Jeep® Middle East has announced that it has partnered with sports and destination brand XDubai, famous for numerous world firsts and the XLine in Dubai Marina, to launch a breath-taking journey across some of the UAE’s most spectacular desert landscapes and rugged terrain, in the #GladiatorRoute adventure. On the way, they will encounter the extreme conditions of the legendary Rub’ Al Khali (the Empty Quarter), where temperatures can reach up to 50°C (122°F), in the world’s most off-road capable mid-size pickup, the Jeep Gladiator Sand Runner (also known as the Gladiator Mojave in North America).
“The #GladiatorRoute is an extreme expedition in the ultimate off-road pickup by a team of extreme sports athletes, to cross the UAE on a route that has never been achieved before. The official expedition vehicle, the Jeep Gladiator Sand Runner is the first vehicle in history to earn Jeep’s new ‘Desert Rated’ badge, making it the perfect tool for venturing off-road and exploring the UAE’s breath-taking wilderness,” said Marco Melani, Managing Director for American Brands at Stellantis Middle East. “However, the #GladiatorRoute is more than just an expedition – it is a call to action for all Jeep owners and off-roaders across the region to leave the asphalt and their comfort zones behind and find their own adventure, in the spirit of Jeep’s guiding principle: Go Anywhere. Do Anything.”
With three Gladiators and 9 people, equipped with various camera rigs and a lot of grit, the XDubai team is taking on the challenge to prove that the Jeep Gladiator Sand Runner has what it takes to complete the grueling journey. The 587 kilometer (365 mile) #GladiatorRoute starts at the most Southern point of the UAE next to the Saudi Arabia border and ends at the Northernmost point in Ras Al Khaimah, in a wadi on the Northern side of Jabal Jais, in a trip spanning 5 days and 4 nights. Along the way, the Jeep Gladiator’s desert prowess will be put to the test in some of the Arabian Peninsula’s most hostile terrain, along a trail that few vehicles can even attempt, full of unmapped roads, punishing dunes, and harsh conditions.
The XDubai athletes taking part in the adventure are…
- Nicholi Rogatkin (American professional bike rider from Lincoln, Massachusetts, United States. Currently ranked #2 in the World. 2016 World Champion and 2018 Triple Crown Winner. The winningest Freeride Mountain Bike (FMB) World Tour athlete with over 25 wins.)
- JB O’Neil (American Pro Wakeboarder and “2021 Wakeboarder of the Year” from Austin, Texas.)
- Lynn Jung (professional free runner and parkour athlete from Luxembourg, who was named “Best Female Athlete” at the biggest Freerunning competition in the world, “Red Bull Art of Motion”)
To earn the Desert Rated badge, Jeep engineers equipped the Gladiator Sand Runner with specially-tuned high-performance FOX™ 64mm (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.
The 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 the high range, “4H”.
Nothing is different under the hood either. The Sand Runner is powered by the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine that delivers 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque and features engine stop-start (ESS) technology. Unlike the North American models, only the 8-speed 850RE automatic transmission is available.
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.
Unlike the Rubicon model which uses the Rock-Trac NV241OR two-speed transfer case, the Gladiator Sand Runner uses the Command-Trac 4×4 system found on the Overland model. The Command-Trac system 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 equipment.
The reason for the choice of the Command-Trac system is because it provides higher 4LO (low range) operating speeds for climbing sand dunes and other challenging desert events.
The Sand Runner also has a best-in-class approach angle of 44.7 degrees, a break-over angle of 20.9 degrees, a departure angle of 25.5 degrees, and a best-in-class ground clearance of 295mm (11.6 inches) to further enhance its off-road credentials.
Just like the Mojave, the 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.
The vehicle features a 25-mm (1-inch) front suspension lift, a performance hood with center scoop, a unique hood decal, orange tow hooks, unique 17-inch x 7.5-inch wheels, and can be equipped with optional Jeep Performance Parts heavy-duty side steps from Mopar.