Can you recommend a good off-road 4x4 for use in sand here in Oman?

I hope you can help. I know this is a bit off your usual track. We are currently looking for a proper 4x4 to drive here in Oman. I am not planning to cross Africa in it but it needs to be a real 4x4 capable of driving in deep sand etc. The trouble is that the market here is dominated by huge cars with very limited off-road capability but lots of toys, and every time I test one I think "this is nice" but find that it hasn't got long travel suspension or diff locks or any of the clever electronics that can replace them.

It needs to be reasonably cost effective - so no Porsche Cayenne - and probably Japanese or Korean because that is what sells here and consequently has the dealer network, but beyond that I don't have any prejudices; ideally we would like seats for seven but this is not high on the list and fuel consumption is not an issue either, as the last time I filled up it cost me less than a tenner.

Am I looking in the wrong place and I need to look to buy a cruder, truck-based model, perhaps something like the Toyota Fortuner to get the off-road ability if I don't have Range Rover money? Another competent off-roader seems to be the Toyota FJ but I am not sure I can live with the gloomy cabin and the weird styling.

Asked on 22 October 2010 by PB, Oman

Answered by Honest John
I like the FJ Cruiser. Cool looking vehicle. 4.0-litre 240PS V6 engine. You just can't get it in the UK unless independently imported. A Fortuner is a relatively crude, Thai built SUV based on the 4WD HiLux Vigo pick up with a solid back axle and 2.7VVTI petrol four or 3.0 belt cam diesel engine. It comes as standard on useful, balloon-like 70 profile tyres that should help. And Toyota back-up is now probably the best of anyone's for this type of vehicle. I'd say that the Mitsubishi L200 has stronger running gear and the Isuzu D-Max I-TEQ has the best engines and gearboxes, but everything is a compromise. (There are SUVs based on both of these.)
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