Jeep chases the high-performance off-road pickup truck market with 2020 Gladiator Mojave

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

The Gladiator Mojave was developed specifically for tackling tough desert terrain.

Against a backdrop of wind and cold in Chicago, Jeep revealed the desert-ready 2020 Gladiator Mohave at the Chicago Auto Show. The special edition Mohave allows drivers to crank up the rpms by adding the bones to travel with alacrity across demanding desert landscapes. It carries forward Jeep’s 4×4 Trail Rated capability blended with a new Desert Rated badge; it’s the first Jeep to be tapped for this rating.

This midsized Jeep pickup came to market last year and has since won a trophy case filled with awards for its unique styling, functionality, tech-filled interior, and slow-speed competence; it now adds high-speed off-road expertise to its persona.

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Jeep has given the Gladiator Mojave an added layer of off-road prowess.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Gladiator Mohave recipe starts with a robust platform and proven four-wheel drive stock. Added are new, specially tuned FOX 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks with external reservoirs, industry-exclusive FOX front hydraulic jounce bumpers, a reinforced frame, a 1-inch front suspension lift, a ½-inch increase in the track, and stronger axles with cast-iron steering knuckles. The Jeep rides on standard 33-inch Falken Wildpeak All-Terrain tires.

Gladiator Mohave’s Command-Trac 4×4 system is set up with a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, heavy-duty third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 4.10:1 axle ratio, and standard electronic-locking rear differential. Command-Trac has been re-engineered to allow higher 4LO (low range) operating speeds for ascending sand dunes and traveling over other rugged desert terrain.

Jeep says the new model has a best-in-class approach angle of 44.7 degrees, breakover angle of 20.9 degrees, departure angle of 25.5 degrees and a best-in-class ground clearance of 11.6 inches, along with best-in-class articulation.

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The model has received a Jeep-first Desert Rated badge.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

An Off-Road Plus button allows drivers to take the Mojave to the next level of traction and performance. Adjustments change the throttle, transmission shift points, and traction control for top performance on higher speed passes on sand terrain, as well as during low-speed rock crawling. The Off-Road Plus drive mode also lets drivers lock their rear axle at high speeds while in “4H.” This feature is a Jeep-first.

Mojave is adorned with a unique hood decal on its heavy-duty performance hood with center scoop, unique exterior badges, orange tow hooks, unique 17 x 7.5-inch wheels, plus Jeep Performance Parts step sand slider side rails, and a silver front skid plate.

Black and Steel Gray are interior color options; a competition-inspired leather-wrapped steering wheel with accent stitching and an aggressive rim section provides extra grip and better ergonomics. More aggressive seats with integrated upper bolsters bring comfort and safety. The seats are available in leather or cloth with orange accent stitching and embroidered Mojave logos. A forward-facing off-road camera can be added.

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Jeep has equipped this new model with the right equipment to get the job done.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The 2020 Gladiator Mojave is powered by Jeep’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine backed by a standard six-speed manual or optional eight-speed automatic transmission. With the manual, Gladiator Mojave boasts an impressive crawl ratio of 57.3:1, and 52.6:1 on models equipped with the eight-speed auto.

It has up to 1,200 pounds of payload and up to 6,000 pounds of towing capacity.

Why fast desert-running trucks? A decade ago, Ford brought a new play-book to the stock truck market with its 2010 F-150 Raptor; this full-sized desert runner can be driven to the office or the club, yet marries extreme slow-speed 4WD tech and proficiency to its fast-paced sand playfulness and racing aptitude.

Ram’s 1500 Rebel-trimmed full-sizer and Ram’s 2500 Power Wagon have garnered favor with their dual-personalities and authentic capability, while the midsized Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison moves the needle in a similar fashion. Other truck makers and builder/enthusiasts have followed suit since, although many new models are one-off upfits, rather than stock from the automaker.

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This edition was specially created for desert driving enthusiasts.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Desert racing has picked up a quickly-growing fan base and has lured more buyers to participate in the thrill of technical off-roading, playing in backcountry sandboxes across the country, and trying out their rigs at desert races, such as the legendary SCORE Baja 1000 or the famed King of the Hammers.

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mohave will be in showrooms the second quarter of the year.


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