It was called the Jeep J8. It didn't look it but it was much different from the JKs driven by “grungy chicks” and “bicep bros”. Those differences were mostly hidden underneath. Based on the Unlimited four-door platform, it had a significantly stronger and heavier frame. A heavy-duty rear axle was attached to that frame via leaf springs. Exterior telltales were limited to the substitution of straight steel bumpers and steel wheels wrapped in mud-terrain tires.
The J8 was a military vehicle in disguise. It could easily have been modified to be a pickup, a wagon, or an open top vehicle. It saw military and police usage. It was an ambulance, a troop carrier, and had miniguns attached to its roof. The versatile vehicle was used by defense and security personnel the world over.
Now Jeep, in collaboration with, AM General, has unveiled a successor: the Jeep Gladiator Extreme Military-Grade Truck (XMT) by AM General. This light tactical concept vehicle was shown at the Annual Meeting and Exposition of the Association of the U.S. Army. Like the J8, it is a military vehicle concept based on the production Jeep, in this case the new-for-2020 Jeep Gladiator mid-size pickup truck.
There is a lot that makes the Gladiator XMT a very interesting vehicle and a worthy replacement to the J8. Having dug through specifications, examined the pictures, and interviewed company representatives, we have itemized everything that makes the Gladiator XMT different from the Gladiator that your neighbor bought in midst of his midlife crisis.
Frame and bumpers
The front bumper, with its recovery shackles, is much different than any bumper seen on pedestrian JL Wranglers. It is taller than the standard Wrangler's bumper which implies that, like on the J8, this is a much different, frame that is taller and stronger.
The straight steel rear bumper maximizes the departure angle. It has additional recovery shackles and a pintle hitch. Side protectors extend to the wheel well.
The shackles are not only to be used for recovery but also as tie-downs in shipping and for lifting by crane. Parachute drops require platforms and this Jeep was likely designed for that.
The very rigid-looking grille guard is bolted to the frame, behind the bumper. On road vehicles this guard is usually bolted onto the bumper or is part of the bumper, so in an impact the force causes that grille guard, the bumper to which it is attached to, or the frame itself to bend. This is likely to cause more damage to the grille than if the guard was not there. But when placed behind, and independently of, the bumper, the guard can only protect the grille.
The front bumper is short. This allows the tire to have an unobstructed approach path.
There is a massive skid plate under the bumper. It goes under the engine, toward the axle. It is a safe bet that skid plates line the whole bottom of this rig.
The 12,000-pound winch is integrally mounted within the frame rails. This is in contrast to typical top-of-the-frame mounted winches in Wranglers.
Suspension and axles
Front coil springs remain, as they did on the J8, but are of much higher capacity.
Undoubtedly the front axle is upgraded, likely a Dana 44 with beefed up tubes and hardware. Gear ratio is 4.88 and the front differential is open. The Rubicon has a 4.10 gear ratio and the differential is lockable.
The rear axle retains the coil spring setup from the Gladiator. This isn't surprising as the new Ram 2500 also has a coil spring rear suspension, which is unusual for a vehicle that large.
The rear axle is likely a beefed-up Dana 60, obviously with the same gearing as the front. The rear axle has a limited-slip differential and is not lockable.
There is a two-speed transfer case, likely the same New Venture Gear (NVG) 241 that is used in every Wrangler, with a high 1:1 gear ratio and a low 2.72:1 gear ratio. It should be noted that the Wrangler Rubicon has a 241OR transfer case with a much taller low gear ratio of 4:1.
AM General says that a heavy-duty suspension will be available but do not provide details on it.
Wheels and tires
Wheels are made by Hutchinson, 17-inch by 8.5-inch wide with bead locks.
Hutchinson is a company that specializes in wheels for the defense and security industries. Armoring, bead-locks, run-flats—they have you covered. If those wheels look familiar, it is because Black Rhino makes knock-offs of the Hutchinson wheels.
The wheels are wrapped in BFGoodrich KM3 mud-terrain tires, size 35-inch by 12.50-inch. Each of these 75-pound, “E”-load-range tires can be inflated to as much as 75-psi and can support as much as 3200-pounds. This is an excellent tire, frequently seen on many lifted Jeeps whose owners drive on more than just mall terrain. It’s a slight overkill for the typical Rubicon.
For comparison, the HMMWV had 37x12.5-inch tires.
