The Gladiator is unique in the double-cabin ute market because the roof panels and doors can be removed easily and the windshield folds forward and lays flat on the hood for a true safari-style off-road driving experience. As a result, the hose’s interior is designed to handle all weather conditions, as evidenced by the removable carpet and floor drain plugs.
The Rubicon is fitted with powerful front and rear Dana live axles that provide excellent off-road articulation. They are matched with a quadruple of gas-charged FOX shock absorbers that provide regulated control on long-travel, flexible coil springs.
The steering has electro-hydraulic power assistance and there are disc brakes on four wheels. Inflatable bumpers at each corner cover the larger, slender 800mm tires and the front sway bar can be detached with the push of a button when optimum wheel travel is required off-road.
There are climbing handles on columns A and B, and with rock sliders doubling as side steps, it’s easy to get in and out. Inside there is plenty of black leather with red contrast stitching (the Rubicon name is embroidered on the front seats) along with satin chrome spots and dark red highlights. The controls and dashboard controls are logically arranged and easy to use.
The front seats offer enough room for drivers of most shapes and sizes, and the rear seats are surprisingly spacious, even for a 180cm adult like me. With the driver’s seat in position, there is about 60mm of knee clearance and about 80mm of head clearance when seated aft. The adjustable vents at the back of the center console as well as the sliding rear window keep it well ventilated.
Our only gripe is the lack of legroom for the driver due to the excessive width of the transmission tunnel in the footwell area. The only places to rest your left foot are either partially under the brake pedal against a firewall or on the ground on your ankle, which are far from ideal.