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A silver 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 Z71 Trail Boss is shown rounding a corner after visting a certified pre-owned Chevy Silverado dealer.

A Pickup Showdown: The Silverado vs Gladiator

Pickups are on a different level than other vehicles. That’s why we always refer to them as “trucks” instead of “cars.” We may still refer to an SUV as a “car,” but even in casual conversation, our default is to refer to a pickup as a “truck.” Probably because that’s what it is; while it does fine on the road and certainly will provide for everyday driving needs, it is designed to do the work of a truck. This means that it may require a higher level of scrutiny when considering the right pickup truck to buy. It’s not just about how it drives; it’s about how it works. The extra scrutiny is especially important given the extra money that will be laid down for a vehicle on the scale of a modern pickup truck, even if you are saving some money by buying a certified pre-owned Chevy Silverado dealer.

So, let’s dive into some of these considerations right now. Rather than bore you with technical jargon, boring comparison sheets, and unnecessary numbers, I’d like to submit two vehicles for today’s consideration. The first is the Chevrolet Silverado. While the Silverado is getting a good deal of attention right now for the upcoming ZR2 trim, if you walk into any certified pre-owned Chevy Silverado dealer, you will see that you do not need to buy the latest and the greatest Silverado model to end up behind the wheel of one of the finest pickups on the market. Second is the Jeep Gladiator, which has been one of the most popular trucks on the market since its re-release in 2019.

This is going to be a fun comparison because there’s not one that is obviously better than the other. Both are outstanding and highly-rated pickups, both in their own way at the top of their class. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at these two pickups.

The Jeep Gladiator

The Gladiator hit the market in the 2020 model year, and it was a big deal. It was a big deal because it was an all-new truck that was not new at all. The first Jeep truck was produced in 1947 and was developed until it was replaced with…what? You guessed it–the Jeep Gladiator. Yes, the Gladiator made its market debut in 1963. You may be thinking, “how dare they call the Gladiator all-new! It’s been around for almost 50 years!” Well, yes, but not quite. In 1971, Jeep dropped the Gladiator name, putting it to rest until such time as the company felt it appropriate to bring it back. That time, of course, was the 2020 model year. Think not that Jeep simply thawed out a 49-year-old truck and slapped it back on the shelves. Surely not. The Gladiator was completely re-imagined, making it, as Tim Kuniskis, Head of Jeep Brand North America, would put it, “unquestionably a truck and instantly recognizable as a Jeep.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The Gladiator truly is instantly recognizable as a Jeep, as it is essentially a pickup version of the popular Jeep Wrangler. So, imagine all of the outdoor, off-road adventures (not to mention the signature look) of a Wrangler but with a pickup bed. Oh, wait; you don’t have to imagine–that’s the Gladiator. As far as style goes, I need not explain; the Gladiator redefines pickup truck style by abandoning the big, bulky, dominating look and going instead for lean, muscular, and sharp.

As far as performance goes, the 2020 Gladiator will do more than just fine on the road. But if you really want to see it in action, get that bad boy off the road. This vehicle is not just built to drive, but built to climb, to swim, and to take whatever you send its way. With its water fording capabilities, Command-Trac and Rock-Track 4X4 systems, and far more, you will be in for a true off-roading treat. The biggest weakness of the Gladiator, however, is that its performance numbers simply do not rise to the levels of the Silverado. The Gladiator’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine only allows it to reach up to 285 horsepower–and yes, the Silverado does exceed that number; in fact, it blows that number out of the water.

The Gladiator is an adventure and style-oriented vehicle. But maybe you’re not looking for a stylish adventure vehicle. Maybe your off-roading needs aren’t for the purpose of adventure but for the purpose of farming, construction, or any other variety of tasks. As I wrote in the introduction, the true value of a pickup truck is in its ability to carry out work. Well, good thing the Gladiator is not the only pickup on the market.

A grey 2020 Jeep Gladiator is shown kicking up sand in the desert with a 4-wheeler in the bed.

The Chevy Silverado

The truth of the matter is that Chevrolet is excellent at making vehicles, and this is evident in all models and trims of the Silverado. Let’s start outside the vehicle. Where the Gladiator has that classic Jeep look with its sharp, lean features, the Silverado’s exterior exudes strength while maintaining some of the sharpness of the Gladiator. Many pickups lean too heavily into bulkiness, whereas the Silverado appears lean enough to be efficient while also appearing strong. But the outside is only the preview of what’s on the inside.

When it comes to purchasing a pickup truck, most of us aren’t looking for just the exterior features; we’re looking at the capabilities, and when it comes to capabilities, I can think of no better place to turn than the Chevy Silverado. The Silverado went through some significant advancements for the 2019 model year: “More Truck, More Capability, More Value,” as the press release put it. The 2019 Silverado increased the size of the truck and gave it better features, such as a 2.7-liter turbocharged engine that offered more power and efficiency than the standard V6.

Where the Gladiator is an adventure truck, the Silverado truly is a work truck. At its peak with the 6.2-liter V8 engine, the 2020 model is able to reach 420 horsepower, 460 pound-feet of torque, and a maximum towing capacity of 13,400 pounds. That’s hard to beat, and the Gladiator simply does not match these performance capabilities. When it comes to towing, the Silverado has some of the finest trailer technology on the market, with the 2020 model having some of the most advanced towing technology you’ll see. With 15 unique camera views available to help you to manage your trailer, towing will hopefully come with much less stress than it ever has before.

What’s more, the Silverado certainly does not take away the possibility of off-road adventures. The Silverado has made significant advancements in its off-roading capabilities, particularly with the vehicle’s Trail Boss trim, specially designed to handle the abuse that the vehicle will take off the road; and if you’re off-roading, wouldn’t you rather have 420 horsepower than 285? I would. When it comes to good old-fashioned hard work, there is really no comparison between the Silverado and the Gladiator; the Silverado even goes all the way in that it offers excellent off-roading capabilities while providing a more durable and highly-performing work truck.

A person is shown with fishing poles leaning on the bed of a 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT Z71 Trail Boss at the beach.

Which Way Do I Go?

Do you want adventure? You could go with the Gladiator, but you will be giving up a fair amount of work capability. Do you want a highly-performing work truck that can also support exciting off-road experiences? Well, then I would look at the Silverado. The truth is that when it comes to performance, work, and reliability, the Silverado is about as good as it gets. Having grown up in a family that continues to purchase one Chevy after another, I can tell you firsthand that the brand is stellar and will pull through for your pickup needs. So, if you’re looking for a truck that is tried and true and continues to be highly acclaimed year after year, the Silverado is certainly the way to go.