A sixth version of the Jeep Gladiator just came out. Jeep says this new Gladiator Mojave is “the first-ever desert rated Jeep”. To earn this new badge, the Mojave picks up from the Rubicon and adds 2.5” Fox shocks with external reservoirs and an inch of suspension lift. It is basically a pre-runner of sorts, whereas the Gladiator is more of a crawler.
Being that it’s a top-level Gladiator, it’s got a top-level price, too. The Mojave starts at $44,120 and can balloon up to almost $66,000 when all the boxes are checked off. That’s a lot of loot. However, this got me thinking about how it could compare to another similarly priced vehicle that had the same intent.
Some time ago, I compared a like-priced Gladiator Rubicon to the Ram 2500 Power Wagon. I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t choose the Ram. Problem is that Ram does not make a pre-runner-ish truck, at least not yet. But Ford does – the F-150 Raptor.
The Raptor is a lot more than just some shocks, though. First off, it’s a full-size truck, whereas the Gladiator is considered a compact truck. It is a lot more than a trim kit on the conventional F-150, too. It has its own special engine, its own body panels, suspension, wheels, gearing, and a lot of other hardware. I love the Raptor and I’ve said that it would be the first vehicle I’d buy if I won the lottery. But that was before the Gladiator existed.
The Issue of Price
The issue with the Raptor is that it is very pricey. The Raptor SuperCab starts at $55,150. I reviewed a 2017 Raptor SuperCab and urged everyone to get the CrewCab, which starts at $58,135. Four real doors also make it more comparable to the Gladiator. To bring it up to the price of a loaded Mojave, I decided to add the A801A package, twin-panel moonroof, 360-degree camera, graphic package, Torsen front limited-slip differential, and a tonneau bed cover. This brought the price of my not-fully-loaded Raptor to $65,890.
My Gladiator Mojave had everything on it, including accessory wheels, color-matched top and fenders, and a damn snorkel. It actually had a few things that the Raptor did not, such as an upgraded audio system, remote start, and heated steering wheel. The total price for all that Jeep goodness is $65,880.
Payload and Towing:
Despite the differences in size, both trucks have a payload of 1200 pounds. The Raptor SuperCrew can tow 8000-pounds (6000 pounds for SuperCab) to the Mojave’s 6000-pound towing capacity. Other versions of the Gladiator and F-150 have higher payload and towing capacities but these two particular models are likely limited by their softer off-road suspensions. Because the Ford is a full-size truck, its bed is six inches longer. I’d question if that’s a significant difference.
Advantage: I’d say that’s a draw. Yes, the Raptor can tow more but if one needs payload and towing, with off-road agility, buy the Ram 2500 Power Wagon or an F-250 with the Tremor Off-Road Package for the same money.
Engine and Transmission:
The power between these two is very different. The Gladiator has the aging 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that delivers 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. That goes through a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Raptor has the 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 that makes 450 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque, which is connected to a ten-speed automatic
Advantage: Ford. It’s not even a contest.
The F-150 cab is huge and very comfortable. Choose the right options and it can be as comfortable as the best of luxury sedans. It’s also a lot quieter. The Jeep cabin is smaller, its seats are smaller, and everything is smaller. But it’s not small, either. The obvious advantage that the Gladiator has is that the whole damn top of the cabin comes off, as do the doors, and the windshield can flip forward. The Gladiator is the only convertible pickup truck that you can buy now.
Advantage: Jeep, but only slightly. It’s that removable roof that makes the Gladiator so cool and the Raptor cannot match that.
I have driven several Raptors. I have also driven several Gladiators but not the Mojave. With full certainty, I can say that no matter what suspension changes Jeep engineers did to the Mojave, there is no way that it will ride or drive anywhere near as good as the Raptor. Frankly, the Raptor drives and handles much better than it has every right to. The thing defies physics.
Advantage: Ford. Some will argue that the Jeep has a live axle in the front, to which I say that it is what it is.
Very few buyer will take these $65,000 rigs on a proper desert run. Those who take the Jeep will have the ability to disconnect the front sway bar for more axle articulation and to lock both front and rear differentials. Jeeps gives a choice of 33” mud terrain or all-terrain tires. Ground clearance is 11.6-inches, an approach angle of 44.7 degrees, break-over angle is 20.9 degrees, and the departure angle is 25.5 degrees.
The Raptor SuperCrew wears 35-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain rubber (Hooniverse staff favorite). It has a locking rear differential and an optional limited-slip front differential. The Raptor terrain management control system which automatically adjusts to whatever you’re driving on. The approach angle is 30.2 degrees, the break-over angle is 21.8 degrees, and the departure angle is 23.0 degrees.
Both vehicles have FOX Racing Shox shock absorbers, available front trail cameras (helpful when driving uphill and you see nothing but the sky in your windshield), and a ton of available accessories.
Personally, I love both of these rigs. But I love them for their specific reasons. I would not buy a $60,000 or even a $50,000 Gladiator. With the Raptor I feel like I could justify getting the fully loaded model. The pricier Raptor is a sports car, a pickup truck, and a luxury sedan in one. It helps that it looks awesome, too. Select the SuperCab model and a Raptor can be had for around $55,000.
The Gladiator is an awesome vehicle but a well-equipped model can be had for around $40,000. The Mojave, at the end of the day, is still a $35,000 Jeep Wrangler pickup truck with a ton of stuff bolted onto it. Love ya Jeep, but my imaginary $66,000 is going to Ford this time.