Summer is here. The weather has been warm — indeed, too warm in much of the country. Americans are (or soon will be) heading to their cottages, lake houses and beach homes for summertime fun. For some families, that may raise a question: What do you drive when you’re out there?
After all, the vehicular requirements for such an adventure are quite different from everyday life. Mainly, you need a beach car: something to traverse sand and rutted beach roads, and to hold kids, dogs, and gear.
Sure, that Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S could perform all those tasks, but it’s a bit too pricey and flashy for that low-key beach town life. You may not want to leave your exquisite Land Rover Defender resto-mod exposed to that much salt. And while we love the new Bronco, finding one to use this summer may be tough.
In other words, you’re looking for a capable, not-too-expensive off-roader. You don’t want to spend a ton of money, but you also don’t want to entrust your family to a rusted-out rattletrap. Even with used car car prices going bonkers, these beach vehicles are still available for a reasonable price.
Here are five of the best beach cars for sale that we found for $15,000 or less.
2004 Lexus GX 470 — $14,995
The Lexus GX, sold as the Land Cruiser Prado in other markets, is as tough as they come. Here's a silver 2004 model with a 4.7-liter V8 that should have a lot of life left with less than 140,000 miles. Chip in a bit extra, and you can get a six-month warranty.
2005 Toyota Tacoma — $14,895
$15,000 won't buy you much in used Tacoma world. The truck basically doesn't depreciate. But here's a 2005 4WD Tacoma with a manual transmission and an Access Cab. Hey, for a Taco, 112,000 miles is just getting broken in.
2003 Toyota 4Runner SR5 — $13,895
The 4Runner is in the same boat as the Tacoma when it comes to resale value, but you can find some for less than $15,000. Here's a 2003 SR5 model with a V8 and fewer than 100,000 miles. It's not the most aesthetically pleasing 4Runner generation, but you can't get everything at this price point.
2006 Nissan Xterra — $11,500
The Nissan Xterra was the poor man's 4Runner. It's still a reliable, boxy, and rough and tumble off-roader. Here's a 2006 Nissan Xterra with the Off-Road package, a precursor to the PRO-4X trim. It has a six-speed manual transmission and the towing package.
1985 Isuzu Trooper — $8,500
Here's an off-beat choice that would go down well at a Radwood festival. It's a 1985 two-door Isuzu Trooper with a manual transmission. It's a Colorado car with what the seller claims to be no rust.