id have to go toyota all the way, anything they make or made.
i've had dodge and ford trucks, while toyota doesnt make the pure muscle for towing, my toyota was unstoppable, and you hardly ever need to use 4x4, descent tire and watch your air pressure and you'll go through or over anything and stillhave gas to get you home.
Awesome clip, thanks! A testimony to the toughness of a diesel engine.
Top Gear absolutely rules for a car show, hands down. I don't understand why Americans haven't produced a show like this yet. I hate seeing sweet cars that aren't available in the US for whatever the reason. The ford focus RS has something like 300hp in europe, but is an economy car here in the US. Streets there are smaller but there cars have more HP.
As far as a beach buggy goes, I would get something that is a beater, like that Toyota diesel in the Top Gear clip. I wouldn't drive my new truck or 4x4 on the sand near the salt. Saltwater is a really bad thing. I don't know if trucks or cars can be attached with an anode bar, like on a boat, but it wouldn't be a bad idea if your going to be on the beach regularly. Ask my old truck how the rear rotors, leaf springs, bearings and differential are feeling after 2 years of trailering my boat. If you must, stay away from the water, and hose (pressure wash) the undercarriage down religiously with fresh water after every journey on the beach.
1996 4Runner - 250k miles on it....running like a champ, 2" lift, does great in sand, snow, in the streets of DC.....Solid, solid vehicles
If you don't need all the seating room of a 4Runner, go with a Tacoma. I had a '97 Tacoma regular cab,16 valve inline 4, 5 speed manual. Many trips with sand driving, and great in the snow (spent a winter in Boulder). Only had to swap out the brushes in the starter and only complaint was traveling with gear in the rain, would have to trash bag stuff if I had a passenger. Re-up'd to an '06 Tacoma exended cab, 24 valve V-6, 6 speed manual. Great on sand and in the blizzards last year (I got a call from a buddy asking if I could pull out both his and his neighbor's GMC Sierra King Cabs when I went playing in the snow). Perfect amount of room in back for rainy trips and passenger, and 6' 6" board in day bag fits perfectly in the bed diagonally. You can even get a cap for the bed if you want a poor mans 4-Runner with an easier to clean storage area...
I have an 03 4Runner. Great truck... go with the 8cyl. It get's about the same gas mileage as the sixer. I've driven it on the beach a few times, it didn't even flinch. Last year I drove it through some really deep snow, and couldn't believe the traction. I do have off road tires, so that helped. It is an AWD vehicle, so need to switch it into 4wd... which is great when driving on wet roads. The 8cyl actually does give you pretty good towing capacity, maybe not like the full size SUVs or pickups. I drove a 6x12 uhaul trailer (loaded to the hilt) across the country with it and it climbed the passes, and had plenty of power to keep up with traffic. Currently has 80 thousand miles on it, and never had a problem.
Used to have an 03 Tacoma V6. Loved that too, sold it to get the 4Runner cause of kids. As much as I loved that truck, the 4runner has more room and was a much better towing vehicle. I did the same trip with the Tacoma, and it struggled for power. I think the newer ones have different engines.
Also had an '86 Jeep Comanche. Drove it on the sand 100s of times in DE and it was a great 4wd vehicle. Only a 4cyl, but it was a light truck. Downside... it seemed pretty close to dead around 130K miles. I pretty much gave it to my brother... he put it to rest soon after.
Good luck shopping.
I have had a wrangler before and loved it. I currently have a 3.6L 4x4 Isuzu trooper, the last model made in the us. 2002. It has a torque on demand system as well as standard 4x4. The TOD system has gotten me in and out of every beach in Baja i have tackled.
I have never driver a 4 runner, but I know they are very popular in the US...
Land Rover owners that I know out here that off road a lot swear by them. They are internationally rated like the highest on earth for real gnarly offroading. Safaris, jungles, beaches etc... And the thing that the real hard core rover guys tell me is that each individual part of the frame snaps off seperately, so if you roll, only minor damage occurs, and you can replace small sections where any other truck would be totalled. General maintenance is expensive on them, but the real techies say land rovers are top noch in any off roading situation...
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
im pretty sure the ford explorer is the best car ever