Best Vehicle Choices For Preparedness

best vehicle for preparedness

I recently received the following email from a MSB reader:


Have you and/or your readers reviewed/commented on vehicle choices for preparedness/emergency?

I am looking to replace a 2005 Accord sedan and the current thoughts are:

– Honda CR-V
– Toyota RAV-4
– Subaru Forester

(Subaru Outback also under consideration)

None of these are full up SUV or pickups, however they seem reasonable for my suburban lifestyle.

Current nod is to the Forester due to driver visibility.

I would be interested in what you and your blog followers think about these choices, or other choices. Thanks.

What an excellent topic!

If you were to fantasize about the best motor vehicle for preparedness,
what would it look like?

Ask yourself, “Just what is the role of my preparedness vehicle post-event?”
“What’s its purpose?”

I see the primary role to be either one of two uses:

1. Getting us and our supplies to a bug-out location.
2. To get us home from wherever we may be when the event takes place.

Note: Lets keep it generally practical while not necessarily building a long term bugout or ‘MadMax’ vehicle.

Note: Lets try and avoid (for this discussion) ‘EMP proof’ vehicles.


Parameters For Best Vehicle

I suppose we could go all-out and list prerequisites that would get us through ‘anything’. However that’s probably not too realistic.

More likely would be overcoming some obstacles along the way. Back road travel, maybe off road (if you know where you’re going). Winter conditions, maybe flooding, poor traction. Lets hear more of your own suggestions in the comments…

Lets consider some features that would be nice to have for a preparedness vehicle:

– Storage space that’s adequate for gear & supplies

– 4 Wheel drive, or ‘All wheel drive’

– Ground clearance that’s more than a ‘typical’ vehicle

– Large capacity gas tank, (max range on a tank of fuel)

– Tow package (maybe applicable for bugout)

– ?

– 2nd Gas tank
– Aggressive tread tires
– Radios (communications, scanner)
– DC to AC inverter
– ?

A few vehicles that I’ve owned:

Jeep Grand Cherokee (1994)
I really loved that Jeep. I ran it more than a quarter million miles and it saw lots of the country and lots of off road. I will always have a place in my heart for that Jeep (more the memories than anything else I suppose). The newer one’s not so much (by their appearance) – they’re smaller.

Built on a F150 frame, this SUV was huge. It fit lots of ‘stuff’. Only had it for several years. Sold it and then bought the next vehicle:

F350 Super Duty
I really like this truck (I tow with it). Full size bed with BAKflip security cover, full crew cab (plenty of room), diesel engine, nearly 700 mile range (not towing), 4×4. If I had to point out a potential flaw in a full size truck — it’s overall size, length (22′). It could be difficult if off road in ‘tight’ conditions. However I don’t plan to have to do that…

Alright, lets hear your thoughts on this subject.

Do you also have specific vehicle recommendations (keeping in mind the initial question from the person who emailed)?

The Subaru Forester seems to be favored for small SUV class

Related article (gets into more SHTF type transportation),
Best SHTF Vehicles


  1. We have a “built” Jeep Cherokee, 4×4, 33″ BFG KM2 tires, and a F-150, camper top, 4×4, 33″ BFG AT2 tires. Dependable, plenty of parts, very durable, and a decent amount of room.

    1. Can’t go wrong with a Jeep. I have a 94 and a 96 grand Cherokee. I live in the Sierra Nevada mountains so deal with snow and off road. Never had a problem yet

  2. You said you had a disability so the Honda CR-V is a good choice, my brother had one it was room enough for 4 people without being shoulder to shoulder. They purchased it for gas mileage his wife then(passed away)loved driving it to work & shopping in Seattle WA, which has crazy traffic & way to many people. It was easy to get in & out of, so if you are a short stature person this might work for yourself. Friend has a Toyota PU, and she loves it over everything they have had so far, it is an older vehicle, storage behind the drivers & passenger area is rather tight but it is for groceries.

    Check on line for customer reviews of these vehicles by previous owners, an check Consumers Report they do an unbiased appraisal of popular vehicles. Good luck

  3. My only additional concern would be the ability if necessary to carry the wounded and possibly care for them en route to wherever you’re going.

  4. We have a 2002 Ford F150 extended cab 4×4 and a Lexus LX470 AWD. The Lexus is better in all weather road conditions, but the Ford is our go to vehicle. It has a fiberglass ARE bed lid which is pretty secure with lots of storage. The backseat is tight for people but perfect for our dog and travel food and drink. The 4×4 capabilities are superb. We’ve followed jeeps off-road through the mountains of Colorado and and had no problems where they often struggled. Ours has 320,000 miles and we still pull our travel trailer on multi-thousand mile trips. The early 2000 model F150’s were very well designed. I can change out the front or back brake pads in about thirty minutes and another five minutes if I need to change the rotors. It doesn’t burn oil yet and if the engine ever does give out, I plan to put in a new one and keep going. You can pick these trucks up for $5000 – $10,000 in good running condition. We also had a 3/4 ton Suburban 4×4 that was very strong off-road but I didn’t like having all the gear inside with us hearing it shift around when we were off-road.

    1. As good as the AWD IFS Lexus LX470 is, I’d rather have one of the earlier 1993 to 1997 solid axle 80 series AWD Landcruiser with factory front and rear lockers.

      1. YASSSS! These were the best… FZJ80s! Except the Pesky Heater Hose… :)

  5. I just picked up a 1989 GMC 4×4 Suburban (no electronics) with rebuilt engine and trani. Has 33’s for the sand trails and 6 inch lift (re neck proper) for the flooding down here in hurricane zone. Can move the wife kids animals and gear all in one shot.

