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Building and Off-road Lexus

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I recently bought a Lexus RX330 with AWD and want to know if there is a community around taking these on trails? So far I haven’t come across any and I am interested in finding others who are pioneers in building an off-roading Lexus! I have plans for bigger at least all terrain tires soon and want to know if anyone has done it yet? So far I cannot find any that will fit my current tire size P235 55R18. And when I say off road I don’t mean like a Jeep who climbs mountains I mean simple trails where you can stop, pull off and camp. With some rocky terrain where beefer tires would help immensely. The trail I have pictured is Crab Flat Rd, North of running springs if any of you are familiar with the So Cal area. 


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  • 1 year later...

There is thread about "Lifted RX300 Big Tires", or something similar. 

If you read through that, you'll get a sense of what some members are doing.  Some members have gone on some pretty hard core routes and been OK.  It can be done.

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  • 1 month later...

OK, let me follow up.  I worked for years, maybe decades in Calif State Parks doing erosion and trail condition assessments.  I have driven just about every sort of off-road trail you can imagine.  Going off road is as much about mind-set as the vehicle.

Since you have a 330, you have a different sort of AWD than the RX300's and the 07~09 RX350's.  Your vehicle has a different transfer case and links between the front wheels and rear.  " 2nd gen 04-06 has the MFVA transfer case, and does not contain the viscous coupling mechanism, it is lighter and simpler than 1st gen model. (according to Toyota) "  What this means is that in your 330 all the smarts of the AWD system are electronic, and use the ABS to control wheel spin.  This is designated as TRAC in Lexus lingo.  And it can go to a place where it will throttle the engine back to very low power to prevent wheel spin.  But, occasionally you need to spin tires a bit and power through.  What to do?  Pull the TRAC and AVS fuses temporarily and drive on.  The fuses are under the hood in the fuse array.

I say this to demonstrate how one overcomes adverse off road conditions w/o calling for an expensive off road tow.  Anytime you are off the paved way, you have to keep your wits about you, and have some options.  But, as long as you do, you'll be fine.  The RX330 is a moderately capable vehicle.  With decent tires, it will go on all the "trails" you are describing, and many you are not even contemplating.

Things to have with you, and/or preparation.  Pull out your jack and lube the threads.  Make sure it works well and easy.  Nothing in the world is more frustrating than getting a bit sideways crossing a small drainage and have one wheel loose traction by 1/2", and you are not ready to deal with it.  Have some 1 foot square 3/4" plywood pieces in the back. Jack up the offending corner and put the boards under wheel - drive out of trouble - put your stuff away and carry on.  Have a flat ribbon tow strap in one of the cubbies in the back.  If you get stuck, just ask the next Jeep or Pick-up going by to tug you out, and carry on ...

Find a local indy tire shop that will help you select appropriate tires.  You can get pretty close to the suspension as long as you do not need to install chains for snow.  They can mount a +1 tire with some reasonable on-road & off-road tread and test to see if they clear.  If they do, get a set of four and you are ready to go.  I'd have a set setup for summer camping.  And I'd have a set of smooth riding road tires for the rest of the time.  An on-sale Harbor Freight floor jack and 4-way lug wrench will have the spare wheels and tires on in 20 minutes.  A wrecking yard can supply 4 OEM rims same as your current that will carry the new (and sharp treaded) off-road tires for summer season camping, etc.

Trane one of the kids or your wife/GF to get out and help you drive around obstacles and help you keep the tires planted while slowly maneuvering in tight place.  A spotter is worth more than $10K of vehicle mods out on the trail.  Yeah, it's macho to think you'll just bully through.  But smart trail drivers have a good relationship with a spotter, and can go many more miles in, and come back out more relaxed w/o vehicle damage 'cause 2 heads are better than 1 🙂

Have fun.  You car is fine.  Enjoy it 🙂

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  • 5 weeks later...

I dunno if the Gen II RX's will work well with the Toyota Limited Slip Differential (LSD) due to the change in transfer case?  I just don't know enough about that build.

But, if you want to add capability, you could try a posi rear end.  You'd be looking for a donor vehicle (RX, Highlander, Rav4) with an axle code -04A denoting the factory Torsen LSD option.  If you find one in the same year as yours, you'd know it'll work with the transfer case and it would be a good upgrade 🙂

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  • 11 months later...
  • 2 years later...

I own a 2020 RX350, we have recently retired and want to travel out west. Would love to find some folks with some insight on soft roading in a Lexus.  Our vehicle is AWD and has Pirelli Scorpion AT3+ tires mounted. I was in the military for 20 years, so driving off road is not new to me, just doing it in a luxury vehicle is. Has anyone been soft roading and what’s maximum class trail you would attempt? Thanks for any input

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  • 6 months later...


I'm looking for new tires for my 2009 rx350 and want to convert it to an all terrain rig. I'm thinking 255/65/18s, which are 31.1" diameter and 10" wide. Original Tire size is 235/55/18, which are 28.2" dia and 9.3" wide. That's almost exactly 10% larger. I don't want to have to put spacers on but would be interested in upgrading the suspension and lifting it 2-3" at a later date.

I cannot find any info on max tire size for this gen. including trying searching the key words Broc Luno mentioned in the first response. Any help or ideas would be great. I'm not looking to climb mountains, just better maneuver trails. Thanks!

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  • 2 months later...

Hi all, I wanted to share with my modified 2004 RX330. It has a Northwoods 2 inch strut spacer lift 245/65/17 Yokohama Geolander At tires (No Rub) Moto metal wheels and a cargo basket. Recently I custom fabricated a front Prerunner bar. I have been modifying the early year RX 330, 350 and  highlander platform for the last 15 years. If you have any questions or comments let me know. 







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  • 3 months later...

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