Our Favorite Beach Cars: AWD and FWD... FTW

Heading to the shore and planning to drive on sand? You're gonna want a vehicle that moves all of its wheels. That vehicle should also be really, really cool.

jeep wagoneer sj, ford f 150 raptor, and volvo v90 cross country
Editor's Note: The beach. She beckons. Heed the call this summer, but first make sure your vehicle of choice is beach-approved. In this limited series, we'll reveal our favorite beach cars; in this edition, AWD and 4WD picks.

Some beaches are hard to access – perhaps you have to blaze a moderate trail or wade through some larger-than-expected puddles. And at some beaches you may have the option of driving right out on the sand – just make sure a) you have proper permission to do so, and b) you have tires that can handle sand and one or two shovels just in case they can't. That's all to say that a car that moves all its wheels may come in handy for your next Vitamin D Vacay.

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Classic: Jeep Wagoneer SJ (1962-1991)
jeep wagoneer sj
Courtesy

If being stylish is your beach vehicle goal, look no further than a classic "woody" Jeep Wagoneer. For real wood sides, you'd have to reach way back into the 1930s and a few decades after, but even in simulated form, those panels are rad as hell – just add water. And surfboards. Because you gotta head to Stinson Beach with this baby. Despite the rising interest in this vintage of 4x4s, you can still find a classic Wagoneer at approachable price points. Just be sure to look for rust: odds are, you aren't the first person who thought it'd be fun to get their Jeep wet. A simple 4WD system and an elegantly simple yet luxurious interior make the Wagoneer a sure bet.

Also consider: Ford Bronco, Chevy Blazer

Further reading: This Jeep Grand Wagoneer Is the Craziest Vintage Off-Roader We've Seen

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Beastly: Ford F-150 Raptor
2021 ford f 150 raptor
Ford

There just... aren't other trucks like the F-150 Raptor ($69,905 MSRP). Surer, there's plenty of competition, even in the EV space, but no other vehicle captures the absolute madness of a fully kitted Raptor. Everywhere you look you'll find excess: styling, wheel size, trick suspension, Fox Racing shocks, that huge exhaust growl, not to mention its horsepower and torque ratings. And then there's the performance. A supertruck for the street is one thing, but select the Raptor's "Baja Mode" on the drive selector and you'll be doing donuts on the dunes – in, say, Baja – without breaking a sweat.

Also consider: RAM 1500 TRX, Chevy Silverado ZR2

Further reading: A Ford Leak May Have Just Revealed the F-150 Raptor R's New Engine

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Sensible: Volvo V90 Cross Country
volvo v90 cross country
Volvo

Frankly, it's tough to make a beach-going wagon recommendation without beginning and ending with the Subaru Outback Wilderness, thanks to its affordability, reliability, 9.5-inch ground clearance, etc. But if you're in the market for something slightly more refined (okay, a lot more refined), Volvo's V90 Cross Country is the one. All-wheel-drive, eight inches of ground clearance and off-road drive modes will get you to the water's edge, and Volvo's unbeatable interior and exterior design language, understated luxury and fantastic technology suite will ensure you arrive in style and comfort to an equally elegant beach, like Cannon Beach in Oregon. There's plenty of room on the Volvo's roof for your SUP equipment, and all kinds of space in the back for other necessities (snacks).

Also consider: Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain Wagon, Subaru Outback Wilderness

Further reading: I Think the Volvo V90 CC Is the Most Ideal Car On Sale Today

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