Jeep owns the dirt, but Ford is dominating the sand. Now Jeep is moving to establish a beachhead of its own with the new-for-2020 “Desert Rated” Jeep Gladiator Mojave.
The Jeep brand, of course, is legendary for its off-roading, boulder-crawling, trail-taming 4WD capability. But Ford in recent years has claimed sandy-surface dominance with its desert-running F-150 Raptor. In addition, the all-new Ford Bronco SUV will be unveiled in just a few weeks, and word on the street is that it prizes desert running over boulder crawling.
Jeep, which isn’t about to let such a challenge go unanswered, has now responded with the Jeep Gladiator Mojave, the first in what is expected to be a line of desert-running Jeep models.
Gladiator Mojave is classified by Jeep as a “Desert Rated” model, which is distinct from the brand’s familiar “Trail Rated” designation. Designed for high-speed sand running in grueling environments, the Gladiator Mojave boasts a host of features that differentiate it from its trail-dedicated, boulder-crawling Gladiator Rubicon brother.
For instance, Gladiator Mojave gets foxy in a way that will appeal to off-pavement enthusiasts familiar with the segment’s toughest upgrades. This new pickup boasts specially-tuned Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks with external reservoirs to help keep them cool, along with industry-exclusive Fox front hydraulic jounce bumpers for additional suspension damping during high-speed off-pavement driving.
In addition, Mojave has a reinforced frame, a one-inch front suspension lift and silver front skid plate, stronger axles with cast-iron steering knuckles, standard 33-inch Falken Wildpeak All-terrain tires and, inside, aggressive front bucket seats that anchor occupants with integrated upper bolsters.
Here’s another eye-opener for desert-running fans who know that high-range gearing is usually the transfer-case choice in sand: Gladiator Mojave will be equipped with 4-hi rear-differential locking talent, a capability not found even on the Gladiator Rubicon, which must be in 4-lo to lock up the diffs.
All of these standard features make Gladiator Mojave the Jeep brand’s first “Desert Rated” vehicle. But don’t worry. There are more to come.
Beyond all of the above, Gladiator Mojave is a Gladiator Rubicon, sharing Ruby’s 3.6-liter V-6 (285 hp, 260 lb.-ft. of torque), its choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions and its push-button front-sway-bar-disconnect for added front-suspension flex.
To ensure Gladiator Mojave is the barren-landscape champ among pick-ups, Jeep engineers also have blessed it, just like Rubicon, with a 4:1 crawl ratio and more under-body skid plating than an Abrams M1 battle tank.
And like every Gladiator, Mojave will be available with a soft top, a hard top or, if the two-top package is ordered, both.
Finally, bright orange accents, found inside and out on Mojave, let the neighbors know you’ve got a purpose-built truck. Inside, the unique bucket seats are available in leather or cloth with orange accent stitching and embroidered Mojave logos. Outside, Mojave is adorned with unique decals on its heavy-duty center-scoop hood, proprietary exterior badges, orange tow hooks and unique 17x7.5-inch wheels and side rails.
Look for the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave to arrive in showrooms this summer. At press time, Jeep had not announced pricing, but we’re guessing near 50 grand.