One of the perks of working in the overlanding industry segment is the opportunity to test, borrow, and review equipment and products that we would never have experienced otherwise. In this case, Rachael and I’s jobs intersected and we were able to take the Overland Expo Foundation Ultimate Lexus LX600 build for a few days after Overland Expo Pacific Northwest. We also had the Ultimate Moto Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Pro at the same time, but I will write another post for that vehicle. 

What is the Overland Expo Foundation?

The Overland Expo Foundation is a 501c3 organization founded by Overland Expo to help protect wild spaces and guarantee access for a future generation of travelers. The Overland Expo Foundation is funded by a product raffle at each Overland Expo event and the auction of the two Ultimate Overland Builds each year. The raffle is made up of donated products from the many brands that participate at each event and the drawing is typically on the Saturday night of the event. The Saturday night raffle is a hoot and is definitely worth attending if you get the chance. The second and primary funding source is the build and auction of the Ultimate Overland Motorcycle and Ultimate Overland Truck each year. Brands from across the industry donate products for the build and the vehicles are auctioned off on Bring a Trailer at the end of the event season. With the proceeds, the Overland Expo Foundation funds trail clean-ups and other non-profit initiatives that help keep overland travel accessible to as many travelers as possible. 

Rachael took over as the Executive Director of the Overland Expo Foundation this year and is working to build the organization to involve more partners and create more opportunities for cleaning up campsites and trails. You can donate to the Overland Expo Foundation HERE.

2023 Lexus LX600

The foundation of the Ultimate Truck Build is the 2023 Lexus LX600, the closest thing to a 2023 Toyota Land Cruiser that you can get stateside. The LX is all new for the 2023 model year and it is as capable as it is comfortable. The new twin-turbo V6 cranks out 409 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque sent to the tires through a 10-speed automatic transmission. While this is plenty of power, the tow rating of only 6000 pounds is a little disappointing as the 300-series Land Cruiser tows over 7500 pounds. If the EPA claim of 17 miles-per-gallon in the city and 22 MPG on the highway is to be believed, the LX will make a very comfortable and off-road capable vehicle for extensive overland travel. 

The base functions of the LX600 were impressive, to say the least. I read the reviews for the LX before embarking on our adventure and I found most of the complaints from major media outlets to be out of touch with what this vehicle should be: a temporary Land Cruiser substitute until the new LC is brought to the US in late 2023. Compared to the top vehicles in the class like the Escalade and the Grand Wagoneer, the LX seems simple and less fancy, which is a good thing. The interior is still wildly comfortable and the first two rows of seating have plenty of room and adjustments for a variety of passenger sizes. The infotainment is simple and elegant with a limited number of auxiliary screens or sound systems. The main display is large and easy to use and the built-in wireless charger in the center console was a surprise. As we normally travel in the older and slower cousin, the Lexus GX470, we very much enjoyed traveling in the LX600. 

The Ultimate Overland Vehicle Build

When you bring together brands from across the overlanding segment in a project like this, the result is sure to be interesting at a minimum and the LX600 build is definitely interesting. None of the participating vendors participated in a small way and all of the product offerings were the best and likely most expensive products available. Most of the modifications improved upon the already capable LX600 platform and the ones that didn’t improve it, at least didn’t hurt the performance of the truck. 


On a vehicle as “parking-lot friendly” as the LX600, some major changes are needed out of the box to make this vehicle safe to drive off-road without destroying the bumpers and body. The approach and departure angles of the stock vehicle are really bad and the stock grill is one of the only aspects of the exterior of the LX600 that doesn’t flow well. 

The front bumper is an ARB Summit Mk2 Bull Bar and it is quite beautiful to look at. As with all ARB products, it appears to be well-engineered and built to withstand the most challenging roads in Australia. Made into the lower pan of the bumper are two lift points for a Hi-Lift which is a nice touch. The integrated lighting is an interesting component as it features a fog light, a daytime, a running light, and a turn signal all in one. While this feature is sleek and matches the aesthetic of the rest of the LX, I much prefer the Mk1 ARB bars with a simple fog light hole and signal spot. Call me old-fashioned. The LX was also equipped with ARB recovery points that are powder-coated bright red and bolted to the frame. 

