The 2021 Jeep Gladiator lineup has expanded considerably this year with a new 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 engine option, new Desert-Rated Gladiator Mojave model, and the introduction of the first-ever Willys trim for the Gladiator.“Building on the widely popular Wrangler Willys, we’re thrilled to announce the Willys model is joining the Gladiator lineup as another way for Jeep to connect with our customers,” said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand – North America. “Gladiator Willys models harken back to the original Jeep lineup while offering an aggressive look and additional increased capability.”
2021 Jeep Gladiator Willys
The Gladiator Willys is much more than a simple appearance package addition. Built upon the legendary reputation of the Willys name, the new trim adds rugged features designed to make it even more capable off the beaten path.The Willys trim features 32-inch BFGoodrich KM2 mud-terrain tires, Rubicon cab rock rails and shocks, and a limited-slip rear differential. These features pair with the Command-Trac part-time 4×4 system and the Gladiator’s two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio to give the Gladiator Willys improved off-road capability.Visually, the 2021 Gladiator Willys features a Willy hood decal, heritage 4WD tailgate decal, and distinctive black 17-inch aluminum wheels. A Gloss Black grille also shines on the new version which is based on the Gladiator Sport S.
A 3.6L Pentastar V-6 engine is standard with 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, paired to a 6-speed manual. An 8-speed automatic is available, as is the new 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 with 260 horsepower and an impressive 442 lb.-ft. of torque.The Gladiator Willys is now available to order in Jeep showrooms across Canada.
Throw a Hellcat engine in a Ram, and things get interesting.
Ram already upended the pickup race by using a mix of luxury and capability to outsell the Chevrolet Silverado in the United States for the first time last year. Ram has outsold Silverado multiple years in Canada. Now the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brand has a chance to set a new standard for performance in the pickup space with the Ram 1500 Rebel TRX, which is expected to give consumers major punch right from the factory with 707 hp.
If rumors of a Hellcat-equipped TRX hold true, that level of output would leapfrog the 450-hp Ford F-150 Raptor and make the competition for bragging rights in the pickup world even more intense. FCA has teased the idea for years, and a Rebel TRX spotted in camouflage signals that the Raptor is about to get new competition.
Ram introduced the Rebel TRX concept during the State Fair of Texas in 2016. FCA said the concept “has an exterior design that radiates focused aggression.” That model was powered by a 6.2-litre Hemi V-8 delivering 575 hp.
The TRX could potentially go on sale later this year.
“There’s a redesigned F-150 right around the corner, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ford comes out with something to answer FCA on this,” said Kelsey Mays, Cars.com’s senior consumer affairs editor.
“There’s a lot you can do with forced induction, with supercharging and turbocharging engines,” Mays said. “You can really get a lot more power out of an existing engine. Ford’s got a lot in its wheelhouse. Certainly, we’re seeing that right now on Mustang.”
SPREADING THE MUSCLE
History has shown that FCA is indiscriminate when it comes to spreading muscle across its lineup — in cars, pickups and utility vehicles. After introducing the Hellcat engine in the Challenger and Charger, FCA dropped it into the Jeep Grand Cherokee to create the Trackhawk, a blistering SUV option that costs nearly US$90,000 south of the border and more than C$105,000 in Canada.
In the early 2000s, Chrysler pushed the envelope with the Dodge Ram SRT-10, a pickup outfitted with a Viper engine. It called the SRT-10 the “Viper of pickup trucks” and earned a Guinness Book of World Records entry for “World’s Fastest Production Pickup Truck.”
With the added horsepower, Mays believes a Rebel TRX would top the Raptor’s US$54,800 base price by as much as US$12,000 in America. He thinks 20,000 vehicles annually in the United States is doable for the TRX, which would serve as a halo for the Ram lineup. Mays didn’t discuss Canadian numbers. Although the Rebel line is targeted at off-road enthusiasts, Mays doesn’t see it eating into Jeep Gladiator sales.
