Overlanding—the practice of outfitting a 4×4 rig with larger tires, camping supplies, and other accoutrements for self-sustaining exploration—has never been more popular. In an effort to show what’s possible with its range-topping LX 570 flagship SUV, Lexus tapped well-known firm Expedition Overland to help upfit the Toyota Land Cruiser’s more luxurious cousin for a rugged life off the beaten path. Meet the J201 Concept, Lexus’ idea of the perfect overlanding rig.
More than just a snorkel and a light bar, the J201 has some serious equipment aimed directly at making an already competent platform into a posh pack mule ready to ferry you anywhere you point it.
The 5.7-liter 3UR-FE V-8 gains a Magnuson supercharger, boosting power from 383 hp and 403 lb-ft to 550 hp and 550 lb-ft. More importantly, the rest of the running gear is similarly bolstered. ARB air-locking differentials sit both front and rear, with 4.30 Nitro gears to replace the stock 3.30 units. New 17×8-inch EVO Corse DakarZero wheels wearing 33-inch General Grabber X3 tires help the J201 claw its way though even the most unsavory of terrain. There’s also a full-size spare mounted on the back of the special swing-arm rear bumper.
Along with Icon Vehicle Dynamics control arms and adjusted OEM height sensors, the J201 rides two inches higher up front and one inch higher in the rear when the LX’s existing electro-hydraulic suspension is set to normal. CBI Offroad rock sliders and skid plates protect the vehicle’s rockers, front differential, transfer case, and fuel tank from sharp objects while out on the trail. Should you somehow manage to get this brute stuck, the 10,000-pound Warn Winch mounted inside a CBI Offroad bumper will help rectify the situation.
Inside the already luxurious cabin, a ceiling-mounted ARB Linx interface controls the overlanding vitals such as the accessory lighting, the air lockers, the onboard air compressor, and more. A Goose Gear interior drawer module behind the second row of seats houses extra tow gear, a set of dog bowls for your faithful trail companion, and a set of Zero Haliburton Aluminum travel cases for all your extra exploration clothing.
Even better, the J201 Concept is going to see real-world action starting this Thursday, October 8 at the 10-day-long Rebelle Rally, an all-female off-road race spanning more than 1240 miles through harsh terrain in California and Nevada. The Rally does not allow the use of GPS or cell phones, but rather requires contestants to use maps, compasses, and road books to cross the finish line. The J201 will be piloted by defending champions Rachelle Croft and Taylor Pawley, who last year won the event in a stock GX460, the LX570’s smaller cousin.
We’re sure a vehicle that starts north of $90,000 isn’t the platform of choice for most overlanding aficionados, but it’s neat to see manufacturers dip their toes into the aftermarket world, warranties be damned. It’s why we’ve seen automaker booths at shows like SEMA in previous years (though not 2020). Marketing exercise or not, we dig the J201 for what it is—a luxurious but rugged way to get out and drive, albeit slowly and nowhere near paved roads.