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Test drove a 2021 Gladiator and ...

Discussion in '3rd Gen. Tacomas (2016+)' started by 1999TacoMan, Jun 21, 2021.

  1. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:16 PM
    #1
    1999TacoMan

    1999TacoMan [OP] Well-Known Member

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    So I sold my '19 Tacoma OR about a month ago after 2 years of ownership and within those 2 years I gotten to know the pros/cons of the taco. It was a solid truck and it definitely got the job done during those 2 years. Of course, when a dealer is offering you a crazy amount, it is very hard to say no. Before I move on to talk about my experience with the Gladiator, I'd like to list a few pros/cons of the taco. The point of this thread is to give others some input just in case they are in the same boat as I am.

    2019 Tacoma 4wd OR
    Pros:
    - Not a full size and much more manageable in tight parking areas or driving through the city
    - 4WD was plenty capable (I was able to to put it to the test during the winter storm here in Texas)
    - Aftermarket support is huge
    - Reliability (never gave me issues during my ownership)
    - Resale Value!
    - Great forums like Tacomaworld. Lots of great knowledge, people, and information is found here in Tacomaworld.
    - Option for a manual for most trims

    Cons:
    - Gas mileage was honestly mediocre especially when you compare the numbers to full size pickups in today's market. Throw some 33" or 35" tires and those numbers shoot way down.
    - Seating position got old after a while and for being 6ft tall, there wasn't much head clearance. (I'm aware that the updated Tacoma from '20 and on improved slightly with the power seats)
    - I know I know, there's OVtune but honestly, the transmission was so anemic. It could never hold the right gear and the only temporary solution was to drive in ECT mode.
    - Rear passenger space was also very cramped. Wasn't too bad for me but for anyone with a family, the space was pretty small.

    2021 Jeep Gladiator Willy's Edition
    Pros:
    - Interior is so much more refined when compared to the Tacoma. Everything from the infotainment to the materials used inside were definitely an improvement. The seats were much more comfortable and the positioning of my legs when sitting was much better. The amount of headroom was also night and day.
    - Ability to fit 33's or 35's (Rubicon trim only for 35's) with no lift and no modification of any sorts is a major plus.
    - TRANSMISSION! This was a big one for me as I really disliked the auto transmission in the Tacoma. The 8 speed in the Gladiator was incredibly smooth and it never hunted for gears while driving.
    - Off road capabilities. This is a no brainer. Solid axle up front and the option for front and rear lockers, along with sway bar disconnects. Dana 44 axles are superior when compared to the competition.
    - Ability to remove panels and doors. This is isn't really a big deal for me but it earns cool points in my book.
    - Rear passenger room. The amount of legroom in the back was amazing. When having the driver's seat adjusted to my liking, I was still able to fit very comfortably in the back with plenty of legroom.
    - Ruggedness and looks. This one is probably debatable depending on who you ask but the look of the Gladiator really has grown on me. I think it still holds the character of a Wrangler but with the utility of a bed.
    - Overall feel. While driving it, the Gladiator felt more like a truck than the Tacoma did. This is something that I really enjoyed. This could be a con for some people. I do know that for the '20 Gladiators there were many issues with steering feel and feedback, but I believe the steering was improved for the '21 models.
    - Manual is still an option
    - Tow rating of 7,650 with max towing package

    Cons:
    - $$$$. For the model I tested, the price was definitely on the steeper end. Of course, I am taking into account the current market and the shortage of inventory on many vehicles nationwide. The price as tested out the door was $48k.
    - FCA. This is still a toss up. I've heard mixed reviews about the 3.6 Pentastar but I've heard that this engine has made huge strides in reliability in recent years.
    - Not available in a 6' foot bed. To many this can be a bad thing but the 5' foot bed works for me.
    - Wind/Road noise. It was noticeable but not by much. I've daily tons of sports cars with aftermarket exhausts so a little bit of road/wind noise in the Gladiator didn't phase me much.



    Overall, the Tacoma was just what Toyota is all about, durable and reliable. However after selling it, I thought I would give the Gladiator a try since it's the only other mid size that is appealing to me.