“This is an engine that they’ve already scaled out to several other products, and so if it’s not a hit, and actually shoppers don’t want it, it’s not a huge loss for FCA in terms of just development,” Mays said. “So putting it out there and seeing what the market will bear, they could probably afford to come in from a higher price point and see what happens.”
Brian Moody, executive editor for Autotrader, would like to see a bare-bones version of the TRX aimed at true off-road buyers for around $45,000. An “ultra-base” model, he said, could forgo creature comforts such as carpeting. Moody thinks the TRX would play in multiple worlds by appealing to the muscle car crowd as well.
Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights for Edmunds, said the TRX could achieve the type of performance numbers some were hoping for when the Rebel trim debuted in 2015. With the Hellcat craze playing out so well over the years, Drury said it makes sense to bring it to Ram.
Drury believes Ford still would be able to capitalize on the loyalty it has built with the Raptor, but it would have to keep an eye on how consumers react to the TRX and respond accordingly.
“It’s one of those things where if they do see enough trade-ins going toward FCA, if they see that halo effect that really happened with Raptor begin with FCA — if they start stealing share, they steal eyeballs — then the most logical thing to do is really up the ante,” Drury said. “And, if so, they’re really going to have to crank it up to tremendous proportions.”
The idea for the TRX came from former Ram brand chief Mike Manley, now FCA’s CEO, who challenged designers and engineers to build a truck that could drive at sustained speeds of more than 100 mph off-road.
In addition to the sales generated by a TRX, Ram would benefit from having an additional way to brag about its lineup relative to the competition, Drury said.
“Not every one of these guys is going to take this thing off road; [they’re] not going to be street-racing these things to death,” he said, “but those bragging rights, I think they matter moreso in trucks than in any other segment.”
My kids are sold on this minivan!
I’m a Millennial with old-school tastes. No, I don’t mean I like classic cars, I mean I think basic is better, and I haven’t upgraded to new technology that lets me hook up my phone to my vehicle, or whatever else the cool kids are doing. Give me a CD player (I’m not quite old enough to obsess over a cassette player) and automatic windows and I’m happy.
For that and other reasons, going to a car dealership can be a little terrifying for me. I mean, old-school tastes aside, I’ve also never asked a salesperson about horsepower or the number of Vs in the engine.
That’s a roundabout way of saying I’m new to reviewing cars — this is, in fact, my first vehicle review. I’ve read enough of them by now to know what typical car reviews should include. But that’s just it. We have enough of those on this site and in every corner of the internet already. Why don’t we forget about numbers and specs for a while and talk about minivan life? Like, real minivan life.
Seating and Interior
We – my husband and I – installed the car seats; it didn’t seem any easier or harder to install than in our current minivan (a 2015 Honda Odyssey). Truth be told, I’ve never done it all by myself, but he didn’t seem like he was struggling any more than usual.
That being said, I am in charge of supervising car seat set-up because I know who sits where, based on way too many variables.
For context, my kids are two, five, and seven years old. When my youngest was born, our seating plan included the youngest in the middle row, me beside her, and the older two sat in the third row. My oldest gets carsick really easily, and we quickly realized that being all the way in the back, where bumps and turns feel exaggerated, didn’t help. When she moved to the middle row, my typical middle child didn’t want to be left alone in the back. So, all three moved to the middle row. Why is any of that relevant?
Other first impressions: I initially didn’t notice the wireless charging station in the console. However, I happened to throw my phone in a little slot by the cup holders and a blue light came on; so, it’s not just a little hole for your junk, it’s way more useful!
Well, my fellow minivan-lovers, the version of the Pacifica I drove didn’t have three seats in the second row, which completely messed with my seating plan. The youngest needed to stay in the front, and so did the oldest, who got to play with the touchscreen monitor for longer than her brother (we’ll circle back around to that in a bit). The middle child had to sit in the back, but not alone because the Pacifica gets major points for having enough room for my husband to sit all the way in the back while I drive, which doesn’t happen often.
The middle row has seat warmers, but that’s useless for the next few years since my kids won’t be able to feel the warmth through their car seats; however, it is an amazing feature for those who travel sans car seats.
