Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A grey 2020 used Jeep Gladiator is parked off-road at sunset with desert mountain views.

2020 Jeep Gladiator vs 2021 Jeep Gladiator. Is a Used Jeep Gladiator the Better Option?

If you’re looking for a used Jeep Gladiator, you’re a special kind of person. Touting the Wrangler’s off-road reputation with best-in-class payload and gas towing capacity, this versatile machine isn’t for your average driver. Chances are, you prefer to stay off the blacktop, forging your own path of adventure, and you’ve probably got a few toys you like to bring with you too. Not many cars on the market can bring that dream to life like the Jeep Gladiator can. It’s no wonder you’ve got your eye on a gem like a used Jeep Gladiator.

Wait, used? That’s right; we think you might want to check out the used Jeep Gladiator before setting your heart on the new one just yet. Is opting for the new model worth the extra money? What improvements did Jeep make to its award-winning midsize pickup in 2021? Today, we’re pitting the debut model against this year’s to give you insight on which one best suits your wild side. It’s 2020 Jeep Gladiator vs 2021 Jeep Gladiator!

Best-in-Class Capability

To kick things off, we’ll be going over what you can expect both Gladiators to bring to the fight. Coming standard under the hood, you’ll find a dynamic 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine with Engine Start Stop (ESS) technology that pushes out 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This beast is responsible for the Gladiator’s best-in-class gas towing capacity of 7,650 lbs. Pair this with a best-in-class payload capacity of 1,700 lbs, and you’ve got yourself the most capable midsize pickup on the market.

You can expect the same trail-dominating hardware and technology from both models when it comes to off-road readiness. Front and rear locking differentials and an electronic disconnecting sway bar give you unrivaled power and control when the road gets bumpy. The 4:1 Rock Trac Transfer Case lets you climb and crawl with ease, and available Fox shocks give you even more control both on the road and off. Putting your Gladiator in Off-road+ mode unleashes its full potential by adjusting the throttle, transmission, and traction control for maximum output off the beaten path.

Exterior Features

A red 2020 used Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is shown from above with the doors and roof off and kayaks in the bed.

The Gladiator exterior was designed to connect you with the road (or lack thereof) as much as possible. Removable top, doors, and a foldable windshield put you as close to the trail as you want to be, with a 5 ft bed to stow all your toys. The bed features a 3-position tailgate and is flush with useful options like integrated tie-down hooks, a 115v power outlet, and a tonneau cover to keep your cargo safe from the weather. Need to brighten things up? Opt for the LED exterior lighting package to illuminate the path ahead.

Interior & Tech

Whether you go with a used Jeep Gladiator or the 2021 model, your pickup will feature Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Uconnect infotainment with Bluetooth connectivity. Available heated front seats and steering wheel keep you warm when things get frosty, and dual-zone auto temperature control ensures everyone in the cabin stays comfortable. The Gladiator also features plenty of interior cargo space throughout the cabin, with extra room under the backseats. Thanks to its Passive Entry feature, fumbling around for your keys is a thing of the past. As long as they’re in your pocket, all you have to do is touch the door handle to unlock the door.

Safety Features

The Gladiator isn’t known for its wide range of available safety features, but both models include an assortment of advanced driver-assistance technologies. With Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Rear Cross Path Detection systems, you’ll be covered from all angles when you’re out on the road. If you’ve got a long drive ahead of you, turn on Adaptive Cruise Control, and your Gladiator will adjust its speed based on the behavior of the car ahead of you, even coming to a full stop. The ParkSense Rear Park system has your back whenever you’re in reverse, giving you an audible warning if you’re about to trade paint while backing up. And if your trailer starts to wobble, the impressive Trailer Sway Control system steps in and restores balance by applying brake pressure to the necessary wheels of your Gladiator.

The Mojave

To wrap up our list of commonalities, both models afford you the option of selecting the first-ever desert-rated Jeep vehicle: the Gladiator Mohave. This dune crawler was built to stand the heat, sand, gravel, and dust in one of the most punishing environments on the planet. Jeep enhanced the Gladiator’s suspension, traction control, and reinforced the frame and axles to give you peak performance on the sand. Off-road+ mode turns the desert into your playground sandbox, delivering a high-speed desert racing experience that no other midsize pickup can provide.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel, Reinforce It

You can think of the 2020 and 2021 Jeep Gladiators as brothers. The younger brother – the 2021 model – has many of the same characteristics as its older brother, but with a few core differences that set it apart. The most notable difference is the availability of an EcoDiesel engine on select trims.


The 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 engine sacrifices a bit of horsepower and towing capacity in exchange for best-in-class torque and a significant boost to fuel efficiency. Available only with an eight-speed automatic transmission, this powertrain delivers 442 lb-ft of torque and 260 hp. You can add the EcoDiesel V6 under the hood of the 2021 Sport, Rubicon, and Overland trims for an extra $4,000.

Of all the additions this model year, the new powertrain will likely be the biggest factor in your decision between a new or used Jeep Gladiator. Think about how you plan to use your pickup and which specs are most important to you. Are capability and fuel efficiency at the top of your list? Will you be spending most of your time splashing through creeks and crawling over rocks like you’re in a Jeep commercial? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then a new Gladiator with the EcoDiesel V6 engine is the better option. On the other hand, if hauling and towing cargo is your main concern, then you can save the extra cash and opt for a used Jeep Gladiator with the standard 3.6L V6.

A black 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave is kicking up dust on a dirt road.

Tech & Exterior

Jeep added a few new tech and exterior features to keep things interesting, but outside of that, the new 2021 Gladiator is the spitting image of its older brother. Jeep Skill for Alexa joins the lineup of available tech features this year, giving you the power to start your car, check fuel levels, and send directions to your Gladiator while you’re prepping for your next adventure. The 4G Wi-Fi Hotspot supports up to eight devices within 50 ft of your Jeep, keeping you connected wherever your wanderlust takes you. The most notable change outside the box is the option for 20-in gloss black wheels on the High Altitude trim.

Trims & Pricing

Speaking of trims, there are a handful of new options for Jeep’s 80th anniversary. If you’re a collector and avid Jeep fan, then the 80th-anniversary limited-edition trim is the perfect option for you. The classic Willys and Willys Sport trims also join the ranks this year, and a High Altitude model is now available.

If you’re set on the 2021 Jeep Gladiator and saving money is your top priority, the Sport trim starts at $33,565, just $20 more than the previous year’s. But keep in mind, if you want the extra power from the EcoDiesel V6, you’ll need to budget for another $4,000. For the other returning models, the Sport S comes in at $38,100, the Overland at $40,660, and the Rubicon and Mojave go for $44,140. If you’ve got your eye on the Rubicon or Mojave, Jeep only bumped the price up about three hundred dollars compared to last year, so if you can spare the extra capital, it might be worth your while.

Starting at $35,510, the Willys Sport is the most affordable of the newly available trims. The Willys starts at $39,260, and the coveted 80th Anniversary edition at $42,005. The most expensive of all the 2021 Gladiator trims is the High Altitude, beginning at $51,765.

It’s Time to Get the Gladiator

The optional 3.0L EcoDiesel powertrain truly sets the 2021 model apart in terms of performance capabilities and fuel efficiency. But aside from that, these two brothers are pretty much the same. Choosing between a new and used Jeep Gladiator comes down to your budget and how you plan to put its best-in-class capability to use. So, if you want the diesel option, opt for the 2021 models, but if you want to save a little money for the same capability, get a 2020 model. So, where will your adventures take you?