2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
by John Davis
You may have gathered from the name already, that the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave is something different. Whereas the Rubicon trim is built to withstand the abuse of bouncing off boulders and climbing the rock ledges of the Rubicon trail, the Mojave is aimed for wide open desert running, in a fashion similar to Ford’s SVT Raptor.
The short wheelbase Wrangler was never truly appropriate for that mission, but the Gladiator’s 40-inch longer wheelbase is just about perfect. Not surprisingly, the Mojave was in Jeep’s original plans for the Gladiator from the beginning.
Equipping it for that mission, the Mojave gets a 1-inch lift, with springs that are both taller and softer, to provide additional travel and smoother movement. The frame and steering rack are reinforced to withstand repeated hard landings, axles are beefed up, while anti-roll bars are actually softer. Finally, skid plating underneath of it all, has been reconfigured to protect all of the important stuff.
Just like Ford, Jeep turned to suspension specialist Fox for remote reservoir shocks with progressive damping. But then they went one step further, adding hydraulic bump stops as well, which makes shattering hard parts less likely when bottoming out the suspension.
Less low speed work means no need for the Rubicon’s 4:1 transfer case. So, the Mojave sticks with the standard 2.72, as well as the open front differential. You do get 33-inch tires, with either all terrain or mud terrain tread patterns, are mounted on 17-inch wheels with more offset than the Rubicon’s, to widen the track and lend a bit more high-speed stability.
As for the rest of the exterior, Mojave graphics are applied to the unique hood. Under it is the same 285-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 as the rest of the Gladiator lineup. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, with an 8-speed auto available.
Mojave is more than just a new name. Jeep engineers did indeed spend plenty of time in the Mojave Desert developing this midsize pickup. So, finishing all off the exterior appearance is a first ever “Desert Rated” badge, replacing the traditional “Trail Rated” one.
It’s all been well-tuned to work together and keep street drivability intact. Ride quality is actually a little plusher due to the softer suspension. Still, it’s easy to forget how big this Gladiator is, as it still feels very nimble, light on its feet, and easy to whip in and out of parking spots.
Updates to the inside are minimal, but mostly functional. In addition to unique stitching accents, front seats have much more aggressive bolstering for holding you in place, and there’s even a sport steering wheel. Also, just as a reminder, the Gladiator is still the only pickup on the market that allows you to drive around legally without a roof or doors in place.
For our complete road test of the latest Jeep Gladiator Mojave, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3950 that begins airing August 14, 2020. For a listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings and Sunday afternoons on the MotorTrend cable channel.
Now, you don’t have to venture way off into the desert, or even a beach, nor drive around at wide-open-throttle to enjoy this 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave. Indeed, regardless of environment, this new Gladiator with a new mission, is one cool pickup.