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New 2020 Jeep Gladiator ready for battle in hardcore desert race

Motoring Research logo Motoring Research 06/02/2019 John Redfern
a truck with a mountain in the background: 2020 Jeep Gladiator King of the Hammers Challenge © Jeep FCA 2020 Jeep Gladiator King of the Hammers Challenge

The Jeep Gladiator caused a media sensation when announced at the 2018 LA Auto Show, and now it is ready to tackle some serious off-road action.

As the first pickup truck from the Jeep brand in over 25 years, the Gladiator has already proven popular with fans of the brand. However, parent company FCA is keen to demonstrate just how capable the latest addition is.

For a gentle induction before the first customer Gladiators roll off the production line, Jeep has picked the fearsome-sounding King of the Hammers Every Man Challenge.

a truck driving down a dirt road: 2020 Jeep Gladiator King of the Hammers Challenge © Jeep FCA 2020 Jeep Gladiator King of the Hammers Challenge Covering 124 miles across the Californian desert, the Every Man Challenge combines high-speed desert racing with tight rock crawling sections. That could be a tough proposition for any off-road vehicle, let alone one as box-fresh as the Gladiator.

Fortunately, Jeep has several tricks up its sleeve to ensure the Gladiator will impress in the production-based Spidertrax 4600 Stock class.

Savvy Off-Road, an aftermarket Jeep specialist, has been given the task of preparing the Gladiator for its desert battle. It is worth mentioning that the Corona, California-based company has taken five outright victories in the Every Man Challenge, including at the 2018 edition.

a truck driving down a dirt road © Jeep FCA A custom-built link-and-coil suspension system with remote reservoir shock absorbers has been added, along with new axles, and beadlock wheels. Savvy Off-Road have also fitted a winch and roll cage for safety, whilst the interior has gained a pair of Sparco race seats.

Power comes from the standard Pentastar V6 engine, producing 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. That should be more than sufficient for the driving duo, which features a motorsport legend paired with a two-time King of the Hammers champion.

a truck with a mountain in the background: 2020 Jeep Gladiator King of the Hammers Challenge © Jeep FCA 2020 Jeep Gladiator King of the Hammers Challenge

Robby Gordon, who originally found fame in NASCAR and IndyCar before hitting the dirt, will be responsible for driving the Gladiator through high-speed desert sections.

Erik Miller will take charge in the challenging rock crawling portions. Miller set the overall fastest time during qualifying, beating the Gladiator’s nearest competitor by more than 10 seconds.

The one-day Every Man Challenge takes place on February 6th, and Jeep will be hoping the new Gladiator will emerge victorious.

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