Sand Crawlers: 8 Best Dune Buggies You Can Buy (2023)

Most 4×4 SUVs and trucks can handle dirt roads, rocky terrain, and maybe even a bit of high-intensity bouldering. But if you really want to know what it feels like to whip across a desert dune at high speeds, you’re going to have to get something that was purpose-built just for such an adventure. Of course, we’re talking about dune buggies.

There was a time when, if you wanted a dune buggy, you had to build it yourself from the ground up. Thankfully, however, things have changed quite a bit. Now, you can go down to your local powersports dealership and buy something off the lot that’s ready to hit the road and head on out to the sandy fields of your nearest, driest landscape. Whether you want something that’s small and inexpensive to tool around in or you’re in the market for a desert-going supercar, you’ll find it here on our list of the eight best dune buggies you can buy.

Sand Crawlers: 8 Best Dune Buggies You Can Buy (1)

Meyers Manx

Nothing beats an original. And it doesn’t get more original than the Meyers Manx. Originally introduced in 1964, the Meyers Manx (an off-road refit of Volkswagen’s Beetle) took the world by storm and single-handedly created the dune buggy category. Though the original company went belly up in 1971, they were refounded in 1999 and now offer a wealth of options to get you out on the sand. Including available body kits, chassis, and a wide array of individual parts, this DIY option is one of the most inexpensive ways to get behind the wheel of an iconic dune buggy.

Displacement: N/A
Horsepower: N/A

Purchase: $2,400+

Sand Crawlers: 8 Best Dune Buggies You Can Buy (2)

Joyner Sand Viper 1100cc EFI

If your primary goal is to get rip-roarin’ out on the dunes as quickly and cheaply as possible, the Joyner Sand Viper might just be your best option. With a baseline price just over the $10k mark, this ready-to-roll dune buggy boasts a top speed of 70 miles per hour courtesy of its water-cooled four-cylinder engine. Mated to its 11-gallon fuel tank, hydraulic disc brakes, 14″ of ground clearance, and a 1,102-lbs capacity — this beast offers a whole lot of fun and capability in an inexpensive package.

Displacement: 1,100cc
Horsepower: 86

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Purchase: $11,000+

Sand Crawlers: 8 Best Dune Buggies You Can Buy (3)

BMS Sand Sniper T-1500 4S

In direct competition with the Joyner above — including a comparable price — the BMS Sand Sniper T-1500 4S is different in some very notable ways. For starters, it comes with seating for four rather than two. It also has a bit of a power advantage, boasting 108 horsepower to the Joyner’s 86. Of course, that also comes with a bit more weight. It also has its own roof rack, in case you want to haul some other gear atop it while you tear across the desert. All told, the biggest difference here is the number of passengers you can bring along. If you need more than two seats, this is the budget dune buggy for you.

Displacement: 1,500cc
Horsepower: 108

Purchase: $11,000+

Sand Crawlers: 8 Best Dune Buggies You Can Buy (4)

Yamaha YXZ1000R SS SE

Those concerned with semantics might tell you that the Yamaha YXZ1000R SS SE is a side-by-side and not strictly a dune buggy. We say: if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. And this duck has quite a lot to offer when it comes to sand-shredding adventure. That includes a 998cc power plant capable of 90 horsepower — a seemingly small figure until you realize this two-seater weighs just 1,563 pounds wet. It also features selectable 2WD and 4WD, courtesy of a three-way locking differential. And it comes with Fox Racing shocks in the front and back, hydraulic disc brakes, and so much more.

Displacement: 998cc
Horsepower: 90

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Purchase: $20,599+

Sand Crawlers: 8 Best Dune Buggies You Can Buy (5)

Polaris RZR XP Turbo

While it looks similar to the Yamaha above, the Polaris RZR XP Turbo is vastly different where it counts: its powertrain. You see, this one boasts a whopping 168 horsepower — nearly double the power found in the Yamaha — but still costs around the same starting. This is thanks in large part to the fact that its 925cc engine, while technically smaller, is turbocharged and engineered for top-level performance. On top of that, it also boasts 20″/20″ of usable travel, has a 14″ ground clearance, and can be upgraded to a higher trim for even more off-roading capabilities. It’s not what we’d call cheap, but the return is worth the investment.

