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Jeep Gladiator Wins, Gladdens Hearts Of Jeep Guys And Jeep Execs and Associates) - Our Maureen At 2020 COTY Awards

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By Maureen McDonald

Senior Editor

Michigan Bureau


For a truck whose name comes straight out of “Game of Thrones,” whose mid-size body is more removable than a Lego kit, the Jeep Gladiator earned the title of Truck of the year as designated by the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year announcement this week.

What’s not to like about a pickup truck with not only a soft-top removeable roof but even removable doors?” said John Voelcker, NACTOY jury member, as the team granted one of its top awards to a vehicle in the hotly contested and mighty profitable mid-size truck market. Gladiator roared against such entries as the Ford Ranger and Ram Heavy Duty.

Other winners included the mid-engine Chevy Corvette in the car category and the Kia Telluride as SUV. The Gladiator wins hands down for originality.

You’d expect some starry-eyed girl who played with transformers and Legos to step forward and say, “that’s my truck.” Even the hinges are industrial sized, like those you find on an electric-powered kiddie car.

Even grownups swoon. At SEMA this fall, Motor Trend alone published 68 pictures of tricked out Gladiators, that were stars of the show. Customizers put pop-up tents over truck beds, added nubby tires, plows and giant decals for the vehicle that could tackle the worst potholes in urban neighborhoods and the wilds of Colorado. The car mag published 68 pictures. Trail Recon put out a 20-minute video:

Today, the journalists hung on the Gladiator to cheer the invention of something new, in a market full of SUVs that look like well-decorated Easter eggs on wheels. The panel of 50 well-respect jurors from print, online, radio and broadcast media from across the U.S. and Canada, chose Gladiator in its truck category after hundreds of hours of test drives, research and evaluation.

Jurors voted on the finalists based on segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. A base model runs $33,799, but you can customize for off-road and embellish it for up to $100,000.

A breakfast ceremony for the top vehicles came on the second Monday of January. For the past 30 days this would be the official launch of Press Days at the North American International Auto Show. </p><p>Over 4,000 journalists would slog through snow, fog and sleet to see the latest cars and industry trends. The car show moves to June 9 – 20 with a promise of warmer days and car unveilings on the streets of Detroit.

Here’s the video from of the NACTOY event.

The only sobering moments of the morning events was learning the average vehicle runs $40,000 and payments start at $445 a month for six to 10 years. If you have damaged credit you could pay $700 to $1000 a month for basic transportation. The subprime market represents the most difficult hurdle to the economy according to Cox Automotive.

Meanwhile, the Gladiator represents the best hope for driver independence in an era of Uber, automated cars and ride sharing. This is the dream car you can customize to the far reaches of your paycheck, take off the doors and let the wind caress your body as you trundle up the mountains and wind through the most scenic valleys. Yet you still have a truck bed to haul the tent, the cooler and enough gear to go glamping. </p><p>