Lexus GX470 Off Road Build

The Lexus GX470 seems an unlikely off-road platform at first glance. This midsize luxury SUV delivers a refined driving experience focusing on comfort, space, and reliability over ruggedness. However, a truck-based foundation gives the GX serious capability once the pavement ends. Installing targeted upgrades transforms this family hauler into a highly competent overlander and technical trail tackle that retains its trademark refinement.

Here is a price comparison table providing examples of budget, intermediate, and expert build recommendations for modifying a Lexus GX470 for off-roading:

Build TypeLift KitTires & WheelsArmorTotal Price
BudgetOME 2-3″ lift: $800Cooper 33″ A/T: $900DIY rock sliders: $300$2,000
IntermediateToyTec 3-4“ lift: $1,300BFGoodrich 34“ A/T: $1,100ShrockWorks bumpers + sliders: $1,500$3,900
ExpertIcon 3-4″ lift: $1,500General 35″ mud terrain: $1,400Full exo-cage + underbody skids: $2,500$5,400+
Price Comparison

1. Budget Build

The budget build focuses on essential upgrades to gain basic off-road capabilities while sticking to a strict budget. This tier typically includes:

  • Suspension lift kit: Provides increased ground clearance for tackling moderate off-road trails.
  • All-terrain tires: Improves traction on varied surfaces without breaking the bank.
  • Basic armor: Adds protection to vulnerable areas without extensive modification.

2. Intermediate Build

The intermediate build utilizes higher-quality components for increased capability and protection. This tier may include:

  • Upgraded suspension system: Offers improved articulation and damping for more challenging off-road terrain.
  • Enhanced armor: Provides comprehensive protection with reinforced bumpers, skid plates, and rock sliders.
  • Advanced recovery gear: Includes winches, recovery straps, and shackles for tackling tougher trails.

3. Expert Build

The expert builds spares at no expense for hardcore off-road performance, incorporating top-tier equipment from the aftermarket. This tier may feature:

  • Long-travel suspension: Maximizes wheel travel and control over rough terrain, allowing for aggressive off-road driving.
  • Custom-built armor: Utilizes high-strength materials and precision engineering for maximum protection and durability.
  • Specialty accessories: Includes onboard air compressors, differential locks, and upgraded drivetrain components for extreme off-road adventures.

Understanding the Basics

Lexus GX470 Suspension Lift Kit
Michael Morozov 

Before diving into the modifications, it’s essential to grasp the foundational aspects of off-road readiness. The GX470’s body-on-frame construction, coupled with a powerful V8 engine and available locking center differential, forms the perfect canvas for an off-road build.

Essential Modifications for Off-Road Performance

1. Suspension Lift Kit ($1200-$1500)

BrandHeightShock TypePrice RangeKey Features
Icon Vehicle Dynamics3-4 inchesReservoir$1,200-$1,500Tuned specifically for GX470, high-end shocks
ToyTec3-4 inchesMonotube$1,200-$1,500Pre-configured kits, great value
OME2-3 inchesHeavy duty$800-$1,200Well-balanced components

Installing a suspension lift kit that raises your GX470 by 3-4 inches is a crucial first upgrade for off-road duty. Brands like Icon Vehicle Dynamics and ToyTec offer lift kits optimized specifically for the Lexus GX platform, utilizing high-quality shocks and springs. At around $1200-$1500, you gain increased wheel travel for stability, enhanced ground clearance for clearing obstacles, and a taller stance for fitting larger tires.

Suspension Lift Kit
  • What it does: Raises your GX470 by 3-4 inches, improving ground clearance and allowing for larger tires.
  • Benefits: Increased stability, better clearance over obstacles, and a more aggressive off-road stance.
  • Recommended brands: Icon Vehicle Dynamics, ToyTec.
  • Cost: Typically ranges from $1200 to $1500.