Infotainment and Tech
One of the coolest features in the Pacifica is the FamCam on the infotainment system. There’s a little camera above the second-and third-row seats, and now, parents can finally give the eyes in the back of their heads a little rest. If you’re anything like me, you know as cool as FamCam sounds, though, it’s an easy distraction while driving. I would probably just stick to the little pull-down mirror above the rearview that lets you easily see every fight happening behind you (as if you couldn’t already hear it).
There are a ton of things to mess around with on the infotainment screen — too many, if you ask me.
Circling back around, it’s nice there are two screens mounted to the headrests of the front row, but it’s annoying if you’ve got three kids — I almost prefer one big ceiling-mounted screen, centred perfectly for everyone in the back (admittedly, this is an option for other trims).
With my youngest in the middle row, my poor middle child in the third row had to watch his older sister play all the fun games; he wasn’t happy about that, and we had to promise to take him back out on his own. And we did.
Other Interior Features
Another interior highlight: the built-in vacuum, the handiest thing ever. It reaches every nook and cranny of this large vehicle, including the front seat, because sometimes adults leave trails of crumbs, as well. There’s also a really convenient umbrella holder on the side of the front passenger’s seat. It’s such a simple thing to add and so unnecessary, but at the same time, so awesome!
The trunk is pretty big. Whether you’re trying to cram $450 worth of who-knows-what from Costco; or your preference of two strollers or a double stroller, it’ll fit. If you aren’t outnumbered by children (yet), then you have the option to automatically fold down the backseats, both or either one individually, allowing for a lot more trunk space — room to stock up on the jumbo-size boxes of diapers.
The CD player I had hoped for is actually a Blu-ray player for the screens in the back. The USB-C charging ports seemed to make my husband the most excited — I don’t understand the extreme fascination, but I’ll admit it is pretty cool.
At first, I couldn’t figure how to switch the speedometer to miles per hour, and thought maybe Canadian-market Chrysler just couldn’t; in hindsight, that was a silly assumption. Of course, it can; if you switch to a digital readout, a miles-per-hour option is unlocked, and you’re ready for a trip across the border (provided it ever safely reopens for travel).
The Pacifica picks up way faster than my 2015 Honda Odyssey. It’s like a mini jolt of energy every time I step on the gas pedal. Who needs coffee? I’ll tell you who doesn’t need coffee — Pacifica drivers. It drives really smooth and steers nicely. It feels like you’re in a huge piece of machinery while at the same time driving something much lighter than 5,000 pounds, give or take a couple.
As a side note, I found it’s actually quite loud with the windows down; I can hear every rev during acceleration, or even start-up, ideally something you want to do before the baby falls asleep. Final note: If you start veering into another lane without your turn signal on, it nudges you back. That’s a cool trick.
With the click of a button, you can pull your side mirrors in, and that’s pretty handy. It doesn’t really change things for me; I’d probably still forget to pull them in, regardless of that control being manual or automatic. One thing that caught me off guard was the four-way signals coming on when I pressed the button to open the back doors. It’s basically the equivalent of the stop sign popping out of the side of a slowing school bus.
Make a note: the button to close the trunk, usually located on the tailgate, is actually inside the trunk. Don’t worry though, it gives you ample time to get out of the way before closing. I had no luck with the sensor below the rear bumper that’s supposed to open the trunk with a flick of your foot; I’ll chalk that up to my small feet.
As I get out of the Pacifica for the final time, I’m reminded how difficult of a task that is — for someone like myself, the drop-down out of every possible exit from this beast is pretty high. I’m basically jumping out of an airplane to get out, though I guess I’ve always wanted to go sky-diving.
Upon pressing every single button that I could find, I’m thoroughly impressed. It’s got everything but the kitchen sink — maybe Chrysler is saving that for the next upgrade.
One feature I didn’t touch on, which Chrysler plays up as a Pacifica highlight, is its Stow-n-Go seating. I can see the usefulness of it, but I would probably just use that space for more kid toy storage. I don’t hate that idea.
