2024 Jeep Gladiator Mojave First Drive Review: An Adventure at Any Speed

The Jeep pickup truck gets two neat updates for 2024: Curtain airbags and a better infotainment situation. But its real appeal is how little it’s changed.

byAndrew P. Collins|
Jeep Reviews photo
Andrew P. Collins


You can spot a 2024 Jeep Gladiator over the outgoing model by its black grille. There are two updates of actual significance: The truck now has curtain airbags (pretty cool for a convertible) and a significantly sleeker dashboard screen. Most importantly it’s still an absolute hoot to drive in the right situations.

I love me an old-school off-roader and Jeep’s Wrangler and Gladiator are as anachronistic as it gets these days. Solid axles, available manual transmission, quick-release doors, and Second World War styling make these things look like classic cars even as they sit on the showroom floor.

Sitting, however, has been the Gladiator’s biggest problem. After a storm of initial excitement when the Jeep truck was revealed in 2018, sales dropped off. By the end of 2023, dealers were so desperate to unload them that we saw discounts as high as $20,000 on some trims.

Reading the comments on that above-linked story was enlightening too—just a stampede of people saying Jeep dealers remained frustrating to work with and that a lot of those “discounts” that appeared online vanished in-store. Jeep itself ultimately conceded that these trucks were in fact too expensive and has cut MSRPs, which you can see reflected on build-and-price tools right now. For the record, that’s not at all common in the car biz.

I freaking love convertibles. Andrew P. Collins

The company is now using this 2024 model year refresh to recalibrate the Gladiator’s pricing again. In a briefing at this year’s Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, company reps described how consumer value’s improved by more standard features being packed into 2024-and-newer Gladiator base pricing.

Put another way, the vehicles are not getting cheaper per se, but buyers will get more for their money. Jeep is also planning to make a more concerted effort to advertise the Gladiator alongside the Wrangler. “Everywhere you see a Wrangler, you’ll see a Gladiator too,” Bill Peffer, Jeep’s new boss, told us. I found that interesting because, as you may recall, “it’s not just a Wrangler with a bed, it’s its own thing” was part of the Jeep Gladiator marketing battlecry when it first came out.

The vehicle’s lackluster sales performance is a little vexing when you think about how popular Jeeps and pickup trucks are. I guess an absence of awareness or wariness of the price kept people away. It’s still tough for me to accept that a vehicle as primitive as a stick-axle Jeep could ring up at over $60,000. Nevertheless, I had never driven a Gladiator at all until this opportunity in Utah to check out the new-for-’24 tweaks.

I spent about half a day on shallow sand, dirt, riverbeds, and hard rocks in the desert-optimized Mojave X model.

Starting at about $58,000 with destination charges, the Mojave is top of the Jeep heap if you want to carry some speed over sandy terrain. The Rubicon is a little more optimized for rock crawling. The main differences are that the Mojave has extra front suspension travel and shocks that are supposed to be better for higher-speed bumps while the Rubicon has a more aggressive crawl ratio, front locker, swaybar disconnect, and lower-speed suspension tuning. The Mojave has Fox 2.5-inch aluminum internal bypass shocks with external reservoirs for heat management; the Rubi has high-pressure gas-charged monotube shocks with hydraulic rebound stop.

Both have things like skid plates, all-terrain tires, and an “Off-Road+” drive mode that makes it easier to get the most out of the engine while you’re wheeling.

The new Mojave X and Rubicon X trims are just “add every option” models. At $65,485 with destination, the Mojave X gets infotainment improvements, an Alpine stereo, heated seats and steering wheel, body-colored fenders, and a body-colored hardtop. And of course, that also bakes the $2,500 automatic transmission option into its base price. The heating elements, the most important option there if you ask me, can be had for $1,000 by themselves on the regular Mojave.

The absolute cheapest 2024 Gladiator spec would be the Sport, which rings up at about $41,000 with destination charges. That bad boy’s got open diffs, a cloth roof, and believe it or not, crank windows. You can add a Max Towing package and eight-speed automatic transmission to that model for about $4,500 which upgrades the rear diff and axles. I would say that’s the best bang for your buck if you’re a weirdly frugal person who also insists on buying a brand-new Jeep, though you’d still want to spend another $1,500 or so in tires to have yourself a decent off-roader.

Andrew P. Collins

But Jeep does do a good job adding features to its spendier models that make them enticing. The Mojave’s hood scoop alone, which serves no appreciable performance purpose, is probably getting more than a few people to stretch their payment so they can have this model.

And as a whole package, the Mojave really is a lot of fun.

