The Distinctive Jeep: Exploring the Pros and Cons of the 2021 Jeep Gladiator Mojave

    Jeep Gladiator Mojave: A Surprising Departure from the Norm

    When it comes to Jeep, we’re accustomed to seeing rugged SUVs that excel at off-road adventures. Jeep has built a reputation for producing vehicles that can handle slow and steady treks on trails and rocky terrains. While there have been exceptions to this rule, such as the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, Jeep vehicles have generally stayed true to their Trail Rated badges.

    That’s why the Jeep Gladiator Mojave comes as a breath of fresh air. Instead of being designed solely for conquering rocky outcroppings, the Mojave takes inspiration from the Ram TRX. It’s a desert runner, built to tackle dusty landscapes, sand dunes, and high speeds. Unfortunately, it falls short in one crucial aspect – it lacks the necessary hardware for achieving those high speeds. Nonetheless, the Gladiator Mojave shares some of the same drawbacks as the Gladiator Rubicon. Despite this, we appreciate the Mojave’s unique qualities, but its purpose and price make it a bit perplexing to comprehend its exact role.

    Pros of the Jeep Gladiator Mojave

    One notable aspect of the Mojave is its attention to detail. The orange accents, meaty 2.5-inch Fox shocks, and specific drivetrain changes tailored specifically for desert-running missions make the Gladiator Mojave a long-awaited addition to Jeep’s off-road enthusiast lineup.

    These changes also have practical benefits. The Mojave-specific shocks and the Gladiator’s longer wheelbase contribute to its stability, making it the most composed member of the Wrangler family on paved roads. It overcomes the solid-axle wobble that plagues Jeep’s traditional vehicles. Moreover, when faced with washboard dirt trails, the Gladiator Mojave handles them with ease, as its upgraded shocks and 33-inch tires absorb the harshest impacts.

    Additionally, the joy of removing the roof and doors from a Jeep never gets old. Granted, the process of removing the heavy doors is exhausting and requires two people, but few vehicles can match the exhilaration of driving a roofless, doorless Jeep. While the Gladiator Mojave doesn’t introduce many new elements to this formula, it serves as a reminder to brands that certain things are undeniably cool and worth preserving. So, we encourage Jeep to continue on that path.

    The Gladiator Mojave also offers an improved everyday driving experience compared to its extended Wrangler family. Its longer wheelbase enhances comfort, making daily commutes more tolerable. Although there may be minor trade-offs, such as reduced breakover angle and a bigger turning circle, these sacrifices are inconsequential unless you’re off-roading on a daily basis. For those who spend only a few days a month tackling dirt trails, the Gladiator Mojave strikes a better balance between ruggedness and practicality.

    Cons of the Jeep Gladiator Mojave

    One major disappointment with the Gladiator Mojave is its choice of engine. Jeep sticks with the default 3.6-liter V6, which, while not necessarily bad, feels outdated. The Mojave misses out on the improved performance and additional benefits offered by the 3.0-liter diesel engine or the Wrangler’s mild-hybrid four-cylinder. Both the turbocharged 2.0-liter and the diesel engines provide significantly more low-end torque, an area where the V6 falls short. While opting for either of these engines means sacrificing the six-speed manual transmission option, the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is more than capable of making up for it. Furthermore, the diesel engine operates quieter than the Pentastar V6, which becomes increasingly strained and unpleasant as the engine revs climb.

    Considering the Gladiator Mojave’s purpose as a high-performance desert runner, it’s surprising that Jeep hasn’t introduced a 392 variant. This seems like an obvious choice for those seeking maximum power and performance. So, if Jeep is listening, let’s hope they take this suggestion into consideration.

    Another drawback of the Gladiator Mojave is its fuel economy. With just 285 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque, and an EPA-estimated rating of 17 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined, the Mojave falls significantly short of its rival, the Ford Raptor. Despite having 165 fewer horsepower and 250 fewer pound-feet of torque than the Raptor, the twin-turbocharged Ford F-150 Raptor achieves 15 mpg city, 18 mpg highway, and 16 mpg combined. While the EPA claims that the Gladiator Mojave will save you $500 per year on fuel costs compared to the Raptor, we’d gladly pay that extra amount for the added power and torque.

    Finally, let’s talk about the price. Our Gladiator Mojave test truck, priced at $65,000 as-tested, matches the starting price of the high-performance Ford F-150 Raptor. While the base Gladiator Mojave is substantially cheaper at $43,875, maintaining that price point entails sacrificing a plethora of features. In order to stay within budget, you’ll have to forgo the hardtop, 8.4-inch touchscreen, eight-speed automatic transmission, LED headlights, leather upholstery, forward-facing camera, and any active safety features. However, it’s worth noting that mechanically, a stripped-out Gladiator Mojave will be identical to our test truck, except for the gearbox. Despite the absence of certain features, the $65,000 price tag seems excessive for what you actually get.

    In conclusion, the Jeep Gladiator Mojave offers a unique departure from Jeep’s usual lineup. Its off-road capabilities are impressive, especially for desert terrain, and its stability and balance on paved roads make it a more versatile daily driver compared to its siblings. However, the choice of engine and fuel economy leave much to be desired, while the high price tag might deter some potential buyers. As with any vehicle, it ultimately comes down to personal preferences and priorities. If the Mojave’s specific features align with your needs and you’re willing to overlook its shortcomings, it can still be an excellent choice.

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