If we did more road trips (or maybe had more money) this would be an amazing minivan for my family. Nevertheless, it is an awesome minivan with features to delight an entire family — even my neighbour, who despises minivans, had a change of heart at the sight of the Pacifica.
Personally, I probably wouldn’t get the utmost use of this minivan, as many features would go unused (just like many features on my cell phone). Upon building and pricing out the version I would prefer on Chrysler’s website – no peanut butter, er, “Caramel”-tinted interior for me, please — I think I would be equally happy with a Pacifica Touring, at roughly $15,000 less (depending on options).
That being said, my kids loved the Pinnacle trim! If someone wanted to gift me the Pacifica, I would be forever grateful for their sake. Who doesn’t want to be a hero to their kids and the cool mom in the neighbourhood?
When I told several people I was going to be testing a minivan, the question inevitably amongst those I spoke to was, “Do people still drive minivans?” The short answer is yes. Even in this age of the ever-ubiquitous SUV and the now fast emerging market for ultra-luxury SUVs, minivans still fill an important market segment here in Canada and in the United States.
In Canada, some 42,7000 minivans were sold last year, and in the United States, some 272,000 were sold during the same time. Not bad for a type of vehicle that some consider to be going out of style.
The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle that I got a chance to drive is a mid-cycle refresh that might at first blush look a bit tame when compared to other similarly priced vehicles on the road. But don’t be fooled. Here you get a quality and luxury that should make those who bought some of those ultra-luxury and ultra-expensive SUVs envious.
At first glance, you will notice that Chrysler has added some nice external touches that add a sense of sharpness and style to the much-lauded Pacifica. For instance, the front now features what the automaker calls a ‘heroic 3D grille’ with the iconic Chrysler wing badge front-and-centre. The grille is framed by new cats-eye LED headlamps and LED fog lamps that give this Pacifica Pinnacle a solid look without coming across as overly aggressive. The rear sports new LED taillamps as standard and give the Pacifica a distinct appearance. And to round out the package, this AWD version that I drove came with 20-inch polished aluminum wheels that add to the firm stance of this Pacifica. Oh, and I got the Velvet Red Pearl exterior colour, which in my opinion is one of the nicest colours I’ve seen in a while.
Underneath the hood, this 2021 Pacifica Pinnacle comes with a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine wedded to a 9-speed transmission that can put out 287 horsepower and some 262 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration was smooth and the shifts between the gears unobtrusive, and even with the long gearbox, the steering was spot-on and accurate. What pleasantly surprised me was the handling. I’ve often found vehicles this big difficult to manoeuvre. That was not the case here. It took corners accurately and the suspension kept the vehicle firmly planted to the road while providing one of the smoothest rides I’ve had in a long time. The all-wheel-drive also is also intelligent, capable of transferring all the available torque to the rear wheels if needed. And the range of safety features it comes with – pedestrian and cyclist emergency braking, land departure warning, forward collision warning with emergency braking, etc. – adds to the driving comfort.
When it comes to the interior, Chrysler has taken a page from the ultra-luxury SUV market. There is nothing about this interior that would suggest you are sitting in a traditional minivan. You get heated and cooled front seats that come in nice Nappa Caramel leather and perforated inserts and two-mode ventilation for heating and cooling. The quality stitching just adds to the comfort when sitting in them. The leather-covered and heated steering wheel with the same stitching, suede headliner and the premium door trim panel all add to the overall luxury feel. A nice touch is when the vehicle starts on a cold day, it will note what you set for your interior temperature and begin warming up the interior, seats and steering wheel.
The interior is also incredibly quiet. I drove for some time on the highway and even with the aggressive winter tires I had on the road and tire noise was kept to a minimum.
There is plenty of legroom for both the front passenger and driver and because the Pacifica Pinnacle foregoes a traditional shifter and replaces it with a large dial to the right of the driver – more on that in a little while – you get a centre console that provides quite a bit of storage. There is a very deep cubby under the armrest as well so there should be no complaints about not having enough storage. And the cup holders are large enough that you can put two full-sized water bottles in them.
