Desert Rated: Jeep Expands Their Definition of Capability
After setting the stage for future Jeep models to offer Desert Rated capability at Capital Markets Day in 2018, Jeep has made good on that promise with the reveal of the Gladiator Mojave. While we expected the first Desert Rated vehicle to be the Cherokee Deserthawk, the Gladiator Mojave ushers in a new era of Jeep capability, eschewing the Trail Rated badge while doubling down on high-performance desert capability.
While, at first glance, the Mojave may seem to be just another special edition Jeep that’s bound to get lost in the mix, it’s is actually a really big deal. For years, Jeeps have either been Trail Rated or not; the ability to navigate through trails, and the standards by which this capability was judged–articulation and ground clearance, for example–was really the only way to determine a Jeep’s off-road capability. Now, by standardizing a system for measuring a vehicle’s high-performance desert capability, Jeep is expanding their brand definition to encompass other forms of capability.
To determine whether a vehicle can be considered Desert Rated, Jeep has established five categories of measurement: ride control and stability, traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, and desert prowess. The last category, desert prowess, may be the most interesting. To meet that standard, vehicles must be “tested and proven to withstand intense heat, coarse sand, loose gravel, and intrusive dust.” With that, we can see that Jeep is doing much more than slapping on some new off-road accessories and calling it good; instead, they are looking at all aspects of operating a vehicle high-speeds in the desert and building vehicles that can meet those intense demands.
The Gladiator Mojave uses the Command-Trac 4WD system borrowed from the Gladiator Sport and Overland models and adds FOX 2.5″ internal bypass shocks to help absorb bumps when traveling at high speeds through the desert. Jeep also says the front and rear external shock reservoirs keep the shocks cool to maintain peak performance while they use “military-grade” suspension fluid that delivers even better performance in hot environments. The Mojave features FOX front hydraulic jounce bumpers to add even more damping force, particularly in high-speed off-road maneuvers. Other modifications include frame and axle reinforcements, half an inch of additional track width, a silver front skid plate, one-inch front suspension lift, and 33-inch Falken Wildpeak all terrain tires, with optional mud terrain tires. Coming later this year is the ability to activate Off-Road Plus mode to lock the rear axle at high speeds.
The Mojave’s powertrain options are familiar, with the same 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 engine found in the rest of the Gladiator lineup mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic.
On the inside, the Mojave’s front seats are more aggressively bolstered to help hold passengers in place and are available in either leather or cloth. The interior is available in black or a new steel gray color.
The Gladiator Mojave will arrive in the second quarter of this year. We expect it to be followed closely by the Cherokee Deserthawk and a Wrangler Mojave seems like a safe bet too, at some point. We know that the next-generation Grand Cherokee and the all-new Wagoneer twins are currently in development, with the former set to be released later this year, so those vehicles should be engineered from the ground up to meet Jeep’s Desert Rated criteria. With a lineup that will be filled with Desert Rated models in the near future, Jeep’s brand image is set to expand quite a bit and get a lot more exciting at the same time.
James Brown was born in Seattle, Washington and has a passion for the automotive industry. Particularly interested in off-road capable trucks and SUVs, James spends much of his free time navigating off-road trails and enjoying other outdoor activities.