There isn’t really much reason to own a large, sporty pick-up in the UK (there isn’t much more reason to own one in the US, to be honest, but we’ll leave that alone for now), although that doesn’t stop us loving them. Vehicles like the Ford Raptor and Dodge Ram Rebel, with their aggressive styling, trick suspension and chunky tyres somehow appeal on a deep, primeval level, crushing all logic, reason and common-sense in their paths.
It’s not surprising, then, that Jeep is keen to get in on the act. It’s Wrangler-based Gladiator already speaks to a broader demographic than regular pick-ups thanks to its maker’s ‘One Life, Live It’ following, so a sportified variant of the truck-but-not-a-truck could well be all things to all men.
And this is it, the Gladiator Mojave. Unveiled at this week’s Chicago Auto Show, the uprated pick-up is far more than just a lift kit and a “Desert Rated” badge. Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks with external reservoirs are complemented by hydraulic jounce bumpers (American for bump stops) - perfect for the heavy landings that’ll inevitably follow those huge dune jumps.
Of course, it’s not much use the suspension doing its job if the rest of the car can’t take the punishment, so a reinforced frame, axle and underbody protection have made the cut too. Making room for all that added beefiness is a track that’s half an inch wider than standard and a ride height increased by an inch, the extra air in the arches now occupied a set of 17-inch wheels with 33-inch Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tyres.
Power comes from a 3.6-litre V6 producing 285hp and 260lb-ft of torque, paired with a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. A new ‘Off-Road Plus’ button, meanwhile, locks the rear axle at high speeds while in 4x4 high range mode, a feature not previously seen on Jeep’s Trail - rather than Desert - Rated Rubicon models.
The Gladiator Mohave is expected to hit US showrooms by the summer, priced at around $50,000. UK buyers looking to tear around Lindisfarne will no doubt be able to import one - at quite considerable extra cost - soon after.