Below the climate controls is a nicely concealed spot for your phone, a wireless charger, USB charger and even a Blu-ray player, so you can pop a film in for the kids sitting in the back two captain’s chairs that come with their own screens when sitting in them.
Those two screens can be flipped down when not in use. A nice touch is the range of standard games such as checkers and chess that the kids can play. As well, a FamCam camera allows parents to keep an eye on the little ones, great for the parents but not, I suppose, for the kids who now can’t get up to mischief because Mom and Dad will catch them. Sorry kids.
I should also mention that the third-row 60/40 split seats stow away with ease by a simple push of a button. I’ve only seen this in more luxury and higher-end SUVs, so kudos to Chrysler for adding that feature. There is plenty of legroom in the back so I doubt you will hear complaints about people feeling cramped.
The central console’s 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen is powered by the new Uconnect 5 operating system and offers a range of customizations and comes with support for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM. While the Uconnect 5 can support Amazon Alexa, I never got a chance to use it as I don’t use Amazon’s assistant. Now, being the audiophile that I am, I very much appreciated the Harman Kardon audio system with its subwoofer and 760-watt amplifier.
I should give top-marks to Chrysler for making many vehicle functions accessible through simple and large buttons. But my favourite feature was the large shifter wheel that sits just above the parking brake button. When I first saw it my reaction was, ‘That’s unusual.’ But after a few moments, I came to see it as brilliant. Since we are moving to more drive-by-wire systems, a knob makes perfect sense. Simply turn the knob to Drive, Reverse, Park Neutral etc. and away one goes. It is simple and elegant . . . and really should be much more common in today’s modern vehicles.
So yes, while SUVs have come to dominate the roads in Canada, Chrysler with its 2021 Pacifica Pinnacle shows that a well-appointed minivan can give plenty to Canadian drivers.
2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD
Body style: Minivan, seven-passenger, four-door
Drive method: Front-engine, AWD, 9-speed automatic transmission
Engine:3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine with Stop/Start (287 hp@6,400 r.p.m./ 262 lb-ft torque @4,000 r.pm.)
Fuel economy:14.1/8.0/9.4/12.0L/100 km (city/highway/combined)
Cargo volume:140.5 cu-ft
Tow rating: 3,600 lb (1,632 kg)
Source: Toronto Star
The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) has named Ram 1500 as “Best Full-size Pickup Truck in Canada for 2021,” which adds even more accolades to the most awarded light-duty truck in North America.
“This honour validates the hard work of our Ram design, engineering and manufacturing teams who aim to build the best trucks available. This award further solidifies Ram 1500 as the segment leader in durability, technology, efficiency, performance and convenience with features never before offered in a pickup,” said Dave Buckingham, President and CEO of FCA Canada. “Having our Ram 1500 recognized by the judicious group of AJAC members, as the best full-size pickup truck gives Canadians the reassurance that Ram delivers benchmark-quality vehicles that get the hard work done and take families where they need to go.”
“Despite the challenges created by COVID-19, more than 250 vehicles were eligible for the 2021 Canadian Car of the Year awards, including every full-size pickup truck on the Canadian market,” said Stephanie Wallcraft, AJAC President. “This award is the result of many hours of hands-on assessment by AJAC journalists from coast to coast, conducted on real Canadian roads and in real Canadian conditions. To emerge victorious from this rigorous process is a remarkable achievement.”
For the 2021 program, vehicles that are newly redesigned, refreshed or carried over from previous model years were considered, provided a minimum number of ballots were submitted by AJAC journalists, who test entries on the same roads and in the same conditions experienced by Canadian drivers across the country.
For 2021, the Ram 1500 lineup is led by the new 2021 Ram 1500 TRX – the apex predator of the truck world and cements Ram Truck as North America’s off-road truck leader. The Ram 1500 TRX has been tested to handle the most punishing conditions with extreme durability. Class-leading, uncompromising performance in the harshest environments is achieved in part through the 702-horsepower supercharged 6.2-litre HEMI® V-8 engine. Stratospheric power delivers a new level of performance: 0-97 kilometres in 4.5 seconds, the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds at 174 km/h and a top speed of 190 km/h.
