Jeep Unveils ‘Desert Rated’ Gladiator Mojave to Take on Ford Raptor

Out in the desert of Johnson Valley, California, Jeep unveiled its first-ever ‘Desert Rated’ vehicle, the Gladiator Mojave. This new high-speed desert runner Jeep truck will debut at King of the Hammers, an extreme off-road desert race.

The legendary Trail Rated Jeep badge now has a big brother. Jeep’s new Desert Rated badge will grace the forthcoming Gladiator Mojave.

Dust

And while the badge sounds cool, we’re most excited about the new truck offering that it comes on.

Jeep Desert Rated Badge

First off, what does this new Desert Rated badge mean? Jeep said, “Jeep Desert Rated vehicles represent the ultimate in high-speed off-road capability and performance while traversing grueling desert and sand environments … Every desert rated 4×4 Jeep vehicle has been developed and succeeded against a series of strenuous tests in five categories.”

Sunset

Those categories include ride control and stability, traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, and desert prowess.

And to be honest, those test categories sound pretty vague. But they do outline a more focused scope of what a Desert Rated vehicle is designed to do.

“4×4 capability has always been the foremost pillar of the Jeep brand, and the new Gladiator Mojave is a natural extension of our legendary Trail Rated 4×4 capability leadership,” said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand-FCA North America.

“Jeep Gladiator is already the most capable midsize pickup on the planet, and with the addition of the new Mojave model, we are delivering our most passionate customers a new level of capability with the ability to master high-speed desert and sand terrains.”

Jeep Gladiator Mojave

Now that we have a slightly better idea of what the badge means, let’s look at what this new truck has to offer. While the Mojave-edition Jeep Wrangler has been historically all about styling, the new Gladiator Mojave offers some serious substance to go along with its “rugged good looks.”

Flex

The big news here lies in the factory suspension upgrades. The Gladiator Mojave gets FOX 2.5-inch internal bypass remote reservoir shocks at all four corners. Up front, it also receives a one-inch lift and FOX hydraulic bump stops. This setup should greatly improve the ride, both on and off road, over any other Gladiator from the factory.

For durability, Jeep reinforced the frame and added a front skid plate. An additional half-inch-wide track width will improve high-speed stability and cornering. And the Gladiator Mojave also has Off-Road Plus drive mode, which, for the first time, will allow you to lock the rear axle at high speeds in “4H” at the touch of a button.

Suspension

Jeep also claims a best-in-class approach angle of 44.7 degrees, a breakover angle of 20.9 degrees, a departure angle of 25.5 degrees, ground clearance of 11.6 inches, and articulation. Those are some pretty impressive stats for this off-road-focused midsize pickup.

Jeep Gladiator Mojave: Interior, Exterior

Outside the Gladiator Mojave, you get Jeep Performance Parts step sand slider side rails and a heavy-duty performance hood with center scoop. You also get Mojave decals and badging and orange-painted tow hooks. Unique, black 17 x 7.5-inch wheels finish off the exterior look of the Mojave package.

Inside, you’ll find more aggressive front seats with integrated upper bolsters in cloth or leather, featuring orange accent stitching and embroidered Mojave logos. You’ll also get a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Interior

We should see the new 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave hit dealers late this spring.

Desert Runner Competition

It looks like Jeep wants a piece of the success that the Ford Raptor and Chevrolet ZR2 have found. Both of these trucks have setups for, and excel at, high-speed off-road desert travel. The Raptor, in particular, uses a very similar FOX shock setup to what the new Jeep Gladiator Mojave will offer.

DuneCarve

The big difference between the Gladiator and its competition is that the Mojave has a solid front axle, while the rest have independent front suspension (IFS). IFS has been proven to provide a better ride at speed when the terrain gets challenging — think trophy truck — but a solid axle offers more durability and slow-speed terrain-crawling capabilities.

The Jeep Gladiator already stands as a hot commodity. And with the Mojave edition, Jeep will likely keep the truck hype burning strong.

Bryon Dorr
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Bryon Dorr caught the outdoor adventure addiction through whitewater kayaking, and worldwide adventures to remote places ensued. He crafted his own professional path as a photographer, journalist and marketing consultant in the automotive and outdoor industries, while full time overland traveling for nearly 8 years. You’ll usually find him out exploring by adventure motorcycle or 4x4, while seeking out opportunities to ski, mountain bike and kayak.

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