Gladiator Willys vs Rubicon vs Mojave

Rock Climbing GladiatorA current trend in the pickup truck market is offering off-road-focused models. They follow a recipe of a raised ride height, big tires, and reinforced suspensions. They are capable of different styles of off-roading. When you’ve covered this ground as long as Jeep has, you know there is not just one kind of off-roading. Jeep pays close attention to how their customers use their vehicles, particularly those who challenge their vehicles and themselves, and make modifications to meet those challenges. If the market appears substantial enough, they will make a vehicle from the factory that meets their needs. That is why there are nine versions of the Jeep Gladiator. And while all Gladiators are off-road capable, multiple off-road focused models are in the lineup. What are the differences between them? Rairdon’s Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Kirkland is here to explain.

Interior Technology in the GladiatorWillys

The Willys dates back to the World War II-era vehicle manufacturer that submitted a winning proposal for the US Army’s need for a ”General Purpose” vehicle. It subsequently built most of them and eventually became Jeep after the war. Today, the Willys is in the middle of the Gladiator lineup, while a less expensive Willys Sport is one step up from the base model. The Willys Sport immediately steps up the off-road capability with 32-inch LT255/75R17C Mud-Terrain Tires and a Trac-Lok® Limited Slip Rear Differential. The Trak-Lok improves off-road traction by providing about 80% locking of the rear wheels together. This also improves control over slippery on-road conditions. The Willys trim level has these same off-road enhancements as well as some desirable non-off-road upgrades from the Sport S and Freedom trim levels, such as keyless entry and the Uconnect® 4C NAV with 8.4-inch Touchscreen with Navigation and Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ Compatibility.

The Willys is a significant step over the base Gladiator for improved off-roading and will likely be all the occasional off-roader needs. Jeep makes the Gladiator Rubicon and Mojave for the people who have made off-roading a significant part of their lives and continually challenge themselves and their vehicles. Two off-road flagship models for two different activities which are given away by their names. 

Rock Climbing GladiatorRubicon

Just outside California’s beautiful Lake Tahoe area is a 22-mile off-road trail dubbed the “crown jewel of all off-highway trails”. This is the legendary Rubuicin trail. It is rated at 10 out of a scale of 10 in difficulty and has destroyed or proven insurmountable for many off-road vehicles. This trail is largely slow and highly technical, best suited for small, specialized off-roaders like dirt bikes and ATVs. Street-legal road-going vehicles face the greatest challenge due to their size, where large rocks or other extremely uneven terrain routinely hang up vehicles with insufficient ground clearance and/or wheel articulation. The rougher parts of the course are taken at speeds slower than walking, often with spotters guiding the driver. Like the Wrangler Rubicon before it, the Gladiator Rubicon is so named because it is designed for this type of extreme, technical off-roading. 

The Rubicon has disconnecting sway bars. When on the road, they are effective in controlling body roll. When off-road, they are disconnected by a dash control to allow the wheels increased independence and vertical movement. The front and rear differentials are fully locking so that all march to the same step when one or more wheels lose contact or traction with the ground. A Part-Time Rock-Trac® 4:1 Low Transfer Case with up to 84:1 Crawl Ratio helps the driver provide precision to their accelerator pedal adjustments when crawling over the rough stuff. The driver can call on one of multiple terrain-specific off-road driving modes for help. 

Available on the Rubicon is the TrailCam-Off Road camera to help the driver see what the underside of the vehicle will encounter when no spotters are available. The front steel bumper is designed to carry a winch for those times when traction simply is not enough or to help another vehicle out of trouble. There are skid plates for the front bumper, fuel tank, and transfer case. 

Towing in the GladiatorMojave

Off-roading in the Mojave desert and similar terrain is the opposite of a walking pace. This is the type of off-roading you see in the Baja 1000. It is fast, rough, and extremely harsh on the vehicles. The Gladiator Mojave is made for this with a suite of unique components designed to provide traction and withstand hard impacts. At the heart of this are FOX 2.5-inch Internal Bypass Shocks designed with external reservoirs to ensure there is enough fluid for the high levels of damping control needed. The front and rear track width is widened to allow room for the shock reservoirs and enable more lateral stability. Front Hydraulic Jounce Bumpers are in place to soften the blow of brutal impacts, and high-clearance fender flares allow for extreme vertical wheel movement. 

The rear differential fully locks to improve traction, but the fronts do not because it provides no advantage in this kind of activity. Also, the low-speed transfer case is optimized, enabling speeds up to 50 mph. The skid plates are redesigned from the Rubicon to protect the shock reservoirs. Jeep even increased the seat bolstering to keep you in place as the terrain rocks the vehicle’s sides. 

Driving in Sand in the Gladiator

Which Off-Road Ride is For You?

Whichever kind of off-roading is your jam, the Gladiator has a model for it. The Willys can easily brush off most conventional off-roading and is less expensive than the two specialists. The Rubicon and Mojave are both extremely capable off-road devices that

are ultimately designed for their respective types of extreme use. At the same time, all these models are civilized for on-road use and regular pickup truck duty.

This briefly covers the differences between these off-road models, but Rairdon’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep of Kirkland professional sales staff can certainly go into more detail and point out the exact components involved that make up their differences among the wide selection of Gladiator models in our inventory. When you find a Gladiator to your liking, talk to our Finance Center about the best way to get one for your favorite trail.