Exploring Jeep Easter Safari with the Updated 2024 Gladiator - SUV VEHICLE

Exploring Jeep Easter Safari with the Updated 2024 Gladiator

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MOAB, Utah – Easter is one of the holiest dates in the Western calendar. And for members of the Church of Jeep Offroaders, an odyssey to Moab during Easter week is their Camino.

For one week in March, the tiny tourist town of Moab in southeastern Utah, population 5,500, explodes as an estimated 20,000 Jeep enthusiasts wheel into town to enjoy a little camaraderie and to fly (and sometimes crawl) through some of the hundreds of miles of incredible sand-and-rock terrain that makes this area such a magnet for off-roaders.  

Blue 2025 Jeep Gladiator Mojave at Jeep Easter Safari
Photo: Doug Firby

Their Jeeps vary from nearly stock to having just about every imaginable mod. Though this is a Jeep event, an occasional Bronco can be spotted lurking in the shadows, maybe a Hummer or two, and many of the ubiquitous dune-buggy style UTVs. 

Testing Grounds for Jeep Designers and Engineers

2025 Jeep Gladiator at Jeep Easter Safari
Photo: Doug Firby

The Jeep Easter Safari started as a small gathering of Jeep lovers an incredible 58 years ago and has grown steadily since. Stellantis, the makers of Jeep, love this celebration of Jeep culture. The company has been coming for about 20 years, showcasing new models and – so cool! – bringing working concept vehicles like this Farout Gladiator Concept that journalists can actually drive. 

We drop our Mojave X’s in 4LO, lock the Dana 44 rear axle, and give ’er. The Gladiator crawled up this seemingly impossible rock face like it’s on a Sunday drive.

William Peffer, senior vice-president and head of Jeep brand North America, said the annual safari “is the perfect venue for new Jeep concepts, with more than 20,000 Jeep enthusiasts gathering each year to celebrate the most iconic 4×4 brand in the world.” Jeep measures the Jeep owners’ reaction to stylistic themes, accessories and functional add-ons as it considers future production models.

The company’s in-house designers let loose with one-off designs that push the envelope. Such ideas as oversized wheels and short overhangs have found their way into production; company officials say the “steelie”-look cast wheels seen this year could appear in future production models.

The Updated Jeep Gladiator is Stronger, Safer, and More Tech-Enabled

2025 Jeep Gladiator at Jeep Easter Safari
Photo: Doug Firby

Only a handful of journalists from Canada and the U.S. are invited. I had the privilege of being one of only two Canadian writers this year where Jeep is showcasing its updated Gladiator lineup. Looks are largely unchanged from its debut five years ago, but the Gladiators have been made stronger, more tech-enabled, and safer. 

A seven-slot grille that echoes the updated Wrangler is the most visible outside change. Inside, though, Jeep comes with available waterproofed power seats, standard side-curtain airbags and a modern 12.3-inch Uconnect touchscreen radio. 

Related – Refreshed 2024 Jeep Gladiator: The Changes to Know About

2025 Jeep Gladiator at Jeep Easter Safari
Photo: Doug Firby

Powered by the ubiquitous Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 gasoline engine, the Gladiators can now tow up to 7,700 pounds (3,492 kilograms) and carry up to,725 pounds (782 kilograms) in payload. Buyers can choose from a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic tranny. 

I am paired off with my fellow Canadian, and given the keys to the beautiful Mojave X, the most desert-fit of the Gladiators. Among its many features, it comes with high-performance FOX 6.3 cm (2.5-in.) internal bypass shocks and hydraulic jounce bumpers to add damping, soften landings, and prevent bottoming out when you get airborne.

2025 Jeep Gladiator Fox shocks
Photo: Doug Firby

Naturally, we put those shocks to the test, gleefully soaring at high speeds through rollercoaster sand dunes before facing off against intimidating rock embankments. We are on the famous Hell’s Revenge trail, which includes an unholy blend of slick rock, sandy washes, and steep climbs. At its peak, it also affords stunning views of the Colorado River and the surrounding red rock formations.

As we edge along a tire-scrubbed rock face, we encounter convoys of Jeeps covering the same terrain. Soon, we encounter a steep rock crawl perhaps 200 metres in length. To an untrained eye, the rocks look insurmountable. But we drop our Mojave X’s in 4LO, lock the Dana 44 rear axle, and give ’er. The Gladiator crawled up this seemingly impossible rock face like it’s on a Sunday drive.  

2025 Jeep Gladiator at Jeep Easter Safari
Photo: Doug Firby

As a pickup with a five-foot cargo bed, the Gladiator is longer than the Wrangler it evolved from. That extra length adds some comfort on rough trails but comes at the minor price of reducing breakover angle. 

It is still a massive amount of fun to drive. A day of thrashing around Moab also proved that it remains the king of off-road-capable pickup trucks. Gallery:

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