Builds mcgaskins' 2013 build thread - Palladium (1 Viewer)

mcgaskins

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tl;dr: If you don't like long rambling stories or cool pics and boring videos, this is not for you! 😆


BACKSTORY

It wasn't that long ago that I thought I had left the 200 indefinitely, but here I am just a few short months later. I like the 200 platform quite a bit, and this is somehow already my 4th. About 4 years ago, I found a really nice mostly built 14 I picked up for a great deal, but after having some fun with it I traded it for a nicely built Tacoma with an AT Habitat. I missed the 200, so I found a really clean 08 LX 570 for an impossible to pass price and picked it up as a daily driver. The truck only got used here and there, and I started to think about getting rid of it for a 16+ LC. The market was soft for a little while, so I was able to get a brandywine/terra 16 at a huge discount and sold the truck. The build thread for that one is here (Builds - mcgaskins' 2016 build thread - Ruby).

Ruby was one of my favorite vehicles I've owned, but at the end of last year I was getting burned out from spending too much time on the hobby being with being active in local clubs, multiple organized events, wrenching, planning, etc. I decided it was time for a change of pace and bought a thoroughly used 2002 Sprinter (which we still have and adore), took a break from wheeling, and put my focus on landing my dream job. I knew by pursuing this new focus I wouldn't have time for wheeling or even much recreation in general. The long story short is that I was able to get the job, and life became even busier than I expected. I had to relocate out of state for the new job, and there literally wouldn't have been any time for wheeling or recreation if I still had Ruby or any recreational vehicles for that matter.

While I felt the logical decision of selling Ruby was validated by my new circumstances, I certainly did not enjoy being Cruiser-less and wished for a scenario in which getting another one made sense. Well, covid happened. And that caused my out of state office to close and forced us to all work remotely for the foreseeable future, and I returned to Denver where my family had remained as I worked in California. About a week or so after I moved back, a beautiful silver LC popped up for a reasonable price about 4 miles from our house, and of course the only logical thing to do was look at it...and buy it 😃


WHY DID I CHOOSE A 2013?

Since I knew I'd be back in Denver for a while and had no 4x4s, I thought this 2013 Land Cruiser would be a fun project to turn wrenches on and use to socially distance alone in the wilderness (with the hopes of course my wife and our pup would join occasionally). One of the main reasons I was drawn to this one is that it's silver which seems to be a pretty rare color on the LC (hence palladium), and it was a 2013 which was the first year for the LC to get the radar cruise and basic pre collision safety system which I had the dubious honor of experiencing how effective it is here (Are the active safety features any good in the 200? Found out today). In 13, a few more features were added like heated steering wheel, cooled seats, HID headlights, and other small things, so while it is not quite at the level of features of the 16+, it's pretty close for significantly less money. After having 2 pre and 1 post 16 200s, there are definitely things I miss in the 16 like the 8 speeed transmission (for off road not on road so much) and better button layout...and terra interior, but I could not justify the $15k+ premium between an identical 2013 and 2016. Some may say newer is always better, but it is such a significant premium for incremental features it is hard to justify. I love a good deal, and I feel like I got a very good deal on the 13 whereas anyone looking at the 16+ market knows there are no good deals to be had. I paid about $7k less 2 years ago for my 16 than what it would sell for today. It's a crazy hot market for 200s right now!


WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THIS BUILD?

All prior 200s had at least 34" tires, and 2 were fully built with front and rear bumpers, winches, drawers sliders, etc. I've realized some mods were worth their weight in gold, and others were a bit of a disappointment particularly relative to cost. The priority with this build is efficiency - balancing best value and performance. I'll try to discuss why each mod was chosen and why I like certain brands over another to give context, but feel free to ask questions.

UPDATE

May 2020:



October 2020:

 
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mcgaskins

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OF COURSE ANY STORY WITHOUT PICS IS BORING, SO HERE IS HOW I GOT HERE:


My first 200 which was a 2014 and partially built already when I purchased it.



My third 200 / Ruby was a stock 2016 which ended up being fully built.



The very built Tacoma I had traded the 2014 for. I had never done the camper thing and wanted to try it out. It was fun, but I'm more of an SUV guy.

Do you see a theme here in the companion vehicle?







My second 200 was a stock 2008 LX 570 which I installed 275/65/20 (34"x10.8") KO2s and ARB tow points. This may have been the most enjoyable of all to drive. It was purchased essentially because it was a phenomenal deal, and I figured at the time the depreciation was less to drive it than the low mile 2016. Ok fine it was an impulse purchase!

