Jeep Gladiator Top Dog Takes On Moab

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai
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jeep gladiator top dog takes on moab

The Jeep Gladiator Top Dog concept vehicle is headed to Moab for the first time. First built in 2020, it sat in limbo for events to open up again, and the 55th Annual Easter Jeep Safari was the opportunity Jeep had been waiting for.

Due to COVID-19, the host group, Red Rock 4-Wheelers, had Easter Jeep Safari canceled, only to have the Grand County Commission in February approve a revision to the group’s special permit, and their event permit. Part of their compliance required cancellation of the vendor portion of the show, although the group has announced they will do a virtual live-streamed giveaway, to be held Friday, April 2nd at 6:30 p.m. Mountain time on their Facebook page.

Top Dog, the Jeep concept vehicle, isn’t in reference to man’s best friend, but instead to mountain bike enthusiasts. K-9 blue-hued, the most salient feature is the Aussie-made, Patriot Campers’ PCOR flatbed canopy system, designed specifically for the Gladiator. In perusing the PCOR4X4 website, Jeep has a canopy unlike any other Patriot has created, this one is what I would call a full canopy, as opposed to the 3/4 and half canopies PCOR currently offers. That being said, having built this one for Jeep, the likelihood of getting an identical canopy is quite good, although having it shipped from Australia might take some doing.

Replacing the Top Dog’s standard pickup bed, the PCOR canopy opens up all kinds of possibilities. In this case, Jeep utilized the space curbside to store bike tools and replacement parts. Gas-assisted doors with slide-out drawers make bike maintenance and repair easier, with automotive dust seals to keep the collection of Moab’s dirt to a minimum.

On the flip side, there’s a refrigerator, and an electric hot dog roller grill, an addition I’ve never seen in several years of overlanding. Rhino racks, one above the Top Dog’s cab and another mounted to the canopy, are great for carrying bikes up and out of the way, plus additional expedition boxes full of riding gear and other essentials. Keep in mind that with this setup instead of a hitch rack for your bikes, the Gladiator becomes several feet taller and you won’t fit in most garages and some drive-throughs.

The Top Dog uses the 285 HP, 3.6-liter V6 that’s standard on the Gladiator, mated to an eight-speed automatic, the latter more likely to assist display personnel incapable of using a six-speed manual. Plenty of Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) have been used on the Top Dog, like the Rubicon front bumper, and JPP/Warn winches, one fore, and another aft. A concept hood, something not currently available, JPP five-inch LED off-road lights, and a JPP snorkel, complete the front end.

JPP rock rails, with custom two-inch steel tubes, and black sill guards with the Gladiator logo, are there for protection as much as they are for appearance. Inside, there are K-9 blue accents throughout, including stitching on the Katzkin leather seat covers, armrests, and steering wheel. Mopar pedal covers and floor mats finish off the interior accouterments.

Look for the Top Dog and other Jeep concept vehicles to pop up elsewhere, like the Detroit 4Fest, and other 4Fest events.

[Images: Jeep]

Jason R. Sakurai
Jason R. Sakurai

With a father who owned a dealership, I literally grew up in the business. After college, I worked for GM, Nissan and Mazda, writing articles for automotive enthusiast magazines as a side gig. I discovered you could make a living selling ad space at Four Wheeler magazine, before I moved on to selling TV for the National Hot Rod Association. After that, I started Roadhouse, a marketing, advertising and PR firm dedicated to the automotive, outdoor/apparel, and entertainment industries. Through the years, I continued writing, shooting, and editing. It keep things interesting.

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4 of 9 comments
  • Stuki Stuki on Mar 25, 2021

    Do anyone actually drag along such cheesy "organizer" systems, taking up massive space on invariably cramped overlanders, for real world outings? I realize the only ones who can afford to show their off rolling Sortimo catalogs in Insta in the Fed-and-onlly-Fed era, are yahoos who "made money off their home", and are no doubt proud of their kitchen remodel, but hot darn, talk about silliness.

    • MrIcky MrIcky on Mar 25, 2021

      Judging by some of the van and regular pick up setups I see at trailheads I've visited, my answer is absolutely. More of an adventure rig than an overlander here though.

  • Firestorm 500 Firestorm 500 on Mar 25, 2021

    Since Gladiators bend their frames pulling small boats and trailers, I can only imagine what will happen when this beast goes off road and gets flexed. Not to mention the rollover potential on the street or off-road.

    • RHD RHD on Mar 26, 2021

      That's not so much of a problem. If the frame comes apart, just roller-grill some hot dogs, then use the bicycles to get back to civilization.

  • Lorenzo A union in itself doesn't mean failure, collective bargaining would mean failure.
  • Ajla Why did pedestrian fatalities hit their nadir in 2009 and overall road fatalities hit their lowest since 1949 in 2011? Sedans were more popular back then but a lot of 300hp trucks and SUVs were on the road starting around 2000. And the sedans weren't getting smaller and slower either. The correlation between the the size and power of the fleet with more road deaths seems to be a more recent occurrence.
  • Jeff_M It's either a three on the tree OR it's an automatic. It ain't both.
  • Lorenzo I'm all in favor of using software and automation to BUILD cars, but keep that junk off my instrument panel, especially the software enabled interactive junk. Just give me the knobs and switches so I can control the vehicle, with no interconnectivity of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts Modern cars detach people from their speed too much. The combination of tall ride height, super-effective sound insulation, massive power, and electronic aids makes people quite unaware of just how much kinetic energy is nominally under their control while they watch a movie on their phone with one hand and eat a Quarter Pounder with the other. I think that is the primary reason we are seeing an uptick in speed-related fatalities, especially among people NOT in cars.With that said, I don't think Americans have proven responsible enough to have unlimited speed in cars. Although I'd hate it, I still would support limiters that kick in at 10 over in the city and 20 over on the freeway, because I think they would save more than enough lives to be worth the pain.