Re: Death Valley?
I've made several visits to DV over the years and will vouch for Ron's remarks, but you can make it to the Race Track (sliding stones Ron referred to) with the average SUV, but you'll need to be sure to have good spares and a full tank of gas. You might like to check out some of the abandoed mines here too such as the Lost Burro Mine.
I would highly recommend Titus Canyon, though it's about a 40 or so mile trip. The road starts near Ryholite and is one way and a high ground clearance vehicle is definitely required there. As with many of the mountain roads it's not well maintained and can vary by the day.
If you have a true 4X4 you might want to check some of the moutanin trails, at higher elevations the weather can be very comfortable even in the summer.
I won't be able to make a trip there with you, but encourage such a trip for anyone interested.