Jeep Gladiator is FCA’s New Accessory King
Before the Jeep Gladiator’s launch this spring (2019), Fiat Chrysler’s Mopar predicted the midsize pickup would replace the distinguishable Jeep Wrangler in the accessory sales. After being a few months on the market, it has achieved that goal. Mopar has said that Gladiator buyers spend on average around $1,000 per vehicle on accessories, which tops Wrangler purchasers, who spend about $800.
The versatile Gladiator is playing on pulling in Jeep enthusiasts who furnish their vehicles for off-roading as well as attract buyers from the pickup segment who have specific needs. Mopar’s head of performance and accessories, Kim Mathers, said Gladiator buyers are adding off-road tools such as protective rock rails and lift kits. FCA had made sure that Jeep dealers were ready for the accessory bombardment before the Gladiator arrived.
There was more than 90 percent of Mopar products available at dealerships during the launch period. Gladiator add-ons center on lifestyle accessories, off-road capability, and truck functionality. For those who want more of a spacious feel, Mopar has steel-tube doors.
Other options can include racks for surfboards and bikes and military-grade LED lights. Mathers said that Mopar plans to offer more accessories and performance parts. With the Gladiator in consumer’s hands, Mopar is paying more attention to how customers are altering their Jeeps.
“The planning for the Gladiator launch has been a long time in the works,” Mathers told Automotive News. “Before the vehicles start to hit dealers, we ship them our key marquee parts. We had always expected Gladiator to do well from an accessories dollars-per-unit perspective because it really can draw upon the Jeep world, which is big from an accessories perspective, but also the truck world, so it’s able to build upon both.”
The Gladiator has sold nearly 7,200 vehicles in the U.S. sales in the second quarter alone. The Gladiator captured an estimated 7.7 percent of the midsize pickup market during its first full month in the dealership lots, according to the Automotive News Data Center. As Head of Mopar service, parts and customer care for FCA North America, Mark Bosanac, said customer feedback at events such as the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, and the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show will influence how the accessory lineup will develop throughout the years.
“We’re coming up with new ideas, we’re getting input from customers, we’re going to these other events in Moab and SEMA, and we’re taking that information,” Bosanac said. “A lot of us are going out and working and trying to find out, ‘Hey, what else could we possibly do? What are you looking for in a vehicle?’ ”.
The Gladiator has some of the redesigned Jeep Wrangler platforms for 2019. Some of the updates include a more stylish faux fender vents, raked windshield, a redesigned front bumper, a host of subtle fuel economy tricks to help this barn door and go down the road with a shred of efficiency. To transform the four-door Wrangler into a Gladiator, Jeep lengthened the wheelbase from 295 to 349 centimeters.
Onto that chassis is a fitted five-foot bed which makes for an overall length of 554 centimeters which is 64 centimeters longer than the regular four-door Wrangler available. It gets all of the hardcore off-road bits that make the Wrangler such a new vehicle to have. The exciting part is knowing how the Gladiator works with a daily driver in an urban setting environment.
The Gladiator offers a great place to sit and observe the world. You sit high, and the beltline is low. The headroom is excellent, but the glass doesn’t go very close to the top of the roof.
The pillars are thin, especially for a truck, and the upright windshield is odd but pleasant. The view in any direction is bright and full, an absolute triumph for a modern pickup. All of this means shoulder-checks are secure, and parallel parking is a breeze.
The Gladiator feels like a manageable size vehicle because, well, it is — drivers can change lanes with confidence. Compared to a 203-centimeter-wide Raptor, the Gladiator is just 187 centimeters wide. The Raptor is a half-ton and the Jeep a quarter-ton, but in an age of large pickups, the Gladiator is refreshing.
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