Chicago Auto Show 2020

Jeep chases the high-performance off-road pickup truck market with 2020 Gladiator Mojave

The Gladiator Mojave was developed specifically for tackling tough desert terrain.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Against a backdrop of wind and cold in Chicago, Jeep revealed the desert-ready 2020 Gladiator Mohave at the Chicago Auto Show. The special edition Mohave allows drivers to crank up the rpms by adding the bones to travel with alacrity across demanding desert landscapes. It carries forward Jeep's 4x4 Trail Rated capability blended with a new Desert Rated badge; it's the first Jeep to be tapped for this rating.

This midsized Jeep pickup came to market last year and has since won a trophy case filled with awards for its unique styling, functionality, tech-filled interior, and slow-speed competence; it now adds high-speed off-road expertise to its persona.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave Jeep has given the Gladiator Mojave an added layer of off-road prowess.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Gladiator Mohave recipe starts with a robust platform and proven four-wheel drive stock. Added are new, specially tuned FOX 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks with external reservoirs, industry-exclusive FOX front hydraulic jounce bumpers, a reinforced frame, a 1-inch front suspension lift, a ½-inch increase in the track, and stronger axles with cast-iron steering knuckles. The Jeep rides on standard 33-inch Falken Wildpeak All-Terrain tires.

Gladiator Mohave's Command-Trac 4x4 system is set up with a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, heavy-duty third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 4.10:1 axle ratio, and standard electronic-locking rear differential. Command-Trac has been re-engineered to allow higher 4LO (low range) operating speeds for ascending sand dunes and traveling over other rugged desert terrain.

Jeep says the new model has a best-in-class approach angle of 44.7 degrees, breakover angle of 20.9 degrees, departure angle of 25.5 degrees and a best-in-class ground clearance of 11.6 inches, along with best-in-class articulation.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave The model has received a Jeep-first Desert Rated badge.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

An Off-Road Plus button allows drivers to take the Mojave to the next level of traction and performance. Adjustments change the throttle, transmission shift points, and traction control for top performance on higher speed passes on sand terrain, as well as during low-speed rock crawling. The Off-Road Plus drive mode also lets drivers lock their rear axle at high speeds while in "4H." This feature is a Jeep-first.

Mojave is adorned with a unique hood decal on its heavy-duty performance hood with center scoop, unique exterior badges, orange tow hooks, unique 17 x 7.5-inch wheels, plus Jeep Performance Parts step sand slider side rails, and a silver front skid plate.

Black and Steel Gray are interior color options; a competition-inspired leather-wrapped steering wheel with accent stitching and an aggressive rim section provides extra grip and better ergonomics. More aggressive seats with integrated upper bolsters bring comfort and safety. The seats are available in leather or cloth with orange accent stitching and embroidered Mojave logos. A forward-facing off-road camera can be added.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave Jeep has equipped this new model with the right equipment to get the job done.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The 2020 Gladiator Mojave is powered by Jeep's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine backed by a standard six-speed manual or optional eight-speed automatic transmission. With the manual, Gladiator Mojave boasts an impressive crawl ratio of 57.3:1, and 52.6:1 on models equipped with the eight-speed auto.

It has up to 1,200 pounds of payload and up to 6,000 pounds of towing capacity.

Why fast desert-running trucks? A decade ago, Ford brought a new play-book to the stock truck market with its 2010 F-150 Raptor; this full-sized desert runner can be driven to the office or the club, yet marries extreme slow-speed 4WD tech and proficiency to its fast-paced sand playfulness and racing aptitude.

Ram's 1500 Rebel-trimmed full-sizer and Ram's 2500 Power Wagon have garnered favor with their dual-personalities and authentic capability, while the midsized Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison moves the needle in a similar fashion. Other truck makers and builder/enthusiasts have followed suit since, although many new models are one-off upfits, rather than stock from the automaker.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave This edition was specially created for desert driving enthusiasts.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Desert racing has picked up a quickly-growing fan base and has lured more buyers to participate in the thrill of technical off-roading, playing in backcountry sandboxes across the country, and trying out their rigs at desert races, such as the legendary SCORE Baja 1000 or the famed King of the Hammers.

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mohave will be in showrooms the second quarter of the year.

