ZR2 vs Gladiator Sport S

phsycle

Adventurer
Either would work for me, offroad wise. If I were to buy now, Gladiator wins due to: manual transmission and removable top. Kids would absolutely love that.
 

Beltfed

New member
Massive Jeep fan here.
I own a 55' Willy's CJ-5 and have owned a few others over the years: 62' M38A1, 68' CJ-5, 86' CJ-7, 78' J-10, 89' Comanche, 96' Cherokee.

Aside from the Willy's, the Cherokee was my last and it went off to new owners so I could stuff more kids in the daily driver. It was replaced by a Land Rover Discovery that offered a bigger SUV with more room overall. I drove that for a lot more years than one ought to (great trucks, and even better coach works; just a shame about the electrical and remaining mechanicals).
A few years ago, when a young lady helped me total that, I stepped into a FJ Cruiser which I still have. (it reminds me somewhat of my 86' CJ-7, except it doesn't wander all over the highway at speed).
For years I pined over the AEV Brute conversions, and when Jeep announced the Gladiator I was really looking forward to getting one.
Last summer and fall I made it my mission to get a mid-sized truck (Gladiator), because reasons.
I went shopping for a Gladiator and was let down by the fact dealerships were asking over MSRP and while well appointed, the overall size of these trucks is quite large.
The insane pricing was somewhat understandable considering the buzz they created, and while I have no problem affording one, I just couldn't bring myself to paying $15-20k more for a Rubicon than what the ZR2 Bison was going for.

I'd say if you are hooked on getting a Jeep that works like a truck, you'll likely lean toward the Gladiator.
If you want a mid sized truck though, give the Colorado serious consideration, but drive all of the offerings out there.
 

Redheddedwonder

Active member
@Beltfed that situation feels very similar! I ha e had many Jeeps, 2 CJ7s, a YJ, Tj, JK, WJ,XJ. If I was going to tow a rig an older Jeep would be my go to toy, but I can’t afford a tow rig, daily, camper and a nicely built Jeep right now. So a do it all rig is what I am looking for. From what I have been researching deals can be had on the ZR2, but not so much on the gladiator. Just seems hard to justify the cost.
 

spectre6000

Observer
I was able to special order my Bison for under invoice. That was pre-pandemic, so your mileage may vary. I shopped dealers all over the country based on recommendations from people who had done fly-n-buys trying to find the best deal. I called my local dealers as well, because why not, and was very surprised to find the best deal locally. A lot of that likely had to do with the salesperson, but the owner of the dealership was involved to some degree, and it still obviously went through. I'm sure if you aren't picky, and you find a stale truck on a lot somewhere, you can get a better deal than I got. I'm also sure special ordering a limited allocation vehicle for less than MSRP is not common. Especially on a high demand vehicle that doesn't seem to enjoy the benefits any of the sales or incentives ever, even in a common trim. I'm further sure that if you're an adherent to the church of the proper break-in (meaning you want as close to 0 miles on the odometer as possible when you take possession), you're going to be hard pressed to do better as well.

At the Jeep dealership, and granted this was right as the Gladiators hit the dealership lots, it was "full MSRP or pound sand" (the salesperson didn't care for that phrasing, but didn't dispute it), and surprisingly [/sarcasm] they only seemed to have fully decked out trucks, and one non-Rubicon they would actually let you drive and/or unlock so you could see the interior... I've read or been told that they started to sell a bit less quickly than expected once the novelty wore off, and there were deals to be found on occasion. I've not personally verified this though. I can say that even in this very truck, very off road, very Jeep market, Gladiators are few and far between.

