DETROIT — The Jeep Gladiator, known for its off-road prowess, has another rock to climb: its price.
While Jeep has cashed in on the Wrangler's do-it-all image in recent years with few incentives, FCA US is showing a greater willingness to throw money on the hood of the Gladiator, which is based on the Wrangler and has the highest starting price among midsize pickups.
Some dealerships already are offering discounts of up to $9,000 on the Gladiator less than a year after its release, according to shopping site CarsDirect. In a dealer bulletin obtained by Automotive News, FCA offered support starting in mid-January in the form of $2,000 bonus cash on all but the Rubicon trim. Jeep's website listed a $2,000 sweetener available in certain regions through March 2.
Some dealers say Gladiator sales have slowed after a blazing start that saw early adopters scooping up higher-end trims. But they aren't ready to panic yet.
The increased discounting suggests that Jeep wants the Gladiator to challenge the Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado in volume rather than be just a niche entry, said Jeffrey Burnett, general manager of Millsboro Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Delaware.
"At first when we talked about the launch and everything else, they weren't coming in this place saying we're going to attack Ranger," Burnett said. "They came to this place saying we're going to have a vehicle unlike anybody else. Now I think they're going into, 'You know what? We can attack Ranger; we can attack [the Nissan] Frontier.' "
Burnett said his store is selling 15 to 25 Gladiators a month, which isn't far off from its numbers for the Wrangler and light-duty Ram. Nationally, Gladiator sales peaked at more than 6,000 in October before falling back slightly in November and December, according to estimates from the Automotive News Data Center, while sales of the Wrangler and Ranger increased as the fourth quarter went on.