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A sub-Gladiator Jeep ute 'probably won't happen right away'

Jeep's Mark Allen doesn't think you'll be seeing a Jeep-branded ute smaller than the Gladiator any time soon.

After teasing Wranglers with trays for years, Jeep is set to finally add a Wrangler-based ute to its line-up in Australia in 2020 with the arrival of the all-new Gladiator.

But with the brand headed in a more global direction, and the Dodge Dakota known to be in the works, could the brand launch another, smaller, ute?

CarsGuide asked Jeep’s head of design, Mark Allen, if he thought there would be room for Jeep to do another ute or pick-up truck – after all, it is the most competitive segment in our market.

The Gladiator is set to be available imminently in Australia with a starting MSRP of $75,450. The Gladiator is set to be available imminently in Australia with a starting MSRP of $75,450.

His initial thought was to ask us back if we think it would be smaller or larger than the over-five-metre-long Gladiator. We said surely smaller. Jeep’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler, already has the larger truck market covered off with Ram (which is doing remarkably well in our market, despite the extra cost added from a local RHD conversion).

“I would like to take the challenge,” Mr Allen said of a smaller Jeep-branded truck. “It’s probably not going to happen right away, but I do like small trucks, I always have…”

The upcoming Ram Dakota will slot in below the full-sized 1500 and is said to be based on a new “low-cost” ladder-frame platform which FCA will need to compete with a new surge of smaller trucks in the North American market. The Ford Ranger has recently become available to Americans in factory left-hand drive and EcoBoost petrol engine options.

The existence of this new smaller platform in the FCA family opens up the opportunity for other badges, particularly one as widely recognised as Jeep, to utilise it more widely. It remains to be seen if it will be made available to right-hand drive markets.

According to Mr Allen a smaller Jeep branded truck is "probably not going to happen right away, but I do like small trucks, I always have". According to Mr Allen a smaller Jeep branded truck is "probably not going to happen right away, but I do like small trucks, I always have".

Mr Allen said it was already challenging for the brand to design the Gladiator.

“From the middle of the truck forward was carryover [from the Wranlger Unlimited]. It took us a long time to stomach the proportions. The Gladiator is odd when you stare at it in profile. I incorrectly predicted that having a convertible top on a pick-up would be dumb. But now, it’s my favourite feature. I say this a lot: It’s not pretty. But it’s pretty cool.”

The Gladiator is set to be available imminently in Australia with a starting MSRP of $75,450. It kicks off in two variants, both equipped with a petrol 3.6-litre V6 producing 209kW/347Nm. It is worth noting that this relatively high starting price puts it in striking distance of the Ram 1500 Express quad cab ($79,950) and Ford’s popular Ranger Raptor ($77,190) and perhaps too expensive to be considered alongside mainstream segment heroes like the Toyota HiLux or Mitsubishi Triton.