Forget the 4Runner: Build a Toyota Prado Instead From a Lexus GX

Toyota may have discontinued the Land Cruiser in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t offer a killer off-road SUV. The Lexus GX is a Toyota Prado SUV underneath its luxury suit. Across the globe, Toyota Prados are known to be 4Runner tough, but offer three rows, more luxury, and a V8. Prados aren’t sold here, but since the GX is, why not build one?

Now, we can get in on the fun. Garage Alpha is selling a kit that turns your Lexus GX 460 into a Toyota Prado – but keeps the luxury.

A Toyota Prado from a Lexus GX 460

A converted Prado with an original Prado
Matt Gold turned his black Lexus into Toyota Prado | Matt Gold

Gold is the owner of GarageAlpha.com in Michigan that sells a full kit to turn your 2009-2022 Lexus GX 460 into a Toyota Prado lookalike. At GarageAlpha he also sells custom parts for Mazda RX-7s and Mark IV version Toyota Supras.

Why would anyone want to convert their Lexus into a Toyota? Because for those in the know, a Prado is one of the toughest off-road vehicles Toyota makes and is marketed as the Land Cruiser Prado in many countries. In Australia, South America, India and Mexico it’s a popular SUV for families and adventure seekers.

In the U.S. you can’t buy a Prado, but it’s easy to make one

Matt Gold converted his Lexus to a Toyota Prado
A converted Lexus GX 460 | Matt Gold

For $3,900 Garage Alpha sells the Prado kit that is “98 percent bolt on,” Gold said for a Lexus GX 460.

Gold started this project, he said, when his beloved 4Runner was totaled. When he started looking for a 4Runner to replace it, he realized that for less money he could get the Lexus. Under that Lexus suit, the GX is a capable off-roader that offers even more than the 4Runner in terms of utility and performance: It has a V8, it can tow more, and while some 4Runners seat 7 with a jump seat in the back, the Lex offers real rear seats.

So, he sourced all the parts to the kit and built his own Prado to prove it can be done.

“These vehicles are identical. When you start looking at the part numbers, you say, ‘Ohh, these are the same.’ The glass is the same. It’s the same … vehicle,” Gold said. “It’s not a huge leap to think this will work.”

It was less expensive than buying a used 4Runner

The front end of the Lexus has to come off for the Prado bits to fit.
Gold’s 2010 Lexus being converted | Matt Gold

“It was cheaper than a 4Runner, and it does everything a 4Runner does. It does all the off-road stuff,” Gold said.

Gold said that he bolted nearly everything together on the kit, and the only part that needed attention was the radiator cap holes. The molding is made for the Prado V6, not the V8 in the Lexus.

Though it’s about a two-day process to bolt on the kit, Gold recommends having the kit shipped to your favorite body shop. It comes un-painted. The Toyota badges are available on Ebay, he said, including the airbag cover, and trim bits.

It’s an attention getter

Matt Gold converted his 2010 Lexus GX 460 to a Toyota Prado with a kit his company sells.
A Lexus GX 460 converted to look like a Toyota Prado | Matt Gold

“There’s not one day that goes by that I don’t have someone come by and ask me about it,” Gold said. At his local Cars & Coffee, it’s swarmed. “I play a game, I say, ‘Well it’s not a 4Runner, it’s not a Sequoia.’”

At Garage Alpha he likes to find the parts for uncommon cars, or uncommon parts for more common cars.

“I like these quirky little markets,” he said. “The 4Runner markets gets a lot of love. There’s nothing for the GX. There’s an odd pride that comes with that.”

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