The 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon made waves as one of the biggest events in automotive culture, drawing massive crowds and over 500 exhibitors and builders. Similar to SEMA, each year the expo serves as a showcase for modified and custom vehicles spanning street customs to full off-road rigs. While traditionally the show skewed toward drift, stance, and VIP street builds, the 2024 show reflected shifting passions—proving the surging popularity of off-roading and overlanding projects globally.
Social media exploded with images of mega off-road builds presented by individual builders, famous custom shops, equipment manufacturers and big brands such as Honda, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota.
As expected from Japanese builders, creativity and quality paired with extreme functionality. The ingenuity and uniqueness of many modifications left us stunned. Today we’ll highlight some of the most impressive 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon off-road rigs that we’ve found on Instagram.
Big 4x4s & Trucks
Japan is the motherland of one of the world’s best and most famous off-road vehicles – the Toyota Land Cruiser. So it’s no wonder that the showroom featured various modifications of Land Cruisers, starting from the retro-modern yet desirable Land Cruiser 76 series for off road enthusiasts to street-performance versions of the Land Cruiser 300 series.
The release of the new Lexus GX550 is undoubtedly one of the most talked-about topics in the off-road world. Jaos, one of Japan’s oldest and most well-known manufacturers of off-road parts, has presented their customized version of the new GX, which became world’s first modified Lexus GX550 off road builds. With Jaos’ expertise enhancing its capabilities, this project gives enthusiasts a glimpse of the new model’s immense potential.
Another exciting vehicle on display in the Jaos booth was a lifted Lexus LX600 off-road racer, which had just returned to Japan after competing in the famous Baja 1000 off-road racing competition. This ruggedly modified LX600 build caught eyes with its massive tires, pre-runner inspired Jaos front skid-plate/bumper with yellow rally-style lights, fully-caged interior and beefy Toyo Trail Grappler off road tires.
Japan doesn’t have the Tacoma, but they do have the Hilux pickup truck, which is one of the most popular trucks in Japan. The Hilux was showcased across the TAS2024 event in various forms, from polished off-road builds to unique custom jobs like this olive green Toyota Hilux with a black Chevy-inspired front end conversion (a popular trend in Japan, as seen in other featured projects).
Another cool model featured across various booths was the Toyota Land Cruiser 76-Series, with its retro-modern design. It is one of the trucks many wish was available in the United States, since it features that iconic rugged 4×4 look and comes equipped with low range, locking differentials and other analog off-road tech that is proven reliable in the most demanding conditions. With its timeless styling and off-road credentials, the Land Cruiser 70-Series remains a popular platform for builds at the Tokyo Auto Salon and a reminder of Toyota’s 4WD heritage.
Since its initial release in summer 2023, the Mitsubishi Triton (also known as the L200 in European and other markets) has made quite an impression. It seems Mitsubishi has chosen the right design direction for their entire model range and begun producing very attractive trucks.
The refreshed off-road version of the Outlander was also shown at TAS 2024, exemplifying Mitsubishi’s focus on bold styling and capability. With the new Triton and Outlander receiving positive reactions, one wonders if we might see the return of the legendary Mitsubishi Pajero off-roader in a year or two, once excitement around the newly-unveiled Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus GX550 models settles down. For now, Mitsubishi appears poised to continue garnering attention with trucks like the head-turning new Triton – but a revived Pajero flagship could be the next logical step to build on their momentum in the SUV space.
Vans & Minivans
The Mitsubishi Delica D5 has represented the brand in the 4×4 minivan market for quite some time now and has gained huge popularity in the Japanese domestic market and abroad (check this Delica overland build to find out more). The new iteration of this model in the Kei car segment is the Delica Mini, which was showcased on Mitsubishi’s booth decked out with cool off-road inspired upgrades like all-terrain tires, a roof rack and other overlanding accessories.
In the crossover segment, Nissan’s exhibition was the biggest standout for me with the new Nissan X-trail T33 Rock Crawler (sold as the Rogue in the US). Painted in bright pink with neon green accents, this concept pays homage to extreme rock crawler builds made for tough trails. Of course as primarily a show model, it likely does not include heavy duty upgrades to the drivetrain such as a low range transfer case, robust axles, and differential locks which would make it truly trail-ready. However, chunky fender flares reminiscent of a Jeep, mud tires, Raptor-coated bumpers, rock slider rails, a roof rack, and other tweaks give it an awesome look.
It was also nice to see other cool-looking crossovers with off-road inspired mods, such as the Honda WR-V compact and the freshly redesigned Subaru Outback outfitted with 235/65R18 Toyo Open Country AT3 all-terrain tires. Even mainstream crossovers are tapping into adventure readiness through the Japanese aftermarket scene.
With upgrades suited for going off the beaten path, these examples showcase fresh potential for models typically destined for urban or suburban surroundings. Whether made to post up on show floors or actually hit the trails, seeing small crossovers embrace rugged accessories points to the outpaced popularity of going off road – at least in aesthetic spirit.
Kei cars are a uniquely Japanese phenomenon not found anywhere else in the world. They get modified in all sorts of creative ways. While seeing tiny Kei cars outfitted with off-road inspired upgrades is not new, witnessing builders push the boundaries of what’s possible with these small vehicles is always refreshing.
At the Tokyo Auto Salon, Kei cars customized for rugged adventures or dressed up with tough styling serve as a testament to the culture of imagination flourishing in Japan’s compact car scene. Oversized wheels, lift kits raising pint-sized bodies, and aggressive add-ons breathe playful personality into machines normally seen buzzing about cities.
Another trend on display at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon was Kei trucks and vans modified with American-inspired conversions. Some of the standouts included a Daihatsu Granmax with a Ford E350 van front-end graft and custom winch bumper, as well as a tiny Kei pickup mimicking GMC van styling up front.
Blending Japanese micro-haulers with imposing full-size American truck and van fronts makes for an unexpected fusion of flavors. Despite their diminutive actual proportions, these creative builds draw bold attitudes from the lifted looks of US workhorses.
The 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon showcased the incredibly diverse and vibrant tuner culture in Japan. Enthusiasts displayed tuned variations ranging across all vehicle types – from rugged SUVs and trucks customized for extreme off-roading to tiny Kei cars punching above their weight with imposing accessories.
Matt is a professional mechanic, experienced off-roader, writer and founder of Offroadium. With over 15 years immersed in the off-road community and 100,000+ miles logged on rugged trails across the Americas, Grabli shares extensive real-world knowledge. He previously worked as an automotive technician before shifting focus to specialty off-road projects. His passion is prepping capable rigs for off-roading and helping others to build the 4x4s of their dreams.