2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave: Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat Is It?
In 2019 the Jeep Gladiator appeared on the U.S. market as the first pickup truck joining the Jeep lineup in almost 30 years. Looking much like a Wrangler with a pickup truck bed — which Jeep steadfastly says is not the case — the Gladiator offers utility expected of a compact pickup as well as the off-road-prowess required from a Jeep. The result is one of the most capable off-road pickup trucks on the market. Earlier this year the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave debuted — designed to take on all desert conditions.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTest Vehicle
Jeep provided a 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave 4X4 painted in an eye-catching Punk’N Metallic. The base price of the Mohave is $43,875; however, our test Gladiator had a long list of optional extras including leather-trimmed bucket seats, a cold weather package, LED lighting, Uconnect 4C, Jeep’s Active Safety Group, an automatic transmission, a 3-piece hardtop, a spray-in bedliner and a forward-facing TrailCam. Total MSRP with all extras comes to a significant $60,805. Competitors to the Gladiator Mojave include the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and Ford Ranger FX4.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceStyle
The Gladiator does look like a Wrangler pickup, but according to Jeep only 50 percent of the components are shared. The Mojave has a more aggressive look with massive 33-inch all-terrain tires, a lifted suspension, a performance hood with a center scoop, orange tow hooks and step slider side rails. Topping that off: the first Desert-Rated badge for Gladiator. And if the goodie-adorned Mojave wasn’t noticeable before, the extremely bright Punk’N Metallic paint is sure to get attention.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInterior
The test Gladiator came with Jeep’s updated Uconnect system featuring a larger 8.4-inch display screen that integrates well with the dashboard. Quite frankly, the FCA infotainment system has been one of the better ones on the market, and the Gladiator’s has not changed our minds. Menu items always appear at the bottom of the screen for easy navigation, and large volume and tuning knobs are welcome. Climate controls remain separate, as do the 4-wheel-drive features. The dash and center console have multiple USB ports.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLeather Seats
The optional leather seats in the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave are comfortable and look great with orange accents and MOJAVE stitched into the seatbacks. Upper bolsters add more support when heading off paved surfaces. If desert running is the ultimate goal with this Gladiator, the dark leather seats might not be the best choice — after spending some time on a sunny day with the doors and roof panels off, we discovered the Gladiator’s dark leather seats get hot to the touch.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHandles
The Gladiator Mojave sits high off the ground, so grab handles at door openings are appreciated, especially with the doors removed. An additional handle spans the space above the glove box, perfectly positioned for the front-seat passenger when the going gets rough.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seat
All Jeep Gladiators are configured as 4-door 5-passenger crew cabs. The rear seat offers comfortable space with plenty of legroom and headroom; however, legroom for the middle-seat passenger is limited due to center-mounted cupholders near the floor. The center console also features multiple USB and USB-C ports as well as a 400-watt 110-volt outlet.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFlexible Storage
Rear seatbacks in the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave can be folded down, providing a flat platform for storage; or the seat bottoms can be folded up to increase floor space. Beneath the rear seat, a storage bin can be upgraded to a lockable storage location — a handy feature if the vehicle is parked with the doors removed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOpen-Air Motoring
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave stands out from the pickup crowd in many ways, but there is one feature that no other pickup truck offers — removable doors and roof. Gladiator has a standard soft-top; however, our test vehicle was equipped with the 3-piece Freedom hardtop. The front panels of the roof simply unclip and are easily removed; the rest takes a bit more effort — but not too much.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRemoving Doors, Roof
To remove the doors, Jeep provides users with a small tool kit with instructions. By disconnecting the wire harness and removing three bolts, each door easily lifts out for an open-air driving experience. The rear roof section requires more bolt removal; this section is a fairly heavier, more cumbersome piece of kit and requires two people to safely remove it. Finally — for those who want more wind directly in their faces — a few more bolts spun to the left means the windshield can be folded down onto the hood. Jeep provides a handy storage box for all bolts, ensuring that all are available when it comes time to put Gladiator back together.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceEasy Job
With limited assistance available, we only removed the doors and front roof sections — for one person this took about 30 minutes. Although removing these items is relatively easily, finding a place to store the pieces can be difficult — they are large and don’t exactly stand on their own. (Putting everything back together takes about the same amount of time.)

