As is the case with all automakers, Ford routinely benchmarks vehicles from its competition, giving those models a close look as it aims to stay one step ahead of its rivals. In recent months, Ford Authority spies have spotted FoMoCo benchmarking a number of vehicles from Stellantis, including the Dodge Durango Pursuit and Jeep Wagoneer, each wearing the tell-tale yellow sticker that adorns all Ford-owned vehicles from other manufacturers. However, interestingly enough, Ford has been caught benchmarking the Jeep Gladiator – the pickup version of the Jeep Wrangler – not just once or twice, but three times now.
It’s difficult to tell in these photos, but this Jeep Gladiator Rubicon could potentially be the same pickup that Ford was spied benchmarking back in June of last year. Both are black, and appear to be the same in every other distinguishable way. The pickup was spotted being unloaded from a truck and entering a Ford facility, though it has no license plates, while the last Gladiator did.
Regardless, it’s interesting that Ford is still benchmarking the Gladiator, given the fact that the automaker reportedly canceled its plans to build a Ford Bronco pickup last August. As Ford Authority reported way back in July of 2019, a Bronco pickup was expected to join the SUV in The Blue Oval’s lineup at some point in the next few years, possibly 2024, and we even rendered two- and four-door versions of this future model.
A pickup version of the Bronco would make a lot of sense as a direct competitor to the Jeep Gladiator, which is essentially nothing more than a Wrangler with a bed. While the Bronco rides on the same Ford T6 platform as the Bronco SUV and Ford Ranger, a Bronco pickup would provide a distinctly styled, off-road focused, open-air alternative to the more conventional mid-sizer that would represent a throwback to the first-gen Bronco half cab, itself a short pickup version of the rugged SUV.