2024 Jeep Gladiator Mojave Keeps On Truckin’

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Since the beginning, 4×4 pickups have been fodder for modification. Armed with a stack of aftermarket catalogs and a robust pile of disposable cash, the average enthusiast could craft one heck of an off-road monster in the relative comfort of their own carport. Manufacturers took notice and started hawking their own off-road trims, packages, and accessories with varying levels of integrity and stylistic expression.

Then, in 2010, Ford took things to another level, releasing the F-150 Raptor. Toyota jumped into action with the TRD Pro Tacoma, Jeep launched the Gladiator Mojave in 2020, Ram busted out the 1500 TRX shortly thereafter, Chevrolet served up some ZR2 Bison, and boom—factory direct, high-speed desert-running pickups were suddenly and inexplicably a genuine automotive segment. The latest to join the high-flying pack is the 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor, which was previously available overseas.

We acquired a 2020 Gladiator Mojave for a long-term test a few years back and came away with mixed feelings. To see how the Gladiator Mojave has been faring since then, we slipped behind the wheel of the 2024 model in Moab, Utah, just as the 58th annual Jeep Safari was gathering steam.

Hardware Wars

The hardware rundown for the Gladiator Mojave stacks up thusly: Dana 44 axles (the rear featuring thicker tubing for added strength), 4.10:1 axle gears, a part-time transfer case with a 2.72:1 four-wheel-drive low ratio, a 1.0-inch front suspension lift, 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks with remote reservoirs, Fox front hydraulic jounce bump stops, rock rails, 33-inch tires on 17-inch alloy wheels, and few other sundry items.

This year brings a few additions, notably a standard 12.3-inch infotainment system running Uconnect 5, standard side curtain air bags, and adaptive cruise control. There’s also a fresh interpretation of the seven-slot grille, and the antenna is moved to the windshield. New is the Mojave X model, which we didn’t drive but which includes a full-time four-wheel-drive transfer case, an integrated off-road camera, standard steel front and rear bumpers, and, critical for navigating the most torturous off-road scenarios, 12-way power seats. Jeep says the Mojave can ford water up to 31.5 inches deep.

Our drive meandered about Moab’s trail system and subjected the Mojave to a combination of slickrock, ledges, some slightly muddy washes, and several miles of sandy two-tracks where we could let the Mojave off its leash to run a little wild. Wipeout Hill—an appropriately named, wholly natural, rock-strewn incline—was also on our route.

The Mojave delivered plenty of thrills on the sandy bits. While the rest of our pack ran primarily in four-wheel high with the Off-Road+ drive program engaged through this terrain, we left it in two-wheel drive, traction control off and in rally mode, the Mojave responding with a delightfully tail-happy performance. With four-wheel drive virtually ubiquitous these days, it’s fun to remind oneself just how capable a rear-drive vehicle can be in the silt with proper tires, a skosh of ground clearance, and the driver’s willingness to stay in the throttle.

We played in confidence across the sandy expanses knowing we had 4WD, low range, and a locking rear differential to help extricate the Gladiator should we stuff it in a dune. Conquering Wipeout Hill, however, required all of the above. But with the guidance of an experienced spotter, the Gladiator Mojave walked up it with little wheelspin.

Not a Rocker, No Front Locker

Notably, the Gladiator Mojave doesn’t offer a disconnectable front anti-roll bar or front locker—those are reserved for the Gladiator Rubicon, which costs the same as a Mojave. What the Mojave does have, however, are those Fox shocks and hydraulic jounce bump stops. Basically, when the dampers are at full compression and the axle is getting ready to give the bump stops a love tap, the Mojave’s hydraulic jounce stops smoothly absorb that energy via the magic of hydraulics.

Listen attentively when landing a jump or traversing a series of whoops and you can hear the fluid traveling inside the jounce stops’ internal matrix; the sound is not unlike that of stepping on a saturated sponge. While they do lessen the harshness of impacts, they can’t reel in the Gladiator’s wild bucking action attributed to the high unsprung mass of its solid front axle. It’s for this reason that many competitors use an independent front suspension for their desert-running pickups.

While the aging 285-hp 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 serves dutifully, its 4400-rpm torque peak (260 pound-feet) isn’t ideal for off-roading. Its machismo shrivels even further when compared to the twin-turbo V-6 in the Ranger Raptor that produces 405 horsepower and 430 pound-feet at a lower 3500 rpm. Comparing ripe apples to mature ones, the Ranger Raptor blazed to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, while the last automatic-equipped Gladiator V-6 we tested required 8.3, a three-second gap that feels even bigger on the road than it looks on paper. Does it matter when blasting across loose sand at 60 mph? Not really. The grins are still wide, the laughs plentiful, and end-of-day exhaustion still omnipresent. But the current reputation of any performance vehicle is informed by its spec sheet, and the buying public can be fickle.

The Inside Story

The Gladiator’s interior continues to be a friendly place with easy-to-read instruments, supportive sport seats, and a logical switchgear layout. The updated 12.3-inch infotainment screen is long overdue and enhances the experience significantly. It’s standard across the lineup, with navigation included on the Mojave X and Rubicon X and optional elsewhere. We also played with the Jeep Adventure Guide function created in cahoots with Trails Offroad. It comes loaded with a fair amount of Jeep Badge of Honor trails, and a subscription unlocks the full catalog of over 3000 trails. More than just simple mapping software, it lets users update data with closures and changes, rates trails by level of difficulty, and occasionally includes background history or details regarding the area. Plus, you can download the data for local storage when traveling outside of cellular communication range. It works seamlessly, but it did take a few tries to get the hang of the commands and to properly track our progress. Still, we preferred looking out the windows at the majesty of the region rather than looking at a screen; we can think of worse places to get lost than Moab.

The Gladiator Mojave has changed very little since its 2020 introduction, largely because it didn’t need to. But with the more powerful Ranger Raptor entering the chat well equipped for under $60K, our Mojave’s $66,810 as-driven price seems a bit optimistic. Though its base price is $54,890, the automatic transmission adds $2500, the three-piece hardtop with a folding front panel costs $1595 (plus another $655 for the headliner), the nav and premium audio set you back $2295, and so on.

The Gladiator and its Wrangler sibling have built their personalities on their unique attributes, including their removable roof and doors. For now, at least, that makes the Gladiator Mojave the only factory-built desert-running pickup than can go alfresco. Even in a now-crowded field, for some people, that’s more than enough.



2024 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear/4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door convertible pickup


Base: Mojave, $54,890; Mojave X, $64,890


DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 220 in3, 3605 cm3
Power: 285 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm


6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic


Wheelbase: 137.3 in
Length: 218.1 in
Width: 73.8 in
Height: 73.1-75.1 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 54-57/50-53 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 5000-5100 lb


60 mph: 8.3 sec
1/4-Mile: 16.4 sec
Top Speed: 97 mph


Combined/City/Highway: 18-19/16-17/21-22 mpg

Andrew Wendler brings decades of wrenching, writing, and editorial experience with numerous outlets to Car and Driver. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Car and Driver, Esquire, Forbes, Hot Rod, Motor Trend, MPH, MSN, and Popular Mechanics, among others. A Rust Belt native and tireless supporter of the region, he grew up immersed in automotive, marine, and aviation culture. A lifetime of hands-on experience and a healthy dose of skepticism provide him the tools to deliver honest and informative news, reviews, and editorial perspective. Of note, he once won a $5 bet by walking the entire length of the elevated People Mover up track that encircles downtown Detroit.

Source: Reviews -


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