by Greg Carloss
As the overlanding craze continues to gain traction, Toyota is one of the brands leading the charge. They have a lineup of off-road capable vehicles--new and old. This week, Greg Carloss goes up and "Over the Edge" with some Toyota enthusiasts eager to escape the concrete of Suburbia, one trail at a time.
GREG CARLOSS: Off-pavement vehicles continue to flood the market, while automakers cite demand from buyers who like to leave the office on Friday and hit the trail on Saturday.
Admittedly, I’ve been skeptical about just how many people actually do this. Then, Toyota invited me to meet some of them.
Here’s the thing, I’m not much of an outdoorsman. I don’t spend much time in nature…but I do like driving through it. So if I have to spend a few days in the elements to hit the trails in some legit off-roaders, so be it.
KURT WILLIAMS: So we are on our way to the Destination Outdoor event, which is an enthusiast-based, Northern Georgia get together of all these Toyota and Lexus enthusiasts.
GREG CARLOSS: The Toyota Land Cruiser and 4Runners are old favorites in the off-road scene, but as a new wave of well-off adventurers join the overlanding trend, Lexus has begun to bolster its rough and ready reputation.
KURT WILLIAMS: We’re seeing a really interesting shift in the way people use 4x4 vehicles in the recent years. A lot more lifestyle builds. They’re camping out of them. They’re spending weeks at a time or maybe just weekend trips living out of their vehicle.
This one features a full build-out on the inside for the drawers. So a refrigerator, a stove deck, a fold down table. So it’s really set up to be a comfortable daily driver, yet pull up to camp on the weekend and have everything you need right ready to go right down to a rooftop tent on top.
GREG CARLOSS: As much as I appreciate the premium amenities in the GX build, this Rebelle Rally-running LX 570, internally known as the J201, is more my style. Probably has something to do with its Magnuson supercharger.
You know, I’m usually the first person to scoff at these luxury SUVs with their super high off-road capabilities and this technology that allows you to do it without much skill…but I certainly enjoy it. And using these features like crawl control specifically where I can just let off the brake, let off the gas and just steer. The truck does pretty much everything for me but I still feel like I’m accomplishing something. It’s really a lot of fun and I get to do it in great comfort. These seats are just classically Lexus comfortable and they offer nice lumbar support and that’s something I’m looking for on the trail.
Eventually the trail leads me to Toccoa Valley Campground, which for the weekend, turns into a literal Toyota and Lexus off-road community.
DARIN STEVENS: This is my fun-runner, my weekend ride and it allows me to go places…wherever the Subarus can’t. got it in ‘17 and have been building it ever since. It’s an evolution, it never ends.
Technology has progressed at such a pace to allow somebody that’s usually, you know, stuck at home at a computer. I can operate from anywhere…I have video conference calls in the middle of nowhere.
GREG CARLOSS: A lot of these people build their trucks to get away from society, but that doesn’t mean they’re anti-social. In fact, at Destination Outdoor, it’s the exact opposite. Thanks man!
ERIKA RODRIGUEZ: Having all of the people with super cool Toyota rigs I think it’s really, really awesome…and everybody is like complementing each other on their cool rig and they’re like “oh I’ve been wanting to get that.” or like you actually get to check out some things that you probably wouldn’t on a website.
This year we got such an awesome camping spot so we’re not gonna move. So if we catch a ride with the off-roading we definitely are down for it.
But Destination Outdoor is really cool just being able to be with everybody. It’s kind of like a little Toyota family.
DARIN STEVENS: It’s all about sharing ideas and being amongst people, you know, like-minded that, uh, obviously have an addiction to this stuff.
GREG CARLOSS: And unless it was poison ivy, I gotta say, even I felt the itch.