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDriving Sans Doors
Driving with the doors off a 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave is extremely exciting — it isn’t something most vehicle occupants experience, and it can be a lot of fun. But door-free driving is mostly meant for out on the trail, and in many states there are legal issues if the local constabulary discovers folks driving on roads sans doors. For example, in Washington state removal of the doors is not an issue, but removing the doors also removes the mirrors and the state requires at least two rear-facing mirrors. That said, there are several accessory mirrors available that can be mounted when doors have been removed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTruck Bed
A 5-foot cargo bed manufactured from high-strength steel is the only option for Gladiator. The lockable aluminum tailgate has damped action, which makes it easy to raise and lower. The lighted bed adds further safety and convenience.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
Powering the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine producing 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard on all Gladiators; our test truck was equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission, which has enough power to haul up to 1,200 pounds or tow as much as 6,000 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNot Fuel Efficient
Fuel economy in the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave is not all that great, but then again fuel economy is likely not a deciding factor for those considering a Gladiator purchase. The U.S. EPA figures report 17 mpg city / 22 mpg hwy / 19 mpg combined. In our few days behind the wheel of Gladiator, we were never able to reach 17 mpg — even with a decent amount of freeway driving.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDesert Rated
Jeep uses a Trail Rated badge on the side of its vehicles to indicate those ready to tackle any trail; the Gladiator Mojave has a new badge that reads “Desert Rated.” To earn the right to wear the Desert Rated badge, a Jeep has to meet qualifications that make it the ultimate in high-speed, off-road capability and performance in tough desert and sand environments. The Mojave is designed to achieve higher speeds while in low range to keep momentum while attacking sand dunes and other arid challenges. Unfortunately not many readily accessible desert areas exist around the Pacific Northwest to thoroughly test the Mojave’s desert-running capabilities.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceProperly Equipped
With 11.6-inches of ground clearance, the 2002 Jeep Gladiator Mojave should be able to tackle nearly any obstacle. The Mojave also gets high-performance FOX 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks that improve handling and comfort while minimizing the chance of bottoming out when taking to the dunes at high speeds. A front skidplate and 33-inch Falken Wildpeak All-terrain tires add to overall capabilities. The Gladiator Mojave uses Jeep’s proven Command-Trac 4-wheel-drive system, as well as a 2-speed transfer case, a low-range gear ratio, heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axles, and an electronic locking rear differential.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
Take one look at the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave with its large off-road tires and you’d expect the on-road ride to be rather rough — and you’d be dead wrong. It may be designed to excel off road, but the Gladiator is actually quite comfortable on pavement. When we took to freeways during our test drive, the Gladiator cruised along at a smooth 70 mph with no issues. During sections of bad road the Gladiator did bounce around a bit, but it never feels harsh or uncomfortable. Of note are Gladiator’s headlight/fog light combination — very bright, doing a great job of lighting the way.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNot Trying To Be a Sports Car
The 2002 Jeep Gladiator Mojave won’t win any races — at least on the road — although acceleration is more than adequate. The automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly. Surprisingly, the Gladiator handles winding roads rather well; it’s no sports car — nor is it trying to be one — but overall the truck performs admirably.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOpen-Air Driving
We certainly enjoyed driving the Gladiator with doors and roof removed — under optimal weather conditions this would be the best way to enjoy the outdoors when on a trail ride. Granted, on a highway with the roof open the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mohave does get rather loud and blustery — but that isn’t unexpected given the circumstances.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 9.0
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave stands out in many ways, offering the utility of a pickup truck with the legendary off-road capability of a Wrangler SUV. Add in the ability to remove the roof and doors, and there are no other pickup trucks on the market with this skillset. The Mojave features a unique level of desert-running capabilities that may not be needed by every Gladiator owner, but the standout styling and long list of features could be enough to make the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave an ultimate choice.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
With these simple tools Gladiator owners can remove the doors and roof.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Jeep Gladiator Mojave has a storage system to prevent bolt loss when various bits of the vehicle have been removed. This container stores below rear seat.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Unscrewing sleeve bolts in the two hinges, plus one inside, are all that’s needed to remove the door.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Front roof panels are easily removed by releasing these latches.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Doors removed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Mojave features these 33-inch Falken Wildpeak All-terrain tires as standard equipment.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
The Mojave gets high-performance FOX 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Plenty of ground clearance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Multiple power options for rear-seat passengers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Speakers built into the structure remain when the roof is removed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Power outlets and off-road features are easily accessible.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Gladiator is about 30 inches longer than the 4-door Wrangler.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
The only pickup truck on the U.S. market with removable doors and roof.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
It may be built for the desert, but the 2020 Gladiator Mojave looks great in the Pacific Northwest.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Ready to hit the trail.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Found in the right corner of the windshield — call it a Jeep treat.

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