Cars – 2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon (Ruby)

For the past 4 years, I’ve exclusively driven a 2019 Honda Civic Type-R. It was the most ridiculous car I’ve ever owned, and I absolutely adored it. Feel free to read the linked post to see my commentary on that beast of a car. The thing is, my life is changing and my needs are changing. While I’d been looking for an older truck to fix up, the diamonds in the rough were few and far between… Something drivable was clearly in new truck territory, and the fixer uppers required more skill than I have to fix up.

Now when I sold my 2000 Dodge Intrepid R/T, I vowed I would never buy another Dodge. I’ve owned many, and they all seemed to fall apart after being poorly maintained by a teenager/20 something at around 100k miles. This Jeep wasn’t my first choice. It wasn’t even my second or third choice. At the end of the day though, it is the only choice that made perfect sense to me and met every need I had for a new truck. I wanted 4×4 with some decent off-road chops, 4 doors, heated seats and a stereo with some thump to it.

Of course, every truck I’ve owned until now has been a GM. I’ve had an ’89 Chevy Silverado, a 2008 Chevy Silverado, and a 2017 GMC Sierra. To say I was stunned at the prices of new trucks was an understatement. To get a new GMC Sierra with the same options I had in my 2017, the sticker price was easily $20k higher. I couldn’t justify that. I gave Ford a brief glance, but to be honest outside of the Mustang GT – Ford has never really interested me one bit. I don’t care for Nissan, and despite my love for Honda – the Ridgeline wasn’t it.

Even the Hyundai Santa Cruz which I think looks pretty sharp in person is another SUV with its roof lopped off. I wanted a body on frame pickup, and the last possible option I considered was the Toyota Tacoma. They’re reliable (when the frames aren’t rusting into dust), affordable, and I’ve always liked the look of them. The problem was I couldn’t find a single 2024 model on the lot which met my requirements. One key one – I will NEVER own another black car. Loved my Honda, but keeping it clean was a nightmare scenario.

A good friend of mine owns several Jeeps and after several conversations convinced me to give the Gladiator a look. Now this is where I need to clarify one of the main reasons (besides my absolute love of the car) I kept my Honda for near 5 years. I absolutely hate dealerships. Hate is a strong word, I know, but it’s the only one I can use in polite company. I bought my last two cars from Middletown Honda in Middletown, NY. It was the greatest dealership experience I’ve ever had in my life. 95% of the deal was done via email/phone. I walked in and drove out.

So I found a pair of Gladiator’s in my price range. I’ll just copy and paste what I shared on Facebook here…

It’s been a good… 25 years since I walked into a dealership and kicked the dust off my sneakers as I left because the service was so bad. I’ve been considering trading in my Civic for a pickup, I really like my car so whatever I decide on has to be a great match for me.

One dealer in particular had a specific model I wanted, brand new, in my price range… So I went after work to take a look. After walking the massive lot and not finding it, the “head” of selling that brand introduced himself (no handshake) and brought me to the truck sitting in the showroom.

Ok cool, we struck up some small talk and he insulted my trade in. I mentioned a good friend recommended the dealer after buying the same truck just a different model… “That’s the worst model you can get.” Ok. I hand him my keys so they can appraise the trade.

He meanders off and tells me if anyone comes up to me, I should let them know who I’m working with. He comes back eventually, phone still pressed to his ear and starts trying to upsell me on other trucks.

He tries to upsell me on a different trim that runs 20k more than this one, no actual price mentioned. We still haven’t spoken numbers. Then he takes me outside to another similar truck which is over modified and used but the same price as the new one. I’m not buying someone else’s project.

Still haven’t test driven the truck. Still haven’t had any of the features explained to me. Zero effort made to actually sell me the truck. Instead he rambles about all the similar trucks he’s owned. Oh and he’s barely put his phone down once throughout this.

I make it clear I want the truck in the showroom, I want to test drive it, he says it’ll take a few minutes to get it out so I can. He offers a test drive of a completely different trim, two or three different ones… Nope, I want this one. “Should I write SOLD on the windshield now?”. He proceeds to do just that as I tell him I’m only looking right now.

“Oh you’re just looking!” He says in a sarcastic tone. “I’ll go get the keys.” So I sit in the truck, pop the hood, look around it, etc… At this point I’ve been there nearly 45 minutes (maybe 30 in the showroom) and I’m done. He didn’t even try to sell me the truck.

Had he actually tried to sell me the truck, I likely would have put a deposit on it tonight and went home to clean my car out. Instead, I walk into the sales office, he’s still on the phone and tell him I want my keys back. He mentions he’s about to get the truck out, nope, I’ll have my keys now.

So he looks around the desk, can’t find them. Still on the phone. Heads back to his desk, claims to have the trucks keys in his hand and says he can get it right now. Nope, I just want the keys to my Honda, thanks. He finds them still on his desk roughly 30 minutes after I gave them to him.

“Maybe I’ll come back when you’re less busy” I say as I walk off. Guy couldn’t be bothered. Not angry, just annoyed. Oh well. It was a really nice truck though.

So that’s the story there. Absolutely rotten service. I shared my woes on Facebook, and got a few referrals to OTHER Jeep dealers. One in particular, Hayes in Gainesville, GA absolutely hooked me up. I had a brief conversation with a salesman there about the truck I eventually bought. On even the possibility of me buying it, he drove it from Lawrenceville to Gainesville and set up to meet me after work (around 5pm). I took it for a test drive, had some great conversation, discussed scripture and he sold me the truck!

Here’s the thing though, I never make a big purchase like this in one shot. I always sleep on it. I slept on buying the house I’m sitting in now for a weekend. I slept on the Type-R for a week. For this Jeep? A night. When the salesman asked me what I’d do if someone came in and bought it while I took my time, I simply said “Then that means the good Lord doesn’t want me to have this truck.” On the way home I called my Jeep friend, then called my brother who also owned one… After those two conversations, I was settled. I’d be buying it the next day.

I’ll admit, it was a big change going from a low slung sports car that can eat any curve for breakfast to a truck that was never renowned for its cornering ability. That said, it is quite possibly the most comfortable truck I’ve ever driven. It’s tall, roomy, and has more than enough low-end grunt to get me up to speed from a stop quickly. The off-road chops are beyond question, and for what I paid – I pretty much stole the thing. The stereo is absolutely staggering, the wind/road noise is negligible. I adore this truck!

The only mods I’ve made thus far was upgrading the lighting to LED (all my cars since my VW Golf-R had LED lighting, going back to halogen was like driving by candle light), adding a tonneau cover, and once the parts come in – nerf rails so shorter folks can get in easily. The MPG is a little rough the best I’ve gotten so far is 18MPG after installing the tonneau cover and inflating the massive tires to 37PSI (whats written on the door) from the 35PSI they came with. For the longest time I wanted a convertible and a truck. Now I’ve got both.

Time will tell if my concerns about driving another Chrysler product were warranted, but so far I’m quite thrilled with my Ruby and look forward to many miles and coatings of mud. OH! One other thing, the Jeep wave. Apparently it started back in WW2, idk, but I’ve gotten used to raising two fingers as I pass another Wrangler or Gladiator. I’m not sure if it covers ALL Jeep models but so far I’ve only seen it from those two. Either way I get a kick out of it every time. One last thing? The ducks. I’ve got a handful in my center console, and have ducked two Jeeps so far. I need to put some bible verses on them I think, it’s a good opportunity to share the Gospel.

God bless!

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