Jeep builds the Gladiator into a proper 4x4 micro-RV concept
Ford may have the new shimmer of the Bronco Off-Roadeo series, but Jeep has the long-running success of the annual Easter Jeep Safari. At least it did until COVID-19 came through and canceled the planned 54th edition this year. But Jeep didn't use that as an excuse to avoid putting together the concept off-roaders that have become an integral part of the event. It debuted the all-new Gladiator Farout concept this week, developing a convincing 4x4 micro-camper that has a full-blown pickup-top living module on its bed, an efficient, crawl-ready turbo-diesel engine under its hood, and off-road upgrades from bumper to bumper.
The lack of Easter Safari this year has freed Jeep to proceed a little more strategically with its concept reveals. Instead of just dropping the Gladiator Farout during the would-have-been April Safari dates, it releases it now, just in time to advertise the official launch of the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine option arriving on 2021 Gladiator models before the end of Q3. The new turbocharged EcoDiesel steps up the pickup's already impressive off-road capabilities by delivering 442 lb-ft of torque along with 260 hp.
Official EPA figures aren't up yet for the Gladiator EcoDiesel, but Jeep says the model will return 28 highway miles (45 km) per gallon. The extra range that comes with that increased fuel economy coupled with the enhanced off-road capabilities of the Farout build will guide it to quieter, more distant, more scenic camping opportunities, which it can take advantage of with its pickup-back camper.
Jeep announced it as a roof-top tent (RTT), but we confirmed that it's actually more than that: AT Overland's Gladiator Habitat pickup-top camper. That's an important distinction because the concept is a successor to last year's Gladiator Wayout, which used a simpler overnight layout with a Maggiolina roof-top tent on a bed rack. The Farout steps into full micro-RV territory with a fully enclosed interior to sleep, feed and seat its occupants.
Unlike an RTT that sits on top of the vehicle roof or bed rack, AT's Habitat module fully encloses the Gladiator bed, turning it into the floor of an interior living space. The tent topper folds out behind the Jeep, providing soft-sided sleeping space while affording a higher vantage point for taking in the views.
Jeep and AT Overland match the color of the camper sides to the "Earl" worn by the Gladiator itself, a nice step up from the bare aluminum of the first AT Gladiator Habitat we looked at (pictured below). The Farout Habitat's roof remains a plain white but has some graphics etched in on top. Down below the camper module, chartreuse accents burst forth from the Gladiator's tailgate, sides, tow hooks and hood, adding some eye-grabbing contrast.
Sadly, Jeep plays it a little stingy with photos, so we don't get to see what it calls a "warm, inviting wood-lined interior." It does, however, confirm that there's a complete layout inside the pickup-top camper, bringing together a stove, fridge, seats, tabletop, storage racks and ambient lighting. Up front in the cab, Jeep combines plaid flannel seat inserts, dark smoke blue leather and orange stitching into a woodsy theme that complements the outdoorsy nature of the build. A cargo basket over that cab provides space for gear that won't squeeze between the camper furniture in back.
Helping the Gladiator Farout fight its way to near-unreachable patches of camp are a Jeep Performance Parts 2-in lift kit, Fox performance shocks, 37-in mud-terrain tires holding tight on 17-in wheels, modified steel bumper with 12,000-lb Warn winch, and custom front and rear rock rails.
We certainly liked the multi-activity creativity of this week's Ford Bronco adventure concepts, but we'd choose the cozy onboard accommodations of the Gladiator Farout 10 times out of 10. Mountain bikes and trailers can always find a place on the hitch.