If a Jeep is rockin’ a Trail Rated badge on its front hips, it means serious off-road business. It signifies that the model has been tested and put through serious paces in off-road terrain to earn that badge. The top-level Jeep to wear a Trail Rated badge is the Rubicon. However, now Jeep is adding another badge to its portfolio: Desert Rated, making its debut at the Chicago auto show. It’s for Jeeps that are ready to tackle the harshest of desert and sand terrain. Just as the Rubicon is the pinnacle of Trail Rated Jeeps, the all new Gladiator Mojave will be the top Desert Rated Jeep you can get.
For the Gladiator to become Desert Rated, Jeep added some Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks on it, with front and rear external shock reservoirs to keep them cool. Fox front hydraulic jounce bumpers are also fitted; they help provide additional damping for ripping through the desert. To make room for the suspension upgrades, the Gladiator’s wheelbase has been lengthened by a half an inch and raised an inch in the front.
Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires are standard for the black 17-inch wheels, but the Mojave can be had with Wildpeak mud-terrain tires as well. As on the Gladiator Rubicon, the Mojave is equipped with a forward-facing off-road camera. The Mojave’s Off-Road Plus driving mode, which will make its debut later in the year, includes the ability to lock the rear axle while in 4H. That’s something the Rubicon doesn’t have.
Like the top-of-the-line Trail Rated Gladiator Rubicon, the Mojave is powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that makes 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. That’s the only powertrain choice for now. And, like the other Jeeps in the Wrangler lineup, a six-speed manual is the standard transmission (and the smarter choice), although an eight-speed automatic is optional.
The Mojave is distinguished by bright orange trim inside and out. The front seats are beefed up a bit to hold the driver and passenger in place, and they’re trimmed with the orange accent stitching. A Steel Gray interior is new for the Mojave, which is meant to keep the seats cool in the hot desert. We all know how hot black seats can get after cooking in the sun; however, you can get them as well—if you dare.
Expect to see the Gladiator Mojave at dealerships this summer. Pricing is expected to start between $45,000 and $50,000.