Phoenix Automotive Press Association Event: Gladiators & RAMs

It’s always a special treat when I get an invitation to road test the latest in automotive offerings because I spend such a good chunk of time driving vehicles that are “old school.”  Whether we want to accept it or not, the year 2020 is just around the corner and even though the year “sounds” so far in the future, it’s nearly upon us.

Technology has come a long way:  The electronic capabilities of a vehicle have gone far beyond the AM/FM cassette tape decks of yesteryear and evolved into navigation systems, self-driving aids, driver assistance / safety features, and much more.  Gadgets and gizmos are everywhere to be found, and some are easy to figure out while others require a bit more of a learning curve.  The owner’s manual of one of the RAM pickups that I drove on Thursday was 700 pages long.

Fiat-Chrysler representative Scott Brown and a few others from his team hosted some members of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) for a ride-and-drive event in Paradise Valley, Arizona to showcase some of the latest from the brand.  One featured vehicle was a new-for-2020 Jeep Gladiator pickup truck, answering the question “Why can’t I have a Jeep and a truck at the same time?”  I guess we can call it a Juck, or a Treep.  Either way, I loved it.

The Gladiator that I drove was powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine coupled with a 6-speed manual transmission.  You read me right, a real honest-to-goodness shifter and a clutch pedal – and that was my favorite thing about it.  The ability to be in complete control of the vehicle gave me a great deal of confidence when cruising around the drive loops in Paradise Valley, even if not being able to adequately experience any of its go-anywhere / off-road capabilities.  As the only open-air truck on the market, Gladiator puts its occupants out in nature where many of them want to be.  The windshield even folds flat just like the traditional Wrangler.

Also available for demo were a handful of pickup trucks, all the way up to a RAM 3500 Laramie Longhorn which offers luxury car amenities on a vehicle that boasts enough power to pull a house off its foundation and drag it around the block.  It’s no mystery that RAM’s formula is getting something “right” – in 2018, the company sold over 600,000 trucks and RAM is #1 in the heavy duty segment with 40% of overall market share.  Here again we see RAM leading the pack in tech:  auto-tailgates, trailer towing packages, auxiliary cameras, and even power convex mirrors are among some of the features that can be equipped on these trucks.

When Motor Trend named RAM 1500 the truck of the year for 2019, the voting was unanimous.  Scott pointed out that it was the first time the answer has been so cut & dry.  After sampling some of RAM’s offerings, I can definitely see the allure.

Thanks to Scott and the rest of the FCA team for the hospitality!

Our host venue

Gladiator interior

This Gladiator was headed to the “Overland Expo” in Flagstaff, equipped with all sorts of custom features

Sticker on on the ‘Overland’ Gladiator concept

Detail on stitching on one oft he RAM pickup door panels

Power Wagon, and it does have plenty of power.  Some of these trucks have torque figures of 1,000 lb-ft.

The underside of the center console has a mathematics reference grid, including the Pythagorean Theorem.  Gotta love all the “Easter Eggs” that manufacturers sometimes hide for us to find!

Thanks Scott!

18 Responses to “Phoenix Automotive Press Association Event: Gladiators & RAMs”

  1. The Gladiator reminds me in some ways of the old-school Jeep Comanche – like a Jeep that married a pickup truck and out popped the Juck. The Comanche looks pretty impressive for off-roading. The engine – the V6 Pentastar, is similar to the unit in my wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee, and while people on the Cherokee owners forum recommend the V8, I’ve been satisfied with the six cylinder unit.

    Were the Dodge Ram pickups diesel engined? The Cummins units are super long-lived. Cummins even has a special website to honor high mileage owners, and it’s cool seeing all these Dodge pickups with mileage in the high hundreds of thousands to millions.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure!

    • Yes, the pickups that we got to drive were diesels. They do seem to last forever! My dad & stepmom use a Cummins Ram for towing cross-country and it does great!

  2. We have a few of the Ram Longhorn editions and they are plush!

    I hope i can take a Gladiator for a spin so i can figure out the sky high msrp. . .even with a 6-speed.

  3. 700 pages! Are you sure that book isn’t War and Peace?

    • Seriously. I’m glad the paper manual still exists! It seems we live in a world where everything is on PDF and you have to go online to download it, and usually end up printing it anyway. Haha

  4. LOVE the “Juck!” I imagine we’ll be seeing plenty of those on the road, modded to heck in no time. I don’t think my old TL’s owner’s manual was as extensive as that Ram’s!

  5. autoscribe1974 Says:

    FCA/Jeep seems really good at sneaking in those “easter eggs.” This is a particularly cool one!

  6. I think you left out a little stall action?? Wink, wink.

  7. I think i could probably park my car in the back of both of those – they’re massive!

  8. I’m just stunned at the sales figures, 600,000 Dodge trucks shifted last year. It just boggles the mind! I was reading the a sales figure report that came out at the end of April and our biggest selling “Ute” is the Ford Ranger, which has sold 3,145 units so far this year. Waaaay off what’s being sold in America. The report also listed that for 2018 in the dealer-to-public sales, we had 68,004 vehicles sold new. Barely a splash in the pond! Loving the sticker on the back of the Overland concept too.

    • Definitely a difference in sales volumes here vs. there! I know, 600k vehicles is nuts. And I love soft tacos so that sticker caught my interest 🙂 Hope your week is going well, Adam!

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