflated sticker price can be completely rationalized. Pretty much every offering in the midsize truck segment does the job with its own unique flavor. Jeep’s just happens to be the most piquant and off-road focused. FCA knows that people might be inclined to spend more on something a little unique and likely isn’t as worried about pickup volume as it is about profitability.

The Gladiator is still overpriced for your typical midsize pickup shopper (where the Colorado awaits), but those discounts are here to help. Jeep just needs to be careful to maintain balance while retaining some amount of hype. Revisiting the model’s sales performance halfway through 2020 should equip us with a better sense of the the truck’s wellbeing.

Image: FCA

[Images: FCA]

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57 Comments on “Big Discounts Could Mean Big Trouble for Midsize Jeep Gladiator...”


  • avatar
    cprescott

    I personally have no reason to buy a Jeep, but the Gladiator is far more truck than that junk GM sells in the mid-sized segment. If I were into serious off-road work for a truck, I’d have a Gladiator over everything in the mid-sized segment – including the Terrorist Toyoduh Tacoma. Full-size has no competition to the Raptor – and anyone who says there is is full of it.

    • 0 avatar
      lmike51b

      Why is my 2016 GMC Canyon junk? Had since new and with 122,000 miles, scheduled oil changes, replaced tires and battery, it hasn’t missed a tick. It’s a great truck IMHO.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Take reliability to the side, sitting in GM trucks is least pleasant of all trucks.

        • 0 avatar

          But many constructors in California somehow manage to do just that.

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          To each their own. Thanks to the National rental car counter, I have driven the Tacoma, Frontier, Colorado and each of the big 3 full sizers. The Colorado is perfectly fine, and way nicer than the Tacoma.
          I like the F150 the least with the GM and RAM full size about equal.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            you’ve got to keep in mind that Internet Car People don’t feel the need to have any actual direct experience with a vehicle to know everything about it. if someone online says something is “junk” they’ll happily parrot it.

          • 0 avatar

            “The Colorado is perfectly fine, and way nicer than the Tacoma.”

            But Tacoma is TO-YO-TA. Don’t you get it? Americans like Pavlov dogs are conditioned to admire only Toyotas. Or Subarus if they are progressive enough.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “I personally have no reason to buy a Jeep, but the Gladiator is far more truck than that junk GM sells in the mid-sized segment. ”

      You kidding me? The Gladiator is absolutely the worst PU you can buy right now. Underpowered, drives like crap, rides like crap, tows like crap, looks like crap(subjective), noisy, uncomfortable, worse fuel economy than a V8 powered GM 1/2 ton, all wrapped up in questionable Jeep build quality. Who in the world is dumb enough lay down their hard earned buck on this mutt? Jeep people. That’s it. This truck won’t steal a single PU sale from GM, Ford or RAM, trust me on that. In short time they won’t be able to give these road disasters away.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    They seem to be selling well here? Who knows. I do think that the other brands that start at 10k less may not be a fair comparison- I don’t think the Gladiator comes in anything but 4wd with the 3.6 where the other midsize trucks in question all have a smaller engine offering and 2wd.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      This whole story is silly. Jeep deeply discounts just about every vehicle in their lineup. The Grand Cherokee sells very well, but they still sell them all day for $9k under sticker. Why would these things be any different?

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        This is the correct take – Chrysler heavily discounts everything, but they also sell a disproportionate amount of product that qualifies for ADM for a few months. If this is the tactic they use to ensure they their piece of the ADM, I can’t fault them for it.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    This is just what we were talking about in the other thread. As nice as the Gladiator is people who NEED a midsize truck are not going to overpay for a lifestyle truck

  • avatar
    brn

    The people asked for it. Jeep gave it to us. Some of the people actually bought it. The rest didn’t (and won’t).

    This is what happens when manufacturers give the people what they say they want.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Full sized pickup prices combined with Jeep’s legendary lack of reliability…. what could go wrong?

