Base price for a 2020 Jeep Gladiator in Canada is $47,945 in Canada, $33,545 in the US.
The Mojave is Jeep’s first-ever “Desert Rated” vehicle.
The Love-Hate relationship is strong with this one.
I don’t think I’ve ever disliked driving and reviewing a Jeep Wrangler throughout my career. However, I’ve always added that I enjoy the truck one week at a time. In other words, I could never see myself living with one on a daily basis. My thinking changed with the JL was introduced for 2018, and more so with the new Gladiator.
In the last three years, I’ve had the pleasure of spending a fair amount of time with the Wrangler JL including with an Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel in Florida earlier this year. In my week with the truck, I covered more than 720 km (450 miles) and was very sad to let it go.
What Jeep did to the JL over the JK is tweak the chassis and structure in such a way that I would consider one as a daily family vehicle. The Unlimited and Gladiator’s only true faults are pricing and second-row accommodations and access. Frankly, these are two “concerns” I would overlook because there’s something undeniably attractive and desirable about these Jeeps.
Mojave is a serious truck
I was excited when FCA announced the new Jeep Gladiator Mojave last February, and over the moon when I found out the test unit featured a 6-speed manual gearbox. My cemented feelings about the JL were soon put to the test, however…
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave is and isn’t a revised Rubicon. The main difference stems from its “job” or modus operandi which is “high-speed off-road capability and performance in grueling desert and sand environments.” In order to earn the “Desert Rated” badge, the Mojave wears a different chassis which consists of specially-tuned FOX 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks with external reservoirs, and extra industry-exclusive hydraulic jounce bumpers upfront along with a 1-inch raised ride height.
Also included are a reinforced frame, stronger axles, and 33-inch Falken Wildpeak All-terrain tires. And all of this is on top of the 3rd Generation Dana heavy-duty axles with Tru-Lock electronic locking in the rear, the Command-Trac 2-speed transfer case, skid plates, and all.
What Jeep has done with the Mojave is further sharpen its skills and specialize it. In the process, they’ve returned the Jeep to its more rudimentary roots. Now, this is not something I can complain about. If you are in the market for a Mojave, then you know what to expect. If you are thinking that owning and driving a Gladiator might be fun, do actually sample the Mojave before buying.
Unlike a Rubicon, there’s no downtime when driving the Mojave. The reality is that the larger FOX shocks (the track was widened a half-inch to fit these bad boys), the bypass passages, the external reservoirs, and the extra FOX front hydraulic jounce bumpers act as though they’re never off unless the road’s surface is perfectly smooth.
Make sure you really want a Mojave
This constant “at the ready” chassis behaviour translates into an incredibly bouncy and springy ride. This single-minded purposeful approach quickly becomes excessive on the daily. But the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter.
The Gladiator Mojave is its own entity, exists on another plane where what you see is what you get and for that, all is forgiven and actually embraced. And it’s this that makes the truck so appealing. That, and the multiple thumbs-up and glances I got from other Jeep owners and wannabe owners.
The harsh ride aside, two other elements rise up as actual trepidations. The first is straight-line stability or staying on track. The huge knobby tires and accompanying so-so steering precision means that constant corrections are required to go straight. The other bug is power.
The standard 3.6-litre V6, with its 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, is typically better than adequate however this is not the case with the Mojave. I discovered first-hand that the V6 is heavily taxed upon merging onto the highway moments after picking it up. As a pickup, I made use of the bed by carrying about 300 lbs of stuff (max payload is 1,200 lbs). On the highway, at times when driving up a slight incline, I found myself downshifting from 6th to 4th gear in order to stay above 95 km/h. Do note I live In Quebec, not British Columbia.
Thankfully, the 6-speed ‘box is old-school fun to use. The shifter’s long-ish, as are the throws and pedal placement, surprisingly, enables heel-and-toe with little fuss. The constant shifting and throttle pressure to keep up with traffic did result in apprehensively bad fuel consumption numbers. In my week with the Mojave, I covered over 500 km.
Killer looks and pricing
Physically, the Mojave is damn good-looking. The Sting-Grey colour hue is superb in contrast with the Mojave’s orange-ish accents and highlights, not to mention the red tow-hooks and the 17×7.5-inch wheels. The cabin is typical Wrangler/Gladiator fare with the exception of the “off-road+” button which launches the drive mode that adjusts throttle, traction control and enables the driver to lock the rear axle in 4H instead of only 4L.
My 2020 (2021 info is out already) Jeep Gladiator Mojave featured a number of options including leather seats, navigation, full LED lighting, the modular hardtop, advanced safety package, and many more for a grand total just shy of $70,500 or about $16,000 over the Mojave’s $54,845 base price.
Look, if you want the Mojave because of what it is, I absolutely understand. If you want off-road capabilities in a midsize pickup and don’t want to visit a chiropractor every other week, do consider the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.