    The negative is the fuel mileage. I am working on mounting extra fuel cans plus i know enough to stick to the back highways during hurricane bug out. Right now I have a 30 gal fuel tank and my range is 360 mi (12mi/gal) at 45-55 mph

    Also working on new lower profile paint job, coms and dc-ac converter (for power tools if needed)

    1. Everything after about 1974-ish has electronic ignition. You will lose spark in an EMP event,not to mention electronic fuel pump and engine management systems.

      1. Kevin, you’re correct, but well up into the early nineties, at least on Chevy/GMC small blocks, it is an easy retrofit back to standard points/condenser distributor and carburetor. Buy the parts to keep on hand.

        1. Setting point gap and dwell angle is almost a forgotten lost skill set, not to mention the knowledge required to ‘optimize’ the 7 basic fuel circuits an automotive carburetor has.

  6. I can’t really afford a new vehicle, but if I did need to buy a new one, it would be:


    very good miles per gallon

    reliable (not too many bells and whistles that might stop working)

    high clearance

    good amount of space for bringing supplies, etc with me

    capable of staying in overnight.

    Probably an older pick up with camper. And the camper should have things such as:

    propane tank for heating and cooking

    container(s) for storing water

    blankets, sleeping pad or cot, backpack, water filter, pots, pans, plates, cups, cooking & eating utensils, firestarters, towels, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, extra clothes, maps, flashlights & batteries, toilet paper, pet dishes, IDs, extra keys to the house, proof of residence, gun, knife, insect repellent, first aid, etc. etc.

    I wouldn’t store food, pet food, or medicine in the truck, but would have to load those just before I left home.

    1. New vehicle and cheap are two things that just don’t go together these days.

  7. Well, I’m a truck guy I guess, and yes I have that fancy Semi-Luxury full size ‘car’ that will top out at 125+ (got scared after 125), but not for the Preparedness Stuff for sure, unless I’m in a hurry HAHAHA

    For me:

    6’ PU-Bed with “Hard Cover” lockable; A lot better for carrying stuff securly, after an event you may actually need to haul a LOT of your stuff somewhere.

    Four Door aka Crew Cab; I like the added room inside for more personal OR Blue (ha gets the entire back seat), plus more “inside” storage room for things not to go in the Bed aka firearms, cash, TP, so-on.

    Fold down Read Seat; good for loading up added stuff OR people. A must for the Truck Owner

    HUGE Diesel Motor, Duramax is a good one, Yes it’s a GMC, and not wanting to get into a discussion which is better, I like GMS, ohhhhh well.

    Four Wheel Drive (lockable) is a MUST!!!! If you expect all roads to be open after an event, think again, ever try to cross a stream or climb a 60 degree hill in Two-WD?

    Towing Package and a GREAT Trailer; Stuff, LOTS of stuff, need I say more? Also you may need it to tow that Camper you have stocked for semi-SHTF or the trip to Grand-Maw’s.

    Very good aggressive tires, a tire repair kit, and a second spare tire. Don’t forget the tools/Jack to change out that blown tire on the side of a Mountain.

    I like an Open Roof Rack for additional carrying space, oddball things can be strapped up there. Remembering that you may have only one chance at “getting stuff out” more space is always needed.

    A second Fuel Tank, increasing that ‘range’ to well over 1000 miles.

    I could list dozens of more ‘stuff’ but that’s the basics.

    I don’t agree with “Jacking Up” a truck to an extreme, realistically the ground clearance is mostly constrained on the distance the Axle is off the ground NOT the frame. If the Axle can’t make it over a Boulder the 3 foot high frame won’t get a chance.

    Additionally whatever “Preparedness Vehicle” you have/get make dang sure you get that sucker out and drive it over a few dozen curbs and fallen tree branches, cross a stream or small river and see what happens when you hit a rock in a river. How does it handle going up a 45 deg hill whereas you can’t see the road in-front of you.

    I you have never done “off-road” get out there and find out what will happen when taking a curve at 50 and you lose traction or when you peel off a tire on the side of Black Bear Pass.

    The choices of Preparedness Vehicles’ are many of this one or that one as far as vehicles, I would say get what is “comfortable” to drive for 18 hours straight, Not all “GOOD” is going to be overland, more than likely going to be down that Highway filled with 2 million others.

    1. “Off-Road” while in the Army I took a 20 ton dump truck off road into the woods on sand trails. rear wheel drive and no load made for an interesting adventure. Just don’t stop on deep sand… If conditions are dry and flat you may be able to take a normal rear wheel drive pickup off road without issue. just don’t stop in the mud or in deep sand and plow through it. In WWII the Germans had off road vehicles that were only 2wheel drive (rear) Yes I know they lost… But still in most cases on level trails you could make it with a 2 wheel drive.

  8. Mine is the best truck on the road – because it is now paid off.

    The best 4×4 vehicle is some one else’s 4×4 vehicle. ( the Bass Boat Rule.)

    My truck is a Toyota Tacoma that is plain Jane 2×4 not lifted. I do like the extended cab feature and it has the base 4 banger engine. I live in suburbs and drive into a city through bad part of town. my truck is left dirty and does not stand out. There is no shell over the bed because I use the truck to haul my small kayaks here and there on time off. ( or other dirty items like manure, potting soil etc.

    My truck has 1 bumper sticker which says:
    “Yes I drive a truck. No, I will not help you move.”

