Quadratec’s two-door Gladiator shows why Jeep doesn’t make one

Brandan Gillogly

When we laid eyes on Quadratec’s JTe creation at the 2022 SEMA show, it was love at first sight. With two doors and a 6-foot, 6-inch bed, the packaging seemed perfect. Even better, it was forbidden fruit, a Gladiator configuration that didn’t exist outside of this one-off build, created with the help of fabricator Greg Henderson at Unofficial Use Only. Last week, Quadratec let us drive this custom creation and we’re sad to say the honeymoon is over—but it’s not the JTe’s fault at all.

Quadratec built the JTe as a trail cleanup vehicle, and to that end, it has already proven itself; there’s a map on its tailgate tallying the progress made on Quadratec’s goal of hosting 50 trail cleanups in 50 states. To make it the perfect 4×4 trail cleanup machine, the JTe has sturdy steel bumpers made by Carnivore at both ends. Likewise, Res-Q winches both front and rear provide two powerful options for getting vehicles out of tricky spots as well as dragging unwieldy trail trash into position for pickup. The JTe’s 37-inch tires and locking axles make it nearly unstoppable over rocky terrain, and it has plenty of capability for hauling large, awkward payloads out of the backcountry thanks to its custom, stretched bed.

Brandan Gillogly

The reason why I wouldn’t choose a regular cab Jeep pickup is the exact same reason why pickup buyers of any type are increasingly opting for four doors: Such a small cabin simply isn’t practical for a lot of situations. When saddling up for a trip into the high desert with the JTe we were forced to compromise immediately. With two occupants, there’s no room in the cab for any luggage bigger than a knapsack. My carry-on-sized Pelican case with my camera gear was out of the question. I had to prioritize the gear and scale back. That’s probably not the kind of compromise most Wrangler or Gladiator buyers want to deal with. In fact, it’s exactly why the Wrangler Unlimited has become the archetypal 21st-century Jeep, outselling the two-door Wrangler by about 3:1.

Brandan Gillogly

Shorter drivers and passengers won’t have much trouble getting comfortable in the JTE, but taller drivers will have to make a choice. The rear cross-member of the roll bar, custom fabricated from OEM Jeep replacement parts, was threatening to bonk my head with every bump of the road. Despite lowering the seat as far as possible I had to resort to moving it farther forward than I would have preferred and reclining it a bit to give my tender skull some distance between the unyielding steel. That adjustment put my right knee in constant contact with the dash—not ideal, but better than the alternative.

So that’s the bad news, which all stems from me being one to two sizes of human too large for a regular cab Jeep. However, after spending a couple of hours behind the wheel my body melded into a more comfortable position without even realizing it. The same phenomenon happens when shoe-horned into the confines of a sports car. I don’t understand how, but it usually works out. Highway miles fly by in the JTe and the hybrid 4XE powerplant doesn’t have any problem pushing the 37-inch tires down the highway at appropriate speeds. Likewise, the Lynx suspension that lifts the Jeep 2.5 inches and provides clearance for those massive tires was comfortable on the highway and the Nitto Recon Grapplers didn’t howl like a lot of large, aggressive tires often do. However, the JTE is still a Jeep with the aerodynamics of, well, a Jeep. Wind noise becomes apparent at any speed above 50 mph or so.

Brandan Gillogly

Off-road, the wide 37-inch tires can get the JTE out of just about any jam, although it does take its toll. Bumpy desert roads are best taken at low speed, as the heavy tires and tandem solid axles are slow to respond to sudden jolts. It’s not built to be a pre-runner. It’s a pack mule. In that regard, it’s a complete success. It does exactly what it’s meant to do. It’s maneuverable, with a wheelbase identical to a Wrangler Unlimited, and the bed lets it carry oversized items.

Of course, this is not meant to stop anyone from pining for a regular cab Gladiator. If you still think you’d buy such a creation from Jeep if it actually built one, you’re not wrong, you’re just in the minority. While Jeep is not going to build something like this any time soon, there’s nothing stopping you from commissioning your own identical custom. I’m already thinking that my Goldilocks Jeep pickup would be an extended cab version with just a bit more room in the cab and perhaps a wraparound rear window for trail visibility. Maybe Jeep’s 2005 Gladiator concept left a lasting impression on me, or maybe it’s just the lure of the forbidden fruit. If you’d like to see the JTe in person and get in on the action by helping out on a trail cleanup, or planning one yourself, visit Quadratec’s site.

Brandan Gillogly




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    Yeah, I began pining for a regular cab Gladiator back when the new truck was announced and well before it became available. Don’t get me wrong, I love my 4-door Dodge 4WD truck, but I’m an old-school Jeeper who cut his teeth on short wheelbase CJs, and I have no problem thinking I can put all I want to take into the hills in a 6+foot bed (just like in my old Toyota pick-ups back in the ’80s). So I don’t really need a lot of interior room when I go wheeling – and in a lot of off-road situations, less-truck-is-better.
    I doubt I’ll ever really be in the market to buy a new Jeep of any type (I currently own a 2008 model which is running just fine, thank you), so not only will I not be tapping on the Jeep dealership window, asking “When?”, but I won’t be calling Quadratec either. But I do want to express that I think there might be a bigget segment of potential buyers out there than what is currently recognized. I know quite a few who expressed a want for just that when the Jeep pick-up reboot was first announced.

