This week, it’s Jeep Gladiator Rubicon vs. Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro! In this corner, we have the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon. The hotly anticipated rig is the first pickup from Jeep in nearly three decades, and it’s all new for the 2020 model year. Next, we have the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. This trim of the rugged pickup features some beefy off-road bits, along with plenty of creature comforts, and it’s unchanged for 2019.
Both the Jeep and Toyota are excellent competitors in the off-road ready truck segment, so let’s take a look at the engines, cabs, infotainment, and price to determine a winner. Of course, you shouldn’t buy a truck without a thorough test drive. So if you’re deciding between the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon and the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, visit AutoNation.com to find a nearby dealer. Full text of the video follows below.
Jeep Gladiator Rubicon vs. Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro: Powertrains
First, let’s look at the powertrains. The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon features a 3.6-liter V6 that’s packing 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Transmission-wise, buyers can choose between either a six-speed stick or an eight speed automatic. Regardless of which gearbox you opt for, fuel economy is about the same, at 17 mpg city, and 22 highway. A properly equipped Gladiator can tow up to 7,650 and haul 1,600 pounds.
In comparison, the TRD Pro comes with a 3.5-liter V6 pumping out 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. While lower Tacoma trims all come with a six-speed automatic, a six-speed stick is available on the TRD Pro. At 19 city and 24 highway, fuel economy is slightly better than the Jeep. But the TRD Pro is only rated to tow 6,800 pounds, and haul 1,540 pounds.
While the engine specs are similar, it’s worth noting that the Gladiator is heavily based on the Wrangler Rubicon, one of the most capable off-road vehicles you can buy. So while the TRD Pro is no slouch when the going gets tough, given the off-road focus of both vehicles, we’re going to give the win to the Jeep.
Jeep Gladiator Rubicon vs. Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro: Cabs
In regards to cabs, both the Gladiator and TRD Pro are only available in a four door configuration. But the Jeep has a couple of tricks up its sleeve, in that drivers can remove not just the top, but the doors — and the windshield even folds down. It’s all in keeping with Jeep’s “just enough essential parts” motto, and it’s pretty cool.
Predictably, the Toyota offers no-such versatility. But while the cab is somewhat utilitarian, materials are high quality, and even rear seat passengers will have plenty of space. Due to the four-door configuration and ample cabin room, both the Jeep and Toyota have a five-foot bed, which is somewhat short for a mid-size pickup.
That said, we think the ability to transform the Jeep into a stripped-down off-road rig at a moments notice gives it the win here.
Jeep Gladiator Rubicon vs. Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro: Infortainment
In this day and age, being a rugged off-roader is not excuse to skimp on infotainment. So both the Rubicon and the TRD Pro deliver. The Gladiator Rubicon comes equipped with FCA’s intuitive and responsive Uconnect system, and sports a 7-inch touchscreen in the center of the dash. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, and multiple USB ports are standard. Another handy standard feature is the forward-facing camera, which takes the guesswork out of where to aim your front tires on the trail.
In comparison, the TRD Pro also offers plenty of great features, including a 7.1-inch touchscreen, navigation, Bluetooth, and HD radio. And while we like the physical controls and how Toyota’s Entune system operates, the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is an Achilles heel on many of the company’s products, and that’s the case here.
Now, both vehicles offer features that would have been unheard of on off-road rigs even a decade ago. But we think the availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto tips the scales in favor of the Jeep.
Jeep Gladiator Rubicon vs. Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro: Safety
From a safety standpoint, since the Gladiator is a new model, it’s yet to be tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But it’s worth noting that while it features basic safety tech standard, features like blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, and rear cross traffic alert are optional.
In contrast, the TRD Pro earned four out of five stars during NHTSA testing, and comes with a robust set of safety features, including a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beams, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
So while we have no doubt that the Rubicon is a stout machine, we think the long list of standard safety features gives the Toyota the win here.
Jeep Gladiator Rubicon vs. Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro: Price
Now, it’s time to talk price. The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon starts at $43,545, though opting for additional technology and creature comforts will cause it to rise.
At $42,810, the Toyota is slightly cheaper, and the TRD Pro trim offers virtually every option available for the Tacoma, making it a comparative bargain.
So from a cost standpoint, we think buyers will get more bang for the buck out of the TRD Pro.
Overall, this is a very tough choice — but we think the Rubicon’s burly presence, fantastic off-road capabilities, and reasonable starting price give it the win here.