After a bit of a hiatus from ExPo I'm back with a different vehicle - a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid:
4WD, 8.6" ground clearance, and 28 mpg. My first modification has been the tires - 215/85 R16 Goodyear SilentArmor. Drops the fuel economy by 1 or 2 MPG but they are pretty sweet off-road. Was worried about the fit but no rubbing that I've noticed. The hybrid system handles the change in diameter well since it is like a continuously variable transmission.
Just got this a couple weeks back. So far I'm really happy with it. I can get mid 30s MPG if I'm careful and don't drive too fast. My favorite part is driving off road in full electric mode. Lots of torque and totally silent. Haven't really pushed the 4WD aspect yet - it's actually an electric motor on the rear wheels that kicks in when slipping is detected.
Thinking about California desert adventures and a roof top tent or a trailer in the near future, we'll see how things go!