    1. Calirefugee,

      I think we discussed this before, 2×4 vs. 4×4. Every vehicle I own is 4×4, and for good reasons. First, in the region I live, every pick-up in stock at dealerships are 4×4’s. You have to special order two wheel drive. Second, even our “improved roads” occasionally make a 4×4 handy to navigate the rougher spots, especially in wet or snowy conditions. Third, 2×4’s are next to worthless as a trade-in in this area.

      Four wheel drive vehicles are not unstoppable. The main difference between a 2×4 and a 4×4 in off road navigation is not who gets stuck, it’s where you get stuck, and how much cable the recovery vehicle needs to get you out.😁

        1. I have a 4×4 suburban and i live by the 2wd in a 4wd out. But sadly it is hard to get stuck even in 2wd if you pick a good line. But when you need it 4×4 cant be replaced. If you have a rear locker and a winch on a 2wd then maybe but winching is slow buisness.

        2. One common misconception that people have when they ‘think’ they have a 4×4 is the fact that it is still basically a 2 wheel drive vehicle. A farmer with an old 2wd pick up with a detroit locker in the rear axle and knows how to approach adverse conditions will probably go ALOT further than a standard 4×4. A regular 4×4 with no diff. lock-up is still basically a two wheel drive vehicle, torque will always take the path of least resistance and if you hang up your so-called 4×4 with a wheel front and rear that is off the ground, you are basically HOOPED. I recommend at the very least a diff lock in the front axle, you have the weight of the engine over it in your favor and if you can afford it, a winch set up that takes into account not only the vehicle weight but also the total weight of everything you carry. One caveat to take into consideration is the vehicle charging system/capacity. It may not be able to supply the required power that the winch may demand at full output. Today’s new vehicles are only designed to work within a narrow set of parameters. if you drain your battery too much and your charging system goes into full output for an extended period of time, the heat generated may, or should I say probably will kill the charging system possibly taking the ‘ecu’ or other vital electronics with it. The days of a big ass ‘AC Delco’ alternator from pre computerized or early passive computer vehicles are long gone where it could scream all day long at max output and be no worse for wear.
          A ‘jack-all’ with a strong cable or tow rope is an excellent alternative if you cannot afford a winch assembly, however be prepared to spend time with this particular set-up to get un-stuck.
          Be aware, an emblem that says ‘4×4’ on the side of the vehicle doesn’t necessarily mean you have a true ‘4×4’. Do your homework.

    2. Calirefugee;
      Obviously you have not seen the Bumper Sticker
      “Yes I drive a truck. Sure I’ll help you move, I want to see all the Stuff you have”
      :-) :-)

  9. How about a riding lawnmower with a trailer? Sound crazy? But if an EMP ruined the electronics in a full sized auto, a lawnmower might be small enough to fit in a Faraday cage.

    My 14-year-old lawn boy just left. He figured out a way to drive his lawnmowers legally. He has a riding lawnmower with a large trailer attached to the back. It is big enough to hold his two regular lawnmowers, two weedeaters, his other equipment, and his 13-year-old friend who helps him mow. I asked him if it is legal for him to ride his mower with its trailer on the street and he said “yes.” His father is a deputy sheriff, so I suppose that is right.

    1. I guess you could attach a trailer to a motorcycle or even a bicycle if your car stopped working.

      1. DaisyK;
        HAHAHA, I can see it now, This old-fat-fart, AR-15 hanging on his hip, with a trailer of goods peddling down I-5, with Blue atop barking directions LOL
        Ahhh yeah, talk about being the Gray Man, THAT will do it for sure :-) :-)

        1. NRP

          I was thinking of what to do if autos don’t work and you need to make a short move — say there is a fire, flood, or chemical spill, or your bug-out location is a relative’s house a mile away.

        2. DaisyK;
          Hence the vision I portrayed in my last comment… HAHAHAH
          But I totally understand, it’s the short haul stuff that will get ya if not ready for it.
          Hence the idea lf having the right Preparedness Vehicle as the title of the Article points out. See how I got back in sink with the Article before Ken scolded me :-) :-)

        3. Would be nice if you could find an old Cushman Truckster. When I was a kid, they were popular for local delivery vehicles and some police department bought them for meter maids. Very basic, built on a three wheel chassis, with a one cylinder 4-stroke air cooled engine and chain driven rear axle. Some had a enclosed cab, all had a pick-up style bed. I’ve seen similar vehicles being used, primarily by New York City, but I’m guessing those are loaded down with electronics.

        4. Joe c;
          Hayyyy after the azz chewing we all took this past weekend, I’m sure as helz am stayong ON SUBJECT, and my Preparedness Vehicle has a bumper sticker saying so…. HAHAHA

        5. That was a great picture for my brain! LolThat was a great picture for my brain! Lol

    2. DaisyK,

      Lawn mowing/landscaping is an agricultural pursuit. Motorized agriculture equipment is allowed to make temporary use of public thoroughfares to get from home base to each location it is to be used, but only in a direct route (no side trips to the the local liquor store, etc). Most jurisdictions do require the universal reflective “slow moving vehicle” placard to be displayed at the rear most portion of the equipment.

      If you can find an old rider mower with the magneto ignition, it is already EMP proof.

      1. Old.Chevy 👍
        You’re right. Went back thru and read.
        Hey, we.are over achievers
        My dream jeep.will be what

        1. I just wanted to bring it to a halt before we were talking about horses.

        2. Old Chevy;
          A horse, the ultimate Preparedness Vehicle LOLOL
          Well think about it, a horse eats about anything and produces both Methane AND Road Apples 😁

        3. Old Chevy
          Since you brought it up…..
          I have this 1 hp ox, black in color……..
          Just funnin’ with ya!

