2020 Jeep Gladiator Review

2020 Jeep Gladiator - One year later and still turning heads invoking curiosity.


The Jeep Gladiator debuted for the 2019 model year and immediately caught the attention of consumers. Jeep has not had a pickup in their lineup since 1992 when the Comanche ceased production, and with trucks being hot right now the timing was perfect for the Gladiator. Fast forward one year and Jeep made a has taken advantage of the positive response and started to introduce trim packages on the Gladiator that speak directly to different segments of its fanbase. The Gladiator Mojave debuted in February at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show and is the first ever desert-rated Jeep 4x4 that represents high speed off-road capabilities.  The Mojave features an industry exclusive FOX hydraulic jounce bumpers and 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks, a reinforced frame, a one-inch suspension lift with silver front skid plate, and stronger axles with cast-iron steering knuckles. Add to that 33" Falken Wildpeak All-Terrain Tires mounted to 17" Mojave exclusive wheels and you have a truck that both looks the part on the outside and has the guts underneath.

The Gladiator is currently the only truck on the market with a removable roof and doors. The truck is like a real life Lego kit with how it can be taken apart and put back together with ease. The test vehicle I had came with the optional body-color 3-piece hard top. Over the front seats were two panels that came off after turning a few latches and they could be stored in storage bag provided by Jeep. The third roof piece that covered the rear seats took about ten minutes to remove and required a second person to help lift it off the truck. For me, that second person was my 11-year old daughter who had no problems guiding it over the bed of the truck to set it on the ground. Jeep provides a handy toolkit with everything you need (a ratchet with a couple attachments). After unplugging the rear-defogger, it was as simple as unscrewing eight bolts and popping the top off..... instant open-air Jeep truck! Jeep truly thought of everything when it comes to taking the Gladiator apart as you'll find a storage bin for all of those bolts under the rear seat to ensure they don't get lost (each bolt has its own individual slot to go in).  

With the top off, why stop there? As we moved on to the doors a little more thought was required but not much more time. It's best to roll windows down first to ensure their safety and make the door easier to grab. On each door is a power cord for the windows that needs to be undone which is the first step, after unplugging you can tuck them into the nets in each door. Each door then has three bolts to take out, it's recommended to start with the outside bolts first and finish with the one on the inside of the door. Once the bolts are out, you lift the doors up and out of the socket and store them in a safe place.  It's worth noting that the sideview mirrors are attached to the doors so you'll need to turn your head to check for passing cars and utilize the truck's cameras when backing up. With the Gladiator fully stripped down, it really is a unique and exotic looking truck. In total the truck was fully "naked" in about thirty minutes and put back together in about twenty minutes.

This truck turns heads (fully assembled and naked)! Regardless of where I traveled in the Gladiator Mojave I had curious strangers and neighbors asking about it. A quick trip to Home Depot had one shopper gushing over how good-looking the Mojave was. My test truck was bright white (not necessarily the most exciting color) but the overall package with the 33" off-road tires and Fox spring/lift give this truck a lot of personality. The Mojave has a best in class approach angle of 44.7 degrees and ground clearance of 11.6 inches which further give it off-road street cred. From the front the Mojave looks just like a Wrangler but as you walk around it's the five-foot truck bed that makes this unique. Mojave models also include designation on the front fender and orange trim accents all around the truck such as the tow hooks on both the front and rear bumpers and an aggressive performance hood with a center scoop. And in true Jeep fashion, hidden Jeep Easter eggs are all around.  Be on the hunt for some Willys MB drawing on the wheels, "419" stamped in the bed, a Willys Jeep driving on the windshield and my daughter's favorite... the flip flops on the windshield cowl.

Under the hood, the Mojave has a 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 that delivers 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The Mojave comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional eight-speed automatic transmission. The Gladiator benefits from the popular V6 engine's low-range torque, which is needed when out on the trails or during more demanding conditions like pulling a trailer. While it may not win any drag races off the line against a Ford Raptor, the Mojave has plenty of power for routine driving. Since there are no desert trails in Chicago, I can't speak to its high-speed performance off-road but based on the specs, because of its length the Gladiator Mojave should have good stability when driving through the sand dunes. On suburban streets and highways, the Mojave handled as expected. The ride was a bit wilder and bouncy on the highway at higher speeds, but it's what I expected out of an off-road truck capable of baja style sand racing.  The off-road tires weren't overly noisy but the truck does have significant wind noise when fully assembled. It takes regular grade fuel and is pretty thirsty. The Gladiator Mojave is rated at 17 MPG city and 22 MPG highway. Over the course of my week with the Mojave, I averaged 19 MPG.