  • avatar
    Fred

    Maybe it’s just an optical illusion but that Jeep looks to be a little overloaded pulling that Airstream.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Gladiator is very well done in terms of product design and appeal. It is somewhat expensive compared to midsize rivals pricing only if you ignore the unique attributes of the Gladiator. Removable top, doors, off road capability add value to Gladiator.
    I see see a problem of expected discounting in the full size truck market that is trickling down to Gladiator and simple supply demand. Example is RAM full size at MSRP $55K discounted to $39K before you even start to haggle. This type of discounting exists across brands and pickup buyers expect it.
    Jeep increased it’s manufacturing capacity by 100% or more over the past decade. There are a lot more Wrangler to sell and Gladiator will cannibalize some Wrangler sales.
    No need to hit the panic button, FCA has managed not to screw up the Wrangler and Gladiator. Jeep is cash cow profit machine. Other manufacturers would love to have the value of the Jeep brand.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Even if you disregard the removable top and doors, you have to add in the cost of 4wd, and not just the base 4wd, the optional “off-road” package to have something that could be considered comparable in those other trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yes that’s been my point with the Gladiator. If you do go off-road on occasion the BASE Gladiator is roughly compatible to the “base off-road” packages in the other trucks (not the fancy Bison/TRD PRO etc but the more basic Z71, TRD).

        Then the Gladiator looks like a value choice.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    It’ll probably take a decade for more exact numbers to leak, but I would fully expect the Gladiator to pay off its development costs (over the standard JL) with about a year’s worth of production. Really all it has to do to be a success is help amortized JL development costs, and help keep Toledo running around capacity. As a bonus, it’s a well-differentiated product in a small segment, so at least FCA offers *something* for the buyer who doesn’t want something as big as a Ram.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Makes sense to me. The thing is overpriced, so make it cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      The problem isn’t the price. Jeep built a product that appeals primarily to Jeep buyers, of which there are a finite number. If you want to lure more people to a truck the formula is pretty simple. Make it much bigger than it needs to be. Start with stupid huge and then take it up a notch. Add styling cues that will really appeal to the inner douche of the targeted audience. Lights that blind, hoods and tailgates that tower over a sedan, massive gaping grills, emblems the size of a pizza, trims levels with names appealing to wishful thinking like “power stroke”, “long horn”, “Ram”. Haha, God just realizing how ridiculous those are. But I guess the “Tiny Tim” didn’t do well in focus groups of insecure men lol.

      Basically, it breaks the mold of what has driven pickup sales to their stratospheric heights. They need to butch it up a bit so the buyers that need it can feel like a real man for an hour or so a day while behind the wheel. That’s not easy to do when all the full sized truck buyers have something bigger. Psychology 101.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Why not just make a model called “Big Balz” and call it a day?

      • 0 avatar
        Jon

        Wow gamps. You got all than from PSY101!? Not sure if you went to princeton or carville community college but you sure seems to have trucks owners figured out…

        Priced 10k above the competition, price is the problem. Especially considering that typical gladiator buyers are willing to settle for something less refined than the typical midsized pickup. And when willing to settle for less refinement, a lower price than the competition is usually expected to accompany the product.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Unless, of course you factor in the up charge for coolness. Jeeps demand and get a premium for their vehicles if you make the Gladiator the same price as a 2-door Wrangler you run the risk of cannibalizing your own sales.

          Marketing 101

      • 0 avatar
        zerofoo

        Yeah – your psychoanalysis is spot on…

        OR

        Big, cheap, trucks are actually useful and economical things – and truck buyers like that.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          It’s not just the economics of big, cheap, trucks. Most everything else sucks, you take a big hit in depreciation, and you might as well get it used. Never mind that it’s no fun.

          But FCA simply built too many Gladiators. It’s no PT Cruiser for fricks sake.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            “ It’s not just the economics of big, cheap, trucks. Most everything else sucks, ”

            Bingo.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            We’re entering a renaissance of midsize pickups, simply because fullsize is to big for most Americans, maybe not physically, but emotionally.

            I stopped loaning out my F-150 to inexperienced compact drivers. Too much curb rash on the wheels and dents/scrapes on the right side.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            fullsize is to big for most Americans, maybe not physically, but emotionally.

            God the number of Yukon, Suburban, Expedition, Denali, Tahoe that I see using the tires as curb feelers… And that’s just in the school drop off line. Always driven by women under about 5’4″.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          zerofoo,

          Gladiator is extremely useful. You can climb the mountain or take down doors for beach ride. And bring few bags of stuff and few friends along, with no hard top over your head

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Sales numbers look pretty good to me, there are zero fleet sales padding the numbers and I bet even the base truck nets a nice $15k profit. Focusing on sheer sales numbers is not the right method to gage interest or even success for this vehicle.

