Jeep presents the Gladiator Sand Runner, the ultimate in high-speed off-road capability and performance in desert environments. Courtesy of the brand’s renowned 4×4 system and significant suspension upgrades, which underwent extensive testing over harsh sand and desert terrain for vehicle durability and protection, the Jeep Gladiator Sand Runner is the first Jeep in the Middle East to wear the ‘Desert Rated’ badge.
Jeep Gladiator Sand Runner models feature new, specially-tuned FOX™ 64-mm (2.5-inch) internal bypass shocks with external reservoirs, industry-exclusive FOX front hydraulic jounce bumpers, a reinforced frame, a 25-mm (1-inch) front suspension lift with a silver front skid plate, stronger axles with cast-iron steering knuckles, aggressive front seats with integrated upper bolsters and standard 33-inch tires. All of these standard features enable the Gladiator Sand Runner to become the Jeep brand’s first Desert Rated vehicle.
“Already the world’s most off-road capable midsize pickup, we have now applied Jeep’s exceptionally high standards for off-road performance to the extreme desert conditions of the Middle East with the Gladiator Sand Runner,” said Marco Melani, Managing Director for American Brands at Stellantis Middle East. “Developed and tested in some of the world’s most harsh and rugged regions, the Jeep Gladiator Sand Runner was built in the desert, for the desert, delivering a new level of capability with the ability to master challenging rock and sand terrains with ease.”
Legendary Jeep 4×4 capability
The starting point for the Sand Runner’s new level of capability is the Gladiator’s proven Command-Trac 4×4 system, which features a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio and heavy-duty third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 4.10:1 rear axle ratio and electronic-locking rear differential as standard. The Jeep Command-Trac 4×4 system is used to provide higher 4LO (low range) operating speeds for climbing sand dunes and other challenging desert events.
A best-in-class approach angle of 44.7 degrees, breakover angle of 20.9 degrees, departure angle of 25.5 degrees and a best-in-class ground clearance of 295mm (11.6 inches) further enhance the Gladiator Sand Runner’s off-road credentials.
More durable suspension and high-performance shocks
To earn the Desert Rated badge, Jeep engineers equipped the Gladiator Sand Runner with specially-tuned high-performance FOX 64-mm (2.5-inch) internal bypass shocks to maximize handling, comfort and bottom-out resistance on high-speed sand runs. The FOX shocks contain internal passages that allow fluid to bypass the piston through regulated ports as it moves through the suspension travel. The result is a predictable ride over normal off-road driving conditions, with the ability to ramp up damping force in extreme use.
Front and rear external shock reservoirs keep shock fluid cool, preventing shock fade during long runs through the hot desert at high speed. The same kind of military-grade suspension fluid used in off-road racing shocks maintains performance at extreme temperatures.
Industry-first FOX front hydraulic jounce bumpers, which combine race-proven technology with new, cutting-edge features, add additional damping force as the suspension reaches maximum compression to soften impacts and prevent bottoming out in harsh off-road situations.
A 13-mm (1/2-inch) increase in the Sand Runner’s track provides additional stability and allows for the packaging of the larger shocks. Jeep engineers also reinforced both the frame and axle to handle rough desert terrains at high speed.
These engineering enhancements to the Gladiator Sand Runner’s suspension provide ride control and confidence on any high-speed sand or desert terrain, while an Off-Road Plus button allows drivers to take the Gladiator to the next level of tractive capabilities. With the push of the button the driver triggers adjustments to the throttle, transmission shift points and traction control for peak performance on higher speed passes on sand terrain, as well as during low-speed soft sand and rock crawling conditions. In addition, for the first time on a Jeep, the Off-Road Plus drive mode on the Gladiator Sand Runner enables drivers to lock their rear axle at high speeds while in high range, “4H”.
The Jeep Gladiator Sand Runner’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine delivers 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque and features engine stop-start (ESS) technology as standard equipment. It is engineered to provide a broad torque band with a focus on low-end torque, an essential trait needed for extreme off-roading. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6.
The 2021 Jeep Gladiator benefits from the popular V-6 engine’s low-range torque, which is needed when out on the dunes or during demanding conditions, such as hauling cargo. With the standard eight-speed automatic transmission, the Gladiator Sand Runner boasts an impressive crawl ratio of 52.6:1– making cresting a dune or scaling any obstacle on the trail easy.
Sand Runner inside and out
Inside the cabin, the Gladiator Sand Runner features more aggressive front seats with integrated upper bolsters to hold occupants comfortably in place during high-speed off-road driving. The upgraded seats are available in leather or cloth with orange accent stitching and embroidered Sand Runner logos.
Featuring a 25-mm (1-inch) front suspension lift that results in a more prominent appearance, the Gladiator Sand Runner is adorned with a unique hood decal on its performance hood that features a center scoop. Distinguishing Sand Runner elements include exterior badges, orange tow hooks and unique 17 x 7.5-inch wheels and the optional Jeep Performance Parts heavy duty side steps.
Jeep Desert Rated
The all-new Desert Rated badge is the first of its kind for Jeep and is a natural extension of the brand’s legendary Trail Rated designation. Desert Rated vehicles represent the ultimate in high-speed, off-road capability and performance in grueling desert and sand environments.
Every Gladiator Sand Runner vehicle has been developed to succeed in a series of strenuous tests in five categories which grant it the Desert Rated badge: Ride Control and Stability, Traction, Ground Clearance, Maneuverability and Desert Prowess.
Ride control and stability
With innovative desert-tuned suspension, the Gladiator Sand Runner tackles sandy terrain without compromising ride control or comfort.
With controlled torque delivery and management, the Gladiator Sand Runner conquers unpredictable surfaces such as sand, rocks and loose dust with complete confidence.
Due to the 1” lift in the front, the amplitude is maximized with an optimized suspension allowing the Gladiator Sand Runner to overcome dunes, “fly” over uneven or bumpy terrain and overcome any other difficulties that the desert may throw up.
Agile and responsive handling allows the Gladiator Sand Runner to become an extension of the driver when speeding through the desert and overcoming extreme angles.
It has been tested and verified to withstand the extreme heat, coarse sand, loose gravel, and invasive dust that often accompany harsh desert environments.