Wait, What? the Jeep Gladiator Mojave Isn’t Trail-Rated?

There are quite a few variations of the Jeep Gladiator pickup. Some are modified, taking inspiration from past Jeeps or tuning the engine to produce 1000+ hp. But the regular Gladiator lineup has quite a lot to offer on its own. There’s the more on-road comfortable Overland, the Miami-themed Three O Five, and there’ll soon be diesel and PHEV versions. But for ultimate rock-crawling, there’s the Rubicon. Only now, it won’t be the only ‘ultimate’ off-road Jeep truck. Debuting at the 2020 Chicago Show, there’s now the Desert-Rated Jeep Gladiator Mojave.

Jeep Gladiator: Trail-Rated vs Desert-Rated

Up until now, every Jeep Gladiator has worn the Trail-Rated badge. This signifies that a vehicle has passed Jeep’s internal off-road tests, which culminate in trips down the Rubicon Trail. It’s undoubtedly partially a marketing thing, but it does genuinely result in some useful off-road design features. For example, every Gladiator can ford water up to 30” deep and has standard skid plates.

The Rubicon model goes even further. It comes with 11.1” of ground clearance, front, and rear locking differentials, and Fox shocks. It can also electronically disconnect its front sway bar, which, combined with its solid axles, makes it easier for the front wheels to stay on the ground.

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor with Fox Live Valve electronic shocks
2019 Ford F-150 Raptor with Fox Live Valve electronic shocks | Fox

However, it’s precisely features like this that also limit the Gladiator in non-off-roading areas, as Team O’Neill Rally demonstrated with a Wrangler Rubicon. A Gladiator Rubicon is great at low-speed rock-crawling, but for jumping around the desert, you really want something like an F-150 Raptor or 4Runner TRD Pro.

Jeep Gladiator Mojave Desert-Rated badge
Jeep Gladiator Mojave Desert-Rated badge | FCA

That’s where the Desert-Rated Jeep Gladiator Mojave comes in. It’s the first Jeep to receive such a badge, which FCA claims is meant to signify the truck’s ability to tear up the sands at high speeds. Its modifications sure seem to back that up.

Jeep Gladiator Mojave details

Jeep Gladiator Mojave front
Jeep Gladiator Mojave front | FCA

Like every other Gladiator, the Mojave has Dana 44 axles front and rear, and a 4WD system with a two-speed transfer case. Like the Rubicon, it also has the ability to select between different driving modes. Jeep changed the gear and axle ratios, which, according to Roadshow, means the Mojave won’t be quite as good at rock-crawling as the Rubicon. However, it should still out-class the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma in that regard. In addition, this is the first time a Jeep Gladiator will be able to lock its rear axle at high speed in 4Hi, not just in low-speed 4Lo mode.

Jeep Gladiator Mojave skid plate
Jeep Gladiator Mojave skid plate | FCA

But Jeep engineers changed more than just that. The frame and axles were both reinforced, and an additional skid plate was installed. Underneath are 2.5” Fox internal-bypass shocks—the Rubicon’s are 2” units—with external fluid reservoirs, as well as Fox front hydraulic jounce bumpers.

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

They’re also called ‘bump stops’, and they’re normally aftermarket parts, installed to prevent damaging the vehicle and its occupants when the suspension fully compresses and slams into its mounting points. These jounce bumpers, according to Auto Accessories Garage and Auto Anything, are usually made of polyurethane, rubber or foam. FCA’s claim that these are an industry-first, especially when they’re hydraulic, seems fairly accurate.

Jeep Gladiator Mojave side
Jeep Gladiator Mojave side | FCA

To make the new shocks and jounce bumpers fit, the Jeep Gladiator Mojave got a 1” front suspension lift, and the rear track was widened by 0.5”. This gives the Mojave 11.6” of ground clearance, which is more than the Rubicon. The Mojave’s approach angle is also better than the Rubicon’s, though its departure angle is slightly worse.

Engine, towing, and interior

Like other Jeep Gladiators, the Mojave gets a 3.6-liter V6, making 285 hp and 260 lb-ft. A 6-speed manual is standard, but an 8-speed automatic is optional. The Mojave has the same payload as the Rubicon—1200 lbs—but can only tow up to 6000 lbs, 1000 lbs less than the Rubicon. The Mojave can be equipped with the same front-facing obstacle-spotting camera as the Rubicon, though.

Jeep Gladiator Mojave interior
Jeep Gladiator Mojave interior | Jeep

Inside, the Mojave’s front seats are better bolstered, to better keep you in place during dune runs. The seats also get orange stitching, matching the Mojave’s orange trim. In addition, a new interior color debuts with the Mojave: Steel Gray, which Car and Driver reports is meant to keep the seats cool under the baking desert sun.

Pricing and availability

As of this writing, Jeep has not announced official pricing. Although, Car and Driver predicts the Jeep Gladiator Mojave will start at roughly $45,000-$50,000. It is expected to hit dealers in the second quarter of 2020.

Look out, Raptors: you’ve got some Baja-jumping competition.

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