        4. NRP…horse/donkey/mule…—-I have always heard that donkeys are easily trainable —(ride/carry/pull), and not at all fussy eaters (weeds will do), etc.. As an added , well, EMP proof too….———On the other hand, the Leaders of Brunei, have another opinion. ——–Apparently a group in France raised funds to help some isolated village (women) secure a means to carry water/goods (other than the women being the pack mules that is)…——-So this French group raised funds and purchased ten Donkeys for the isolated (poor) village women. —-Golly I thought this was a good idea. But not so well thought of the leaders of Brunei…It has created something of an international incident…The Brunei Leaders have insisted this is a French INSULT. Donkey are not very fancy, and so forth , and they have quarantined the Donkeys, possibly to send back. They want something “more important/prestigious/etc”. Seriously? Anyone ask the Village Women who are lugging stuff around on THEIR backs like Packmules? (NOT). ——- I think, seriously a Donkey is a fairly good SHTF critter. Also, I have often heard they are very good “protector” animals. That is, put them with a heard of cows/flock of sheep, and they will kick the chit out of a wolf/coyote if it trys to attack the flock. —

        5. Yes they can be trained that way. And they also use their teeth. I’ve heard that they can break the back of a coyote with one bite.

  10. I would give high marks to the Subaru Outback. I’d bet the forester is good as well. A 70’s jeep and a 2 wd pickup and you are set for most variables. Depends on the situation and the ability to adapt and make choices. A few extra components in a “safe” location could mean some quick repairs and back on the road. I believe fuel could be found early on in shtf.

    1. Plainsmedic;
      Your comment “I believe fuel could be found early on in shtf.” Obviously it would depend on the SHTF, but, I do believe every time I think of a Hurricane or other emergency all I see is people waiting in line for fuel or raiding a store for supplies. Remember the 73-74 gas shortages? Or even better, the pipeline break just a year ago, whereas millions up N-E were having a rather hard time finding fuel.
      I do believe that having enough fuel on hand to make it ‘where-ever’ would be a good option. Hence the second fuel tank, stored fuel, or such.
      To me being more self-sufficient or “ready” would be paramount, including fuel for a ‘GOOD’ (Get Out Of Dodge) trip
      But that’s just my 2¢ worth.

      1. I still believe fuel could be found early on in a shtf. There are many available fuel storage options. Not just for yourself but most people could come up with 10 gallons of fuel in a pinch. Be it a fuel can for mower/yard equipment or siphoning from a vehicle. Fuel is in nearly every machine. You may have to barter/buy at a high price, but the first day or maybe even two, it could be had. If the power was out, the fuel is still at the gas station, you just have to access it. I appreciate your insight and opinion, but most folks who are truly concerned, like us, have thought it through for their particular circumstance. I agree that most sheeple will line up at the gas station and start the whine/complain dance. They will fail
        I’m sure that you and I both run on the top part of the fuel tank in our vehicles. In a bugout situation (not my plan) I believe preparedness, as you mention, is critical for each individual’s situation.

    2. I have a subaru outback and I love it. Most roads out here are dirt and it never complains. It is also good in the city. It has a tight turning radius goes up and down hills with great joy! Anyway it is small, sounds mean when you step on the gas and has a high clearance.

  11. What’s the best vehicle choice for preparedness?

    Simple, the one you have. It really doesn’t need to be over-thought much.

    1. Well, yes that’s true, and can be applied to many things. The best knife is the one you have. Etc.

      That said, I posted the article to try and help out the person who emailed about it. Also thought it would be an interesting topic to discuss.

    2. Very True. Not worth getting in debt for a vehicle which is just a little better. Besides if things are really bad, I am sure there will be plenty to choose from.

      1. If things ever do get real bad I don’t see people driving around as fuel would probably be in short supply. And showing you have enough of it to drive about would likely get you attention you would not want.

        The local power structure would decide your surplus of fuel is a “vital resource” and would come and take it. At gun point if need be.

        And the general public would also see your fuel as a prize to be taken.

        If it ever did get that bad your best survival strategy is to look like everyone else that has no fuel.

        One thing that never made sense in The Mad Max movies is all the brigands driving all over the place at fast speeds in autos that had big gas sucking engines killing people for a few gallons of gas.

        In real life they would not be consuming all that gas to get less gas then they burn up trying to get more of it. Also as most people know (then maybe most people don’t know it) .gas has a short life. Even with fuel stabilizer it only last a few years. And The Mad Max movies look like they are supposed to be several years into a SHTF thing. The only probable fuel would be small-scale refined alcohol as refining gasoline takes a lot of energy and a tech-base to support it. Alcohol can be made with a much lower effort and with simple producers.

        I live close to a refinery (literally a stone throw away from it) and I was told years ago by a friend that worked there that the electric bill was 1.5 million dollars a month, that was in the 1990’s, hate to think what it is today. How is gasoline production going to happen in a Mad Max movie situation??? It’s not so no people driving at high speeds in weird autos chasing a few drops of gas.

        In a real bad SHTF driving anyplace is going to stop at most a few months into it, more likely a week or so. Your best SHTF transportation is going to be a bicycle or a good set of shoes.

        In a real bad SHTF your world is going to shrink a LOT.

        PS: If you think we are going to get a bad SHTF event that will destroy the infrastructure it may be worth it to learn (and get the tools to do so) how to refine / make alcohol. I would think it would make you popular and a vital part of the community and it’s climb back up. And it would probably give you a good income.

        1. In India in 60’s and 70’s, many small village farmers would make methane in a composting digester made out of a couple of oil drums and use it to run their walk behind tractor. I believe I saw it in an old issue of “Organic gardener & Farmer”

          It also made good compost for the garden.

