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Jeep JT Gladiator Mojave vs Gladiator Rubicon: What’s the Difference?

Gladiator Mojave Package: The Jeep pickup for the off-roader who wants to go-fast in the dirt

What is the Jeep Gladiator Mojave? The Gladiator Mojave package is to desert prerunning, sand, and undulating terrain what the Rubicon package is to rockcrawling. In short, the Gladiator Mojave is an off-road package for the Jeep pickup buyer who wants to go fast off road. Or even go slow off road. Or carve up a sand dune. Or tear down a wash without getting beaten up. Or haul some stuff across town. Or haul stuff across the country. Or just drive the kids to school. Or just go shopping. Basically, the Mojave is the Jeep Gladiator you can do pretty much anything in. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's back up. When Jeep unveiled its Rubicon package in the 2003 Wrangler TJ it was literally an off-roader's dream come true. With upgraded Dana 44 axles sporting 4.10 gears and lockers, rocker armor, and a 4:1 NVG241 T-case, the Wrangler Rubicon delivered many of the hardcore bits and pieces the enthusiast off-road Jeeper had to purchase through the aftermarket, but with a factory warranty and a payment plan that was a whole lot easier to swallow that a trip to the local off-road shop.

At first, Jeep expected to only sell a handful of Rubicons, but before anybody knew it the package was a runaway smash, with orders flooding dealerships necessitating increases in manufacturing to meet the insane demand. Rubicon had proven the case for an OE off-road package in the North American market and opened the door for others to follow suit with off-road packages of their own. Were it not for the success of the Wrangler Rubicon package, we seriously doubt there would be hardcore off-road packages in the market today like Ford Raptor, Toyota TRD Pro, or Chevy ZR2 to name just a few. At least not packages offering the level of off-highway performance we enjoy today. And now to directly combat these models there's the Jeep Gladiator Mojave package, with a serious go-fast suspension, reinforced frame, heavy duty axles, and more. In the future we'll be pitting the Gladiator Mojave against its direct competition, but for now we thought you'd be interested in seeing how the Mojave package compares with the original, and still most successful OE off-road package, the Rubicon. We think given Mojave's carefully selected components and performance envelope, it might just become the go-to option for the light pickup buyer seeking the highest degree of versatility both on and off-road. Could Mojave dethrone the Rubicon as the reigning champ? Which would you want?

Engine and Transmission

For 2020, both Gladiator Mojave and Rubicon packages can be had only with Jeep's 3.6L V-6 putting out 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Unlike Wrangler Rubicon, there is no 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder or Turbodiesel option available as of this time, although Jeep says a 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 should be available for regular and Rubicon gladiators sometime in 2020. The Pentastar V-6 features variable valve timing (VVT) and engine stop-start (ESS) and both Gladiator Mojave and Rubicon are offered with either the AL6 six-speed manual as standard or 850RE eight-speed automatic as an extra-cost option.

For 2020 the Jeep Gladiator Mojave package will only have the 3.6L Pentastar engine, but both the AL6 six-speed manual (standard) or 850RE eight-speed automatic (optional) transmissions are available. Regular and Rubicon packages are said to be getting the option of FCA's 3.0L EcoDiesel sometime during the 2020 model year run.

Transfer Case

Where the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon package features the Rock-Trac NV241OR transfer case with a 4.0:1 low-range ratio, the Jeep Gladiator Mojave package uses the Command-Trac NV241 transfer case with the standard 2.72:1 low-range ratio. The numerically shorter ratio in the Mojave T-case allows a higher top-speed of up to 50 mph in low-range. The Gladiator Mojave can generate much higher wheelspeeds in low range than the Rubicon for running sand dunes and prerunning. That said, the Jeep Gladiator Mojave still delivers a very impressive crawl ratio of 57.3:1 with the AL6 six-speed and 52.6:1 with the 850RE eight-speed auto. The 3.6L-powered Jeep Gladiator Rubicon crawl ratio is 84.2:1 with the manual AL6 six-speed and 77.2:1 with the 850RE eight-speed auto.

