This is truly the adventure pickup truck.
After selling more than a quarter of a million examples of the Wrangler in 2019, Jeep thought it could offer a similar open-top off-road experience in the mid-size truck segment. Enter the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Arriving on the market last year in 2019, Jeep managed to sell just over 40,000 of them, making it, disappointingly, the sixth best-seller in the segment. Some Wrangler customers switched to Gladiator but the niche truck clearly still has room to grow. Keep in mind, 2019 was not a full sales year, and Jeep has plans to improve the Gladiator during its life cycle.
Jeep has already added a new Mojave trim level to the mix, which brings with it a host of improvements that will likely be expanded to other Jeep models in the future. Whether in Mojave or any of the other trim levels, the Gladiator has some impressive features that make it highly unique in the mid-size truck segment.
We recently had a chance to test the Gladiator Mojave, finished in an impressive shade of orange called Punk'n Metallic. Never before have we received this much attention driving a pickup truck. Jeep owners rolled down their windows asking what modifications we'd done to it and plenty of people gave us a thumbs up in traffic. To create the Mojave, Jeep widened the track by half an inch for improved stability while the front end was lifted by a full inch.
The Mojave rides on 17-inch rims wrapped in 33-inch tires all-terrain tires while mud-terrain tires are also available. Some 'Mojave' graphics add a touch of excitement to the exterior and orange accents finish off the look. If you want a "factory modified" Jeep, the Mojave is the way to go.
Jeep has many Trail Rated models but this is the first one to be fitted with a Desert Rated badge. Unlike the Rubicon model, which is built for low-speed off-roading, the Mojave acts as more of a Raptor fighter built to handle extreme high-speed desert running. It rides on 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks with external reservoirs filled with military-grade fluid to keep them cool. This suspension system results in a Rolls-Royce-like ride over rough terrain with civil manners on public roads.
Whereas the Rubicon trim level features red accents, the Mojave's signature color is orange. Our tester came equipped with cloth seats featuring the 'Mojave' name stitched in orange but black or gray leather is also available. The seats feature additional side bolstering to keep you planted during high-speed off-roading and additional orange accents surround the air vents. You also get orange stitching on the steering wheel, which has better grips than the wheel found in other versions of the Gladiator.
FCA's Uconnect infotainment is flexible enough to offer different performance screens for different vehicles. In a Hellcat, for example, the screens show track functions like a quarter-mile timer, G-meter, and horsepower readout. In the Mojave, a set of off-road pages allows the driver to view their steering angle, accessor gauges, transfer case position, steering angle, pitch & roll, and a front and rear camera for rock spotting. These functions can also be mirrored on the gauge cluster helper screen.
The most standout feature of the Jeep Gladiator is the ability to remove the roof, doors, and windshield. No other pickup truck on the market offers this and it truly helps the Gladiator stand out as the fun option in the segment. Taking off the back half of the optional hardtop can be a bit tricky but the two front Freedom Panels can be easily removed and stored in a carrying bag with no tools. Even the doors come off easier than before, requiring only a few bolts and the unplugging of one electrical connection. Jeep has also improved the insulation of the hardtop roof, so it is much quieter than older Wrangler models.
While not the most important feature, our tester came equipped with an optional wireless Bluetooth speaker mounted behind the rear seats. The Alpine-branded speaker conveniently charges while it is mounted to the truck and is loud enough for any tailgates or camping trips. At just $295, it is an option that we highly recommend.