Sexy Lexy: The GX470 Overland Adventuremobile
While it’s a relatively common sight to see a Lexus GX470 rolling around the local mall parking lot, at a kid’s soccer game or cruising Rodeo Drive, it’s a rare sight to find one tackling serious off-road obstacles as if they were speed bumps in a mall parking lot. The dynamic husband and wife duo Seth and Kande Jacobsen have assembled such a vehicle and have been spotted all over the southwestern U.S. exploring the most harsh and remote areas of the region. Their 2007 Lexus GX470 Sport has been built to a level of refinement rarely seen in any off-road or overland vehicle. The name of the vehicle is, “Lexy;” however, it’s often referred to as “Sexy Lexy.”
While most of the world got the Land Cruiser Prado 120, which the Lexus GX470 is based on, only the North American and Eurasian markets got the Lexus version. While the Prado is the less off-road oriented model in the Toyota Land Cruiser hierarchy, it’s known to have Toyota reliability and capability. The “GX” stands for “Grand Crossover,” and is a pretty fitting badge for this vehicle. It offers all the comforts and luxury that you’d expect from a Lexus, while also giving you the capabilities to handle a wide variety of poor weather and off-road scenarios. While few envision taking this luxury crossover SUV on truly remote and demanding off-road journeys, it’s actually quite capable right off the showroom floor. While aftermarket upgrades aren’t as readily available as many other common off-road vehicles in North America, many companies can source Prado 120 parts that will work on the GX470 and truly elevate its off-road performance.
Best of Both
Lexy is a truly special GX470, as she brings together the luxury you expect of a Lexus and the off-road prowess that you expect from a Land Cruiser. Lexy was purchased used in early 2014, and has since covered about 30,000 miles of adventurous roads around the southwestern US. The vehicle was specially built to access remote areas with speed and efficiency. Durability and self-reliance were only slightly placed above off-road speed and capability on the vehicle build sheet, all while keeping the legendary comfort and luxury of the Lexus name intact.
“Lexy was purchased used in early 2014, and has since covered about 30,000 miles of adventurous roads around the Southwestern US.”
The main capability upgrade on Lexy while still maintaining/improving comfort is a full custom suspension setup by Icon Vehicle Dynamics. It’s their Stage 7 Suspension System, with an additional “S2” secondary shock upgrade. The front is comprised of billet aluminum upper control arms, 2.5-inch coilovers with ICON’s compression damping control valve, and two-tube Omega Series bypass secondary shocks with compression and rebound adjustability. The rear factory air suspension has been replaced with ARB heavy-duty expedition springs, ICON upper and lower billet control arms, Omega Series bypass rear shocks and hydraulic bump stops. All of this combines to create a suspension setup that is well suited for the rough terrain and high speeds Lexy frequently sees, but is also comfortable enough for daily driver duty, with the ability to adjust the shocks for the perfect ride in any scenario. A 2.5-inch lift and 32.7-inch AT tires also help to keep the ride plush, while also improving the ground clearance and making it easier to drive over off-road obstacles.
To make Lexy truly unstoppable off road, it has been armored, locked, re-geared and fitted with a full compliment of recovery equipment. The vehicle has been properly protected with a full compliment of armor, including: rock sliders, full undercarriage skid protection and custom bumpers.
Besides the factory center locking differential, ARB Air Lockers have been added to the front and rear axels, making it possible to actively select which tires will gain traction in tough off-road scenarios. It has been re-geared by Nitro Gear and Axel, with 4:56 gear, in order to better lay down the big V8’s power, adjusting for the increased vehicle and rotational weight, due to the large load of camping and camera gear and the bigger tires. Wondering about recovery gear? Proper recovery points, an integrated ARB air compressor, a snorkel, Maxtrax recovery boards, a shovel, a winch and a full compliment of winching accessories complete the arsenal. The combination of all this carefully chosen and installed gear allows Lexy to go just about anywhere she pleases, and get back again. The extra five gallons of fuel in the rear bumper jerrycan helps with that getting back part.
Lexy is also a home away from home for Seth and Kande, as they regularly find themselves living out of the vehicle, on average 80-plus nights a year. They are never left wanting; however, as Lexy is outfitted with high quality overland/camping accessories, which make life on the road less traveled more of a joy than a burden. Lexy’s 23 Zero roof top tent, with annex room, provides a comfortable place to lay your head each night, as well as a covered living area for protection from weather and bugs.
