2018 Lexus GX460: Project Introduction

Hooniverse has housed stories about a select few of my vehicular doings over the years. It started with the Challenger, then the VehiCROSS, MR2, WRX, a 4Runner, Corvette, another 4Runner, a Miata, and a third 4Runner. Now it’s time to introduce my most recent build, a 2018 Lexus GX460. We discuss it regularly on The Off the Road Again Podcast and as of this posting its internet pixel-print home is right here on Hooniverse.

The GX was completely stock when we purchased it.

Backstory time

Fall, 2020. I was approaching eighteen months of daily driving a 2013 Miata and was ready to supplement it with a 4×4. My podcast co-host Chris sold me his 4Runner, then come summer 2021 I sold the pair to pursue my life-long dream of owning a 2-door, manual transmission Jeep Wrangler. After buying a JK from a fellow journalist and shipping it cross-country, life hit me fast: Soon after it arrived, my wife and I found out that our first baby was on its way. Passenger safety now paramount, the Jeep had to go.

A bit behind the times in the tech department, but still nicer than any of my prior vehicles.

Armed with a new motive, I looked to my comfort zone. The pursuit of another 5th gen 4Runner led to its platform-mate, the Lexus GX460. Abnormal market conditions meant that my budget allowed for a newer GX460 with fewer miles than what a comparably-priced 4Runner offered. Intrigued, I remembered the Lexus has a V8, tows more than the T4R, and brings something new and different to my garage. Something with a novelty factor, not just another known entity. A test-drive confirmed my suspicions. I was sold.

Friend of Hooniverse and Off the Road Again Matt Farah always encourages buying the best starting point you can. That’s exactly what I did, with a CPO 2018 GX460. It was well cared for by its original owner and the odometer showed just over 27,500 miles when I brought it home. A creampuff of around-town vehicles, its only issues were clear signs of drive-through car wash mistreatment and minor surface rust on the frame where all Northeast Toyota 4x4s tend to have it. Even so, this was the nicest vehicle I had ever owned by a country mile.

A lot of the build, like the spare tire on the rear door, pay homage to the Land Cruiser Prado roots.

Adding four-wheeling goodies

But the type of off-roading I love requires better gear than the stock GX offers. This is especially so in the tire, suspension, and approach angle departments. Research led to a few companies building parts for the 460, albeit nowhere near as many as the 4Runner, let alone the Wrangler. An opportunity became clear: Help lead the trek into the world of modifying the Lexus GX460 while building my dream do-it-all 4×4 (at least, one that isn’t wearing a Land Cruiser badge). The approach would be a “triple-duty build,” targeting off-road and towing capability while maintaining daily-driver compliance.

The bumper and other off-road parts revolutionized how the GX looks.

A couple of off-road powersports outlets that I was writing for at the time of purchase welcomed the GX project with open arms. Then a slew of partners jumped on board, all of which made this build possible. Toyo sent over a set of Open Country A/T III tires. Warn provided a VR Evo 12-S winch. Motegi, via Wheelpros, contributed Trailite wheels. Lightforce stepped up with a set of Genesis LED lights. Midland USA’s Zak guested on my podcast and mailed over an MXT500 GMRS for review. Meanwhile, Ironman 4×4 discounted a front bumper and Foam Cell Pro suspension to a palatable price. The Custom Shop set to work and brought it all together in killer fashion.

I added a few other pieces to the GX along the way. This included an assortment of quality-of-life upgrades: Maxpider Kagu floor mats, a Ram dashboard phone mount, rear door-mounted JW spare tire carrier, Kaon tailgate table, LED reverse lights, and a few other items I’m inevitably forgetting. Pelican wanted me to test a cargo box which now lives in the trunk and contains recovery and repair gear. The OEM trailer hitch remains unavailable, so I grabbed a Curt Class 3 unit in the interim. Most recently, I installed the Nextbase dash cam that Hoon-In-Chief Jeff Glucker kindly shipped me a few months back.

As with any project, there’s a long way to go before it reaches its final form. For now, it’s a great start. It drives beautifully considering the extent of the upgrades, remains safe and comfortable, retains the Lexus reliability, already off-roads extremely well, and can tow when needed. It does dad duty with ease, too. I’m excited to share the GX project with this website’s readers and the listeners of my podcast, as well as those on the forums which I frequent. Stay tuned to Hooniverse and Off the Road Again for future updates.

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2 responses to “2018 Lexus GX460: Project Introduction”

  1. Idaneck Avatar
    Idaneck

    That’s a really cool looking GX, nice work! Our 2016 Premium (68k miles) is mostly stock with Cornfed front spacers and Air Lift rear air bags. But we use it as designed; trails and off-roading in Idaho, towing a camper or the occasional trailer of antiques across the country, and family trips to all 3 coasts (from Idaho).

    Maybe a full-size half-ton truck would be better for our uses, but this will outlast any of those and be an ideal size for around town use. It’s been a great vehicle and I have some minor complaints, but I know it’ll outlast anything else we drive.

    I wouldn’t mind a steel front bumper with big lights, but hard to justify the cost until there is a reason to replace the existing plastic. And the 2023 upgrades resolve a lot of the old tech – but the old tech works fine. This is definitely a keeper for the long haul, but with 2 teens and their impeding education expenses – I’m not in a position to switch vehicles as often.

    1. Ross Ballot Avatar
      Ross Ballot

      Thank you! Glad you like yours as well. They’re great vehicles that do 95% of the intended tasks quite well. A half-ton would likely have also suited my use well, but like you said, they’re a bit much on a day-to-day, local basis. As for the tech, there’s some good CarPlay integration options that I’m looking into… but hopefully more on that in the not-too-distant future.

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