Can't really tell you too much about maintenance costs, but I had a 2001 Vitara 5 door manual as a company car for a couple of years, then a 2004 Vitara XL7 Auto for a further 2 years.
I took the 2001 model onto Samurai beach & I thought it did not too bad on the sand, there was the smaller 3 door model on the beach as well & I noticed when he hid the rough patches of sand he bounced around a fair bit whereas I just glided over the rough stuff.
The XL7 did never get to the beach
but I did take it on a few slippery sections of firetrails in the Blue Mountains & it did feel a lot heavier to get through sand.
Fuel economy was not too bad on the 01 Vitara, being a manual helped
Fuel economy on the XL7 was shocking
it was costing me $20 per day going up & down the mountains to work & back (even with a company fuel card it was killing me), so I asked for a smaller cheaper car (work gave me a 98 Hyundai
) now I am in a diesel van
I took a 3.0L diesel Patrol on Holidays a few years ago, great vehicle fuel econmy was good on a trip 10L/100km I think?