Trucks & SUVs

How does the Jeep Gladiator Mojave Compare to the Rubicon?

Being ‘Desert-Rated,’ rather than ‘Trail-Rated,’ sets the Jeep Gladiator Mojave apart from the rest of the lineup. Especially from the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, arguably one of the best off-roading trucks on sale today. But does the shift in focus from rock-crawling to dune-crossing make the Mojave worse? Or is it the better Jeep Gladiator trim to buy?

Jeep Gladiator Mojave vs. Rubicon: specs

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon | Jeep

In terms of powertrain, the Jeep Gladiator models are equal. They both use a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 285 hp and 260 lb-ft, and feature four-wheel drive with transfer case. And both can be ordered with either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic. Where the Jeep Gladiator Mojave and Rubicon differ is some of their respective off-road gear.

Grey-brown 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave truck crossing a dune at sunset
2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave side | Jeep

Both the Gladiator Mojave and Rubicon use Fox shocks. However, the Mojave’s are larger (2.5” vs 2” diameter), Autoweek reports, and have both internal bypasses and external reservoirs. The Mojave also features some of the first factory-standard hydraulic jounce dampers, also from Fox, The Drive reports. And the seats get some extra bolstering, to keep people in place better at high speeds.

Jeep Gladiator Mojave Fox shocks and jounce bumpers detail
Jeep Gladiator Mojave Fox shocks and jounce bumpers detail | FCA

In addition, the Jeep Gladiator Mojave has a 1” front lift over the Rubicon, Car and Driver reports. Keep in mind, the Rubicon already has 11.1” of ground clearance. The Mojave trim also has additional frame strengthening, cast-iron steering knuckles, and a thicker rear axle. Like the Rubicon, it has an electronic locking differential, but with different programming, Motor Trend reports. Plus, it gets an additional steel skid plate, modified anti-roll bars, and a wider rear track for more stability.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon | Jeep

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But the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon has its own unique features. It can lock its front differential, not just the rear one. And its anti-roll bars can be disconnected electronically, for more articulation. In addition, its transfer case has different gearing than the Gladiator Mojave’s case, Roadshow reports. The Rubicon-specific gearing prioritizes low-speed torque over high-speed performance. Also, the Rubicon can be ordered with a steel winch-ready bumper; the Mojave can’t.

Jeep Gladiator Mojave vs. Rubicon: off-roading

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Both the Jeep Gladiator Mojave and Rubicon have solid axles, which cause the trucks to wander on the pavement, especially at higher speeds. And the large off-road tires also make the steering less precise, Automobile reports. However, MT reports the Mojave’s unique suspension tuning does make it less prone to wandering. But it also can’t tow as much: 6000 pounds to the Rubicon’s 7000.

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But the real point of buying a Jeep, not just the Gladiator, is to go off-roading. And it’s here where the Mojave and Rubicon really being to deviate. For low-speed technical rock-crawling, TFLTruck and Autoweek give the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon the edge, due to its low-speed gearing and front locking differential.

However, it’s worth point out that the Mojave crossed the same obstacles the Rubicon did in Autoweek’s testing. In addition, the former actually has better break-over and approach angles, and more ground clearance. And in almost every other off-roading scenario, the Gladiator Mojave is the better truck.

Over high-speed sections, it’s more stable. And over repeated dips, where the Rubicon’s crashes, the Mojave simply kept going. In MT’s and Autoweek’s testing, where the Rubicon had to slow below 20 mph, the Mojave kept going roughly twice as fast. In addition, while the Rubicon can lock both differentials, the Gladiator Mojave can lock its rear one in both 4Hi and 4Lo. So even at speed, you have plenty of traction.

Which is the better buy?

The Jeep Gladiator Mojave and Rubicon both start at the same price: $43,875. The Rubicon may get a few more factory accessories, like the previously-mentioned bumper. However, it likely won’t be too long before an aftermarket supplier makes one for the Mojave, too. Plus, if you really miss the disconnecting sway bars, Autoblog reports there are aftermarket ones available for about $100. So cost isn’t the real determining factor.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon rear
2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon rear | Jeep

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Ultimately, choosing between the two pickups depends on where and how you’ll be driving. If you genuinely do focus on low-speed, technical rock-crawling, the Rubicon is slightly better. But actually, if you really wanted to tackle those kinds of trails, the Jeep Gladiator loses out to the Wrangler.

In almost every other scenario, the Jeep Gladiator Mojave is the better choice over the Rubicon. The work that was done to make it better at blitzing dunes also pays off on urban streets. To quote MT, it’ll do “90 percent of what the Rubicon will, while the Rubicon won’t do half of what the Mojave will.”

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