The JDM 4x4 look is specific, but I don't need to describe it to you because I can show you a picture of this new Lexus GX 550 Overtrail, modified by longlived Japanese truck tuner JAOS. Even better: I can show you an entire album of spectacular shots of this thing.
JAOS sells things like bumpers, fog lights, mud flaps ... accessories you might see on a rally car or overlander. The name is shorthand for "JApan Offroad Service," though the full text seldom appears in branding or on parts. JAOS is usually known as just JAOS, and its leaping kangaroo logo often accompanies those letters on parts or stickers.
This company has been around since 1985; JAOS parts for old Toyotas and Mitsubishis like mine are quite coveted among collectors like myself. All this to say, this is a very credible outfit and it's super cool to see it in a factory collaboration with Lexus.
The Lexus GX itself, well, I've already crowed about how it's the ultimate Japanese SUV design. The shape and proportions of this vehicle are simply an exemplary gold standard, almost a new archetype, of this type of truck.
It's not just that it's a boxy 4x4. The GX has something many trucks don't: Dramatic depth in its fender flares, hood creases, and details. The beltline has just a dash of artistry in it with its little kink. The lights, door handles, skid plate, and even running board steps blend beautifully with the rest of the bodywork. The lights themselves are cool. Even the emblems have visual heft.
A premo Japanese 4x4 has a look that's tidy but mighty. The GX nails that — and these JAOS parts just add a sprinkle of uniqueness that pushes the golden-era JDM vibe on this thing to the max. The mud flaps, the little stripe, the sleek roof rack, it's all about taking the look right up to the line of as crass as you can get while still being classy. Even that gold color has a rugged treasure to it — like a dusty gold bar in Indiana Jones' bag.
Ha, if you look at my own vehicle here ('98 Montero) you'll see that I've been chasing the same aesthetic, albeit at a much lower budget.
For those of you who can afford a new GX, I noticed that Lexus' press release looks deliberately vague on the availability of these parts. But it does include a full rundown which makes me think this stuff is headed to production in some capacity.
Parts on the GX 550 "Overtrail" JAOS Ver.
- JAOS Front Bumper Guard (ABS / 2 Colors / Includes LED Lamp)
- JAOS Skid Plate Type R (Aluminum 4 mm)
- JAOS Fender Garnish Type X (ABS / Matte Black Finish)
- JAOS Side Step Black (Steel Tube / Resin Step)
- JAOS Flat Rack 1250 x 1400 for Roof Rail (Aluminum / Black Anodized)
- JAOS Mud Guard III Black (EVA Flap + Aluminum Plate)
- JAOS TRIBE CROSS (18 x 8.5 J/MGM)
- BATTLEZ Lift Kit VFCA (Titanium-Infused Lift Kit Springs / Harmofleq Built-in Adjustable Dampers)
- TOYO TIRES OPEN COUNTRY A/T III LT275/70R18 (which are not on sale in Japan)
No prices yet, but as it happens I'm heading to Arizona to do some first-person testing with the Lexus GX and hope to get more details on this project from engineers. So stay tuned.
For now, the closest thing Lexus has made to future promises about it is this:
"Through collaboration vehicles such as the GX 550 "OVERTRAIL" JAOS version, our goal is to continue showcasing the pleasure of vehicle customization, with the aim of offering our customers increasingly enriching car life experiences."
From a performance aspect, I'm interested to learn a little more about that off-road bumper, which is described as "lightweight and highly rigid ABS resin." So, like, regular-ol' car bumper plastic that will easily crack? Or has JAOS made a bumper that's more robust than a factory one without the huge weight penalty of steel? Because that'd be really interesting.
Meanwhile, Lexus dropped a deeply excellent album of images of the JAOS concept vehicle, so please enjoy a nice scroll of optimum Japanese off-roadiness. I'll upload these in the best resolution I can, so 56k stay away (hah, millennials will get it).
Lexus GX 550 Overtrail Jaos Ver. Pictures
Lexus LX 600 "OFFROAD" TEAM JAOS 2023 Ver. Pictures
Lexus and JAOS also campaigned a vehicle in the 2023 Baja 1000. Lexus's release says its car "completed the entire approximately 2,110 km (1,311 miles) course of the 2023 BAJA 1000"2023 BAJA 1000" which is impressive. However, for the record, the vehicle DNF'd so it technically didn't finish the race per SCORE results.
Still, that said, that's a heck of an accomplishment. As a matter of fact, I was on a Baja team around 2015 that did exactly that — you had to have finished the race in like 33 hours and we got across the line in 36.
Sometimes we DNF in the books, but not in our hearts!