Here’s another eye-opener for desert-running fans who know that high-range gearing is usually the transfer-case choice in sand: Gladiator Mojave is equipped with a 4-hi rear-differential locker, something not found even on the 2020 Gladiator Rubicon, which must be in 4-lo to lock up the diffs.

All of these standard features make Gladiator Mojave the Jeep brand’s first “Desert Rated” vehicle. (There are more to come.)

2020 Jeep® Gladiator Mojave

Photo provided by Jeep.

Beyond that, the 2020 Gladiator Mojave is a Gladiator Rubicon, sharing its 3.6-liter V-6 (285 hp, 260 lb.-ft. of torque), choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions, push-button front-sway-bar-disconnect for added front-suspension flex, its 4:1 crawl ratio, and its under-body skid plating that’s extensive enough to make an Abrams M1 battle tank envious.

As we drove an eight-speed automatic Gladiator Mojave in civilization, we were constantly reminded that there’s a lot of rough-and-tumble “Jeep-iness” in this Gladiator. That, in our view, makes this truck not the first choice of someone who wants a modern pickup, but a great choice for buyers who want a Jeep in pickup form.

For example, Gladiator can wear a soft top or a three-piece removable hardtop — either way great fun, but also producing notably higher interior noise levels than you’ll find in a typical modern pickup.

Gladiator also has solid axles at both ends, which enhance off-pavement capability, to be sure, but inevitably contribute to a ride that’s stiff as a short 2×4.

Finally, while 21st-century half-ton pickups generally boast modern rack-and-pinion steering, Gladiator retains Wrangler’s recirculating-ball setup — again, off-road tough, but vague at highway speeds, requiring constant vigilance to keep the vehicle lane-centered.

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