With the world upside down right now, it’s kind of nice to drive a vehicle that doesn’t seem to care. You can go sideways, up a hill, through a thick pile of mud and snow, and barely notice all of the upheaval, disarray, and sheer madness of it all during the pandemic.
Maybe the 2021 Jeep Gladiator Overland Pickup doesn’t even know that ‘rona is raging right now (especially in Minnesota where we are on strict lockdown orders). This vehicle is blissfully unaware. In my recent test, driving on any patch of mud I could find, my favorite features involved some gauges that help you keep track of where the vehicle is at all times.
I don’t mean location finding — as though you lost it at the mall. That’s a thing, and has been for some time. No, this is more about off-roading. Known as the Offroad Pages, the screen shows you information about the Gladiator Overland and it’s relative position on the planet.
Let’s start with the pitch and roll gauge. On one steep climb (full disclosure it was a paved road), I noted how the gauge would show me the pitch of the vehicle in real-time. This is helpful if you are descending a hill to know if you are on a dangerous angle.
The Gladiator drives like a normal Jeep Wrangler in most cases but happens to have a truck bed, so it’s longer and feels a bit more stable because of that.
Next I tested the gauges for coolant temp, oil pressure, and the all-important trans temp. If you have done off-roading and tend to gun it through mud like I have, keeping an eye on this gauge makes sense. The transmission has to work overtime. I once drove a Wrangler through a mud pit that was about three or four feet deep; you do not want any overheating. Also, if you ever do this, be sure to keep moving the whole time and never come to a stop.
Anyway, I also tested the Offroad Pages screen that shows the drivetrain. This visual indicator is probably the most handy for off-roading because you can do a spot-check to make sure you are in 4WD or not. (believe me, it is easy to forget.) You can also see the steering angle which, on terrain where there are gullies, rocks, and other encumberments, you can angle around objects and in general keep an eye on which direction you’re heading.
This type of close monitoring might seem like overkill in some ways. Sadly, I know a few Jeep owners who have literally never driven in a mud pit. What a shame! When you actually do find a lonely farm road caked in slime, it’s really helpful to know relative position, steering angle, and the temperature of the engine, coolant, and transmission.
It might be cool to have an Offroad Pages gauge that also shows tire slip in real-time, or even a little warning indicator that there is too much slip. I have also driven a Wrangler before in about four feet of snow and tried to get it stuck. I remember trying to free the vehicle in 4H at first and then, noticing too much tire slip, dropped to 4L and popped right out of the embankment.
The Gladiator is a tough vehicle. Adding even more gauges, indicators, and warnings of off-roading activity might be cool down the road. Especially for those fortunate owners who buy the vehicle from a used car lot about 10-15 years from now and might actually use it off-road.