Inside the Mojave theme carries through with orange stitching and accents on the air vents. Standard is a 7" touchscreen display, but an 8.4" display is an available option with the Premium Audio package for an additional $1,845. The upgraded package includes an Alpine premium audio system, emergency assistance calling, rear view dimming mirror, and Uconnect 4C with NAV. The Gladiator Mojave also integrates with both Android Auto and Apple Car Play seamlessly. Steering wheel controls are well placed and make it easy to answer phone calls hands free. For those living in colder climates like Chicago, the Cold Weather package adds nice features such as heated front seats, heated steering wheel and a remote-start system (automatic only). Jeep also maintains a shift knob for changing gears and includes a second one for switching into four-wheel drive.  Climate controls and radio tuning knobs are placed under the touch screen and have a rugged look with notches that are easily within reach. Window controls on the Gladiator are in the middle of the center stack adjacent to power outlets and USB connections. The seats were very comfortable and provided better than expected support and could be adjusted manually. Leg room was substantial in both the front and back seats. Three kids comfortably fit across the back seat including a car seat. While storage is limited, Jeep made good use of space by adding lockable bins and compartments under and behind the seats.  Also, behind the rear seat was a portable Bluetooth speaker perfect for tailgating.

Whether you're driving on city streets or across the desert, the Gladiator comes with standard safety features that are ready for action.  Features such as blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control with full stop, forward collision warning with active braking and rear cross path detection are extremely beneficial and seemingly essential in today's world. Additional features such as Parksense rear park assist with the Parkview rear back up camera separate the Gladiator from the crowd by providing an added convenience in parking a long truck on city streets. Other features more specific to your lifestyle such as the trailer sway control will detect when your trailer is swaying and apply brake pressure to individual wheels to bring it back in line. And if you're off-roading, you'll really appreciate the optional front camera to see what obstacles are ahead of you as you crawl up rocks or cross streams.

The Jeep Gladiator Mojave is a truck that commands attention. The starting price for a Mojave edition is $43,875 and can climb into the mid $60k range for a fully loaded model that features upgraded safety features, premium audio, additional front camera, premium lighting, trailer-tow package, a cold weather package and more. The Gladiator is not your average truck and is one that evokes a feeling that you're driving something truly unique. With Jeep offering seven trim levels to this truck and a laundry list of MOPAR accessories, it is certainly one that you can make your own. Competition for the Gladiator Mojave includes the full-size Ford Raptor and RAM Rebel along with fellow mid-size trucks like the Toyota Tacoma TRD-PRO and Chevy Colorado ZR2. Pricing is comparable to all of these trucks, but the Gladiator Mojave is the only one among all of these trucks with removable panels and doors. This truck is a true lifestyle vehicle that transforms from work to play with ease and is one that I believe will be drawing attention for many years to come.

Jim OBrill

Jim is Director of Marketing for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show and a co-host of Drive Chicago Radio on WLS 890 AM Chicago. His passion for cars started young and he’s often referred to as the ‘car-guy’ among family and friends. As a former auto detailer, he has an eye for identifying solid used cars and tags along on many car buying adventures. Early in his career he worked at several car dealerships in various areas of the business. As a co-host on Drive Chicago and member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, Jim has had opportunities to attend track school and drive vehicles on multiple circuits such as Road America and Gingerman Raceway. With a background in photography, taking pictures of vehicles has always been a hobby.

Jim also enjoys the trails and taking trucks like his 4Runner off road. He has a special appreciation for older cars and can often be found spending free time at cruise nights or home washing one his four vehicles. Jim resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three kids. Follow Jim on Instagram at @jpcars22 for new vehicle content or @forgotten_survivors.312 for shots of older cars still on the streets of Chicagoland.