Perhaps a bit of perspective from someone who's never owned or even driven a 4x4, but been on many 4x4 trails with a range of vehicles (both standard and modified).
All the vehicles mentioned in this thread have their merits, and their negatives. In my friendship group there are Toyota Hiluxes (these will generally go anywhere you want them to - literally point them and shoot), a couple of Jeeps (according to their owners, you don't buy a Jeep, you build them, no matter what age they are), a Nissan (with a huge fear of water until a snorkel resolved that - a puddle was a Problem with a capital P), a Kia Sportage (original model, required the stupid air hubs to be replaced with a manual setup, larger tyres and then it went places way more expensive and complicated vehicles feared to go), a Ford Courier (decent enough), a Mazda (same vehicle as the Courier, just a different badge), and a 19 voetsak Ford F250 (you don't want one of those - trust me on that).
We've also got manual boxes and autoboxes, and again both have their strengths and weaknesses.
But there is one thing everyone who has ever been on a 4x4 trail will agree with, no matter what vehicle they drive. The weakest link in any vehicle is the one behind the steering wheel. The bottom line is that no matter what you have, both in vehicle and add on terms, YOU are going to be the determining factor as to what they vehicle can do, how reliable it will be, how fuel efficient it will be. I've seen hardcore 4x4's with all the toys get stuck because the driver was clueless, and I've seen 2x4's go places they have no right to go because the driver was flipping brilliant.
So my advice to any prospective 4x4 buyer is the following:
1. Decide on a budget
2. See what's available
3. Research those vehicles (most 4x4 manufacturers have clubs with websites)
4. Drive as many as you can
5. Shortlist 2 or 3
6. Drive those again
7. Make a decision
8. Get that vehicle checked out by the AA or similar
9. Buy the vehicle if ok
10. Enjoy it!
EDIT: Sorry about the fontsize...I have no idea why it did that!