 
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mcgaskins

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THE NEW TRUCK


The new to us 200 is a very clean 2013 silver on black combo that had 2 owners prior to me. The Land Cruiser was originally purchased in Illinois where it spent the first 3 years of its life, and the I owner I purchased it from had owned it for 3.5 years. No accidents, immaculate interior, the only rust is common on 90% of all 200s, and amazing service history from the dealer. Interestingly, I noticed in Aprl 2019 it went in for a "simple procedure" at the dealer to get some strut spacers installed. The techs for whatever reason couldn't get the KDSS to budge, so they ended up removing and replacing the whole pump! In a remarkable stroke of luck for me, I noticed they replaced it with the NEW style KDSS with bolt heads instead of the allen key style bolts. The dealer then had an issue with the cam bolts, so they also replaced both lower control arms and all associated hardware (20+ parts yikes!). The prior owner added the spacers to install the Tundra TRD Pro BBS wheels and some Cooper AT3 tires which were on it when I purchased it. This ended up being a very expensive trip to the dealer!

In December 2019 around 95k miles, the prior owner brought it in for another service and had the front and rear brakes done as well as a new radiator. I felt very lucky to stubmle across an excellent color combo, clean Carfax, well maintained 200 with a ton of expensive new parts not even 5 minutes from our house. Here it is as I picked it up.







This night when I was removing the running boards and installing the Maxtrax, the sun hit the silver paint just right and made me think of pallidium:

 
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mcgaskins

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WHAT MODIFICATIONS?


I've always found the most valuable mods to be tires, sliders, lift, front bumper, winch, ARB drawers, skids, and rear bumper in that order of importance. I know a lot of people prefer to do the rear bumper first, and I actually did it in that order on Ruby. It always looks unbalanced to me with the stock front, so I like the front first for aesthetic reasons (especially with a color matched front bumper - more on that later). I've decided to do everything on that list except the rear bumper. Unless my rear gets pretty dinged up, I'll try to keep it because it's very cohesive looking in its current state.

Speaking of aesthetics, my first modification was to swap the Tundra TRD Pro BBS wheels and 285/65/18 (32.56"x11.50") Cooper AT3s for the new Icon Vector 5 in titanium and go up to a 285/75/17 (33.86"x11.26") Nitto Ridge Grapplers. I have to admit this wheel actually had a decent bit to do with my renewed search for a 200. My buddy @JohnJB had sent me a pic of the Vector on a 200 back in January, and I was blown away with how good it looked. I've never really liked aftermarket wheels on Toyotas, but Icon absolutely nailed it with the Vector. I think this is what an AEV wheel would like if they made one for the 200 if any of you follow them in the Jeep world. The Vector 5 is 17"x8.5" and has a 25mm offset and a load rating of 2750 pounds per wheel, and it fits the hubs with no issues (110.1mm bore). I think this is the perfect set of specs for a 200 wheel, and the offset is nearly identically compared with the stock 16 wheels plus custom 0.75" Bora spacers on Ruby. It drives and steers perfectly with no noticeable impact to turning radius.

The 285/75/17s rubbed a little bit on the front bumper but nowhere else noticeably after removing the flaps up front. It would have been easy to mold the front bumper trim to eliminate the rubbing, but I knew the front bumper would be replaced soon so I didn't attempt to fix it. Speaking of tires, these is my third set of Nitto Ridge Grapplers all with the same basic dimensions, and I absolutely love them. I am a bit of a tire nerd and have tried more tires than I can count, but these have been my all around favorite for the last 2 years. I like them because they're smooth and quiet (barely louder than stock) on the road, incredibly tough, do well in all weather conditions, and they look great. They're expensive tires, but I think they're absolutely worth it. I removed the running boards at the same time, and the combination of that with the wheels and tires transformed the look from sort of a marshmallow into something lean and tough looking. I honestly think this would be a good stopping point for 90% of owners and doesn't really cost that much. Probably the part for me is the BBS wheels have a lot of value in the secondary market, so I was able to swap the combo over for essentially no financial impact. They live on another member's 200 here in Denver, and I think we are both happy with the deal we got.

As I purchased it - stock other than front strut spacer and Tundra TRD Pro BBS wheels:



Still stock other than front strut spacer and Tundra TRD Pro BBS wheels, but with running boards removed and Maxtrax added:



Still stock other than front strut spacer and Icon wheels/Ridge Grapplers, but with running boards removed and Maxtrax added:





 
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CharlieS

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Great rigs. I think the person in the maroon taco is having as much fun and spent about $200K less than you did. :)

Looking forward to this build thread. I always find it interesting to see the choices we all make and our reasons for them.
 

mcgaskins

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Just curious, after having both previously, was the decision to go with a LC (vs LX) intentional or just happen to be a matter of timing on finding one that peaked your interest?

It was a bit of both, and to be honest I very nearly pulled the trigger on an LX. In late March/early April, dealers were dropping the price on LXs big time, and there was a local 1 owner 2018 LX570 with 4k miles on it in perfect shape for $63k. It had the beautiful nightfall mica blue exterior with the extremely light parchment interior which was a huge negative for me, and I think if it was cabernet or black on the inside I would have purchased it.