No electric shift nonsense to engage the Jeep Gladiator Mojave Command-Trac NV241 transfer case. Yank on the lever to shift from 2Hi to 4Hi on the fly, or come to a brief stop, put the transmission in Neutral or Park, and toggle down to 4Lo to add an extra 2.72:1 gear reduction off-road up to 50 mph.

Axles

Jeep has been contemplating the Mojave package since the early days of the Gladiator's design. In terms of the 3rd Generation Dana 44 axles found under the Gladiator off-road packages, it's not a case of Rubicon influencing Mojave as much as Mojave influencing Rubicon. To better cope with the rigors of pounding through unforgiving terrain at speed, the Mojave front axle required an increase in axletube wall thickness to 10mm, which is thicker than the Rubicon technically required. So Rubicon can thank Mojave for its 10mm axletube wall thickness. Rubicon features lighter weight-saving aluminum knuckles, but Mojave needed high-strength cast iron knuckles to better survive impacts at high speed and other rigors of desert prerunning. Also, where the Rubicon has a Tru-Lok locking diff up front, the Mojave runs an open differential. The rear axles are the same for Rubicon or Mojave, both sporting 4.10 gearing and electric Tru-Lok locking differential. So, to recap, the Rubicon package's front axle is the wide-track 3rd Generation Dana 44 front with 10mm axletubes, aluminum steering knuckles, 4.10 gears, and Tru-Lok electric locking differential. The Mojave package's front axle is the wide-track 3rd Generation Dana 44 front with 10mm axletubes, cast iron steering knuckles, 4.10 gears, and an open differential. And both Rubicon and Mojave packages' rear axles are the same 3rd Generation Dana 44 rear with 4.10 gears and Tru-Lok electric locking differential.

To survive repeated bashing and impacts that are invariably part of desert prerunning, the Jeep Gladiator Mojave package necessitated an increase in axletube thickness for the 3rd Generation Dana 44 axle to 10mm, which trickled up to the Rubicon package. While both Mojave and Rubicon packages benefit from Mojave's heavier housing, the Rubicon package utilizes lighter aluminum steering knuckles while Mojave's steering knuckles are cast iron to absorb the brutal punishment associated with high-speed desert use.

Suspension

The Jeep Gladiator Mojave package represents the highwater mark of Jeep suspensions to date. While the Rubicon package employs specially tuned springs and monotube Fox shocks front and rear, the Mojave ups the ante, literally. Mojave features a different spring rate than Rubicon, resulting in Mojave sitting 1-inch taller. The extra lift is thanks to the need for more uptravel before the suspension bottoms during hard running off-road and the spring's tuning to complement the Fox shocks. The shocks are specially designed Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass units with remote reservoirs that mount behind the front bumper under a special silver skidplate. In lieu of the standard foam cell jounce bumpers found on the Rubicon, the front of the Mojave package features Fox hydraulic jounce bumpers. We asked specifically and yes, they are hydraulic bumps, not air bumps. The Fox hydraulic bump shafts are protected by a rubbery sleeve to prevent rock, sand, and chip damage. Out back, internal bypass Fox 2.5-inch shocks with external piggyback reservoirs pull damping duties and a reformulated foam jounce bumpers with increased impact handling characteristics compared with Rubicon's rear jounce bumpers the axle from crashing into the frame. As with all bypass shock designs, the internal bypass Fox 2.5-inch shocks allow for a smooth, comfortable ride in small-chatter, low-impact situations on- and off-road, while still being able to ramp up damping force to handle hard hits and landings. The external bypass cans allow increased fluid capacity and aid in shock cooling for fade-free performance in extreme conditions. And finally, where Rubicon package features an electronic-disconnect front swaybar, the Mojave swaybar is fixed and not able to be disconnected.

