Yeah, for an off-road-capable 'true' SUV, the Wrangler or Toyota 4Runner are really your only choices, and the new 4Runner blows.
The thing is that the people who bought them for off-road reasons migrated towards compact pickups (Or large ones, if they really needed larger space) because bloat turned pretty much every SUV into something too big for trails.
What's happened is that the market has existed so long that it's been pared down, for the most part, to the absolute best offerings in the segments.
For BOF SUVs, you've basically only got the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota 4Runner and GM GMT93x vehicles (Suburban, Tahoe, ect). I mean, there's a few more (Ford Expedition and so forth), but they're in a distant last. That being said, they're all the best vehicles that have ever existed in their class, in terms of all-round use (The 4Runner isn't as good as it used to be off-road, but it's still pretty decent)
Honestly, it comes down to the Wrangler and the Tacoma. They're the thousand-pound gorillas of the segment. Nobody wants to fight them, and neither Jeep nor Toyota will try to expand their own offerings because any new offerings will just cannibalize existing sales-most people who both want, and could afford, to buy a new Cherokee will eventually buy a Wrangler Unlimited instead, so why build a new Cherokee for the other small segment? It's not profitable.
Quite true, the fact that "packaging" has effectively priced midsized SUVs and compact pickups when equipped for serious off-roading to the point where you could buy a full-sized pickup for around the same price has further compounded this. For example a Jeep Wrangler with the drive train/suspension options I would want would cost around $30k. Why is it you have to get a Rubicon to get 4.10 gears, a D44 in the front, and lockers? I don't need all the other "crap" that comes on a Rubicon, I really wish these were options in the sport. For $30k I could get a Chevy/GMC 1500 Z71, and would have trouble justifying paying as much for a Jeep as a full-sized pickup, especially since the Wrangler doesn't currently offer a Hemi or Diesel option (as good as the Pentastar is I have a personal hatred of DOHC V style engines).
My wifes sahara cost around 42g CAD. I would be willing to pay the same for a fully optioned Gladiator pickup. That being said, when it comes to a pre-production standpoint they may opt out of some of my favourite styling cues for a production level truck. Ive been following the gladiator concept since 2006, and was planning on building a brute double cab, only to discover with the release of the car and driver video, that im looking at base 85g....
The Tahoe/Yukon best of their kind? No way! Those may be roomy and have decent power but theyre bloated up minivans with no real capability at all....basically cadillacs in disguise. Sure you can modify anything to perform but why bother spending huge $$ to butch up a mom-mobile? And you forgot to mention the FJ cruiser and even the XTerra which are decent performers with potential.
And what Exactly is this based on?
I am one of the few who would actually purchase a Wrangler pickup to replace my Tacoma...
Assorted statements from Sergio Marcichonne, Mike Manley and assorted Jeep engineers, along with rumours from those who have been involved with the Jeep truck project (IE, people involved in investigating whether there's the demand-if there are engineers currently designing it, they're under strict NDAs and we haven't heard from them)
That, and a healthy dose of common sense and deductive reasoning.
I know it's a hard pill to swallow, since we're going on 8 years since the Gladiator concept dropped, but hang on. Producing a new vehicle is hard as it is, producing one going after a hilariously small market segment currently dominated by one unstoppable juggernaut nameplate and a rabid fanbase is not something you can jump in to. The Tacoma is a hard vehicle to fight-Jeep or Ram can't just build a vehicle as good as the Tacoma, because there's no incentive for people to buy one over the proven nameplate beyond brand loyalty-and that's not holding much weight in these days. They need to produce a vehicle that is both better and different, and it'll still be a very low-volume vehicle. Jeep engineers are already tied up with the replacements for the Liberty, Patriot and Compass-vehicles FAR more important to Jeep's survival than a Wrangler truck. Once they finish establishing the baseline of the segment-once they have competitive entries for every SUV/CUV segment-THEN we'll start seeing some real work done on the Gladiator. But don't expect one before 2016-if you need a small, rugged truck now, save the stress and get a 3-year lease on a Tacoma to tide you over.
"Buying a Jeep for on-road handling is like downloading porn to savor the cinematography."
I want a Gladiator something Bad, and would buy one Today if Jeep would build one.
However, if I'm reading the tea leaves right, I don't think we will see a new Wrangler until 2018. If that is true, I can't see Jeep producing a truck to only be produced 2 years (and Yes this is a familiar-sounding song)
I am pretty bitter tho, they have jerked us around for so long on this...