The Fox Shocks ride gorgeously over bumps. It’s not like they bless the chassis with invincibility, but you can carry a canter over whooped-out desert tracks where a lesser Wrangler would have to trot. I wouldn’t try to take this thing off any jumps but it would iron out a heavily corrugated unpaved road all day long. Mojave models also benefit from a larger rear track bar and bushings for increased stability on terrain at speed.

When traction gets really rough or you need to scramble up something steep, there’s still a rear locker, low range, and a couple of solid axles. The Mojave can still crawl when you want to play in ultra-low-speed settings too, it just doesn’t have as many “easy buttons” as the Rubicon.

On pavement, the truck’s certainly on the soft side and provides a more “truck-like” experience than any other mid-sizer I’ve driven recently. Compared to, say, a Ford Ranger (Raptor or not) the Gladiator is undeniably more lumbering and cumbersome. Whether or not that’s a positive or negative depends on you—it certainly makes every drive feel a little more adventurous and engaging. It’s also likely to be more fatiguing than other pickups in this size class.

Andrew P. Collins

I’m hesitant to say much about the engine because of where we were driving. At casual speeds in sand, it was fine; the V6 had no shortage of grunt from 10 to 40 mph. But it’d be taxed a lot more heavily making overtakes or cresting high-elevation passes. The eight-speed automatic was smooth and decisive. I never really felt the need to play with the upshift/downshift override on our off-road test loop, except for when I locked it into first for one wacky ascent.

As far as utility goes, Jeep brags about the Gladiator’s 7,700-pound towing max and 1,725 payload capacity—huge numbers for a midsized truck, for sure, but not applicable to all trims. Only the lightweight Sport model hits these max figures.

A Gladiator Mojave can carry 1,100 pounds (still decent) and tow 6,000 pounds with an automatic transmission. Max trailering drops to 4,500 pounds with a manual. The bed shape and size haven’t changed since Gladiator’s introduction. It’s about as long as this truck’s bed could be without looking weird. Sub-six-footers always feel a little lacking to me, but in this context of an “adventure truck,” it feels less annoying than it does in other pickups. That’s because I imagine this bed being used for camp gear, not construction supplies. Oddly, Jeep doesn’t offer a factory camper shell for it—I guess that’d make it too much like the Wrangler.

The Gladiator interior, which is of course shared with the Wrangler, is weirdly one of my favorites. I surprised myself in saying that because, as a vehicle with detachable doors, roof, and windows, I wasn’t expecting much to be enamored with. But the cab is nicely laid out, the main gauge cluster is super cool looking with a brilliant blend of digital and analog displays, and the new, 12.3-inch center screen provides a deep range of useful information. And best of all you can turn it off with one touch of a physical button.

Sweeping a Gladiator’s dash with your eyes is fun, and if you appreciate an adventurous aesthetic I think the cockpit design would be one of the truck’s biggest selling points. It just looks and feels cool.

Driving around Utah for an afternoon in a 2024 Gladiator Mojave with the roof partially removed, windows down, and music and dust and wind blasting around my head was a delightful automotive experience. I thought a lot about the similarly priced and sized Ford Ranger Raptor, which I also drove recently, during my test.

The Ranger felt more compliant and more capable at speed. I got the sense that the little Raptor was more competent and more painstakingly engineered for desert running. But the Gladiator was a whole lot of fun too. And much to my surprise, the Jeep’s interior felt considerably more refined than the Ford’s.

Andrew P. Collins

If pure desert performance or long stints of consecutive miles are your aim, you’d be better served with the Ranger Raptor. But if you’re like me and you love wind and classic design, driving a Gladiator Mojave is very rewarding and the 2024 model is better than the truck’s ever been. But Jeep hasn’t really fixed the main thing keeping me from buying one: the list price is still extremely high for a vehicle that’s fundamentally ancient and primitive.

A cursory look around used listings turned up some low-mileage, un-updated Gladiators at much more reasonable asks, including some Mojaves under $45,000. Maybe the new model’s main gift to us is reducing prices on recent ones.

2024 Jeep Gladiator Mojave Specs
Base Price (Mojave X as tested)$58,775 ($65,485)
Powertrain3.6-liter V6 | 8-speed automatic (6MT optional) | four-wheel drive
Horsepower285 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque260 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Seating Capacity5
Payload Capacity1,100 pounds (Mojave automatic)
Towing Capacity6,000 pounds (Mojave automatic)
Off-Road Angles44.7° approach | 20.9° break-over | 25.5° departure (Mojave)
Ground Clearance11.6 inches (Mojave)
EPA Fuel Economy17 mpg city | 22 highway | 19 combined (Mojave automatic)
Quick TakeA riot in the right situations, and a neat niche vehicle for those who wish they could drive a safer version of a truck from the '70s.
Jeep Reviews