2. All-Terrain Tires ($800-$1200)

TireSizeKey FeaturesPrice
BFGoodrich KO233-35 inchesDeep tread, puncture resistant$1000+
Cooper Discoverer33-35 inchesTraction in loose dirt/mud$800-$1200
General Grabber X333-35 inchesDurable compound, stiff sidewalls$900+

Matching your lifted suspension with aggressive 33 to 35-inch all-terrain tires completes the package. Popular all-terrain options like the BFGoodrich KO2 and Cooper Discoverer offer deep tread blocks for traction in mud, sand, loose dirt, and rocks. Upgraded rubber compounds prevent punctures over off-road hazards while stiff sidewalls provide stability at low pressures. Expect to spend $800-$1200 on a set of 4 all-terrain tires along with new wheels sized appropriately for the larger diameter.

BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain Tires
  • What they do: Provide traction in various off-road conditions like mud, sand, and rocks.
  • Benefits: Enhanced grip, puncture resistance, and sidewall strength for low-pressure off-road driving.
  • Popular options: BFGoodrich KO2, Cooper Discoverer.
  • Cost: Expect to spend between $800 and $1200 for a set of four tires, including new wheels if necessary.

3. Armor and Protection ($1500)

ComponentManufacturerPriceKey Features
Rock SlidersCBI Offroad$500Protect rocker panels, tube style

Shielding the underbody and vulnerable exterior panels from off-road damage is key. Tubular steel bumpers from manufacturers like ShrockWorks, CBI Offroad, and Coastal Offroad provide a sturdy guard for the front and rear of your GX while allowing room to integrate recovery points, winches, and lights. Add on rock sliders from the same companies at around $500 to protect the doors and rocker panels from dents and scratches. Together, around $1500 spent on armor provides essential peace of mind for taking your luxury ute off the beaten path.

Lexus GX470 CBI Off-Road Rock Sliders
  • What it includes: Tubular steel bumpers for the front and rear, along with rock sliders for the sides.
  • Benefits: Protects vulnerable areas of your GX470 from damage when traversing rough terrain.
  • Recommended manufacturers: ShrockWorks, CBI Offroad, Coastal Offroad.
  • Cost: Around $1500 for both bumpers and rock sliders, providing essential peace of mind off-road.

Pros and Cons of Off-Roading with the GX470

Pros and Cons of Off-Roading with the GX470

While the GX470 boasts impressive off-road potential, it’s essential to consider both its strengths and weaknesses. Its robust construction, capable drivetrain, and generous ground clearance make it an ideal candidate for off-road adventures. However, factors such as its age, modest fuel economy, and dated interior design may pose challenges for some enthusiasts.

Potential Problems and Considerations

While the Lexus GX470 is a great candidate for off-road modifications, there are several factors to consider before diving into the build:

1. Reduced On-Road Performance

  • Issue: Larger tires, a higher suspension lift, and added armor weight can diminish on-road acceleration and handling.
  • Impact: Expect decreased fuel economy and potentially compromised driving dynamics, especially in urban settings.
  • Recommendation: Adjust your driving expectations and consider the trade-offs between off-road capability and on-road performance.

2. Reliability Concerns

  • Issue: Using aftermarket components not specifically designed for the GX470 may lead to reliability issues over time, particularly with frequent off-road use.
  • Impact: Poorly engineered modifications can result in premature wear or failure of critical components.
  • Recommendation: Invest in high-quality, GX-specific aftermarket parts to minimize the risk of reliability issues down the road.

3. Interior Wear and Tear

  • Issue: Off-road adventures can take a toll on the interior, causing scratches, scuffs, and staining.
  • Impact: Despite its luxury features, the GX470’s cabin is not immune to the rigors of off-road use.
  • Recommendation: Use protective measures such as seat covers and floor mats to minimize damage, and be prepared for cosmetic wear over time.

4. Capability Limitations

  • Issue: While capable of a luxury SUV, the GX470 has its limits, especially in extreme off-road conditions.
  • Impact: Aggressive driving or tackling terrain beyond the vehicle’s capabilities can lead to damage.
  • Recommendation: Understand the GX470’s strengths and limitations, and choose trails and driving techniques accordingly to prevent unnecessary strain on the vehicle.

By carefully considering these potential issues and taking appropriate precautions, you can build a capable and reliable off-road rig with your Lexus GX470 while preserving its comfort and luxury features.

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