Displacement: 925cc
Horsepower: 168

Purchase: $20,999+

Sand Crawlers: 8 Best Dune Buggies You Can Buy (6)

Can-Am Maverick X3 X rs Turbo R

While it might seem like an $8k price jump for just four more ponies is asking a little much, the difference between the previous option and this one is far more than just a slight power upgrade. You see, this off-road dirt devil also features an impressive 124 foot-pounds of torque, a trio of oversized air intakes to keep the engine cool, an upgraded BRP four-link TTX suspension boasting 24″ of travel, and fully-adjustable state-of-the-art Fox shocks so you can customize your ride on the fly. If the best tech in the game is on your radar, this is the dune buggy for you.

Displacement: 900cc
Horsepower: 172

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Purchase: $27,299+

Sand Crawlers: 8 Best Dune Buggies You Can Buy (7)

Tatum Dragon Sand Car

There are dune buggies, and then there’s the Tatum Dragon Sand Car. And while the sleek and sinister appearance speaks volumes to what makes this particular ride special, the performance figures are what really matter. This monstrous dune devourer hosts a Chevrolet LS3 crate engine — a muscle car-worthy powerhouse capable of a blistering 650 horsepower. And that means this is less a dune buggy and more an off-road supercar. And that’s just the start of things — this beast also boasts a laundry list of standard features ranging from custom body panels, to a top-of-the-line suspension, to a custom powder coated chassis, and so much more.

Displacement: 6.2L
Horsepower: 650

Purchase: $129,900+

Sand Crawlers: 8 Best Dune Buggies You Can Buy (8)

BuckShot Racing X5R

Tatum is hardly the only name in the game when it comes to off-road supercar dune buggies, as can be seen in BuckShot Racing’s X5R. The big difference here is that the Tatum comes with just the one engine option, whereas the X5R can be equipped with one of four — boasting 510-600 horsepower — and comes with the option for turbos that will give it an output of up to 1,200 horsepower. Of course, that also comes with a much higher price tag. But that’s what you pay for blistering insanity over any terrain.

Displacement: Varying
Horsepower: 510-1,200

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Purchase: $130,000+

Sand Crawlers: 8 Best Dune Buggies You Can Buy (9)

Howe & Howe Ripsaw

Honorable Mention

Technically speaking, the Ripsaw (and all its permutations) is not a dune buggy — it’s a luxury off-road tank. But because it was designed to handle the harshest of terrains at insanely high speeds, we’re giving it the respect it deserves as an honorable mention. Developed by Howe & Howe for military applications, these “super tanks” are heralded as the fastest dual tracked vehicles ever conceived. The two civilian options, the EV2 and EV3, are billed as completely bespoke custom builds designed not just for extreme off-road capability, but also supreme comfort and luxury. And with a range of 600-1,500 horsepower, they’re blisteringly quick, as well. Just make sure you can wait up to six months for them to fabricate yours.

Displacement: Varying
Horsepower: 600-1,500

Purchase: $295,000+

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Are dune buggies good in the sand? ›

Dune buggies are most commonly used in the sand and mud, and they've often been called mud buggies when not set up specifically for sand. But they can also be used on highways if they conform to state laws and can be registered and plated nearly anywhere in the world.

What is the difference between a dune buggy and a sand rail? ›

The distinction between a sandrail and dune buggy or sand car is that the sandrail will rarely have windows, doors, fenders, or full body panels. The sandrail will also be a lighter weight vehicle compared to the sandcar. On most sandrails, the engine is typically at the rear.

What drive is best for sand? ›

Stay home. The front wheels will dig in almost instantly on loose sand. - Rear-drive cars do a little better—but there's no substitute for 4WD. - A proper part-time 4WD system with a low range and a locked center differential will get through almost any beach.

What are the 4 types of sand dunes? ›

Most sand dunes are classified by shape. There are five major dune shapes: crescentic, linear, star, dome, and parabolic.

What are dune buggies called now? ›

Plus, they were cheap and easy to modify. Today, the dune buggy has evolved into so much more. Modern versions are also known as side-by-side all-terrain vehicles and they're as much for hard-charging sand duties as they are easy dune cruising.

