Now, in its second year, the new Jeep Gladiator is getting its first upgrade in the form of a new engine, one with a huge amount of torque in a 3.0 liter, eco-diesel V-6 engine.

Usually, around this time of year, it is hard to get out into the back country with a four-wheel drive vehicle because of the large amount of snow in the mountains. But not this year; with all the other unique things that have come along since 2020, less snow was not one we thought would come our way.

The Saturday of our week-long test drive dawned bright and beautiful with the promise of mid-40’s temperatures, prompting some sort of Saturday adventure, especially since we had a Jeep.

Then, around 9 a.m., Deanne got a call from our oldest grandson — 6-year-old Jensen — who wanted to come and spend the afternoon and stay overnight with us. We couldn’t say no to that request, so we made plans to pick him up and take him along for the afternoon on a real Jeep safari, or as much as we could make of a safari in Utah in January.

Attaching Jensen’s booster seat to the back seat was super easy as the Gladiator is elevated and the anchor hooks are exposed in a way that any parent would greatly appreciate. Jensen loved climbing in and out of the Jeep, the extra height becoming his favorite part of the adventure.

We headed for Eureka, figuring that the mountains to the west may have less snow and allow us to get in some good climbing. This turned out to be a great option as we headed up what is known as Hatfield Canyon, trudging through mud and about 6 inches of snow to about 7,000 feet of elevation.

The new eco-diesel engine has so much torque, we never knew how slippery the terrain was after putting the Jeep into four-wheel drive. It climbed and maneuvered with all the ease we would have expected from a true Rubicon.

The sky at the top of Hatfield Canyon was so blue, and we could see into Utah Valley and Mt. Timpanogas. This was the first time we had taken a Jeep up into the back country in the snow, and we were very impressed with the way it handled the conditions.

The new engine makes 260 horsepower and a whopping 442 pounds-feet of torque, and coupled with an eight-speed transmission with two gear ranges, it was a “go-anywhere” setup, as we certainly found out.

The option of having all the Jeep DNA in a truck presents a unique opportunity to take more stuff out on any adventure. Our test ride came with a tonneau cover, and we were able to put all of the extras that Jensen wanted for the weekend under that for the day, giving him the entire back seat to himself. On a family camping expedition, this would be huge.

Although the Gladiator is somewhat longer than a regular four-door Jeep, it drove and acted exactly the same, giving us the feeling it would maneuver anywhere off road.

One must remember that this truck is built to be rugged, as it comes apart, the top and doors come off, and the front window folds down, so luxury was not on the top of the minds of the designers.

Although our test ride was very comfortable to sit and ride in, with heated leather seats and a heated steering wheel, it still had that outback feel when out on the open road.

The 8.4-inch upgraded infotainment screen is a must with navigation. It would link to many satellites and give our exact location and altitude. When it was time to head home we programed the navigation from the top of the mountain to go to Vernon, and off it took us on the shortest route possible across mud, snow and all.

With the included receiver hitch, the Galdiator will pull up to 7,650 pounds, which is quite a load for the smaller truck. This would even get a mid-sized camping trailed into the mountains for a weekend in the woods.

Our test ride even came with blind spot alert, which we have come to need on any vehicle that we drive. The new gladiator can also include adaptive cruise control and forward collision control.

For a way to get anywhere and take even more stuff along for the ride, the Jeep Gladiator is the best choice out there — now even more powerful with a diesel powertrain.

Base Price: $43,875

Price as Driven: $66,025