I thought I would do a write up on my 2004 Lexus GX. I feel it clearly takes a different path then many people take with their off road builds. For me, I knew from the start that I wanted a more subtle look and also save weight as much as possible. I knew that added weight would make off road driving more difficult and also potential reliability issues from that weight. However, it’s clearly also not a minimalist type of vehicle. It still carries all the things most people find are necessary. I use mine as a in the vehicle camping platform. I use it as a daily driver and Colorado exploring rig. So why the “Ego Crusher” name. First, it should be said this build is not an ego/looks driven type of build. Just the opposite with the factory wheels and bumper covers. As with most good names I did not come up with the name myself. Instead it comes from a friend I wheel with as often as possible. On our last trip to Moab he said “You know the looks on peoples faces after you pass them is hilarious. They seem dejected after such a simple looking vehicle is doing the same thing they do in their very modded rig. It’s a perfect compliment if you ask me. Thanks for the great name Todd.
This it a Radflo Extended Travel front and Long Travel rear setup. I chose 2.5” Radflo Shock bodies front and rear with out external reservoirs. My thinking is I wanted the extra capacity oil capacity because the GX is not light.
Front suspension is Radflo 2.5” Extended Travel which means it gets the most travel you can get using the stock lower control arms. This requires the use of new better articulation UCA. I am using the 3 year old version of the SPC just before the Forged version came out. I do like my SPC and they have worked well. They have zerk fittings for adding grease. I am using a a 650lb springs in front set at about 2.5” of lift. I recently removed the front sway bar. It adds on road comfort but that is simply a side benefit. With the rear LT setup the front is way behind in articulation. Remove the front bar helps the front actually move sooner and try and keep up with the rear. It does lean more in the corners but actually seems to lean and then take a set. You may or may not like this but its still drivable on road and better off road,
Rear suspension is also Radflo 2.5” bodies but this time with Long Travel. In addition it has Metal Tech Upper and Lower Control Arms as well as Icon Panhard bar. I have Metal Tech (MT) Medium rate (250lbs) springs. I found the full setup of bars was a requirement with this setup. It gains about 3” inches of lift with this spring. At this lift the pinion angle is very off and the car would shake at higher speeds. My child seat would vibrate so badly my daughter would cry from the vibration. I also deleted the rear bar. For the longest time the rear bar was deleted with the front bar still in place. I honestly never missed the rear bar with the heavier rear springs. It felt normal like that. I also have MT Drop Bump stops and FJ/4Runner Bump Stops. It still does not have enough bump stop and I had to drop it a little further. You need to measure. I am getting Wheelers Off Road Foam Bumps in the future and will readjust the bumps.
Additionally, I had the control arm bushings wear out and replaced them with Energy suspension bushings. This requires heating and pushing out the original bushings. This is a huge PITA and not fun. But when completed you have a easy to service bushings that make no noise and work great. I can’t recommend the process but the results are great.
The suspension drives comfortably. It’s firmer then stock but very comfortable. It does lean more with out the front bar. Takes a little getting used to.
Tires and Wheels
I am currently using 285/70/17 Duratrac E rated. They are amazing tires in the snow and very good on Moab SlickRock. Still soft and quiet at 32psi. Which is a surprise considering how aggressive they look. I have run 265/70/17 KO2. IMHO the Duratrac is quieter and a better winter tire. I have cut a Duratrac once. I hope this isn’t a bad sign. We will see. I also had 285/75/17 KM2. They were noisy, vibrate more. Not a daily tire for someone like me and my family. I am using OEM wheels with 1.25” Sipdertrax wheel spacers. OEM wheels are usually incredibly strong. Properly installed they have never budged and are smooth. You may hate them but mine work perfectly and saved me a ton of money when I was using 10 wheels.
I am a huge believer in saving weight and it shows in my front bumper. I have a SSO Hidden winch bumper. The cover is cut about 1” above the bumper. I can use the front bumper to hit the rock in the front and not touch the plastic cover. I will be adding a 1.5” tube at some point in the future. I am currently using a Smittybuilt X20 12000lbs winch. It’s wireless and fits well. Next time I would get eh 10,000 lbs version as the specs on it are actually better with a couple winds of rope on the spool. Factor55 Splicer attachment. The bumper and winch adds only 100lbs over the original setup.
This is my own creation. It’s a Mountain Passes Off Road Mini Max bumper. I have made several for others. Intention was a lightweight but reasonable protection bumper. Currently making them for people who can bring me their vehicle for fitment. It’s a lightweight option that offers good protection. You can view my page on FaceBook “Mountain Passes Off-road”. Rear slider/bumper adds about 125lbs with tire carrier.
Rocky Mountain Super Sliders. Very Strong. Nice Step. I have literally had the entire vehicle weight on one slider as I was on two wheels on one side. They did not bend. They do attach to the body and frame which is a little weird but has not been an issue.
I used Hefty Fab aluminum skids. The front required fitment to the sway bar as it would hit and knock off road. Had to grind down a section. Rear fuel tank skid needed to be trimmed and relocated the rear inside bracket. Chris at HeftyFab hooked me up with a new bracket. The rear axle moves so much under full articulation that the rear most u-joint would contact the skid. It’s fixed now and perfect. I like the skids from a weight vs function perspective.
The 8.2 is known to be a decent upgrade over the original 8.0. Mostly because of boring internal design changes and not simply because of the 8.0 vs 8.2 size change. If you are lucky enough to find an Automatic version 8.2 the gearing is already correct for the GX. Add to that a factory locker and you are getting a worthwhile upgrade over the non-locked 8.0. I was able to find a Locked 8.2 out of an Auto FJ cruiser so it was a direct drop in. I used the Low Range Off Road harness for the locker wiring. With the LT rear I had tremendous rear traction before the locker. The articulation keeps the tires on the ground very well. With the locker you have even less drama than before. In poor traction situations you have less loss of traction and I think I am less likely to break something while off road away from home. The locker along with the LT rear are my favorite modifications.
I also make a rear platform that helps with organization and storage. This unit clicks into the third row seat anchors and is 9.5" above the floor. It folds for easy access to items stored towards the second row seats. It is easily removed for when it's not needed. Gives a safer place to store heavier items under the shelf against the seat as the shelf will help keep items contained under it. I use soft bags for tools and recovery gear in this location.
As a sleeping platform it has a third piece that bridges between the platform and the second row seats. This provides a level area perfect for a self inflating air mattress. I do sleep in the rear. I use magnets to attach screen to the pop open side windows for ventilation. People seem to focus on the sleep function but I love the storage organization functions more than anything. I can load the entire floor with stuff and still have a second shelf for suitcases, cooler, etc. This is incredibly handy. It’s light weight and doesn’t permanently change the functionality of the rear if you need to carry something larger.
Forward facing Camera
I installed a $50 backup style BT/WiFi camera in the front. It then syncs to the phone I use not connected to cell service. When I need to see forward under the hood line I just activate this camera. It’s amazing.
I have converted the tape deck that came with the GX to a Pioneer DEH-S6120BS Single Din unit using the Beat Sonic adapter setup. The stereo sounds incredible, you can control it from an app on your phone and the BT is the best I have ever owned. Mic quality is also very good.
Below is a link to my FB area on Mountain Passes Off-road as I know someone will ask. This post was never intended to be an advertisement for my side work. In fact I am very busy and don’t produce nearly as much as the demand seems to be. Please contact me via PM or through FB for product questions as I really want this to be a build thread.