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The Jeep Gladiator Mojave is the first model to wear the Desert Rated badge.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Jeeps often come Trail Rated. They wear a Jeep Brand Trail Rated badge that denotes a level of prowess and equipment to conquer terrain that the average SUV or truck does not have. Now, there's also Desert Rated, which debuted at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show on the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave. This new badging takes the mission of tried and tested off-roading even further.

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What is Trail Rated?

Only four-wheel drive (4x4) Jeep models can earn the Trail Rated badge. But, it's only the first step. Models that earn that designation have based tests of traction, water fording, maneuvering, articulations, and ground clearance.

Harsh and unpredictable driving conditions including deep mud, loose gravel, and snow are part of the traction testing.

To assist with the water fording capability of the vehicle, Jeep seals electrical connections and body openings, and rearranges the air intake to a higher position, to protect the vehicle in several feet of water. How much water depends on the model.

The best off-roading vehicles are also agile. Jeep tests each Trail Rated model for the ability to deftly dodge obstacles. The Jeeps' wheelbases and steering are optimized for handling off-road terrain like tight switchbacks and emergency driving situation.

Trail Rated vehicles are capable of impressive articulation thanks to suspension flexibility. Achieving good articulation meal that wheels remain stable and engaged when one or more tires are off the ground.

2020 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk All of Jeep's vehicles are available with a Trail Rated badge.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Having Trail Rated ground clearance means that a vehicle has a good amount of room between the bottom of the vehicle and the harsh terrain it will conquer. This means that the Jeep can traverse rocks, water, and logs without damaging the underside of the vehicle. The rating also means that the SUV or truck has high approach, breakover, and departure angles.

To test all of these models, Jeep takes to the Rubicon Trail. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, the trail is 22 miles of treacherous landscape that will put any vehicle to the ultimate test. The natural off-road adventure park where the trail is located features boulders, water, and well-worn landscape.

Jeep also develops and tests its vehicles at FCA US headquarters in Michigan and beyond, including the harsh winter conditions of Northern Michigan.

What is Desert Rated?

Like Trail Rated vehicles, Jeep's Desert Rated lineup has been developed and tested in harsh conditions. To earn the Desert Rated badge the 4x4s had to pass traction, desert prowess, ride control and stability, maneuverability, and ground clearance tests.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave The Jeep Gladiator Mojave is the automaker's first model to wear a Desert Rated badge.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Most of that testing is similar to Trail Rated testing, but takes place in a desert climate. Jeep's Desert Rated vehicles have been engineered to take on the intense heat, coarse sand, loose gravel, and pervasive dust that makes up desert landscape.

The first Desert Rated Jeep is the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave. More vehicles that sport the badging are planned.

Jeep is launching a branded electrified bicycle.

Photo courtesy of FCA USA LLC

Jeeps can conquer most terrain but when it comes to last-mile solutions, there's a new kid on the block the automaker is introducing this summer - Jeep e-Bike. It's a branded model from QuietKat, a company that makes electric bikes for a variety of terrain that has bicycles for sale under the model names Warrior, Predator, and Apex.

The Jeep e-Bike is seen in Jeep's new commercial starring the Gladiator and comedian/actor Bill Murray that premiered during the Super Bowl.

Jeep e-bike The bicycle is able to ridden in a traditional manner and has a 40-mile all-electric range that keeps pedaling from needing to occur.Photo courtesy of FCA USA LLC

The electrified all-terrain bicycle is an electric mountain bike powered by a 750-watt electric UltraDrive mid-drive motor. It has 4.8-inch fat tires and a Fire-Link suspension. Jeep says that the model gets up to 40 miles on a single charge.

QuietKat sells its bikes in two sizes: 17-inch and 19-inch. The smaller frame is billed for small/medium riders and the larger is for medium/large riders.

These frames were new for the QuietKat brand for 2019 have a lower stand-over height than their previous frames. The new sizes also allow for better handling according to the brand.

QuietKat currently sells additional/replacement batteries as well as external chargers.

Pricing of the e-Bike has yet to be announced. QuietKat's bicycles are priced from $2,669 to $6,199 on their website.

Jeep e-bike Jeep has worked to ensure that the bike is all-terrain enabled.Photo courtesy of FCA USA LLC

Jeep has said that the bike will debut in June 2020, likely during the North American International Auto Show.