    After driving the '21 Gladiator in the Willy's trim this past weekend, I can safely say that it is definitely in contingency as my new replacement for the taco in the next few months. I hope anyone out there in this same predicament finds this information somewhat useful. I'm aware that I left out details on both vehicles, but these are just the notable differences that I experienced and felt worth mentioning.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
  2. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:22 PM
    #2
    Dryfly24

    Dryfly24 He’s a leprechaun. He tells me to burn things.

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    I too considered the Gladiator vs. my 19 OR but reliability trumps all with me so the Taco it was…
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
  3. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:24 PM
    #3
    jwctaco

    jwctaco Well-Known Member

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    Cool mud flaps,Snugtop Shell.
    I have had Tacoma’s for well over twenty years. I think the Gladiator is pretty cool, I wanna test drive one.


    But I shouldn’t.
     
    jetfishn, jackn7, C41n and 11 others like this.
  4. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:26 PM
    #4
    1999TacoMan

    1999TacoMan [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I think it's worth test driving honestly. I've only had Tacomas and Subarus all of life, and I was quite impressed actually.
     
  5. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:29 PM
    #5
    afret

    afret Active Member

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    Forgot one Gladiator con: Ugly!
     
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  6. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:29 PM
    #6
    Thunder Fist

    Thunder Fist Well-Known Member

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    Like, so many.
    Con for the Gladiator: they look like dookie unless you mod them.
     
    jpking17, henryp, rtilton12 and 23 others like this.
  7. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:30 PM
    #7
    philth

    philth Well-Known Member

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    If they made a single or access cab [and in manual] I would have considered one.
    But they don’t. And I very much dislike the look of the Gladiator in the current configuration.
    So Tacoma it was.

    Good write up though!
     
    Drangus, sabasarge, Mr-Paul and 6 others like this.
  8. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:31 PM
    #8
    1999TacoMan

    1999TacoMan [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I did forget one pro now that you mention it lol Disc brakes all around. Looks however are subjective lol

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:31 PM
    #9
    phocas

    phocas Well-Known Member

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    "the Gladiator felt more like a truck than the Tacoma did" Granted I have only ridden in one a few times, I very much disagree, guess it depends what you mean by "like a truck".
    My buddies wife loves hers, it's not something I would like to be seen driving though.how-we-d-configure-a-4_1600x0.jpg
     
  10. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:32 PM
    #10
    AZ_Tumbleweed

    AZ_Tumbleweed Well-Known Member

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    I've owned three brand new wranglers over the past 10 years that were constantly in the shop from minor annoyances such as the soft top squeaking to major issues such as leaking seals. I dont like extended warranties but they easily paid for themselves in repairs and loaner vehicles. I recently purchased a 2018 Wrangler with the 3.6 ESS engine (same as the gladiator) and within 5 months of ownership the secondary ESS(engine start stop) battery died. Unfortunately due to the dual battery system i was unable to jump it with a battery pack or donor vehicle. Luckily this occurred a few days after i returned from a solo journey to Valley of the Gods UT where i would of been stranded for a long time. Theres also a serious issue with the steering where the steering box has excessive play making the already poor handling aspects of solid front axle even worse to the point its a safety issue (check the JL-forum for like a 500 page thread of people with that issue). i finally made the switch to Tacoma in hope for better reliability

    That being said, the gladiator will be 100 times more fun to drive if you're into taking the top and doors. Ive driven through haboobs and nor'easters with the top and doors off and drove through Zion with the windshield folded down and enjoyed every second of it
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2021
    tacotoe, C41n, o313 and 6 others like this.
  11. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:37 PM
    #11
    essjay

    essjay Part-Time Lurker

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    Personally, if I was going to trade in the Tacoma for something that wasn't a 4Runner, I'd probably go with the 4-door Wrangler over the Gladiator and just delete rear seats as needed.
     
    tarbal255, Mountaindew, C41n and 7 others like this.
  12. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:38 PM
    #12
    Thunder Fist

    Thunder Fist Well-Known Member

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    Like, so many.
    That one looks fine. I have no problem with that one. But y'all know what I'm talking about.
     
    tarbal255, C41n, Bedawson and 9 others like this.
  13. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:39 PM
    #13
    Dank Donkeh Luvver

    Dank Donkeh Luvver Well-Known Member

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    OVTune/Coyoza, Eibach Pro Lift, Mobtown Sliders/Skid, Softopper, Martin Offroad Rack
    Something interesting to me is that the Toyota dealers near me usually have one or two Tacomas on the lot. However the jeep dealership always seems to have somewhere around 10 gladiators on their lot. It makes me think that the Gladiator price may not necessarily be a result of a supply shortage.
     
