Words: Mike Ryan
Photos: Lexus, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Here in Australia, the National 4x4 Outdoors Show is the go-to place to try, compare and buy all manner of gear for fitting to your 4x4 and enjoying the great outdoors. In Japan, the equivalent is the Tokyo Outdoor Show, which usually runs at the same time of year – mid-January – as the Tokyo Auto Salon, Japan’s major annual car show.
The two shows often have a bit of crossover, with off-road equipped vehicles from Tokyo Auto Salon appearing at the Tokyo Outdoor Show and vice versa. This year, Lexus exhibited at the Tokyo Outdoor Show for the first time.
For their Tokyo Outdoor Show debut, Lexus presented a collection of vehicles under the banner of the ‘Overtrail Project’. A hybrid of the US term of ‘Overland’ and ‘Trail,’ the Overtrail Project aims to show the possibilities for outdoor adventuring with Lexus SUVs – something the brand hasn’t been noted for in the past.
According to Lexus, the vehicles in the Overtrail Project can be used in both casual outdoor pursuits like picnics and camping, and more serious off-road activities, like trail bashing, snow driving, tackling deserts and “full-scale overlanding, involving freely travelling in difficult-to-access areas”.
Joining Lexus SUVs for the Overtrail Project at the Tokyo Outdoor Show was a side-by-side buggy bearing Lexus branding and a Toyota model whose name has some Australian history.
RX Outdoor Concept
Based in the new Lexus RX450h+ hybrid SUV that launched late last year, the RX Outdoor Concept swaps the 3.5-litre petrol V6 used in the RX450h for a 2.5-litre DOHC four-cylinder petrol engine as part of a plug-in hybrid system.
Driving the front wheels through a CVT, this smaller, naturally-aspirated motor will apply to the production RX450h+ for 2023, too. All-wheel drive is achieved via electric motors on the rear axle.
Styling on the RX Outdoor Concept reflects changes made to the RX series for the 2023 model year, including a revamped grille, bonnet and headlights, a new-look front bumper, rounded wheelarch openings and a much sleeker look to the back end. The RX450h’s coupe SUV styling remains, though, which meant adding a rooftop tent for the concept required the fabrication of a bespoke roof rack to mount it.
The rooftop tent, a Feldon Shelter Hawk’s Nest unit with sleeping for two, is part of a customisation package on the RX Outdoor Concept that includes a bespoke aluminium front skidplate, KC LED lights incorporated into the front bumper's lower vent openings, an additional LED light bar below the grille, recovery boards mounted on the tent and accessory mudflaps front and rear.
The concept rolls on RAYS 18 x 7.5-inch alloys fitted with BFGoodrich all-terrain tyres in 265/60R18 size. This set-up helps lift the overall height by 20mm compared to the RX450h+, with an equivalent rise in ground clearance.
Cosmetic changes from the factory RX450h+ are more extensive and start with an all-over matte sand finish that Lexus call ‘Regolith’. Complementing this are satin black treatments for the grille, matte black door handles and black window surrounds.
Chip-resistant black paint features on the lower sections of the front and rear bumper, as well as the sills, while the wheelarch mouldings are in a dark brown that’s indistinguishable from black in the images provided.
No mention is made of any interior accessories to complement the exterior makeover, so assume the cabin fitout of the RX Outdoor Concept is unchanged from the stock RX450h+.
ROV Concept 2
Lexus first unveiled their ROV (Recreational Off-highway Vehicle) in late 2021 and it appears the ROV Concept 2 is an evolution of that, or possibly the same vehicle with some minor cosmetic changes.
The key point on the ROV Concept 2, like the original from two yeas ago, is that it uses hydrogen to produce almost zero emissions. A high-pressure hydrogen tank, mounted in the rear of this SxS (Side by Side) vehicle, fuels a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that operates like a petrol-powered engine of the same configuration, but with virtually no emissions and what Lexus says is negligible oil burn, too.
How much of the ROV Concept 2 is unique and how much of it is based on an existing SxS are unclear, but there seems to be elements of Yamaha’s YXZ1000 in the roll cage and underlying chassis configuration. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine is of the same capacity and cylinder count as Yamaha’s sports SxS model, too. The bodywork is all Lexus, though, with heavily-sculpted wheelarches front and rear, as well as a front end and headlight treatment that has echoes of Lexus design.