ARB also provided the skid plates under the vehicle which appeared to be the standard ARB skids. Made of 3mm steel, ARB skid plates have long been favorites of overland travelers because they are the perfect balance between stock skid plates and hardcore wheeling skid plates. ARB skids are well-designed to fit right and protect everything that needs protection without adding a ton of unnecessary weight. 

The product that I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy from ARB on the LX was the ARB Summit Side Rails and Steps. Like most, I am picky about sliders, especially when they have an integrated “step” feature. I was pleasantly surprised with the bars on the LX. The 60mm steel tube offers plenty of protection for overland travel and the extrusion panel on the step was quite intuitive and solid in real-world use. Rachael often has a bit of a jump to get into lifted 4x4s and the step made that process much smoother. Our tagalong videographer seemed to enjoy the steps for getting the shot as well. 

The Prinsu roof rack provides exactly what is needed and exactly nothing else. The aluminum construction is easy to use and provides plenty of mounting points for a rooftop tent or other accessories such as MaxTrax or lighting. We use a Prinsu rack on our GX and it’s hard to beat for the price. The rails are modular and interchangeable and even the front wind deflector can be swapped out for one with a lightbar cutout. 

The rear bumper from CBI was a joy to use as it allowed for mounting the spare tire, and carrying MaxTrax and spare fuel (which we almost needed when the moto ran a little low out in the forest). The swing outs work as designed and the locking pin that keeps the swing outs extended worked perfectly. I was a little wary about towing a trailer weighing in close to 3000 pounds with a bumper that wasn’t rated for towing, but all worked well and we had zero problems. I understand that getting approved for a tow rating is an expensive and arduous task, but a bumper like a Kaymar might have been a better fit. 

Suspension, Wheels, and Tires

Suspension is such a subjective area of vehicle outfitting that it is hard to comment on. The Radflo shocks and struts paired with the Total Chaos upper and lower control arms provided a ride that was near-stock comfort levels and flexed and climbed over everything we threw at it. Washboard roads were nothing for the 2.5-diameter shock tubes and remote reservoirs. The heim/uni-ball joints on the control arms had already started to squeak, but that is to be expected on a near-race-ready suspension that is being driven around by media for the summer. \

The ICON Alloy Compression wheels were a tasteful addition to the truck and I am a big fan of the 12-spoke “race” style of wheels that are starting to become more popular in the overlanding segment. Wrapped around the ICON wheels are a set of Kenda Klever R/T all-terrain tires in 33×12.5×17, which is the absolute biggest tire I would run on the LX600. I prefer a pizza cutter tire for overland travel but the tires performed well in a variety of terrain from sharp rocks to super loose sand. We did notice quite a bit of road noise past 65 miles per hour, but that is to be expected with any aggressive AT tire. 

While the suspension is likely overbuilt for a true round-the-world overland rig, it worked flawlessly for us in a variety of situations while still maintaining that luxury comfort that Lexus is known for. With this setup, we didn’t need to engage 4-lo or the center differential lock on any obstacles barring one very off-camber hill climb that had eliminated contact for one side of the vehicle. The lift height was perfect for an overland vehicle and it made getting back into our GX470 with small monotube shocks a little more challenging. 

Dual Battery Electrical System

The electrical system built for the LX600 utilizes top-of-the-line components from Victron Energy that would be at home inside the most extreme off-road trailer builds on the road. Victron has a reputation for selling the absolute best in power management and our experience did nothing but confirm their reputation. The Smart BMS safety transferred power from Lexus’s smart alternator to the lithium house battery. The system is built for expansion with the Smart Solar MPPT 100/20 charge controller that can accept up to 100 volts of solar input and maintain 20 amps of battery charge current, all one needs is a solar panel. The 500-watt Phoenix inverter has plenty of juice to charge your AC power requirements including the somewhat strange ZERO Breeze Mk 2 air conditioner. The 15 amp Blue Smart charger is a nice addition to allow for shore power charging when at home or in a campground. All of the Victron components communicate via the Victron Connect Bluetooth application. This setup could easily be the foundation for a full-time living electrical system in a truck or camper. 