37-inch wheel and tire combo is available for the XMT, as is central tire inflation. If the manufacturer’s renderings are an indication, those would require an eight-bolt wheel hub.
In a civilian Gladiator, the spare tire mounts under the Gladiator bed. Jeep confirmed that a 35-inch spare tire could fit there. Proving that is the fact the XMT spare tire is mounted in the same location.
By the numbers
This gross vehicle weight is 12,800-pounds. That is similar to a Ford F-350.
Tow rating is 7650-pounds, exactly the same as the civilian Gladiator with the max towing package.
Payload is relatively low 1550-pounds. The specification does not state if that includes various body configurations or armor.
Subtracting the payload from the GWV indicates that the XMT weights a massive 11,250-pounds. This does not seem right. I have reached out to Jeep and AM General for confirmation.
The XMT can ford up to 30 inches of water—same as the Wrangler.
The angle of approach is 54º and the angle of departure is 30º. The civilian Gladiator has a 43.6º angle of approach and a departure angle of 26º.
The ramp breakover angle is 25º, versus 26º for the civilian model.
The fuel tank has a 22-gallon capacity, same as the regular Gladiator. This is not ideal as the much heavier XMT, on bigger tires, with taller gearing, will have a significantly lower gas mileage.
With conventional doors replaced by those safari-style doors, the mirror mounting became a problem. The mirrors are mounted on beefy brackets which in turn are mounted to the cowl between the hood and the windshield. On the Jeep shown at the show, a much bigger mirror is mounted to the bracket which runs along the windshield frame.
On models with full doors, the mirrors are mounted to the doors, same as on my mother’s Sahara model.
Along the side of the vehicle are steel rock-sliders, there to minimize damage to the body.
The XMT is armor-ready but it is not specified to what level.
Don't expect to see the FM/AM radio antenna or any Jeep badging on the military version.
There are NATO universal antenna mounts above the taillights.
Gladiator's 137.3-inch wheelbase allows for significant variations in body layout configuration. The Gladiator's convertible body offers many cab/chassis configurations that would be otherwise impossible with a conventional pickup.
As pictured, it can be a crew-cab pickup. Like its predecessor, this could be easily changed into a long-bed two-passenger pickup version or even a long wagon version.
The seats are ArmorWorks’ Advanced Modular Blast Seats. Supportive, rugged, and easily adjustable. Five-point harnesses are attached to the seats but conventional seatbelts are also present.
Front airbags remain as on the conventional Gladiator.
The floor of the interior of the looks to be lined with spray-on cargo bed-liner.
The concept retains factory Jeep dash, transmission and transferase shifters. That is not sufficient for military purposes.
For some reason the standard Gladiator center console, cup-holders, armrest, and all, was retained in the concept.
No changes are visible to the factory safety roll-bars. Perhaps there is integral strengthening, especially given the added weight of the frame.
AM General says that additional troop rollover protection is optional.
Jeep says that both gasoline and diesel engines will be available.
The Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine with engine start/stop is the base engine. It is rated at 285-horsepower at 6400 rpm and 260 lb-ft. of torque at 4400 rpm torque, same as the civilian version.
It is a known fact that FCA's V-8 gasoline engines fit neatly into the Wrangler/Gladiator engine bay but those are not available here.
FCA and AM General say that a diesel engine is optional but do not specify which one.
Produced by VM Motori, FCA's 3.0-liter EcoDiesel is the likely optional choice for the XMT application. It will be optional on the Wrangler and Gladiator in the later part of 2020.
In the 2020 Ram 1500 that engine makes 260-horsepower and 480 ft-lbs. of torque.
The diesel engine would offer significantly more torque, better fuel economy, and longer driving range than the gasoline engine.
Military specifications require automatic transmission. Here, the excellent eight-speed transmission will have its work cut out.
Military spec 24-volt power connection is standard.
Auxiliary on/off switches are standard.
The Jeep Gladiator XMT concept appears to have a solid foundation for a light military. It looks to pickup where the J8 leaves off and it will surely see use in the Unites States military and abroad. It has obvious advantages over conventional pickup-based vehicles and seems to have all the right hardware. While this concept Jeep shown is likely to be very different from a vehicle that gets the final military contract, it presents many options. We would love to hear opinions of those who have served and driven similar class vehicles in the Hagerty Forums below.