The wheels on ROV Concept 2 are a new design, but perhaps the coolest feature – that wasn’t on the original ROV Concept - is the use of airless tyres. These retain a familiar tread pattern, but instead of a conventional sidewall to create the air chamber, they have multiple rubber “spokes”. These hold the tyre’s circular shape when at rest and on smooth surfaces, but deform to absorb impacts over broken ground and in rough conditions. Obviously, these tyres are also puncture-proof, making them highly practical in off-road environments where sticks and sharp stones can easily puncture a conventional tyre.
Features from the original ROV Concept, like the adjustable suspension, selectable 2WD/4WD, one-piece windscreen, upper LED light bar, leather sports seats with four-point harnesses, leather-trimmed steering wheel, bespoke gear shift knob and Lexus branding all remain, but for Concept 2, the metallic bronze paint has been replaced with Regolith to match the RX Outdoor Concept. An aluminium front skid plate was added with the same goal in mind, along with chip-resistant black paint on the lower body portions.
GX Outdoor Concept
The GX SUV wouldn’t be familiar to Lexus owners and enthusiasts here in Australia, as it’s only sold in North America and the Middle East. Based on the LandCruiser Prado, the GX is a large, six/seven-seat SUV, with its closest local equivalent being the LX Series that’s based on the LandCrusier 300.
The concept shown in Tokyo is based on a GX 460, which in the 2022 version, is powered by a naturally-aspirated 4.6-litre petrol V8 (producing 224kW and 446Nm), matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel drive.
As with the other Lexus concepts presented under the Overtrail Project, the GX Outdoor Concept is more of an accessory platform and cosmetic makeover, but as the GX 460 is already more off-road ready from the factory than other Lexus SUVs (being based on the Prado), the only substantive change made was the fitting of Old Man Emu suspension, including new upper control arms.
Bolt-on parts start with a CBI Offroad front bumper that’s part of a cut-down grille to improve approach angle. The front skid plate, additional underbody protection, sill protection, rocksliders and other parts are also from CBI Offroad; a US company who supply upgrade parts to suit other Japanese SUVs, as well as Ford, Chev and Jeep vehicles.
There’s a Warn winch in the CBI front bumper and Toyo Open Country M/T tyres have been fitted. The concept’s roof rack is from Yakima, as is the rooftop tent. A Rigid LED light bar is mounted to the rack, but the metal storage boxes are of unknown origin.
Unlike the other two Lexus concepts that have bespoke finishes, the ‘Terrain Khaki’ metallic paint on the GX Outdoor Concept is a factory GX 460 colour.
Crown Outdoor Concept
The Crown is a Toyota model that’s been around since 1955. It was assembled in Australia for almost 20 years from the late 1960s but hasn’t been available here – at least officially – since the 1990s. It’s still in production in Japan, though, and the sixteenth generation of the Crown has formed the basis for a concept that joined the Lexus display at the Tokyo Outdoor Show.
Based on the ‘Crown Crossover’; a new Crown body style that takes the model’s traditional sedan platform and gives it an SUV-inspired makeover, the ‘Crown Outdoor Concept’ uses a drivetrain similar to that in the RX Outdoor Concept, pairing a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with electric motors, although this hybrid set-up doesn’t appear to be of the PHEV type, based on the information presented.
In the production Crown Crossover, its hybrid drivetrain is matched to an ‘E-Four’ electronic all-wheel drive system, while an ‘E-Four Advanced’ variant replaces the CVT with a conventional six-speed automatic transmission. Which of the two is fitted to the Crown Outdoor Concept is unknown.
To create the Crown Outdoor Concept from the Crown Crossover base, modifications started with fitting BFGoodrich 265/60 R18 all-terrain tyres on 18-inch wheels. Bespoke wheelarch flares are fitted, along with aftermarket mudflaps and a unique front skidplate. The flares increase the Crown’s width by 60mm, while the A/T tyres raise ride height by 50mm.
Auxiliary LED lighting features in the grille, on the bonnet and above the windscreen, with a lightweight cargo rack mounted on the roof to carry outdoor adventuring gear. A recovery hook has been added to the front end, with a towbar fitted to the rear, enabling a light camper trailer to be towed.
The concept’s gloss grey paint finish is described as ‘Urban Khaki’ and has been contrasted with black for the door handles, mirror caps, bonnet and bodyside detailing. The red mud flaps are a very Japanese touch, seen on off-roaders like the Mitsubishi Pajero Evo, as well as some road cars.
According to Toyota, the Crown Outdoor Concept “offers new possibilities to capture the imagination of customers through its addition of special parts and features that enhance usability in the great outdoors”.
The production Crown Crossover was released in Japan last year and is due to launch in the US sometime in 2023, more than 50 years after the Crown was last sold in North America.