The starting battery was replaced with an Optima Yellow Top DH7 which boasts the same features that have made the Optima name synonymous with high-quality and exceptional performance. The sealed battery can be mounted in any orientation and provides more than 300 charges/discharges. 


The stock Lexus headlights are quite good but are complimented by a pair of ARB Intensity IQ Driving Lights that are extremely visually striking. Visually, I am not a huge fan of the space-age design of the IQ lights, but the performance is truly unbelievable. The IQ lights have four unique lighting optics named Super Spot, Spot, Flood, and MidRange. The different lighting modes are controlled via a simple keypad inside the cab and the various modes made picking a light optic simple on the fly. I am convinced that the lights on the Ultimate LX were aimed improperly on installation and I didn’t have the time to investigate, but the light performance was obvious and attractive. 

The scene lighting scattered around the LX is all from the Vision X lighting catalog. On each side of the roof rack are mounted a pair of VisionX Overland Area Lights that each project 1,140 lumens in a 60/40 flood pattern for complete illumination around camp or on the trail. Two more Overland Area Lights live in the CBI rear bumper and activate with the reverse light circuit. On the rear of the roof rack is a pair of VisionX Dura Mini M4M Driving Lights with a mixed 10-degree/40-degree optic for excellent illumination close to the rear of the vehicle and farther behind you. The scene lighting is unbelievably bright and the build quality of the Vision X product is above and beyond most lights on the market. We drove through trees and brush with the lights taking a fair beating and you couldn’t even tell. The lights were bright enough to make photography of them in use quite difficult. 

Miscellaneous  Accessories and Tools

The benefit of having all of the storage space in the Lexus is the ability to fill those storage areas with cool tools and accessories. Perhaps the most important “stuff” in the truck is the inclusion of the Self Reliance Medical OTK 1450 First Aid Kit. This kit is extremely expensive but also well-stocked to handle everything from a skinned knee to serious trauma. If anything, this first aid kit might be overkill for most travelers and serious training should be pursued before someone should rely on this kit for their well-being. The last thing the overland community needs is amateur trauma cosplayers trying to drop an NG tube or perform needle decompression on the side of a trail. 

Camp Kitchen

The camp kitchen in the Ultimate Build is sufficient for allowing media and influencers to take it out for a weekend, but when took it out in July, it looked like none of the kitchen items had been used. Props to the Overland Expo team for keeping things cleaned up or shame on the media for staying in hotels and eating fast food. 

The base of the kitchen is the Goose Gear Ultimate Chef’s Package which allows for rear storage of the Dometic CFX3 45-liter fridge, the Kovea stove, and a built-in cutting board. The drawers are roomy and extremely hardy and the cubbies under the floor are a nice touch. The Dometic CFX3 is a proven fridge and we have always had a good experience while traveling with a Dometic Fridge. A notable addition to the vehicle is the Front Runner Camp Kitchen Utensil Set which has all of the utensils that four travelers will need for any camping adventure. 

An interesting addition to the vehicle was the Dometic’s Go Hydration Water Jug and Water Faucet. This setup seems a bit counter-intuitive at first, but when filling up our water for the week we enjoyed the small size and ease of handling for both Rachael and I. The water faucet worked well and came in handy as a “transfer” pump for filling up the trailer water tank.

Make It Yours in November

The true beauty of the Overland Expo Foundation Ultimate Build is that it will be going up for auction after Overland Expo East in October on Bring a Trailer. The lucky winner will receive the LX600 with all of the accessories and equipment, ready for a round-the-world adventure. The proceeds from the auction of the vehicle, motorcycle, and off-road trailer will benefit the work of the Overland Expo Foundation. 


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