The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon measures almost six metres in length, so taking it to a crowded, cramped underground carpark seems like a cruel and unusual form of torture. And yet, here we are…
This feature is part of a series of articles from our 2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Long-term Test.
To see more about our time with the Jeep Gladiator, follow this link.
Hello and welcome to a scene from my nightmares.
I walked into the office on a Friday morning to be greeted by my boss, Glenn, who flashed me a friendly yet slightly unsettling smile.
“Morning Suz – how would you like to attempt to park the 2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon – an almost six-metre-long ute – in a tiny, crowded, underground carpark?”
Let me be clear – I’m not a terrible parker. It’s just not something that comes particularly naturally to me. Spatial awareness is not my strong suit, so I break a sweat parking anything bigger than my Subaru Outback.
Additionally, I’m a perfectionist, so I put immense pressure on myself to get it right in one fell swoop.
As a result, the concept of parking a very large, very eye-catching ute in a very public place fills me with a rising sense of dread.
What’s that saying about stuff that scares you? Just do it? Actually, I think that’s just the Nike slogan, but still it works.
So, Drive’s photographer Ted and I set out to a nearby outlet centre in the CBD, which was doing a roaring trade on a Friday afternoon (a lot of people ‘working from home’ methinks) and was, unfortunately for me, packed with cars.
Immediately, the Gladiator copped more than a few sideways glances. It’s a pretty cool car, to be fair – but it’s also huge, measuring roughly 5.6m long, 1.9m wide and 1.9m tall, with a 13.6m turning circle.
That makes it one of the longest cars on sale in Australia. And while all that heft might be fine when adventuring in the great outdoors, there will be instances where the Gladiator needs to be an indoor car.
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|At a glance||2022 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon|
|Price||$79,250 plus on-road costs|
|Our spec (inc. options)||LifeStyle Adventure Group
|Price as tested||$88,579 including on-road costs|
|Drivetrain||3.6-litre V6 petrol
|Power & torque||209kW @ 6400rpm
347Nm @ 4100rpm
|Dimensions (L / W / H / WB)||5591 / 1894 / 1909 / 3488mm|
|Fuel consumption (claimed combined)||12.4L/100km|
Getting into the carpark structure itself went smoothly enough – it may be big but the Gladiator’s dimensions are clear-cut thanks to excellent all-round visibility and a well-positioned driver’s seat.
I had a good view of the bonnet and front wheel arches, and I could make out the back corners of the tray surprisingly well, even though they felt very far away from the driver’s seat.
Helping matters was the fact the rear parking sensors and reverse camera are remarkably precise.
In fact, in the same week I was assigned this anxiety-inducing task, I was also road-testing the Land Rover Defender, which felt harder to handle than the Gladiator, despite being shorter in length.
Having said that, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hyper-aware of the size of the car while winding my way down carpark ramps.
The biggest challenge was the car’s 13.6m turning circle, which made it hard to handle tight corners – particularly when trying to account for other cars approaching from the opposite direction.
Unfortunately, on more than one occasion, other drivers had to wait for me to clear a corner before they could proceed.
The carpark we chose also featured raised lane edges, which are tricky to navigate in smaller cars, let alone a wannabe semi-trailer.
On the plus side, the Gladiator’s giant off-road-ready wheels can just cruise over kerbs when required, and I did test this out on one particularly tight S-bend. I was able to mount the kerb and drive straight over the curvy bits with no trouble at all.
Once we’d made our way to a particularly crowded section of the carpark, Ted helpfully (note my sarcasm) suggested I attempt to park the Gladiator in a spot designated for small cars, right next to a large cement column.
I decided to back it in, which is – in my experience – always the easier method, and approached the task with military-like precision.
Surprisingly, it took me just a few seconds to slot the car into the compact spot using the Gladiator’s large side mirrors, reverse sensors, reverse camera and head checks.
The precision of the parking sensors even allowed me to reverse far enough to tuck the Gladiator’s front end neatly in line with the concrete pillar for minimal overhang.
A particular highlight was just prior to parking when Ted got out of the driver’s seat to grab his camera and I jumped into the driver’s seat to park the car.
A couple walking past gave him a very judgemental side-eye glance, clearly assuming Ted had enlisted his female counterpart to park the ute because he couldn’t handle the challenge.
Nosing into another spot was more challenging, with the Gladiator’s length making it tricky to ascertain the right angle of entry. I’d assume most owners would prefer to back it into tight spots.
After about an hour of navigating the narrow, crowded, poorly lit and judgemental confines of the shopping centre carpark, I was feeling almost euphoric. I hadn’t damaged the car, myself or any innocent bystanders, and I was actually growing really comfortable with the Gladiator’s immense dimensions.
Although it looks intimidating from the outside, the Gladiator’s well-positioned driver’s seat, good all-around visibility and clear-cut edges take the confusion out of parking. Precise sensors and a helpful reverse camera provide excellent back-up.
Happily, I also found most drivers were really courteous and considerate, allowing me ample room to round corners, waiting patiently while I tackled reverse parking manoeuvres, and even giving way with a smile and a wave.
Although, with a car as big and intimidating as the Gladiator, they didn’t really have much of a choice.
After successfully completing several parking manoeuvres, we triumphantly headed back to the office, feeling chuffed that we didn’t humiliate ourselves and our fellow Gladiator drivers in the process.
And with that, I pulled a sharp left out of the narrow carpark exit lane and promptly knocked over an orange cone with the back corner of the tray.
Ah well, no-one’s perfect.
Now that you know how the Gladiator tackles tight underground carparks, find out how it handles other facets of everyday life by reading Glenn’s ongoing ownership review here.