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  14. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:43 PM
    #14
    ryanvar42

    ryanvar42 That is your opinion. It is wrong.

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    My neighbor has a rubicon and it looks great with a little lift and some tires. I don't think the back seat seemed much bigger but that's just me. But I also have to say to me it is considerably louder because there is not material on the rough and the doors are pretty bare. That inherently makes it louder
     
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  15. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:45 PM
    #15
    batacoma

    batacoma Well-Known Member

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    The Gladiator looks like a Ford Model T.
     
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  16. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:47 PM
    #16
    Bertw192

    Bertw192 Well-Known Member

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    Katzkins, sport hood, 17"×8.5" SCS Ray10 matte gunmetal wheels with BFG KO2 265/70/17 tires, heavily modified Mobtown bed bars, tinted windows, Mesojdm OR taillights, TRD Pro skid plate, ADS Ext Suspension, TRD Pro shift knob, TRD Pro Rigid fog lights, TRD Pro grille, passenger smart handle, SSO Slimline bumper with Warn M8000 synthetic winch, TC bed stiffeners, RCI hidden hitch rear bumper
    Let's be fair and compare apples to apples...

    upload_2021-6-21_14-42-9.jpg

    vs

    upload_2021-6-21_14-44-26.jpg

    Or, compare the top models...

    upload_2021-6-21_14-45-17.jpg

    vs

    upload_2021-6-21_14-45-54.jpg


    Don't get me wrong, I don't like the looks of the Gladiator either (proportions of cab to bed are wrong). But if you compare the top dogs, the Gladiator looks more rugged. Now modify either of them and all of that goes out the window.
     
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  17. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:50 PM
    #17
    Foster1

    Foster1 Well-Known Member

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    Long term those seats are crazy uncomfortable. Maybe the initial test drive is fine, but on longer trips my whole body was in pain.

    Also, no way any normal sized adult could sit in the back seat comfortably. Zero leg support and the back is like a 90 degree angle too.

    I guess if your whole family is short you could be comfortable in a Gladiator.
     
  18. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:50 PM
    #18
    Thunder Fist

    Thunder Fist Well-Known Member

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    Like, so many.
    Yeah, I'm with you on all of that. But I'd take a stock Taco over a stock Gladiator ALLLLLLL day. Those Rubis and Mojaves look dope though. I'm actually not the hugest fan of TRD Pros because I just don't think they look rugged enough. They need some aggressive 32 inch tires at least. Don't they come stock with 31s?
     
  19. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:50 PM
    #19
    TheDevilYouLove

    TheDevilYouLove You can’t polish a turd, but you can polish a TRD

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    I’ve been driving Tacoma’s since 2000 (only had two in that time) so I’ll probably never change. I really don’t like the looks of the Gladiator. I’d maybe get a wrangler if I was feeling froggy, but I trust Toyota and their reliability.
     
  20. Jun 21, 2021 at 2:52 PM
    #20
    Bertw192

    Bertw192 Well-Known Member

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    Katzkins, sport hood, 17"×8.5" SCS Ray10 matte gunmetal wheels with BFG KO2 265/70/17 tires, heavily modified Mobtown bed bars, tinted windows, Mesojdm OR taillights, TRD Pro skid plate, ADS Ext Suspension, TRD Pro shift knob, TRD Pro Rigid fog lights, TRD Pro grille, passenger smart handle, SSO Slimline bumper with Warn M8000 synthetic winch, TC bed stiffeners, RCI hidden hitch rear bumper
    Yep, they get the same 265/70/16 as the OR.

    It's not Toyota's style, but it would be cool to see them get a little more aggressive and risky with the TRD Pro. They seem to be doing it with the colors, but now they need to get the accessories game going.
     

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