Due to the islands’ year-round sunshine and diverse topography of cliffs, beaches, and tropical forests, travelers in Hawaii typically explore the popular destination via road trips. There’s the epic Road to Hana, a 64.4-mile-long stretch in Maui, while Oahu locals pride themselves on the scenic drive that takes you from Hawaii Kai to Kaimuki to visit temples and escape the city.
Whichever route you decide to take on any Hawaiian island, choosing the right vehicle can make all the difference in a smooth and enjoyable journey. Since rich landscapes also translate into all kinds of road conditions, you’d want a four-wheel drive (4WD) with on- and off-road capabilities to ensure safety, comfort, and performance wherever you go. Among the best 4WDs in the market are the Jeep Gladiator and the Jeep Wrangler, so read on to learn which is more suitable for road trips in Hawaii.
Pros and cons of the Jeep Gladiator
With their manufacturer, Jeep, known for their excellent off-road vehicles, both the Gladiator and the Wrangler perform well when exploring rugged terrain, such as Polihale State Park, located on the west coast of Kauai. However, the Jeep Gladiator’s exterior offers a slight advantage, thanks to its 3.6-liter V6 engine with 285 horsepower and a 137.3-inch wheelbase that delivers a noticeably different off-road experience compared to the Wrangler’s 118.4-inch counterpart. With its convertible five-foot flatbed, the Gladiator also emerges as the more practical choice for storage needs like outdoor gear and a spare tire.
However, the Gladiator’s relatively longer body than the Wrangler may pose a hazard when on the trail, as you may hit the rear bumper unless you invest in increasing the tire size to lift the Gladiator higher. Tire adjustments can be costly, and the high-end vehicle itself is already expensive at approximately $39,000 as of 2023. If you’re only looking to rent the Gladiator while in Hawaii to save money, you might not even have the option to tailor the tire size and fit to your liking.
Pros and cons of the Jeep Wrangler
Meanwhile, the Jeep Wrangler has always been hailed as a dependable 4WD suited for everyday trips, whether simply coasting from Honolulu to the tiny town of Waialua or braving the mysterious landscapes of AhupuaʻaʻOKahana State Park. Although the Gladiator takes the lead in off-road performance with its longer wheelbase, improved suspension, and increased storage capacity, the Wrangler’s shorter wheelbase translates into greater versatility and maneuverability in tight spaces, like the narrow roads meandering along the Kahekili Highway.
Since it’s also the more affordable vehicle between the two, you’re highly likely to find Jeep Wrangler rentals with pickup locations across Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai, and the Big Island. If the truck bed, cargo space, and leg room of the sporty two-door model are not enough for you, you can opt for the family-friendly four-door to maximize comfort and convenience. The Wrangler is also a popular choice among fellow travelers, so book online ahead of your trip to secure the availability of your chosen model at affordable rates.
The bottom line
In conclusion, the Gladiator and the Wrangler have their respective pros and cons, so you have to decide which factors like storage, comfort, performance, versatility, and accessibility matter to you the most. Regardless of your chosen 4WD, remember to check gas prices in Hawaii before and during your trip. Jeep vehicles are highly regarded as fuel-efficient with competitive mileage, but it’s always a good idea to budget for gas accordingly, considering gas now ranges from $4.08 to $4.15 as of writing.