The Jeep Gladiator Mojave package features a special front skidplate under the front bumper houses and protects the remote reservoirs of the 2.5-inch internal bypass Fox shocks.
The Jeep Gladiator Mojave package employs a front suspension using coils with a higher spring rate than Rubicon for a resulting 1-inch lift. The additional uptravel was required for Mojave's ability to better absorb large hits and bumps at speed without harshly bottoming the suspension. Specially tuned Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass, remote reservoir shocks control things and a set of specially designed Fox hydraulic jounce bumpers (off-roaders call them bumpstops) are housed inside the coil bucket and incrementally ramp up pressure to provide a gentler arrestment of suspension uptravel as compared with a standard foam cell, rubber, or polyurethane bumpstop.
The rear springs on the Jeep Gladiator Mojave package also feature a higher rate than those found on Rubicon. The higher rate was carefully selected to work in conjunction with the internal bypass shocks found at all four corners. The beauty of a bypass shock is that the bypass ports can be configured to allow for a softer, smoother ride with comparable heavier springs in the first sections of spring and shock travel, and then ramp up the damping force and pressure as the shock and spring cycle to compression. In short, smoother ride down low under slower, normal conditions with plenty of high-impact, rowdy time damping when you're pushing it off-road.
Unlike the front suspension where packaging constraints dictated a fully remote reservoir, the rear Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks have enough room to mount the external reservoir right on the body, a feature known in off-road parlance as a piggyback reservoir. Like the fronts, the internal bypass valving is geared toward providing a comfortable ride on road for normal driving and towing, but ramps up to control things as the vehicle is pushed hard off road.

Frame and Suspension Strength Increases

The Rubicon frame and suspension is pretty stout in its own right, but going fast and preunning through the desert is a whole different ball of wax. To cope with the rigors of repeated landings and impacts the Gladiator Mojave frame and suspension were bolstered in many areas as compared with the Gladiator Rubicon. For starters, the Mojave front upper control arms feature an increase in strength for greater buckle resistance. The front lower control arm mounting areas on Mojave frame are also strengthened, but the lower front and rear control arms themselves are the same between Mojave and Rubicon. The rear bumpstop cup on the frame is reinforced on Mojave, as are the transmission and engine mounts. Mojave and Rubicon use the same motor mount isolators and transmission mounts, but the metal on the crossmembers and frame to which they mount has been strengthened on Mojave. And the Mojave rear track bar has a larger outer diameter, larger bushings, and a higher strength tube than Rubicon. And finally, the shock towers themselves were reinforced and strengthened in Mojave.

Underneath the Gladiator package required increases in strength to critically structural areas of the frame, suspension, and engine/transmission mounting points as well as a stronger rear track bar.
Jeep Gladiator Mojave's intended use is hitting terrain hard at speed off-road. Part of handling that is the vehicle's ability to soak up punishment, so the front upper control arms were beefed up to prevent them from folding on hard frontal impacts with terrain, the shock buckets were reinforced, and engine and transmission mounting points on the frame bolstered.

Tires, Wheels, and a Wider Track

Mojave and Rubicon Gladiator packages both come standard with 33-inch 285/70R17 Falken Wildpeak A/T tires or optional 285/70R15 Falken Wildpeak M/T tires. However, where the Rubicon features 17x7.5 Rubicon-specific polished/painted Granite Crystal wheels standard or 17x7.5 Rubicon-specific polished/painted Mid-gloss Black wheels as an option, the Mojave wheels feature a special 7.5mm-shallower backspacing that punches the wheelbase out 15mm wider than Rubicon. The -inch wider track provides needed clearance for the front shock package, helps Gladiator Mojave's stability off-roading at speed, and just looks more aesthetically pleasing with the 1-inch-taller suspension. Color-wise, the Mojave wheels come standard in Low Gloss Black color or an optional polished/painted Low Gloss Black finish.