  12. I (we) have had several vehicles in the past, 83 GMC 355 98 Jeep Cherokee Classic, slant 6 98 crew cab 250 7.3 Power stroke, 06 suburban, 6.0 and 06 Chevy quadcab 5.3 all 4×4’s.
    My choice would be the Jeep. Yank.out all the.computerized junk.
    Keep the 225 or replace with a 318. Give it some lift and aggressive tread. It could seat five adults and some additional room behind the rear seat. Rear seat could fold down with enough room to sleep two. Plus the roof racks for additional gear. The suburban was good but too long and wider than the Jeep.
    Hey can I ‘borrow’ some Mula, folks?
    I have a project in mind…..🤔

    1. (Yank.out all the.computerized junk.)

      For what reason, to be able to drive around post EMP event?

      That’s not going to work too well as an EMP event is going to kill fuel production, it’s going to kill fuel delivery, it’s going to stop the flow of goods and the fuel needed to allow goods to be moved about.

      I don’t see it making a bit of difference if a person has a computerized auto or a non-computer auto as they both need fuel and fuel just won’t be there.

      And lets say a person has a big tank of stabilized gasoline at their house. You would be a big target using it as EVERYTHING that runs on gas makes noise and you would have to fight (as with guns) to keep it.

      Better to figure out how to live without your pre-computer auto and noisy generator then to go on burning gas in a world with little to no gas.

      1. Chuck
        No argument here, but a one time use in your said senerio with a running vehicle, fully packed, traveling up to several hundred miles to a safety area would sure out way making that same journey on foot carrying only very, very few basics.

  13. Worst case scenario for transportation issues would be an EMP for me. Since I plan to survive or perish here on the mountain, my survival vehicles consist of a retrofitted ’77 Chevy pick-up (standard distributor replacing the electronic original) that I use regularly here on the place. My ’62 model Ford 4000 diesel tractor with it’s mechanic injector pump makes it totally non-dependent on any electrical to run (an old style generator to replace the alternator would give me headlights, as would a replacement alternator kept in a Faraday container), just keep it parked facing downhill to start it. The old tractor will hit 13mph in road gear and run a bush hog about 8hrs on 5 gal of fuel. My fancy later model vehicles/equipment will serve as backup fuel containers for these old boys.

    1. Dennis;
      I agree with you, the older Tractors are the good en’s, have a 72 Ford Backhoe, sucker is a tank for sure.
      BUT the question was, which Car/Vehicle, I’m still of the adage of the most comfortable, and something ya can afford. Most “Bug-Outs are going to be a very long haul I believe. BTW, that 72 Backhoe is NOT comfortable HAHAHAHA but will literally go almost anywhere :-)

    2. Dennis
      Your tractor facing downhill comment.
      Jeep needs a manual tranny and manual lockouts .
      My dad’s old 5? Something 800 will run a brush hog. Hours? No til she over heats.

    3. The old volkswagen rabbits first came out with mechanical fuel pumps for their diesels, got 80+ mpg as well.

        1. Old Chevy,

          I had a good friend who bought one of the first Rabbit diesels and his Dad bought one of the Rabbit diesels that were made sort of like a pick-up (more like an el camino/ranchero). They both reported they sometimes got 50mpg but averaged about 45. They both were happy with the fuel mileage, but said the little vehicles suffered badly on acceleration. They said it was terrifying every time you tried to get up to speed merging onto an interstate.

        2. Correct me if I’m wrong, I know Chevy imported a little pick-up called the Chevy LUV (Light Utility Vehicle) that was available with a diesel engine. I believe, if memory serves, it was made by Mazda. Mileage was great, engine bullet proof, but rest of the vehicle didn’t hold up well.

          I also remember conversion kits to install small Kubota diesel tractor engines into Nissan (Datsun at the time) pick-ups. There were 80mpg claims made by those selling the kits.

        3. I had a 1976 Chevy LUV with the regular engine and it was a good size for what i needed then and would work well now too. Do they still make a small truck anything like that? Not necessarily a Chevy just a small truck.

        4. Dennis: It was my understanding that they were made by Nissan All I know for sure was that when I opened the hood, all the instructions were in what looked like Japanese. Since I don’t know Japanese, I am guessing about that also.

          It was a good truck though. 35- 40 mpg mixed driving in 2 wheel and 28-30 in 4 wheel high. A bit under powered but for deep snow use Low Range
          it won’t even notice 2 feet of snow.

          Low Range was really low. Shift out of first about 2 mph. Top speed in 4th Low Range about 18-20 mph. 20 mph going down hill.

          Making this relevant to this post: If you are looking for a small 4 wheel drive truck with good gas mileage, make sure it has granny gears for its low range. You will need them!

        5. aka, GoodBear,
          Re: Chevy LUV, we were all wrong on the manufacturer. It was produced by Isuzu. This explains the toughness of the small diesel engine. Isuzu holds a considerable share of the local delivery vehicle market here and abroad. Good reputation for longevity and economy with the diesel.

      1. Our friend has a ’78 diesel Rabbit in great running shape. He only drives it in the summer. It will get up to 50 mpg. It is a neat little car that runs and runs, but you won’t fit much by the way of people or supplies….but it should run. It just won’t outrun much on 4 wheels

  14. I remember the days when I had a 1971 Dodge Challenger with a custom 440 engine. I suppose I could bug out PDQ with that if I still had it ;)

    1. Ken;
      Sorry there Sir, I’d put my old 390 AMX up against that old Dodge Slug anytime HAHAHAHA

      1. Lol
        you boys are funny
        Let me take the driver’s seat! You old boys look tired -ride shotgun!
        Pretty please! 😜

      2. Ken, N R P,
        Take you both on with an original Cobra Mustang, think 67 or 68, all power, no flash, over powered, would have been fun to try.