The Ram 1500 features up to 5,783 kilograms (12,750 pounds) of towing capability and 1,043 kilograms (2,300 pounds) of payload. The eTorque mild hybrid system delivers improved fuel efficiency in both V-6 (standard) and V-8 configurations. The Ram 1500 is North America’s most powerful half-ton diesel pickup with 480 lb.-ft. of torque and most capable light-duty diesel with towing capability up to 5,697 kilograms (12,560 pounds).
As a segment disrupter, the Uconnect 4C with a massive 12-inch touchscreen leads the segment in technology, featuring split-screen capability, 360-degree camera views, and exclusive content from SiriusXM with 360L and Personalized Stations Powered by Pandora. Active safety and security systems include adaptive cruise control, Forward Collision Warning, Blind-spot Monitoring and Ready Alert Braking. Class-leading ride and handling are accomplished via a segment-exclusive link-coil rear suspension system with optional Active-level four-corner air suspension.
Ram Truck Brand
In 2009, the Ram Truck brand launched as a stand-alone division focused on meeting the demands of truck buyers and delivering benchmark-quality vehicles. With a full lineup of trucks, the Ram 1500, 2500/3500 Heavy Duty, 3500/4500/5500 Chassis Cab, ProMaster and ProMaster City, the Ram brand builds trucks that get the hard work done and families where theey need to go.
Ram continues to outperform the competition and sets the benchmarks for:
• 1,075 lb.-ft. of torque with Cummins Turbo Diesel
• Towing capacity of 16,828 kilograms (37,100 lbs.) with Ram 3500
• Segment first 1,000 lb.-ft of torque with Cummins Turbo Diesel
• Payload of 3,484 kilograms (7,680 lbs.) with Ram 3500
• Most luxurious: Ram Limited with real wood, real leather and 12-inch Uconnect touchscreen
• Best ride and handling with exclusive link coil rear and auto-level air suspensions
• Most interior space with Ram Mega Cab
• Most awarded light-duty truck in North America
• Highest owner loyalty of any half-ton pickup
• Over the last 30 years, Ram has the highest percentage of pickups still on the road
Jeep is finally bringing its all-in Jeep Wave premium owner loyalty program to the Great White North — but you’ll have to spring for a Grand Cherokee L to get it.
At least at first. To coincide with the new three-row Jeep launch party, the company will unveil this three-year loyalty program which includes a yaffle of services owners would otherwise usually pay for after they’ve taken delivery of their shiny new Jeep.
Up to six oil changes are part of the deal, for example, as are trip interruption coverages (a portion of hotel, meals, or return transportation cost) and first-day rental guarantees. There is also mention of ‘VIP treatment’ at select Jeep events, though those are in short supply during this socially-distant pandemic.
“Jeep owners are some the most loyal and passionate customers anywhere,” said Dave Buckingham, President and CEO, FCA Canada. “We want to reward that fidelity by giving back to our owners with a suite of benefits that enriches their ownership experience of the exciting, all-new, 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.”
We left that last bit of marketing fluff in the quote because it underscores the point that, for now, the Jeep Wave loyalty program will only be offered to customers of the big-daddy Grand Cherokee L. This could be a value-add play to help break into the cutthroat three-row SUV segment, or it could be a way to offset costs since such a machine generally packs fat profits to the company bottom line.
This is part of a larger push by Jeep to expand this program. South of the border, Jeep Wave – they’ve had it there since 2015 – has been freshly extended from 24 to 36 months and is now included on every single 2021 vehicle in Jeep showrooms. In 2020, only specific trims were eligible on certain models; the Cherokee Trailhawk got it, for example, while lesser Cherokees did not. Now they all do.
Back here in Canada, owners of the Grand Cherokee L will be automatically enrolled into Jeep Wave. Members can go to any Canadian authorized FCA Canada dealer to redeem their oil change and tire rotation during the first 36 months of ownership.