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New Jeep Gladiator 2020 dual-cab ute exceeding expectations, but still far from Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger levels of popularity

Jeep has found 194 new homes for the Gladiator pick-up so far this year.

Jeep’s Gladiator might be more of a niche offering in the dual-cab pick-up market, but the ute is still tracking well above expectations for the brand.

After its local launch in June, Jeep has amassed 194 registrations so far, well off the pace of long-established 4x4 pick-up segment leaders such as the Toyota HiLux (19,327 year-to-date) and Ford Ranger (20,205 YTD).

However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia boss Kevin Flynn told CarsGuide that the new model is selling above Jeep’s initial projections.

“It’s absolutely fair to say that the number of orders we’re taking is above the target we set, so I’m very happy with it,” he said.

“We’ve been able to manage it very well, so it’s doing exactly what we set out what it needed to do.”

With a starting price of $75,450 before on-road costs, the Gladiator sits towards the top-end of Australia’s ultra-competitive ute market, while its sizing puts it much closer to the likes of the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado.

Though interest in a new nameplate takes some time to ramp up after launch, Mr Flynn said that the introduction of the Gladiator has also shone a spotlight on the fourth-generation Wrangler, which launched locally in May last year.

Both Gladiator and Wrangler share the same underpinnings, though the latter scores more engine options and has seen 639 new registrations so far this year, a 3.2 per cent increase over the same seven-month period in 2019.

Mr Flynn said Jeep is managing Gladiator ordering to eliminate wait time for prospective customers, but its plan to secure stock before launching was stymied by the global Coronavirus pandemic.

“We have ordered well, but one of the things that we had sort of planned to do was build up a bit of stock before we went live, but with COVID, we didn’t have that luxury, and we didn’t want to hold back,” he said.

“The guys are doing a good job in getting them through, but they’re in and out. The orders are exceeding the immediate availability.

“We’re okay, we’ve got it under control, and we’re okay for the year, so it’s not as if you’re not going to be able to get one, but at the same time we’re very pleased with the way it’s gone.”

As previously reported, the Gladiator range will be bolstered by a new entry-level Sport S grade priced around $65,000 that will launch before the end of the year.

However, all versions of the Australian Gladiator will be powered exclusively by the 209kW/347Nm 3.6-litre Pentastar petrol V6, with the recently-revealed diesel engine off the table due to right-hand-drive production limitations.

As for the flagship Gladiator Mojave that was revealed in February, Mr Flynn said the brand is open to any iteration of the dual-cab ute if it were suitable for the local market.

“The key thing is, it’s clearly the States that drive what is going to happen to Gladiator, and we’re excited by some of the things they’re looking at doing, and Australia is a market that can mirror that,” he said.

“Whatever we can get in right-hand drive, I can assure you, we’ll be grabbing it.”