Forget the Rubicon. The Gladiator Mojave is the best Gladiator, full stop. It will do 90 percent of what the Rubicon will, but the Rubicon can’t do half of what the Mojave can.
Here’s why: The Jeep Gladiator was never going to be a great rock crawler, and that’s what the Rubicon is set up to do: scratch and claw its way over anything. The problem is, it has the longest wheelbase of any short-bed truck in its class. Without modifications, the Gladiator is going to drag its belly and potentially high-center on obstacles other trucks would clear. This rock crawling weakness is the Gladiator Mojave’s strength. Long-wheelbase vehicles are inherently more stable when cornering, meaning they’re less likely to oversteer. Although power slides are fun, on a bumpy trail they can easily lead to a tire digging in and flipping the vehicle. Stable is what you want.
Ripping down the back entry road into Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area, where the annual King of the Hammers off-road race takes place, the Mojave is eating up the winter-ravaged dirt road. Road graders from the Bureau of Land Management haven’t made it out here yet, and the road bears witness. The long-wheelbase Mojave, bolstered by a slightly wider front track versus the Rubicon and Falken Wildpeak A/T3W tires, doesn’t care. Things are bumpy, sure, but the speed I’m carrying is staggering.
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