One thing I really like about the Gladiators, so that I don't come off as some sort of Colorado shill, is they're ugly in a good way. One of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite cars I've ever owned was my VW bus. 62, panel, rattle can paint job. Ugly as sin. I once picked the owner of the company I worked at up at the airport in it (instead of his Range Rover which, like Range Rovers do, wouldn't start), and he was PISSED to be seen being picked up in such an ugly car (it was a bit insulting at the time). I like ugly cars when the ugly is due to engineering/practical/etc. reasons. Pontiac Aztek? Get that out of here. That's committee ugly. Fiat 600 Multipla? That's the good kind of ugly. The Gladiator has some marketing stink in the design (not all of it bad), but there's a lot of the good kind of ugly to it. I really like that they took the proven parts of the JLU, and smashed them together with the proven parts of the Ram 1500. You have a whole new platform with none of the growing pains. Yeah, there are some really "whuh?" elements to it, but they tend to be for good reasons. I'm thinking specifically of the kink in the rear doors that makes no sense at all and looks out of place, but that cuts cost (for production AND future used parts procurement) by being shared with the JLU. There are a few little details like that that I find endearing in a "good ugly" way.

Which reminds me. One more point for the ZR2 camp: parts availability down the road. The Gladiator will OWN the aftermarket, no doubt. That will make it easy to do some wild things for sure. But the Colorado will OWN the yards and second hand markets. They're much more popular in the consumer market, but it's the fleets that make it. If you get a white truck especially, you will have a ready supply of inexpensive, OEM quality, ready to bolt on parts forever. Certain mechanical parts will be a little less easy, since those are specific to the much lower volume ZR2, but I doubt they'll dry up prematurely and those are the ones the aftermarket will gravitate to. Those less available mechanical parts though... Military surplus! GM won the ISV contract, and that's a diesel Bison with a tune and different body work. That means in a few years they'll start hitting auctions, and you'll have a complete rolling chassis of all the best bits for pennies on the dollar!
 

Redheddedwonder

Active member
Gladiator Rubicon w 6-sp manual can be had for $42k. Seems like about $5k over the cheapest ZR2 I can find.

One compensating factor is Jeep’s resale is much higher than any Chevy. It’s crazy how well they hold value.
From my research a diesel ZR2 can be had for low 40s. I will be getting the diesel in whatever I get so the manual is out. Gladiator diesel is $4000 markup plus the auto trans is $2000 I believe. Plus they will be sought after and then you run into dealers not willing to play at all. Also note that the ZR2 comes standard with things like heated leather seats, bed liner and some others. Plus at that price I assume it is a soft top. So comparing a manual base gladiator Rubicon to a ZR2 isn’t the same. This is mainly why I was considering a diesel sport. Price would be more comparable.
 

85_Ranger4x4

Well-known member
Yeah, there are some really "whuh?" elements to it, but they tend to be for good reasons. I'm thinking specifically of the kink in the rear doors that makes no sense at all and looks out of place, but that cuts cost (for production AND future used parts procurement) by being shared with the JLU. There are a few little details like that that I find endearing in a "good ugly" way.
It could be worse...

 

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T-Willy

Well-known member
One thing I really like about the Gladiators, so that I don't come off as some sort of Colorado shill, is they're ugly in a good way. One of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite cars I've ever owned was my VW bus. 62, panel, rattle can paint job. Ugly as sin. I once picked the owner of the company I worked at up at the airport in it (instead of his Range Rover which, like Range Rovers do, wouldn't start), and he was PISSED to be seen being picked up in such an ugly car (it was a bit insulting at the time). I like ugly cars when the ugly is due to engineering/practical/etc. reasons. Pontiac Aztek? Get that out of here. That's committee ugly. Fiat 600 Multipla? That's the good kind of ugly. The Gladiator has some marketing stink in the design (not all of it bad), but there's a lot of the good kind of ugly to it. I really like that they took the proven parts of the JLU, and smashed them together with the proven parts of the Ram 1500. You have a whole new platform with none of the growing pains. Yeah, there are some really "whuh?" elements to it, but they tend to be for good reasons. I'm thinking specifically of the kink in the rear doors that makes no sense at all and looks out of place, but that cuts cost (for production AND future used parts procurement) by being shared with the JLU. There are a few little details like that that I find endearing in a "good ugly" way.
I too like Gladiator's ugliness. It's endearing. To my eye it's too long and low, needing taller tires and lift. But after fixing its proportions the brash utilitarianism shines through--and I find that as intensely ugly as it is beautiful and satisfying to look at. Taller tires would soften its dirt road manners too, though still a far cry from Colorado's.
 

