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North American Truck of the Year: Jeep Gladiator
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North American Truck of the Year

North American Truck of the Year: Jeep Gladiator

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The all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator comes across as advertised — all Jeep, all truck, all a four-wheeler dream.

This is why 60 automotive journalists selected it as North American Truck of the Year.

“We were confident that the Gladiator would win,” said Steven Isakson, truck and fleet manager at Bosak Motors in Merrillville. “Based on our own test driving and the responses we get from customers, the machine exceeded the hype, which is quite an accomplishment.

“We anticipate very brisk sales in the first six months of this year,” Isakson said, adding that Bosak has 55 copies of the Wrangler-based truck on its lot. “That will only increase with the award and the Chicago Auto Show, where the Gladiator will be front and center.”

Gladiator was engineered from the ground up to be the most off-road capable midsize truck, according to Isakson. The 100% Jeep design combines rugged utility, open-air freedom, clever functionality and versatility, and best-in-class towing.

“All three models — Sport, Rubicon, Overland — will seat five adults comfortably,” said Isakson. “The Gladiator has a great and comfortable ride, a feature that really impresses drivers. It fits the needs and wants of several demographic groups because it’s a Jeep, a truck, and a four-wheel off-road mountain climber.”

With the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and a versatile cargo box, Gladiator is ready to handle the demands of an active lifestyle. “Whether camping is your thing, or hiking the Dunes, Gladiator is your vehicle,” Isakson said.

The top and doors can be removed. “Our customers love that option,” Isakson said.

Runner-ups for Truck of the Year are the 2020 Ford Ranger and the 2020 Ram Heavy Duty.

The 2020 Ford Ranger signals the return of a favorite.  After leaving the U.S. market from 2011-19, the Ranger is back with a bold design and an impressive set of features.

“The Ranger is a tough customer when you need it to be and a smooth operator when it matters most,” explained Thomas O’Neill, truck manager at Castle Ford in Michigan City. “The base MSRP sits at $25,000, making it an affordable truck.”

Pop the hood of Ranger and meet a 2.3-liter turbo 4 that generates 270 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. “The engine offers refined power delivery and the towing and payload capabilities that make trucks a must-have,” O’Neill said.

A 10-speed automatic provides shifts that are smooth and quick. Rear-wheel drive models offer 8.4 inches of ground clearance and four-wheel drive has 8.9 inches. An available Terrain Management System tweaks engine responsiveness and transmission gearing to optimize the truck's performance on various types of terrain.

The Ranger's cabin offers controls that are easy to see and use. The Ranger is available with either a SuperCab, which seats four, or SuperCrew, which seats five. 

The Ram HD underwent significant upgrades for the 2019 model year with some tweaks for 2020.

There's a new Night Edition based on the Big Horn or Laramie trim that includes black wheels and exterior elements and a black leather interior.  Lane-keeping assist and adaptive steering are now available on all trim levels.

There's also a trailer tire pressure monitoring system and an auxiliary camera system that supports two cameras. A 50-gallon fuel tank is now on Crew Cab models with the 8-foot bed.

“The Ram is very popular in Northwest Indiana,” explained Isakson. “Here at Bosak we have customers who are farmers and others who are steel mill tradesmen. The 2500 and 3500 can meet their needs on either end of the spectrum.”

The 2020 Ram Heavy Duty is available with three powertrains. The base engine is a 6.4-liter V-8 achieves 410 hp and 429 lb.-ft. of torque. The basic diesel option is a 6.7-liter inline 6 good for 370 horsepower and 850 lb.-ft. of torque. A high-output version of the Cummins turbodiesel boasts 400 horsepower and 1,000 lb.-ft. of torque. With the high-output diesel, the Ram Heavy Duty can pull up to 35,100 pounds and haul a 7,680-pound payload.

 

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Related to this story

It’s been a long time coming — Kia’s jump into the the highly competitive full-size sport-utility category. Founded in 1944, Kia has worked long and hard to capture the heart of American car buyers with affordable and dependable vehicles. The North American Car of the Year jury comprising 60 automotive journalists and Motor Trend acknowledged its arrival by naming the Kia Telluride as the 2020 Utility Vehicle of the Year.

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