Both Jeep Gladiator Rubicon and Jeep Gladiator Mojave packages come standard with 285/70R17 Falken Wildpeak A/T tires or 285/70R17 Falken Wildpeak M/T tires as optional. The 33-inch-tall rubber provides a best-in-class ground clearance of 11.6 inches and contributes to Gladiator's 44.7 degree approach, 20.9 degree breakover, and 25.5 degree departure angles. With 1-inch less suspension height but slight differences in body and bumper, Rubicon's numbers are 43.6 degrees (approach), 20.3 degrees (breakover), and 26 degrees (departure).
The track of Jeep Gladiator Mojave is just slightly more than -inch wider than Rubicon thanks to its special Mojave-only 17x7.5 wheels that feature 7.5mm less backspacing than the comparable Rubicon wheels. This provides additional clearance up front, allowing the big Fox 2.5-inch shocks to fit without being manhandled by the front tires, and the resultant 15mm width increase helps Mojave's stability off-road at speed and just looks a bit more proportional with the additional suspension height.

Mojave Styling and Desert Rated

From a simple first glance, it's apparent that Mojave features some identifying styling that will run through the line as other Jeep models perhaps earn the Mojave's new Desert Rated badge. Just as Rubicon made red tow hooks, optional all-steel winch-ready bumpers synonymous with the model, Mojave has its own list of tricks and treats. For starters, in addition to the aforementioned Desert Rated badging, Mojave features special orange-colored tow hooks and orange accents throughout. A special hood (which looks an awful lot like a euro-spec diesel JL hood with a non-functioning vent stuck in it) is standard on Mojave, as are steel Sand Slider steel rocker guards, special cloth or leather seats with orange stitching and deep upper side bolsters to keep you planted during hard maneuvering, special "racing grips" embedded in the steering wheel, and your choice of Black or Steel Gray interior colors. Unlike Rubicon, the all-steel bumpers aren't an option, but Mojave does come standard with the "Max Tow" cooling package that features a larger fan for cooler engine temps when punishing the Gladiator Mojave off-road in the summer.

The Gladiator Mojave package introduces Jeep's newest badge to the brand, the Desert Rated badge. Are you thinking what we're thinking, that it could potentially be something that other models may earn in the future?
Where the Rubicon's identifying color is red, Mojave sports orange details throughout to help it stand out from the crowd.
The orange tow hooks are an identifying feature on the Mojave package.
There are two interior color choices for the Jeep Gladiator Mojave package will have two interior color choices, either Black or Steel Gray. Either complements the orange stitching in the special Mojave front buckets that feature additional upper side bolsters to help keep occupants planted during high-G off-road maneuvering.
The steering wheel of Gladiator Mojave features "racing grips" for your hands and a thick center stripe at the top of the wheel to help orient yourself during quick off-road maneuvering. We really dig the orange HVAC vent surrounds and other orange trim throughout, but can't help but wonder why the aluminum locker switch surround isn't anodized orange instead of red.
We recognize the bulgy hood as coming from the euro-spec diesel JL, but with a non-functioning scoop stuck in the middle. We dig that the Mojave hood provides a unique identifier like Rubicon.

Off Road Plus

The Mojave features an Off Road Plus feature that, when the button is depressed for five seconds, will disable the ESP and allow for the rear locker to be used in 4x4 high-range. While we probably wouldn't utilize it for prerunning in most instances, we love the fact that the rear locker will finally be able to be engaged in a Jeep in high-range for sand dune running.

A first in the line's history, the Gladiator Mojave edition will allow for rear locker use when the vehicle is being operated in 4Hi. This allows the maximum wheelspeed for sand dune driving without giving up the traction of a truly locking rear axle.
With a payload of 1,200 pounds and a 6,000-pound towing capacity, despite its thoroughbred suspension, the Jeep Gladiator Mojave package gives up nothing in the way utility.