        1. To use the current, trendy, vernacular “I know, right!?” Something about being an extension of the muscle car, “Be one with the car”. Speed shifts, downshifts, power slides, strapped in tight, knowing the edge of control, an adrenaline ride for sure. It’s why I became an engineer to work in the auto industry. It’s in the blood.

    2. Since were going all nostalgic, my ride was a 76 GMC Jimmy, swaped in a 454 w turbo 400 out of a suburban and 35-13.5×15 wrangler RTs only thing it couldnt pass was a gas station,, and the chicks loved it,,, think my Pop seriously considered feeding me to the hogs a time or two over cars

    3. (I remember the days when I had a 1971 Dodge Challenger with a custom 440 engine. I suppose I could bug out PDQ with that if I still had it)

      My first auto was a 1970 Dodge Monaco, it was an old cop car. It had a 440 Interceptor that had WAY too much power for a 19-year old kid. The speedometer on that car went to `160 MPH, I had it to 145 once on the E-Way. It didn’t get very good gas mileage but I didn’t care, it was a FAST, and fun car. I don’t know how I survived…

      I also had a 1969 Barracuda with a 340, that was also a fun car to have, I put 4 transmissions in that Barracuda. Not that I abused the car at all…….

    4. – For “Old Times Sake”, Dad had a ’57 Dodge Lancer Custom Royale with a Hemi and a pushbutton tranny. I will say only that I outran both a Highway Patrol Dodge 440 and a Cobra one evening with that thing. (At least, the Cobra was the one that got the ticket.) It was a hella lot faster than my ’64 Dodge Dart with the 225 slant-six.
      That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
      – Papa S.

  15. DW has a Tahoe 4×4 that will seat 8 with a luggage rack on top. I drive a red F150 4×4 extended cab. It will seat 6 and has a loaded tool box in the back. Both of these are completely stock. When I got my truck I was wanting camo colors so I would not be noticed. I discovered that red is the most popular color. There are 3 red trucks on my street alone and many more in our small town. Red is less noticeable than camo because there are so many of them. I also like having common makes because parts are easy to find and cheap. There are tons of these in salvage yards. We also have an electric golf cart and a riding mower in a metal shed. Would my metal shed work as a faraday cage?

  16. I think any well maintained 4×4 will serve. Yes , 4×4 is needed, never know where you need to go.
    Room to haul stuff and maybe people.
    Extra fuel is a must, as is some replacement parts,, (belts, hoses, etc) and of course the skills to replace them!

  17. I personally like my Toyota Tacoma. I also think Jeeps are good choices. My Tacoma has a tonneau cover and has the off road package. More than enough for me. I keep some basic survival stuff in it.

    I have no plans to bug out. If I had to leave my current location, it would be an end of the world situation. No where to go.

    I choose not to prep for end of the world scenarios, like a major yellow stone eruption….etc.

    Having a vehicle that can leave the road is a must for any bug out vehicle. At the very least it would need to be able a get over curbs.

    I personally like OHVs (Side by Sides) as an alternative to traditional vehicles. They are very small, fast and capable of easily moving past obstacles. They can easily be driven down sidewalks. They carry less but if you have a place already setup that should not be a problem. They are legal to drive in my state, make sure to check yours.

  18. What about color / finish ? Saw a pick=up yesterday with Rhino type bed liner exterior. Dull, no flash = stealthy. Cover the windows and be very hard to spot if still. I guess the point I’m getting to is a vehicle that will convert to a ‘steel tent’ is worth consideration. Your destination may be occupied or destroyed when you get there.

    1. Thanks for bringing up color / finish. Very important to consider in my opinion. Bright red vs. earth tones? You get the idea…

  19. 1991 3/4 ton Suburban 4×4.
    Tough, simple to maintain,
    Carry full sheets of plywood inside, or 9 people.
    Ok, mine is the mad max rig with solar cells, aux batteries, inverter, custom roof rack…still
    The basic vehicle is roomy, versatile, easy to fix.

    For the minimalist, I had a 1980’s Toyota Tercel AWD wagon that was small, versatile, and would crawl anywhere. Thing cost almost $400, so don’t expect AC and heated seats.

  20. Hi All. I sent the email to Ken that started this discussion. I mistyped, meant to say ‘driver visibility’, not ‘disability’. I have an aging Accord and am looking for a replace every day/general use vehicle that has capacity/capability than a sedan. The CR- and RAV-4 are pretty nice, however both have limited rear and blindspot visibility. The two Subaru’s have pretty good read and blindspot corner visibility. All have good reps for reliability are popular here in the Northwest, so parts and repair are not a concern.

    1. DSL;
      Get the Subaru I had one once 500 years ago, tough as nails an a good vehicle, just dont go head to head with a large Deer….

      1. NRP,
        Or a cow elk, like my DW did once years ago. That said, she came out of it without a scratch, that old Subi kept her very safe.

    2. DLS
      My mom has a new CRV
      Nice car, comfy and smooth running, i get to be the chauffer so like having the new wheels to run around in, you would definitely like it, we didnt need this option but if you live where it snows get the AWD model,

    3. DLS, I just changed the typo to ‘visibility’ in the article.

      I know two people who have the RAV-4 and are both happy with it. Also know someone who is happy with Subaru…

  21. I think more than anything reliability is most important, a couple years ago i finally got tired of fixing my wheels every time i turned around and just got the new F350 diesel 4×4, i love it, plenty of HP and just a good solid truck. Want to get a topper for it and a bedslide as i cant climb over or reach over the edge of the bed anyway,

    1. (A couple years ago i finally got tired of fixing my wheels every time i turned around)

      After my divorce for several years I had this problem. But with being divorce-raped I had no money and had to live through it. Not a fun time..

