Consumer Reports and J.D. Power Named the Worst Mid-Size Truck

Jeep is known for its lineup of off-road capable Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). The brand produces some of the toughest all-terrain vehicles that can conquer even the most challenging trails. It has a long history that created an impact on the automotive industry, especially with its iconic vehicles.

However, not all Jeep models are stellar, based on the reviews of some organizations. They have given the Jeep Gladiator a low rating due to its lack of reliability and poor performance. Let’s take a closer look at what makes this vehicle receive negative attention.

Photo Credit: Brian Proal

Low scores

Usually, Jeep vehicles are rugged and built to last long. However, the Gladiator seems to be an exception. It’s surprising to see a Jeep model receiving low marks from well-known organizations such as Consumer Reports (C.R.) and J.D. Power. The groups have named it the “worst mid-size truck.” Due to its poor reliability score, it has one of the lowest scores among all mid-size trucks in the market.

Even in the previous 2021 model year of the Gladiator, the score given by Consumer Reports was not that great, with 41 points. It falls within the average range and is only placed in the nineteenth spot. The latest score given by C.R. is 38 out of 100, which is indeed much lower than before.

J.D. Power ranks every pickup in the mid-size class. The American consumer research, analytics, and data firm use owners’ feedback about each model. Although it received a good score of 80 out of 100, it only placed the Gladiator in the fourth spot on the list.

The score difference is not too high from the top-ranked Ford Ranger (with a score of 83/100). However, J.D. Power claims that the Gladiator has similar shortcomings as what was pointed out by Consumer Reports. When two reliable reviewers have the same opinion, it is probably spot-on.

What is predicted reliability?

Consumer Reports conducts extensive survey data that are combined with technical knowledge. It allows the organization to predict the reliability of various new and redesigned vehicles expertly.

By sending out surveys to thousands of vehicle owners, it helps the independent organization help to report on 17 potential trouble spots. The issues may include the engine, transmission, handling, paint, and more.

The ratings are also constructed on the owners’ experiences from previous model years. C.R. asks people if they would repurchase the same model if given a chance. The reports are based on the car’s value in relation to its price and comfort.

C.R.’s criticism

Consumer Reports gave the Gladiator a weak score for its unreliability, even though Jeep has made minor changes to the vehicle. The reliability of a vehicle is a significant factor that affects the result of the evaluation.

  • One of the issues in the 2021 Gladiator is its automatic transmission. Some drivers experience that their vehicles tend to be jerky and often falter when shifting gears. It can be highly frustrating for drivers, especially when they’re on the highway. The mid-size truck received nearly the lowest possible predicted reliability rating. Despite the changes in some Jeep accessories and parts, the low score haunts the latest Gladiator model.
  • The Gladiator underwent testing for fuel efficiency. The pickup truck averages 13 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined. These numbers are not really impressive compared to other models in its class (such as the Ford Ranger and Honda Ridgeline), which all get above 20 mpg combined.
  • The Gladiator’s slow steering response requires a lot of effort, making you feel like having an arm workout.
  • It was referred to as “clumsy with mushy” because of the truck’s terrible handling.
  • According to the reviewer from Consumer Reports, he was bothered by the wind noise present inside the cabin.
  • Access to the front and rear seats is difficult, so it isn’t recommended for those who want the ease of going inside the cabin and convenience.
  • Jeep’s pickup struggled when it came to comfort. It received 55 out of 100 points for the seats, climate control, noise, and ride. However, the truck is built for off-roading, which can compromise ride quality on the pavement.

J.D. Power’s Criticism

According to J.D. Power’s website, they are a global leader in data and analytics, advisory services, as well as consumer insights. The company aims to understand consumer behavior, so it spearheads using artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and algorithmic modeling capabilities.

J.D. Power ranks the models similarly to Consumer Reports, as they use what owners like and dislike about the vehicle. They found out that:

  • It may seem like the Gladiator scored 80 out of 100, while the Ford Ranger only got a three-point lead. However, the independent organization claims Gladiator received more negative reactions than the top-ranked mid-size truck on their list.
  • The company also pointed out the Gladiator’s poor handling and noisy interior.
  • The truck’s fuel economy did not improve in its overall driving range and charging speed. Fuel efficiency is one of the most crucial things that most buyers look at vehicles, especially these days wherein the fuel prices have skyrocketed.

Positive side of Gladiator

The criticisms of J.D. Power and Consumer Reports are not always about the negatives. They also praise the vehicle’s positive sides, such as commending the style of the Jeep model. The two organizations also applaud the feel of the engine. It is known to have a powerful machine that lets drivers traverse the most challenging terrains.

  • Style: The appearance is obviously different from other mid-size. The iconic boxy Jeep Jeep Wrangler design at the front is fused with a spacious truck bed. Owners can also install Jeep accessories and improve some stock parts, especially for off-roading.
  • Versatility: If you’re up for an adventure in the trails, you may fold down the windshield and remove the doors when you want. Owners also have the option between a removable hardtop or a soft top. Jeep offers different options and upgrades to improve its towing or off-roading capabilities, such as upgrading the wheels with Toyo tires.
  • Engine selections: Buyers may choose from two V6 engine options. The powerful engines allow drivers to tow and place the items on its roomy truck bed.
  • Towing capacity: Its towing capacity will vary based on the engine and other options the customer chooses. The Gladiator can tow a standard capacity of about 4,000 pounds. When appropriately equipped, the maximum weight it can haul is just over 7,600 pounds. The payload capacity is also pretty good, as it can carry about 1,700 pounds in its truck bed, especially when it’s adequately equipped.

The Jeep Gladiator may have some flaws, but it still offers a lot of features that other mid-size trucks don’t have. It’s up to the buyer to decide if they want a stylish and versatile truck or one with a powerful engine and can tow a lot of weight. Whatever the decision, Consumer Reports and J.D. Power aims to provide the most accurate and unbiased information to help buyers make the best decision.

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