    Now if I can get a base model for $9k off… where do I sign up? Unfortunately that isn’t the case.

  • avatar

    “an obnoxious trend sweeping through the industry like a plague — we don’t know how many Gladiators leave dealer lots month”

    You know I manage to sleep well at night without that knowledge. I’m not sure if I want to hear bad news every month. I am more a positive thinker.

  • avatar

    I am not into trucks but my uniformed IMHO tells me that not that many people need an offroad pickup truck. People buy trucks for work and Jeep is impractical for that and less comfortable too. It is like Miata – the truck for enthusiast. Miata is the last car I would consider for commuting or going to grocery store.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      For your typical midsize consumer I think the Gladiator pushes the right buttons for many, even if they never off-road it (which would be criminal) the resale alone makes it an easy decision compared to a similar priced Ranger or Colorado.

      For anyone using a truck strictly for business purposes, probably not, though I do know of a couple businesses that bought H3 Hummers and more recently 4Runners.

      This is a good option on the market, it’s much better to have something like this than another amorphous blob such as the Colorado, Ranger, or Tacoma, with auto only options, horribly intrusive bumpers that are in the way of everything, or trucks that make ride quality a priority.

      Choices are good.

  • avatar
    TheAnswerIsPolara

    Reminds me of when I wanted to buy a Chrysler 300c in 2005. All the dealers were marking them up crazy. I even attempted to buy one at sticker and was laughed at. Really turned me off on them. In hindsight, I was was saved from the problems that would have brought me.

    Seems history is repeating itself with the Gladiator. Dealers asking insane mark-ups and driving potential buyers away. Those customers will buy something else. And, they won’t darken the dealers’ doors again. I know I haven’t.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Based on nothing but pure conjecture, I’d venture that 75% of sales are going to people who either own a Wrangler or were planning to buy one.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    It is surprising that they went from $5-$10k in ADP to up to $9K off in a year.

    It definitely isn’t surprising that sales and prices have dropped though. I figured they would hit MSRP after about a year and then be able to hold that for a while. At least if they were willing to accept volume that is 50-75% of the peak.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Most off-road capable vehicles exploit their capabilities must less than 1% of total miles driven over the life of the vehicle. You put up with high cost, poor on road performance, lousy gas mileage, loud interior and a harsh ride so you can navigate less than 500 miles off-road over the vehicles life – and for that you have to keep it 10-15 years and drive it over 200,000 miles. These are lifestyle vehicles. They’re vehicles for the lifestyle you WISH you had. To quote Patrick Swayze, “those dead souls, inching along the freeways in their metal coffins”. Of all pickups, the Gladiator is the stupidest and most pointless of all, and almost useless. It only has one thing going for it: it’s cool.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I got a hint that trouble is lurking for the Gladiator last week in Indianapolis of all places. National had two of them in rental fleet. They were parked down in the staging area and not available for selection. So I grabbed a new Silverado. I know most here hate it, but looks aside it was a pleasant enough truck to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I always take a trouble for any particular model as a personal blessing. What can be better when you like a car and it comes with all sorts of cash on the hood, under the hood etc?

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Speaking of surprises:

    I understand the appeal of the Wrangler, but it is not for me. The idea of the Gladiator appeals to me more than the Wrangler.

    My college-student daughter adores the Wrangler (she ‘settled’ for a Liberty because I’m not putting her in a Wrangler). I expected a positive response from her when the Gladiator was mentioned – but surprisingly, she immediately said “that thing is *so* ugly” – not sure why she thinks this or how many of her peers agree, but I plan to ask for more details sometime.

  • avatar

    Isn’t the Gladiator the high-zoot upmarket dressed-to-the-nines version of the next-gen Dakota? As a premium product, numbers seems fine, and FCA dealers will be happy when stripper 4×2 Dakota Expresses start showing its face on the ground in a year or so anyway.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    IMHO, with the discounts, the Gladiator is priced at what the sticker should be. In other words, it’s still overpriced, and dead to a lot of people I know who would want one for a sane price. They don’t mind spending $35K or so, but not $45K for what seems like a $35K vehicle. The people I know who were formerly interested in it are either driving Ram Classics or other full sized trucks bought at a big discount.

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