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A red 2021 Jeep gladiator is driving down a rock pile after winning a 2021 Jeep Gladiator vs 2021 Chevy Colorado comparison.

Race on the Trail: 2021 Jeep Gladiator vs 2021 Chevy Colorado

The competition is steep in the modern midsize truck market thanks to iconic brands like Jeep and Chevy that continue to raise the bar of capability and performance. This is especially true when you look closer at the 2021 Jeep Gladiator vs 2021 Chevy Colorado. While both models are exceptional and offer something for everyone, there’s a hard line in the sand when it comes to choosing sides. After all, two of the most loyal groups are Jeep drivers and Chevy lovers.

This fierce level of competition is good for you if you’re in the market for a midsize truck. Why? Because it means that Jeep and Chevy have pulled out all the stops to give you everything you could ever want or need in a truck. It’s a win-win as you get to shop the best of the best to determine whether the Gladiator or the Colorado is the best truck for you. Here are a few things to consider as you start your search.

Know Your Driving Needs

There’s no question that both the 2021 Gladiator and the 2021 Colorado can easily handle your commute to work as well as running errands around town, hauling supplies for projects around the house, or navigating a new town during a weekend getaway. However, there’s a big difference between the Gladiator and the Colorado that starts with knowing your driving needs. So, here’s the question you have to ask yourself, “How will I use the truck?”

If you’re looking for a capable truck that can handle the demands of your daily life but also take you off the pavement and down the trail, then there is no question that the Gladiator is your top pick. The Jeep name is synonymous with adventure, and every trim of the newly reintroduced Gladiator carries the Trail Rated badge. To get this sort of capability in the Colorado requires you to step up to the Colorado ZR2, which is designed for the trail.

A white 2021 Chevy Colorado is parked near a garden as a man loads the trunk.

The Power Factor

For 2021, the Gladiator saw the addition of a new 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoDiesel V6 engine to the lineup. The diesel, which delivers 260 horsepower, is paired with a TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission that’s calibrated for lower rpm shifts, which is ideal for making full use of its 442 lb-ft of torque. The other engine in the Gladiator lineup is the tried and true 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with ESS that’s paired with a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an available TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic. The Pentastar engine delivers more power than the diesel at 285 horsepower but far less torque at 260 lb-ft.

Like the Gladiator, Chevy gives drivers the choice between a gasoline V6 and diesel engine on the 2021 Colorado. However, the lower trims of the Colorado come with a third option – an underpowered 2.5-liter four-cylinder that is paired with a 6-speed automatic and delivers just 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque. This is yet another place where you will have to pay more to get close to the Gladiator’s capability.

The Colorado’s 3.6-liter V6 engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and is slightly more powerful than the Gladiator’s Pentastar by delivering 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. The ZR2’s diesel option is a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel that’s mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission to deliver 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, which is a notable decrease from the Gladiator and will prove as much on the trail when you need all the power available to climb obstacles.

The Capability Factor

Jeep and capability go hand-in-hand thanks to Jeep’s stellar reputation for building rugged vehicles equipped with legendary four-wheel drive technology and a variety of off-road components. This is true for the 2021 Gladiator lineup, with models like the Sport and Overland including the Command-Trac 4×4 system, while the Rubicon pushes this capability even further with the Rock Trac 4×4 system with its enhanced low range gearing. To better this capability, the Gladiator can be outfitted with components like the Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential to increase torque and traction.

The Gladiator Mojave, which is the ultimate off-road warrior, is designed for both speed and capability in sandy environments. Earning Jeep’s first Desert Rated badge, the Mojave’s prowess is undeniable. Sitting on 33-inch tires, the truck is equipped with high-performance Fox shocks, a rear locking differential, and industry-exclusive Fox front hydraulic jounce bumpers. This Baja-style suspension gives you better control over the Mojave in even the harshest conditions.

The Mojave also improves the Gladiator’s already excellent 11.1-inch ground clearance to 11.6 inches and, despite being Desert Rated, can still ford through water up to 30 inches deep, just like all Gladiator trims. The Gladiator also has a standard approach angle of 43.6 degrees, a breakover angle of 20.3 degrees, and a departure angle of 26 degrees. So, how does this compare to the Colorado ZR2?

In short, the Gladiator is better. Even the factory lifted Colorado ZR2 only has a ground clearance of 10 inches, and the base models start at just 8.3 inches of ground clearance. The 4×4 Crew Cab Colorado also has just a 17.1-degree approach angle, an 18.6-degree breakover angle, and a 22.2-degree departure angle. This means that the Gladiator gains the advantage and can easily climb obstacles that even the vaunted Colorado ZR2 must go around.

A grey 2021 Jeep Gladiator is shown from the back driving down a winding road.

The Fun Factor

While power and capability are vital if you’re looking for a truck that can handle itself both on and off the pavement, there’s another important thing to consider – the fun factor. When you’re venturing off the beaten path, you’re likely looking for an adventure. That’s when the fun factor comes into play.

There is no question that the Gladiator wins when it comes to delivering a fun experience, whether you’re behind the wheel or riding shotgun. Why? Because it wouldn’t be a Jeep without the ability to remove the doors and top. Jeep makes this even easier by giving owners the option between several tops like a body-color hardtop, a Black Freedom Top hardtop, a Zipperless Sunrider soft top, or no top at all. The Gladiator also features an exclusive fold-down windshield to give you an open-air experience like no other.

This fully immersive driving experience sets the Gladiator apart from the Chevy ZR2. It’s also a dealbreaker among shoppers who are not only looking for a capable workhorse but love the fun that the Jeep brand has to offer. And when it comes to the Gladiator, that level of fun knows no limits.

Which Truck Will You Choose?

There are dozens of things to consider when shopping for a 2021 Jeep Gladiator or a 2021 Chevy Colorado. If you’re looking for an off-road rig that can handle your busy work week and your adventures on the trail, then there’s no doubt that the Gladiator is a great option. To find this level of capability and off-road prowess in the Colorado lineup requires you to upgrade to the ZR2 or ZR2 Bison, neither of which offers the same ground clearance, four-wheel-drive technology, or off-road components as the Gladiator. When you also consider the resale value that comes with any Jeep, as well as the hundreds of aftermarket accessories and parts that allow you to customize your Gladiator further, you’ll see why the decision is an easy one to make.