Before the return of the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck for the 2020 model year, aftermarket outfitter American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) had already made its own truck—and a very good looking one, at that. Called the Brute, it was the original Wrangler-based pickup truck, and even though the Gladiator is now stealing the limelight, the Brute has withstood the test of the time and is still the cool kid on the block.
I recently witnessed an AEV Brute tackling trails at this year's Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, which had been brought out by BFGoodrich to test the latest KM3 Mud Terrain tires. And I must admit, even with some of Jeep's own corporate Easter creations roaming around the small Utah town, the AEV Brute still got a fair share of attention from passersby.
On the outside, the Brute looks more like a Gladiator than anything else. While it's built on the JK Wrangler platform, the Brute visually looks like it's a modern Wrangler with a truck bed—and so does the Gladiator. Underneath, it's a different story, however, with the Gladiator wearing a midsize truck body and the Brute is rocking a Wrangler platform. This makes the Gladiator a more capable truck, but the Brute is no slouch.
In addition to the 37-inch tires, the Brute has a lifted Fox off-road suspension. The extra ride height, something that you don't get on Gladiator without Mopar or aftermarket mods, helped the 84,000-mile Brute at Moab tackle the Cliffhanger Trail with ease.
The interior of the Brute resembles that of the last-generation Wrangler—because that's exactly what it is. Of course, the updated infotainment and creature comforts of the JL Wrangler would be a welcome addition to the Brute. That being said, the Brute has power-retractable running boards which are really nice when climbing into the lifted beast.
Since the announcement of the Gladiator, AEV pulled the plug on the Brute. It makes sense considering it's redundant now. That being said, we'd love to see AEV produce a two-door Brute since Jeep won't do such a thing.
What do you say?