I've been very vocal about the LX being the better value in the 200 market (as have many others), and I think the suspension is truly fantastic. I have had 200s with stock suspension, basic OME, BP51s, and AHC. I think the AHC rides the best and is the most comfortable and controlled off road even compared with BP51s, and of course you get the huge benefit of being able to raise the ride height which is pretty awesome. It also dynamically levels the truck regardless of load, and best of all eliminates the sometimes annoying side to side rocking you get with KDSS in the LC when off road in certain situations like going 2-5 mph on very rocky trails. Besides the suspension, the LX is quieter (double paned glass), has more features especially on (cooled seats and auto fold mirrors since day 1), and lots more. @TeCKis300 and others have done a great job articulating the long list of differences which I won't reiterate here, but there are quite a few extra benefits in the LX that may or may not be appealing based on what your'e looking for.

The reason I prefer the LC however is mostly due to 3 things: resale value, aesthetics, and aftermarket support. I never keep vehicles very long, and the only way I can afford to constantly change things up is if they don't depreciate much if at all during my ownership. The Land Cruiser is better than the LX 570 for depreciation, period. There are countless threads of new people coming to the forum with questions like "hey how come the Lexus which is more expensive and nicer costs less than the Land Cruiser? I really prefer a Land Cruiser!" And just like that, they've answered their own question 😆 More people want a Land Cruiser, but there are far fewer of them to go around. Here is a little table I put together to show relative rareness compared with a G Wagon which most people can agree is very rare, but Mercedes has sold 20% more G Wagons than Land Cruisers from 2013-2019. Additional commentary here For Sale - What will a Hertz bankruptcy do to the used 200 series market??



Beyond resale, I personally think the Land Cruiser looks better. I don't dislike the LX 570 at all, but the 08-15 wasn't aggressive enough and the 16+ is too aggressive. The Land Cruiser is understated but tough and capable looking, and even though they are clearly both 200s, the LC looks the part better IMO. The stock bumpers on an LX have worse clearance especially on the 16+, but that issue *in theory* could be fixed with aftermarket support. That brings me to my last point - the aftermarket support for the LX until very recently has been incredibly lacking. I know some people literally waited for a couple of years for sliders made for their LX, but Slee and others have been selling LC sliders for a decade. Bumpers are another big concern because there are few if any commercially available bumpers made specifically for the LX, and there is a ton of choice for the LC. I know the LC bumpers can be made to work, but I just didn't want to mess with it.

Bottom line is if someone wants a 200 and doesn't care about a bunch of mods, the LX is the less expensive, more luxurious option, but if you want to do a full build, the LC is easier and generally holds its value better even if the initial cost is higher.
 

TeCKis300

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Having taken this journey so many times, I place your comments and opinions in high accord. Thanks for sharing your story and impressions. I'll be watching your continued build and adventures, with the hope of learning a thing or two for myself.

Your avatar changed! Glad to have you back in a 200-series. :beer:
 
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Don't leave us hanging on post #4. Looking forward to all the details, including (1) pros and cons of the Rhino bumper (e.g. as you mentioned in another post, fitment of Rhino on prefacelift vs 2016+), (2) Maxtrax install, (3) Vectors, (4) rubber.
 

mcgaskins

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PACKING

I recently had a friend get into wheeling, and we were discussing the items I usually pack for a trip. I hadn't been wheeling since September last year, and my gear was scattered around the garage and buried in various places in the Sprinter (old 2002 T1N - not a fancy one). I decided to aggregate and organize the gear in the garage to figure out what I had before throwing it into the 200. I was planning to take pics and write up a list of what I pack, but then I realized it would be a lot easier to just do a quick video. It ended up not being a quick video because I apparently talk too much, but I figured this might be helpful to some who aren't sure what to bring. Keep in mind I didn't talk about tools, parts, camping gear, etc., but I may add that later.

 
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bwell

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Congratulations on the return and the nice local to you find. I followed your last build pretty regularly, don't think I ever commented but knew you'd be back after your departure.

How do you like the coopers compared to the other AT tires you have used in the past?
 

mcgaskins

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Don't leave us hanging on post #4. Looking forward to all the details, including (1) pros and cons of the Rhino bumper (e.g. as you mentioned in another post, fitment of Rhino on prefacelift vs 2016+), (2) Maxtrax install, (3) Vectors, (4) rubber.

Post 4 updated :cheers:
 

mcgaskins

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Congratulations on the return and the nice local to you find. I followed your last build pretty regularly, don't think I ever commented but knew you'd be back after your departure.

How do you like the coopers compared to the other AT tires you have used in the past?

I don't think I put 100 miles on them before I went to Ridge Grapplers, but that's just because I like them so much (explain rationale in post 4 - just edited it). I will say they were quiet and have a really nice sidewall design. They looked great on the truck on the BBS wheels. I have a buddy who has them in the 37" variety, and while he liked them on road they didn't seem to hook up as well as the Nittos in Moab. Could have been a myriad of factors there, but the Nittos have always been phenomenal in most conditions.

 
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Matt - awesome builds!

Whats your opinion on how the C vs E RG ride on a stock suspension? I am under the impression the 285/70/18 were on stock wheels and stock suspension on your ‘16? How was the rubbing? Any noticeable change going to a lighter duty tire on your ‘13?

I cannot believe these are as quiet as you make them out to be with that tread pattern. I am intrigued.
 

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