Can you use regular tires on the sand dunes? ›

Although paddle tires are known to be the ideal tire for the dunes, some experienced duners actually prefer regular dirt tires. A good knob tire will work just fine in the dunes as long as you lower the tire pressure.

What is the best offroad brand? ›

2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

The Wrangler itself is our No. 1 choice for off-road SUVs in our Ultimate Rankings. The Wrangler Rubicon is the quintessential vehicle for conquering technical rocks, slop, mud, and ruts that would tear apart most other vehicles.

What is the fastest dune buggy? ›

The fastest type of dune buggy or sand rail are the long travels. Long travel rails are the most modern and they are built with A-arms and a coilover suspension.

What is the best sand car? ›

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What company makes dune buggies? ›

Meyers Manx manufactures and sells Dune Buggy kits to customers all over the world from its Costa Mesa, Calif.

Is AWD or 4WD better in sand? ›

*A proper part-time 4WD system with a low range and a locked center differential will get through almost any beach. If you've got a full-time AWD road car, you can do a limited amount of deep sand cruising, but there's probably not a lot of ground clearance.

Is 4 high or 4 low better for sand? ›

Without an Auto setting, 4WD High is what you'd use in any situation that's low-traction but relatively high-speed—a dirt road or snowy paved road. 4WD Low is strictly for slow off-roading or places where torque multiplication would really help you out (like deep sand).

Is 4H or 4L better for sand? ›

Should you be using high range (4H) or low range (4L) when driving in the sand? When driving in soft and/or deep sand you should be using 4L (Low) range. This mode is the most favorable when driving on surfaces such as soft and deep sand.

Can you ride dune buggies at the Great sand dunes in Colorado? ›

Mechanized or motorized vehicles are not permitted on the dunefield, and ATVs are not permitted in the park and preserve. The dunefield and most of the adjacent Sangre de Cristo Mountains are federally designated wilderness: the dunes were made a wilderness by Congress in 1976, and the Sangre de Cristos in 1993.

What is a disadvantage of sand dune Stabilisation? ›

Needs to be constantly replaced. The sand has to be brought in from elsewhere.

What are the disadvantages of sand dunes? ›

Dune Nourishment
Dune Nourishment
Advantages Cheap Maintains natural appearance of coastline Provides habitat Helps absorb wave energyDisadvantages Can be easily damaged by storm waves Areas have to be zoned off from public while it grows Protection is limited to small area
2 more rows
Feb 19, 2019

How good is all wheel drive in sand? ›

*A proper part-time 4WD system with a low range and a locked center differential will get through almost any beach. If you've got a full-time AWD road car, you can do a limited amount of deep sand cruising, but there's probably not a lot of ground clearance.

Is Great Sand Dunes worth it? ›

The Sand Dunes are a bit off the beaten track, and not easy to just "drop by", but totally worth it. Rent a sand sled from the Oasis shop, about 4 miles prior to the entrance. Not much else is nearby so bring food, snacks, and anything else you might need - plan ahead and you'll enjoy the day!

Where is the largest sand dune in the United States? ›

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

The Great Sand Dunes, in southern Colorado, are the tallest in North America, with a few dunes towering over 700 feet.

How long should you spend at Great Sand Dunes? ›

How Many Days Do You Need at Great Sand Dunes? At the bare minimum, you really just need a few hours. And this should preferably be early or late in the day (midday during the summer the sand can get up to 150°F). With just a few hours, you can walk on the dunes and go sandboarding or sledding.

Which is the best species for sand dune stabilization? ›

Some the grasses/creepers/trees suitable for afforestation of dunes are: Grasses Creepers Trees/shrubs Sewan (Lasiurus sindicus), Anjan (Cenchrus ciliaris), Murat (Panicum turgidum). Tumba (Citrullus colosynthes), Kachri (Cucumus sp.)

What is the most stable part of a sand dune? ›

They have demonstrated that longitudinal dunes and barchans - croissant-shaped dunes formed in a unidirectional wind regime - are the most stable over time.

Do sand dunes protect against hurricanes? ›

Sand dunes are important first lines of defense against coastal storms and can do much to reduce losses to inland coastal development.


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