There are plenty of reasons to love Jeep, but the Jeep Gladiator Top Dog Concept is the first one that ever made me seriously consider mountain biking. Jeep used a 2020 Gladiator as the Top Dog’s foundation, then added racks, storage systems, and some brute power to take you on muddy, boulder-strewn adventures.
You probably remember that Mopar released the Jeep Gladiator Farout Concept in April. Yes, this new Jeep concept is similar, but the extras make it truly ready for mountain bikers. The Top Dog is what serious mountain bike enthusiasts want. Sure, it suits everyone, but Jeep built this for the “Top Dogs” of mountain biking. Just to underscore that, the automaker calls its exterior color “K-9 Blue.” Yes, Jeep, we get the point and love it.
“Loaded with nearly 20 Jeep Performance Parts, we built this go-anywhere Jeep Gladiator Top Dog Concept for passionate mountain bike enthusiasts,” said Mark Bosanac, Head of Mopar Service, Parts and Customer Care, FCA – North America. “Across the entire Jeep lineup, we offer more than 500 quality-tested, factory-backed parts, and accessories.”
So what does Bosanac mean when he says it suits passionate mountain bikers? Here are just a few of the mountain-bike-friendly extras on the Top Dog:
A dual bike rack on top (for starters).
Tool and equipment storage spaces above the cab.
Exterior lighting switches and extra power supplies.
Dual concept exterior task lights mounted on each side.
Multiple interior storage shelves (no hunting for your sunglasses or bug spray).
Passenger side storage system with pull-out drawers for your tools and supplies.
Traction mats for vehicle recovery and extraction (no more literal spinning your wheels).
A driver’s side storage system with a battery-powered refrigerator and electric hot-dog roller grill stand, so your personal refueling choices extend beyond warm water and smooshed Power Bars.
Yes, storage is often a big snooze filled with lists of cupholders and cubbies, but that’s not the case when it comes to the Jeep Gladiator Top Dog Concept.
Jeep Gladiator Top Dog Concept: The Essentials
Wear on Jeeps is a badge of honor, but you don’t want to be tearing off your valuable equipment and accessories. That’s where the two-inch lift kit, steel grille guard, Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) Rubicon bumpers, and five-inch, off-road LED lights at the base of the A-pillars are godsends. JPP rock rails, welded with two-inch steels tubes, guard each side of the Top Dog.
Oh, and there’s an 8,000 lbs. capacity Rubicon Warn winch with 100 feet of Spydura synthetic rope to get you out of that mud and around those slippery tree roots. A roll-out storage drawer just above a JPP rear-facing winch houses a foldable ladder so you can haul down or lift your bikes from the racks.
Power Through The Nasty Stuff
You may recall how the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel powers the Farout Concept. However, the engine of the Top Dog Concept is more like that of the 2019 Wayout Concept. Jeep uses a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 to power both the Top Dog and the Wayout. Both the Wayout and the Top Dog have eight-speed automatics paired to their Pentastar V6 engines.
While the extra torque of the EcoDiesel would have been nice for the Top Dog Concept, the Pentastar V6 makes a healthy 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. Plus, the Top Dog has a JPP snorkel to direct cool air into the engine during off-roading. Add to that the FOX shocks and 37-inch BF Goodrich KM3 mud-terrain tires and the Jeep Top Dog Concept is read to play hard.
The K-9 Blue color continues from the outside to the inside, but there are dashes of black on the Katzkin leather seats, armrests, shifter boots, steering wheel, and elsewhere. Stainless steel pedal covers with black rubber pads ensure you won’t return home only to chip mud from your boots off the pedals. All-weather floor mats keep the carpet clean, too.
There’s little question Jeep built this concept for serious mountain bikers, but it’s tough to imagine any outdoor enthusiast not wanting to take the Jeep Gladiator Top Dog Concept for a drive.
Nancy Dunham is a life-long journalist whose work appears in many national automotive and general interest magazines and accompanying websites. Her dad was an executive with Western Auto Supply Co. (sold to Sears), so the smell of tires still brings back a flood of childhood memories. Favorite professional assignment: driving on the Texas Motor Speedway. She lives in Austin, Texas with her cat Prudence.