If you're looking for the most badass version of a midsize pickup truck on sale today, it'd be easy to make a case for the Jeep Gladiator Mojave. After all, it's a Gladiator Rubicon modified for desert racing with Fox internal bypass shocks, front hydraulic jounce bumpers, reinforced axles and an extra inch of lift. Plus, it was the first vehicle to earn Jeep's new "Desert Rated" badge, which is ever harder to score than their "Trail Rated" one.
That said, if you're more of a Ford truck fan, you might want to get excited, too. Ford Authority recently obtained photos of a Gladiator Mojave entering Ford's truck facility. With manufacturer plates, we can safely presume that's not a Ford engineer's daily driver. Instead, it seems likely that Ford is the testing the Gladiator Mojave to benchmark it against some future product — perhaps a Baja-ready off-roader smaller than an F-150 Raptor.
Indeed, it's easy to suspect this Gladiator Mojave sighting could be more evidence that Ford is working on a new Bronco pickup. After all, Ford has stressed that Bronco will be a family of vehicle; we already know that will include an upcoming Bronco Raptor and, most likely, an all-electric rugged SUV on a new Ford EV platform. But there have also been reports that Ford is targeting 2024 for a pickup truck version of the Bronco. Benchmarking the apex Gladiator would be a sensible move for such a project; remember, Ford did the same with the Wrangler when building the current Bronco SUV.
Looking a bit closer on the timeline, Ford also has a new version of the Gladiator's direct competitor, the mid-size Ranger pickup, that's supposed to launch next year as a 2023 vehicle. There has been scuttlebutt about Ford giving enthusiasts the V6 and Raptor capability and branding they have been craving, potentially using the 2.7-liter V6 from the Bronco that puts out 325 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.
One thing's for certain, though. Whatever Ford ultimately uses this Gladiator Mojave to help it build...we're definitely looking forward to driving it.