plainjaneFJC

Goofball
That is exactly what I was wondering! We are moving to Bailey, so it seems like we will be living in the same area, with the same trails. I do plan on going to Moab occasionally but don’t see myself doing anything too hardcore. It will be a daily driver. I will be driving to the airport about twice a week one direction. So far I am thinking the ZR2 fits what I will need most. I have always been a Jeep guy, have owned pretty much every version of wrangler minus the JL. So it’s hard for me to want to switch, but I’m leaning ZR2 right now.
Is Bailey a big area? I've got an old friend that lives there, if you see a guy in his 60's wearing suspenders with pipe wrenches on him thats my old friend...lol. Still need to get up there and visit.
 

Redheddedwonder

Active member
Is Bailey a big area? I've got an old friend that lives there, if you see a guy in his 60's wearing suspenders with pipe wrenches on him thats my old friend...lol. Still need to get up there and visit.
Depends on what you think is big! Population is around 9,000 I believe, I’ll keep my eye out for him!
 

CoreyHendo

New member
Are you dead-set on one of these two because of the diesel options? I was 100% firm on buying a ZR2 (I'm a GM guy when it comes to domestics), but a friend from Ford offered me a weekend drive in a new Ranger. Other than the front locker, I feel the Ranger is superior in every aspect. The available tech and comfort of the seats (subjective) sealed the deal for me and I came away with a new Ranger Lariat Sport/FX4/tow (every option) out the door at about $41k. If the gas motor isn't a deal breaker, I'd recommend checking them out online and giving it a drive.
 

Redheddedwonder

Active member
Are you dead-set on one of these two because of the diesel options? I was 100% firm on buying a ZR2 (I'm a GM guy when it comes to domestics), but a friend from Ford offered me a weekend drive in a new Ranger. Other than the front locker, I feel the Ranger is superior in every aspect. The available tech and comfort of the seats (subjective) sealed the deal for me and I came away with a new Ranger Lariat Sport/FX4/tow (every option) out the door at about $41k. If the gas motor isn't a deal breaker, I'd recommend checking them out online and giving it a drive.
I have been looking at all options, diesel is a big bonus. Big thing is we will be living at roughly 8,000ft, I want some sort of turbo, so the ranger would work. Every time we head west on a trip there are high elevation passes to deal with. My old van really struggled even being a 2013 with the modern computer system adjusting the fuel ratio. On vacation it was fine but not something I want to deal with daily. I also see us getting a camper at some point down the road, less than 4,000 lbs most likely.

The aftermarket support for the gladiator and zr2 is big plus. I feel like the ranger is getting more attention now though for sure. AEV flares give the zr2 the ability to run bigger tires which is important to me. I do plan to go test drive every option though. If I could get a crazy good deal on a ranger, a lift kit wouldn’t be out of the question to fit bigger tires.
Thanks for the input!
 

phsycle

Adventurer
I have been looking at all options, diesel is a big bonus. Big thing is we will be living at roughly 8,000ft, I want some sort of turbo, so the ranger would work. Every time we head west on a trip there are high elevation passes to deal with. My old van really struggled even being a 2013 with the modern computer system adjusting the fuel ratio. On vacation it was fine but not something I want to deal with daily. I also see us getting a camper at some point down the road, less than 4,000 lbs most likely.

The aftermarket support for the gladiator and zr2 is big plus. I feel like the ranger is getting more attention now though for sure. AEV flares give the zr2 the ability to run bigger tires which is important to me. I do plan to go test drive every option though. If I could get a crazy good deal on a ranger, a lift kit wouldn’t be out of the question to fit bigger tires.
Thanks for the input!
4K lb camper isn’t “small” in my opinion. If you’re living at elevation, which means steeper grades, I’d be much much more comfortable in a full-size truck. And that’s the direction I’d go personally.

But if midsize is a must, I’d say Ranger. Turbo definitely helps. It’ll be cheaper than the Gladiator. And has good payload.
 
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