by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
Crawling along rocks, through mud, or up steep and uneven terrain, the Jeep Wrangler has long been known for its excellent off-road prowess.
Now it seems the brand’s caretakers want to take that renown prowess and crank up the heat.
Real heat. Desert heat.
According to enthusiast website Mopar Insiders, Jeep is planning on expanding the Wrangler trim levels to include a Mojave Desert-Rated Wrangler edition that is expected to arrive during the 2021 model year.
This desert-rating may sound familiar, as Jeep incorporated that badging into its Gladiator truck series (pictured above) earlier this year. Essentially, it means engineers have trimmed some off-road ability from the vehicle in order to give it better ride quality and stability at higher speeds, and over dry, desert-type conditions.
As far as names go, Jeep did offer a special edition Wrangler JK back in 2011 that featured the Mojave branding, but that vehicle mainly offered a few Sahara and Rubicon features cobbled together with some cosmetic differences. Nothing like what Jeep plans for this Desert Rated Wrangler.
"You can think of Desert Rated as Trail Rated's cousin or twin brother," said FCA’s Jeep Gladiator Brand Manager Brandon Girmus in an interview with The Drive earlier this year. "There is some crossover with Trail Rating, so you've got maneuverability, ground clearance, traction—but the traction is more for like loose surfaces like sand, and then ride control and stability.
”The key thing is making sure that when you're flying fast through the desert over uneven terrain, the vehicle isn't kind of pitching and rolling all over the place, so that's where the (upgraded) shocks and suspension help keep the vehicle controlled and level. We also have Desert Prowess, and Desert Prowess is more [about] making sure the vehicle can survive in a desert environment. Making sure it can survive the heat, the sand, the dust and that sort of thing."
The Wrangler Mojave edition, like its Gladiator younger brother, will reportedly feature a set of Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks, exclusive Fox hydraulic jounce bumpers to accommodate bumps taken at higher speeds, additional frame reinforcement, higher-clearance fender flares, a one-inch front-end suspension lift, cast-iron steering knuckles and 33-inch tall Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires on 17-inch rims.
It should also arrive with specially designed Mopar step sand slider rails, a front silver protective skid plate and custom engineered front seating with larger, integrated upper bolsters to help lock riders in place during any high speed bumpy travels.
Additionally, the Mojave Wrangler would also include the Gladiator’s forward-facing camera option—becoming the first Wrangler vehicle to obtain that feature.
Unlike the Gladiator, though, the new Desert-Rated Wrangler reportedly would not arrive with the long-standing 3.6L Pentastar engine. Instead, it is believed to be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder powerplant—either with Electric Start Stop (ESS) for those preferring a manual transmission, or the brand’s mild-hybrid e-Torque technology paired with an 8-speed automatic. Regardless of version, the 2.0-liter turbo delivers 270 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque.
The Wrangler Mojave would join Gladiator as the brand’s second option utilizing this new Desert Rated badging, which means the automaker tested the vehicle in five different fields—traction, desert prowess, ride control and stability, maneuverability, and ground clearance.
According to Jeep, those fields break down like this:
Traction—By strategically managing and delivering power, Mojave conquers unpredictable surfaces like sand, gravel and loose dirt with confidence.
Desert Prowess—Tested and proven to withstand the intense heat, coarse sand, loose gravel and intrusive dust that accompany unforgiving desert environments.
Ride Control and Stability—With a ground-breaking Desert-tuned suspension, Mojave tackles undulating desert terrain with uncompromising control and comfort.
Maneuverability—When climbing steep sand dunes or traversing open flats, precision steering allows you to veer around narrow gaps and navigate terrain confidently.
Ground Clearance—Maximized running clearances with an optimized suspension allows Mojave to crest dunes, blast through whoops and more.
This is in contrast to the standard Trail Rated badging manta that has marked Wrangler since 2004. All Trail Rated Jeeps undergo extensive testing in traction, water fording, maneuverability, articulation, and ground clearance.