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The 7 Best Beach Cars You Can Buy

A luxed-out Defender looks great on Instagram, but we prefer low-key options that can tolerate a wet dog.

ford bronco
Ford

The weather is getting warmer, and beach season is just around the corner. And whether you rent a house by the shore, have a cottage that's been in the family for ages, or own a tertiary or quaternary mansion on the ocean or lake, odds are good you'll need a beach car to get them to and from the waves.

There are some tips to know when trying to figure out your best ride for life by the waves. A good beach car should be low-key, so forget that sparkling new Mercedes-AMG G63. And it can't be too fussy. That pristine resto-modded Land Rover Defender will look great on the 'gram, but you won’t want dogs, sand and wet towels mussing up that sumptuous interior.

Some practicality is good — but you don’t need to go full Chrysler Pacifica, either. (Style, after all, matters.) The ability to traverse sand dunes themselves is a plus but not a requirement.

With those thoughts in mind, here are our seven favorite beach cars.

2021 ford bronco sasquatch
Ford
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Ford Bronco

Vintage Bronco prices have gone crazy, but the new Bronco will be relatively affordable. It has a distinctive open-air feel and a specified rack for whatever gear your beach pastime of choice requires (and we suspect you can find a place to store your Kindle).

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france auto show
LIONEL BONAVENTUREGetty Images
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Fiat 500 Jolly

The Fiat 500 Jolly is not the car you want for tackling the dunes, but a chopped-off vintage 500 with wicker seats and a sunshade brings that sunset-in-the-Italian-Riviera feel...even if you're actually dodging drunken bros on the Jersey Shore.

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jeep wrangler on sand
Jeep
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Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is cool and classic — and if you'd rather just shove it in 4-Hi with confidence than futz around with fancy drive modes and trail control, it's the best tool for the job.

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jeep grand wagoneer
Jeep
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Jeep Grand Wagoneer

The vintage Grand Wagoneer is the quintessential East Coast yacht club car. Prices are elevated, but still reasonable; you can still get sand everywhere without feeling bad. Plus, there's room to pile in coolers, beach chairs, boogie boards and wet dogs for a buttery smooth ride to the beach and back.

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hero grill
Huckberry
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The 11 Pieces of Gear You Absolutely Need for Car Camping

Car camping makes getting away easy as pie. These items will make it even tastier.

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nissan xterra
Nissan
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Nissan Xterra

It's hard to get more low-key than a worn-in Nissan. The company stopped building the Xterra after 2015, although dealers want it back. It's as tough, reliable and boxy as the off-roaders everyone thirsts after. And it will cost way less than an equivalent Toyota 4Runner.

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toyota land cruiser
Toyota
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Toyota Land Cruiser

Sure, the Land Cruiser is massive, and it's supreme overkill for just about any situation outside the Australian wilderness. But few cars are more comfortable. and it can fit everything you need. Light wear and tear (and some beach stickers from a previous owner) only add to the charm.

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toyota tacoma
David Dewhurst
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Toyota Tacoma

When we dream of leaving our keyboards behind for a simple, shirt-and-shoes-optional life in the salt air and sun, the rig we're unloading our surfboard from is always a slightly weathered Tacoma.

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tire
Courtesy
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The Best All-Terrain Tires You Can Buy

Because you should give your 4Runner or Gladiator the fancy rubber it deserves.

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