As much as I dig scrambling up a pile of rocks in low-range four-wheel drive, I much prefer bombing through the whoops, maxing out an off-roader’s suspension travel and hauling ass across the sand. You know, the sort of stuff the Jeep
is getting in on the fun.
Debuting Thursday at both the Chicago Auto Show and the race in Johnson Valley, California, Jeep presents the Gladiator Mojave, wearing the company’s first Desert Rated badge. You’re no doubt familiar with Trail Rated already — a badge affixed to the Jeep’s SUVs that are able to tackle the slow-speed rock obstacles. This new badge, however, signifies this truck can handle the fast and dirty stuff.
No, I haven’t driven the Mojave, but if the equipment on this trucks kicking up some serious dust in the desert. The truck employs Jeep’s Command-Trac four-wheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case and heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axles. This system gets a 2.72:1 low range, meaning it probably won’t be as good at the slow-speed stuff — more on that in a minute. On the other hand, though, this Gladiator will be able to maintain higher speeds while in low-range four-wheel drive, which should make it tough to beat in the dunes, where momentum and torque can make all the difference.Âis any indication, you’re about to see a lot more of these
The Command-Trac system means the Mojave’s crawl ratio suffers a bit at 57.3:1 with the six-speed manual and 52.6:1 for the eight-speed automatic. Those aren’t bad numbers, but pale in comparison to the Rubicon with it’s Rock-Trac four-wheel drive system, which has a 84.2:1 crawl ratio in the manual, 77.2:1 with the automatic. However, when you look at the 41.4:1 ratio in the gas-powered Chevrolet ZR2 or the 36.2:1 of the , you can see that the Mojave should still be able to out billy-goat the competition.
But the Mojave isn’t really about the slow stuff. This thing is made to tackle those whoops at high speed. As such, the Gladiator Mojave is equipped with 2.5-inch internal bypass Fox shocks with external reservoirs to keep shock fluid cool. Fox front hydraulic jounce bumpers provide an extra bit of damping when those shocks are near full compression, keeping the Mojave from bottoming out — and saving drivers’ necks and backs in the process.
The 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V6 carries over from thewith 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is not on tap, nor is the 3.0-liter diesel, although I’d like to see a diesel Mojave give the Duramax-powered Colorado ZR2 a run for its money.
A 1-inch front suspension lift and total ground clearance of 11.6 inches means the Gladiator Mojave’s geometry is actually improved a bit over the Rubicon’s, with an approach angle of 44.7 degrees and breakover angle of 20.9 degrees. The departure angle is down just a bit from a Gladiator Rubicon, at 25.5 degrees.
One last little nugget of goodness is the standard rear differential locker. In the Off-Road Plus drive mode, that locker can do its thing at speed in high-range four-wheel drive. Other Jeep products require drivers to be in low range to engage lockers, and though this feature won’t be available until later in the year, it’s still pretty cool.Â
Like the Gladiator Rubicon, the Mojave’s Off-Road Plus drive mode also adjusts the transmission, traction control and throttle parameters, depending on the driver’s needs. Further, the Mojave keeps the same 33-inch Falken Wildpeak All-Terrain tires, with optional Mud-Terrains.
Inside, the Mojave is available in your choice of Black or Steel Gray, with heavily bolstered front seats. Leather or cloth are available with contrasting orange stitching. Outside, this Gladiator gets the aforementioned badging, as well as a unique hood decal and wheels, along with sand slider side rails and a heavy duty performance hood.
Jeep hasn’t released official pricing data, but I expect the Mojave to command a premium over the Gladiator Rubicon’s starting price of $43,875. Look for it to hit dealerships in the second quarter of 2020.