So I don’t post on here a lot, usually it’s because I rented a car and feel like you people care what I thought about it, or because I bought a new car. Well today it’s the latter. You may remember (but you probably don’t) last year I posted about my truck searching experiences. I test drove a Canyon/Colorado and then ultimately bought a 2010 Toyota Tundra.
It had 72k miles on it and was in great shape. However over time, I fell out of love with it. I have to drive a vehicle that I love (which is funny considering I own a 2017 Nissan Rogue, but it’s my wife’s car so i have somewhat of a pass) and I loved my old Tahoe that I traded in for the Tundra. I started to regret trading in that Tahoe... The Tundra ride was garbage (which someone pointed out originally when I talked about it. You were right...) and I spent a lot of money trying to fix that (new shocks, better tires, etc) but it was still just not a joy to drive. It bounced like a mofo on the highway and I had to put 400+ lbs of sandbags in the bed just to make it tolerable. These are common issues with Tundras and I originally just didn’t pay attention to them, but after a year of ownership, I decided to throw in the towel.
So when it came time for my next vehicle, I decided to look for something cool but also reliable. I thought about another Tahoe, but I really wanted a Toyota LandCruiser. But alas, my smallish budget wouldn’t get me anything less than 10 years old (for financing sake at most places. Yes Doug I know about credit unions that finance anything) or with less than 200k on the clock. However, when I was in Ireland I saw a small Toyota Land Cruiser known as the “Prado”. Imagine my delight when I learned they were available in the US, just with a Lexus badge. So I began my search for a GX470. And I found one.
It’s a 2009 with 168k on the clock. It was a one-owner vehicle that was owned in Kansas City it’s whole life. I got a great deal on it (had to haggle for an hour and then actually leave the dealer. They called me twice on the way home until I finally got the price I wanted and I turned around) It was serviced at the local Lexus dealer for every service, and has had most of the major service done (90k timing belt, etc). So far the only thing i’ve had to do is a new alternator (which was replaced by the Lexus dealer under their 1000 mile used car warranty), new Radiator (very common failure on these and V8 4Runners, but very easy/cheap to replace), and I replaced the rear air bag suspension with standard coil springs (lost height control, but ride quality is still fantastic). The airbags leaked and I didn’t want to wait until they leaked so bad I couldn’t drive it so I replaced them as a preemptive measure. Overall it’s in great shape and the only interior issue is some worn leather and a cracked piece of wood trim. It has a laughable third row (adults with no legs would be comfy. Otherwise, only children) that i’ve already removed for storage space.
It’s got all the bells and whistles including Nav (out of date, but I got a new disk for $10 on eBay), heated seats (so nice), sunroof, rear seat DVD players, and auto climate control. It does lack SiriusXm which is a bummer but you can get a kit to add it to the OEM system.
The 4x4 system is great with locking center diff and H/L range. This thing has serious off-road chops. It rides so much better than my Tundra did though, it’s hard to believe what it’s capable of. It really is a fantastic place to spend hours driving in.
Originally my plan was to lift it with larger tires and make it into an Overland-worthy rig. This was based on replacement OEM shocks (electronic control) are over $1000 for a full set and a lift kit (2.5" Dobinsons/Old Man Emu) is only about $900. I’m still mulling over this plan, as I really like the adjustable suspension firmness. There are stock replacements that are cheap and non-adjustable, but i’ve heard mixed reviews. As well as shocks made for the 4Runner/FJ that will fit, but again, if i’m spending that much, I might as well give it a bit of a lift. But the OEM shocks still work so I have some time. Plus I live in Missouri, so Overlanding trips would mean long hauls to decent places, and I don’t know how much I would actually do it, especially with a child on the way.
Since i’m going from a Toyota to a Toyota, I don’t worry about reliability. The 4.7 is a super reliable motor, and with proper maintenance (another timing belt change beckons in 9k miles....) it’ll run forever. And since it shares so many components with the 4Runner and FJ Cruiser, replacement parts are actually pretty easy to come by and replace. I did lose a lot of capability by ditching the truck (no more bed and reduced towing capacity) but their were so few times I actually needed a truck, that I don’t worry about getting back in an SUV.
Overall i’m in love again, and I truly think i’ll be happy over time. The things I hated about the Tundra, this doesn’t have. The ride is butter smooth, the interior quality (the Tundra had so many rattles) is superb and the desirability means it’ll hold it’s value pretty decent over the next couple years which is great. I still want a 100 or 200 Series Land Cruiser at some point, but i’m pretty OK with this for the time being.