    My neighbor has a 68 C10 – regular cab of course, and it is amazing how that was the standard of the day for many decades but is a confining cramped space after having been in more modern options more than once. It is slated to receive a tilt column as my neighbor’s belly has grown a lot closer to the steering wheel than it was when he bought it as a teenager

    My brother has a 66 GMC shortbox stepside, which feels like a go cart compared to 67-72 long boxes my father ran as company vehicles well into the early 2000s. Packaging was different then, the steering wheels were larger diameter and there was a gas tank behind the seat.

    Squarebody GM trucks were bigger… even the shortbox box got a bit longer after decades of being the same.

    I had a 2013 F150 shortbox 4×4, almost as big or bigger in most dimensions as a 70 Chev longbox. Ample storage behind the seat, more seat to dash room and adjustability. Once you get past the GMT400 era, all trucks have bloated. For me, the circa 2013 F150 is as big as I can tolerate –I don’t like any of the most recent offerings in full size.

    The company trucks are now mostly crew cabs because they carry a welder and material in the bed (sometimes still 8′ beds) and fill the entire back seat with tools. This is not typical truck use today. Most trucks are used as 66 Impalas hauling 1.2 kids and a pet around… if.

    I loved the shortbox 4×4. Depending on work/tool/load/passenger/towing needs and being honest about that… many people could use such a vehicle and be fine. But we buy the crew cab diesel to haul a boat a 70s Monte Carlo could handle…

    I have an ’89 Chevy K1500 regular cab Sportside short box, and its cab is larger than my 2018 Chevy Silverado 1500 4×4 V8 short box with only a 1.5″ longer wheelbase.

    Today I saw a 75 year old woman getting into her F150 Quad Cab. Everyone loves a big vehicle these days. The old lady across the street from me drives an Explorer Sportrac.

    Literally everyone drives big vehicles, all generations. This trend started 30 years ago.

    Make me laugh with the “nowadays” talk as if the Excursion didn’t exist in 1999 and the average man born in 1960 didn’t start this trend lol

    If our answer to increasing belly size and hauling kids and pets is to just make ever larger p/u cabs, we might be focusing on the wrong things…

    Yes, bought gladiator rubicon, April 2020, new, took the back seats out and put them in the warehouse, 2 seater, do not need the back seat space….

    I’ve got to say I’m? Very. PartialTo the pickup trruck with an 8 foot box. Manufacturers. Don’t still offer the 8. Foot Box, why ? and you know they would have wonderful winner with the 4 place crew cab. type trucks with an 8 foot box. I know that not everyone is deaf. I hope that they hear what I’m trying to say .build it ! you want to. Improve? Your sales and not hear so many grumbles give us an 8 foot box.

    I couldn’t believe it when they first started offering 3/4 ton pickups with only a 6.5′ box! I thought farmers and construction companies would have to have 8′ boxes. Evidently not.

    Dear author, you should read the article by The Truth about Cars titled “How CAFE Killed compact trucks and station wagons”. Its an interesting read that explains why US auto manufacturers all but abandoned small truck, station wagons as well as sedans leaving consumers with few options other than a overly large crew cab pickup with a tiny bed.

    Uh, the smaller, lighter vehicles would get better fuel economy to meet the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards! So, no.

    I would prefer this truck over a 4 door. I have no need for the extra doors. But then, I still daily my 04 Rubicon and absolutely love it. If Chrysler ever decided to build and sell something like this, I would definitely have to take a test drive.

    I’d have bought a 2-door. I have absolutely no use for a 4-door truck or Jeep. If I have to trailer a load of lumber because the box isn’t long enough then I don’t need a truck. I’ll pull it with my 2-door Wrangler.

    I’d buy one of these in a heartbeat. I don’t need a Jeep longer than a ‘59 Cadillac, don’t need 4 doors (I own a car). I just want a truck to do “truck stuff” that doesn’t have the turning radius of the Queen Mary.

    I own a 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 that I bought new, standard cab 8 ft. box. It will end up in my daughters hands or my estate sale. I have no use for an urban farmers 4 door kiddie box truck.

    If Jeep had built this I would own one! I too was excited until I saw the four door only choice. Then ford brought out the Ranger, No regular cab. Toyota stopped making regular cab Tacomas in 2014, before that I bought three of them new. So when it was time to buy my latest truck I bought a 2011 Tacoma 4×4 with only 25,000 miles on it. Did I pay a little to much? Yeah but I got what I wanted.

    I wholeheartedly agree gents. I love the look of a single cab truck, especially this one-off Gladiator. But other than being a work truck, they’re just not practical. Having owned a 2-dr JK, I was forced to compromise cargo anytime the rear bench was in use. But when it was, it meant finding cargo space up top via a roof rack (in the elements). We now own the JT and love the tonneau covered bed and interior cab space (not to mention smooth ride of the longer wheel base). If you need a single cab farm truck, do the conversion. Otherwise, just rent a U-Haul (single cab only) truck for when needed.

    The single cab makes the interior storage barely existent and then requires you to put all the other things in the bed. This is very green colored. On the inside it’s a bit too much.

    I agree — the old single cab just isn’t very practical any more. No place to store anything and you can’t recline the seat for a more comfortable position– especially if you’re tall. But I’m not really a fan of four door trucks either. An extra 12-18″ behind the seat is nice, and enough in many cases. A 6′ bed behind it would be great! Take the four door Wrangler and take half the back seat area out and add that to the bed — perfect small truck!

    That would be the perfect, logical solution. So of course it doesn’t stand a chance. Figure out a bench seat at the same time and mind blown.

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