The Lexus J201 (Land Cruiser) Project

There are few vehicles on the planet that have earned the respect of a J-Series Land Cruiser.

Having toured the Toyota plant in Nagoya, quality was evident at every corner, even the janitor had the power to stop the production line if something was amiss. While most OEM manufacturers have parking lots filled with vehicles that need rework, the Land Cruiser has two solo parking spots—both spots empty when I was there.

For 13 years, the 200-Series Land Cruiser has held the pinnacle of that durability and quality mountain in North America. This same platform has been sold under the Lexus brand as well, as with the LX570. There are certainly additional luxury appointments, but the LX570 has the heart (and bones) of a Land Cruiser. This fact is not lost on the Lexus team, and they have recently started engaging the heritage of the platform in a series of custom vehicles, starting with the GXOR GX460, and now featuring the J201 LX570.

The modifications are extensive, and appear to be inside the 1,385-pound payload of the model (it is also worth noting that some models of the 200 exceed 1,600 pounds of payload). What we find most compelling about the project is not only the thoughtful application of equipment, but also the functional nature of all of the enhancements. This starts with what is unseen (at a typical trade show), like the differential gearing change to 4.30:1, and a Magnuson Supercharger. The engine enhancements result in 550 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. Is that much power useful for long-distance travel? Answering that question is not the point—sometimes 550 horsepower is just fun to imagine. All of that power needs to stop too, so they installed StopTech rotors and pads to help increase stopping performance and heat dissipation. To improve traction over the factory traction control is a pair of driver-selectable front and rear air lockers.

To provide additional ground clearance, they fitted an Icon Vehicle Dynamics suspension system, including custom front upper control arms (UCAs), rear links, and factory front and rear spacers (this is worth learning more about!). Making the most significant improvement in ground clearance is the 33-inch-diameter General Grabber X3 tires on 17-inch EVO wheels.

The front grill of the LX570 has been our least favorite attribute (it is incongruent with the platform intent, and the primary buyer demographic), but the unique CBI front bumper helps shift that opinion slightly. Most important, it improves ground clearance and has a provision for the Warn winch. It also accommodates two rated recovery points.

To complement the front, and provide a provision for a full-size spare, the a CBI rear bumper was also fitted. This bumper significantly improves protection for the rear, being a full wraparound. It also integrates a rear ladder and and fuel storage.

Additional CBI equipment includes full-length rock sliders (with integrated Lexus illumination), and a skid plate for the front suspension, transfer case, and fuel tank.

Modifications to the interior are minimal, save for the extensive Goose Gear drawer system and ARB LINX controller (which manages the lockers, compressor, and all the lights). The Goose Gear drawers are the real deal, and have a reputation for being both lightweight, and durable with a heavy load. This Lexus fitment has thoughtful touches like pre-trimmed recovery gear cutouts and other organizational enhancements (including bowls for the dogs).

It is also worth noting the Halliburton Zero cases, which are legendary to travelers in the know (and are a competitive and slightly less expensive option to a Rimowa case). These aluminum cases are right at home in a Lexus.

Other notable enhancements abound, including a full-length Prinsu Rack, which is considered the minimalist rack of choice. These racks flow with the factory roof line and sit lower than most (while also being strong)  Rigid lights are in the front faring and the bumpers.

Overall, the J201 project is not just a show vehicle, but a fully functional overland platform for remote travel. The J201 has the heart of a Land Cruiser, the luxury of a Lexus, and the finishing touches of a true overlander.

(Editor’s Note: It is important to acknowledge the work XOverland did in preparing this vehicle and vetting the products selected.)

   


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Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar travels include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. He lives in Prescott, Arizona