      Back then if my car was a horse I would have had to shoot it.

      Very glad that part of my life is over. And I now make sure it will never happen again.

  22. I drive a Ford Ranger, wife drives a Toyota Highlander, both good vehicles, when we travel we usually take the Highlander, more space better ride, better fuel mileage, can sleep in it better.i think it would make a great get home vehicle, get home bag hides good under back seat, there are a lot of these nationwide, would probably be able to relieve parts if needed. Be prepared and ready. Keep your powder dry.

  23. Had a 2014 Subaru Forester. Loved it and traded it for a 2016 Forester after 105,000 miles. Now trading the 2016 for a 2018. I trade them in around 100,000 miles and it only costs me about $5000 a year to have a new one every 2 years. Great vehicle as far as traction (all wheel drive), mileage, low maintenance, handling, power to weight ratio and reliability. It’s been rated #1 by Consumer Reports over CRV and Rav 4 year after year although all 3 are excellent. I actually had a CRV and loved it as well.

    1. Florida Prepper, it is interesting to note that most rural mail delivery people in this area prefer to drive the Honda CRVs. I believe they made some significant changes to the CRV this past year though. I did check them out when looking for my farm vehicle. I was originally considering the Honda Pilot but the fit and finish was terrible – looked like a 5 year old stitched the arm rests! For what they were asking, nope, not for me.

  24. There’s no question the Subaru is by far the most for the money rivaling the Land Rover in capabilities. My ideal vehicle Nissan Titan 4×4 5.6 L

  25. Well then, lets see. I’m not particularly sure, but I would probably grab a nice half tonne truck with a smaller engine. As much as everyone loves the big full tonne trucks, the fuel economy isn’t the best, besides–even if I were to have one of those, I wouldn’t anticipate towing anything, and if I did it wouldn’t be anything big. If I was placed into a situation where I had to bug out and grab everything I needed from the house and toss it in for the ride, I could do that.

    With that all said, similar to how I bought an SKS to balance price and effectiveness, I currently own an old 97 Passport. It’s got some space if I needed it and four wheel drive, plus it’s cheap (which comes in handy if you crash–which I may or may not have done already as a new driver). So in my mind, what I have isn’t bad at all. Cheap and effective.

    1. I agree with Youngster. Had a 98 Ranger for 18 years and finally replaced it with an F150 with the small ecoboost. It’s only two wheel drive, but has the extended gas tank. Out here we get 0-3 inches of snow a year, so that’s not an issue. Lower up front cost, maintenance and better mileage than 4×4. Road mileage with the 36 gallon tank is over 900 a fill- when not towing. Only tows around 7,000 pounds but that’s sufficient for my needs. Will keep this one another 18 years if it lasts that long… :-) Agree with many posters about eventually no fuel available at all, except for those that can make biodiesel…

    2. Also added an electronic locking rear differential and tow hooks so when I get stuck, I can call one of you with a 4×4 to come and get me! :-)

    3. Youngster
      Good to see ya post again.
      Good thoughts and ideas to share with us.
      You fit right in don’t be a stranger,

  26. – My SHTF vehicles are actually three. My daily driver and the vehicle I would probably be having to get home in, if it is running, is a 2008 Saturn Vue with the bigger V-6 engine. For almost 200K miles it has held together well, and the only major repairs I have had to do were correcting things the previous owner inflicted on it.

    It has a decent cargo capacity and acceptable gas mileage, with full-time AWD. When I was in the Army, I found out that 4WD usually just meant you got stuck worse in more inaccessible places.

    My other BOV is a 1976 Chevy 1/2 ton, which is just about everything proof. It’s also ugly as homemade sin, as Momma used to say.

    Last is a good bicycle; ten speeds and it will get me quickly and quietly wherever I need to go. Half of the speed of a car in town, 1/3 the speed of a car on the highway, and able to carry up to 400 pounds if you know what you are doing.

    Works for me.
    – Papa S.

    1. I like bicycles too, but concede when riding in rough terrain, you really aren’t paying much attention to what is going on around you because of watching your route. You can easily ride into an ambush.

      On a road though, much easier and way faster than walking. Just make sure you have extra tubes and at least one spare chain, maybe even a sprocket for when it is needed.

  27. What would the Toyota Scat look like had they kept on making it since the 70’s? For its’ time there was hardly anything else like it, size being a key factor.

    1. Theres a ton of Toyotas over here, by far the most vehicles on the road are tacomas,
      They are Ok, i had one, didnt really like it but was mostly because i was used to driving a superduty, same thing with the tundra i had, nice car,,,,, notice didnt call it a truck as it couldnt really tow what i needed it to,
      Those toyota campers were pretty cool though, am surprised Toy hasnt built any bigger trucks, guess they dont see the return as justifying the R/D, for a good small truck or light truck for recreation are excellent though, just dont tow a mini X with em

  28. Whatever vehicle you buy, never ask it to regularly perform tasks it was not designed to handle. You can occasionally call on it to, for short periods, to go beyond it’s design limits, but when you do, be aware of the strain you’re placing on it and minimize it as much as possible. A subcompact with a small four cylinder can, if pressed, pull a trailer that weighs several times over what it weighs itself, but it’s paying a high price in premature wear and tear every time it’s ask to step out of it’s class.