A 12v ARB top load fridge keeps food fresh and beverages frosty, while the Goose Gear drawer system secures all the gear, keeping it organized and easy to access. The kitchen area is finished off with an innovative flip down cutting board/prep table, with custom utensil holder, all neatly built into the inside of the rear door. Cleaning yourself, and/or the dishes, after a long day of adventure couldn’t be easier, with the on board 20-gallon fresh water tank, with its high-pressure pump/sprayer and available hot water, courtesy of a Synergy hot water heat exchange unit.
“To make Lexy truly unstoppable off-road, she’s been armored, locked, re-geared and fitted with a full compliment of recovery equipment,including: rock sliders, full undercarriage skid protection and custom bumpers.”
A battery isolator and solar charge systems keep the dual batteries topped off, which never leaves the fridge, water pump, lighting, 12v charging ports or engine wanting for electricity. The couple also keeps their camera equipment, laptops, iPads and cell phones charged up through this system. These tools of the trade allow the couple to run two small businesses from the road, while an integrated cell phone booster helps them stay connected, and get that much further afield.
Seth and Kande primarily use Lexy for personal adventures, mostly in the deserts of NE Arizona, but also further abroad. Seth is an avid photographer, and Lexy is the most prized tool in his photography quiver, as it allows him to get to remote hard to access locations, with all his photography equipment, quickly and efficiently.
The vehicle is also used as a lead guide vehicle on overland adventures, primarily around the Grand Canyon area. Lexy can regularly be spotted at off-road and overland industry events around the southwest, as many companies use her as a promotional vehicle to showcase their products.
PLATFORM: 2007 LEXUS GX470 SPORT
- 4.7 L 2UZ-FE V8, 5-speed A750F automatic
- ARB Air Lockers front and rear
- Nitro 4:56 gears
- Cross drilled and Slotted Brake Rotors
- Differential Breathers
- High-Output Alternator
- Front- ICON Stage 7 suspension system with 2.5 remote reservoir shocks with CDC adjusters
- ICON Billet front upper control arms
- ICON I Omega 2.5 bye pass secondary shocks
- ICON front lower A arm skids with secondary shock mount Rear
- ICON I Omega bye pass 2.5 shocks
- ICON Billet upper and lower control arms
- ICON adjustable pan hard bar
- ICON rear pneumatic bump stops
- ARB Heavy Duty Expedition rear springs/ Falken Wildpeak 285/70-R17 AT tires
- 18”x9” NV Matte Black Method Race Wheels
- 23 Zero Bundaberg roof top tent with annex
- Fox Wing awning
- K-9 Roof rack with intergraded table
- Synergy Manufacturing hot water shower heat exchanger
- 20-Gallon fresh water tank (located in stock spare tire location)
- RV 12v water pump and extendable metal hose with adjustable nozzle
- ARB snorkel
- Custom Goose Gear drawer system with fridge slide
- ARB 82-quart 12v fridge
- ARB 12V air compressor
- Custom fold down cutting board and utensil holder (installed on rear gate)
- Two Blue Sea power distribution blocks
- P3 Solar 200 Watt solar panel with quick connector
- P3 Solar inverter
- SunForce 30 amp solar panel controller
- Custom front and rear bumpers with rear tire and jerrycan carriers
- 5-gallon jerrycan
- Cobra CB
- Black Berry Blue Tooth module
- Ultra Gauge
- Extra dual USB ports installed throughout
- IBS dual battery controller
- Twin Die Hard Platinum batteries
- Shovel mounted to jerrycan holder
- Front Runner spare tire step
- Cell phone signal booster
- Come Up 9,500 lb. winch (with synthetic rope and wireless winch controller)
- Factor 55 FlatLink and HitchLink
- 23 Zero recovery bag (pulley, tree saver, snatch strap, D-shackles)
- Maxtrax recovery boards
- 4-piece RCI skid plate kit
- Metal Tech rock sliders
- Custom rear water tank skid plate
- KC Lights 50-inch and 20-inch LED light bars
- 2 KC Lights 4-inch bumper mounted cornering lights
- 8 Cyclone LED rock lights (6 white and 2 red that come on when door is open)
- 4 LZR LED Cube area lights (mounted on roof rack)
- 3 LZR LED Cube reverse lights
- 2 Cyclone LED interior cargo lights
- KC LIGHTS
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the Spring 2015 print issue of Tread Magazine.