No ordinary dune buggy

Top of the line 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave built for speed in the sand

2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave on June 21, 2020 in Everett. (Photo By Jim Mahoney)


Heading to your favorite off-roading paradise in a base-model Jeep is pretty great. But how about tackling those same mounts, crevices, dunes, and streams with this ultimate Gladiator? As an editor friend of mine once said of this pickup, and quoting the movie by the same name, “Are you not entertained?”

Meet the Mojave edition. Our heavily optioned and armored top-of-the-line Jeep Gladiator chewed up the road on 33-inch tires that feature as aggressive a tread pattern as I’ve seen in a while. These massive all-terrain knobbies, mounted on 17-inch rims, are bolted onto a multi-shock Fox suspension that handles the wide Heavy-Duty Dana 44 axles.

The paths this powerhouse most loves to conquer are sandy, gravel strewn, and water-logged. The Mojave is geared to take on loose terrain or, specifically, desert racing. It does not have the locking front differential that the Jeep rock-climber mod- els feature (and need), but instead has a transfer case that is engineered to allow the you to get more speed out of the lower range gears. Notably, the Fox bypass shock system, in combination with the jounce bumpers, swallows big impacts and prevents the suspension from crunching into the bottom of the Gladiator, keeping you grounded as you rumble over the rough stuff.

2020 Jeep Galdiator Mojave pickup truck. (Photo By Jim Mahoney)

Sitting at the top of the Gladiator’s four trim levels, the slick Mojave is tailored for the wild. Powered by a 285 HP, 3.6-liter, V6 engine, an 8-speed gear box spins those giant sand, dirt, and gravel eaters. A separate shifter changes rear-wheel drive to four-wheel, high or low, and the rear axle can be locked with the push of the dismounted button. Part time command-trac four-wheel systems and terrain-specific off-road driving modes are also toggled from the dash.

Skid plates deflect much of the road debris and keep your tranny, fuel tank, and transfer case attached to the truck, while the rock slider step assist helps slip the Gladiator through tough areas.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave. (Photo By Jim Mahoney)

All Gladiators come with a standard 5-foot bed, accessed by a flip-down tailgate and illuminated by LED take down lights. The truck can handle a 1,200-lb payload.

A Class IV receiver hitch, mounted beneath the bed, is rated at 6,000 lbs and includes a wiring harness and electronic trailer sway control.

The curb appeal of this machine is all Jeep. High fender flares frame the classic flat grill and air-scooped hood; they also block the mud from flying inside if you remove the roof and doors.

The crew cab handles five, although legroom is a bit tight. The cabin features a large center-mounted cubbyhole, with extra storage available under the rear seats. A thick leather-trimmed steering wheel and leather seats provide support and comfort.

The interior offers plenty of cup holders and an ample number of ports for electron- ic connectivity. An Alpine stereo and 8.4-inch infotainment display can be accessed by touch screen or by traditional rotary knobs on the steering wheel.
Our black-on-gray color schemed tester had all of Jeep’s bells and whistles, optioning the car up to $61,310 from its base price of $43,857. Its blacked out ex- terior was offset by the Mo- jave’s orange Desert-Rated and Jeep branding. Upgrades included the full safety group of front, back, and trail cameras with cross-traffic and blind spot alerts.

This distinctive, sharp-edged version of the w has made strong inroads into
the truck market since its reintroduction a few seasons ago despite stiff competition from the Big 3 and Toyota.

The funny thing about trucks is brand loyalty. Each company has its fans, and crossover rarely happens. But if you’re shopping for serious off-road fun, Jeep sure checks all the boxes. Yet you can still get the week- end chores done with some head-turning style.

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