    1. Dennis;
      I might add never Never NEVER put a full one ton in a 1 ton Ford….. HAHAHAHA

      1. Yup, should always put 1.5 or two tons to make up for the small loads in those whimpy chevvys your friends drive

  29. We both drive 4×4 trucks right now. We are looking to get an older model Chevy pickup pre 1970. .My dream vehicle is a 4×4 Jeep Wrangler with a lift kit. Always wanted one. Just a little Texasgirls dream….sigh….

  30. 4X4 International Harvester Travelall. It will go any where, sips gasoline, built on a 3/4 ton truck frame, it will haul everything you want. Good luck finding one. I wish I hadn’t sold mine.

    1. SteveF
      Closest thing ive found is the Ford Expedition from mid 2000s
      Friend has one with power stroke and standard trans, is big and bad with 6” lift and 37” BFG crawlers and ARB lockers front and back

  31. To Dennis and all the 4×4 users out there: I did not mean to disrespect the 4×4 vehicles.

    I still live in the urban/suburban areas and my vehicle leaves the pavement only 2x per year. Even when I hunt, I park the truck and proceed on foot. With snow and ice, I use studded tires and my wife has a Subaru all wheel drive Crosstrek. I am more into the urban camouflage vehicle that is not likely to draw attention than I am going mudding or off roading. The Tacoma is a fine hauler and it is ubiquitous in this area.

    Many of the areas in my zone that are dirt roads in the mountains are either posted: No Trespassing – which I respect. or it is federal land populated by homeless living on the fringes of society. Car clouting of parked cars is frequent around the Cascade foothills..

    Odds are, if you see me on your property, I am the one walking up your driveway to ask permission in order to hunt. Driving on posted land without permission is a sin where I come from and you are lucky to have the Sheriff called on you. Many landowners simply open fire on the trespassers. If SHTF, I am a bug in person and my vehicle is meant to get me home over paved roads.

  32. We have 4×4 because of all the rough roads we go over, we haul stuff, just found it is easier to manage. Most people in Texas drive trucks or SUVs. lol. My kiddo had a college friend from suburban up North, who couldn’t believe all the trucks and SUV’s down here. He was in awe of all the “open” fields too…miles and miles of farmland and fields. LOL Cracked us up. He went to a family gathering and when we were parking, he was like oh my does everybody in your family drive big vehicles. I never paid much attention, but yeah we all do. LOL……even granny.

  33. Three deer jumping out of the woods and into the fast lane on the freeway one morning last year guaranteed I would replace my old beloved Civic.
    Finally settled on a new CRV. Roomy, comfy, AWD has been good on gravelly steep hills, in rain and snow, and I can get home from all my usual destinations on less than half a tank.
    And I love the updated cruise control that lets you set a distance and slows/speeds up as the vehicle in front does. Allows me to spend more time watching my 3, 6, and 9 (for deer and other folk to keep at a distance.)

  34. I’m not sure if this will help or hinder your decision.
    For the past 29 yrs I’ve worked for a Honda supplier. And our main company name has gone global, and, to me, the Honda name (automotive) has drastically gone down hill. Within the last seven or so yrs. recall after recall.
    They seem to be, now, quantity, not quality. Don’t get me wrong they are still a strong vehicle. They just seem to have more quirks than they used to.
    Just my take on Honda and I believe they are starting to see.their flaws.

    1. Don’t wanna deface, but remember the Honda money laundering skeem a few.years back?
      Yeah we were basically told to keep our mouths shut to, if approached.
      When they boot me.out or lock the doors, I’ll be the first to say,. What I learned from THIS company is how to lie, cheat and steal. And give their examples.
      FYI I do still own a Honda quad and.past Honda roadbikes. All good.

    2. I have a 2005 Accord and it has had higher maintenance and repair costs than my previous 1996 Accord (the ’80s Toyota pickup was pretty solid). Not sure if Honda is ‘slipping’, I may have just gotten an ‘off’ car. Still, after two Hondas I may try a Subaru.

  35. Barring the EMP scenario, there are some other considerations. If you plan on bugging out with your family and survival goods, keep in mind you will be sharing the thoroughfares with hysterical, stupid, and unprepared sheeple who will stop at nothing to take what you have. Plan on several alternate routes to get where you are going and make sure your transportation can negotiate those routes.
    Another consideration will be roadblocks. Small towns and rural enclaves will not want the Golden Horde moving through their A/O. They will either divert you away, kill you and take your stuff, or do both. And, they will see and hear you coming.
    If you have a plan in place to GOOD, I would recommend investing in flight training. If you can make it to your local airport and procure a reliable aircraft(a Cessna 182 or larger), you and yours can fly to your bug-out destination. Granted, there will be weight&balance limits. You will have had to pre-position the bulk of your sustenance. However, it makes sense if you have to travel a long distance and want to get there quickly. Bleib ubrig.

    1. DWEEZIL,,,preach it. But 182 is a bit much unless less set up as a STOL ,,,hard to get robbed or worse up stairs ,,,
      Ultimate bug out vehicle a tin bird ,

  36. Want a recent example?
    Honda received eleven no start starter motors at their motor plant last week from our facility.
    Over this past weekend, we were shipped back 3200 starter motors to be retested and reshipped back to the engine plant to meet their quota.
    FYI our remanufactured.starter.motors are marked up.300.per.cent for.what we build.them.

    My advice
    Go.Toyota……we are affiliated with Subaru.also

  37. Something to consider but don’t count on it is the moment you realize that you need to get out of Dodge most likely everyone around you won’t come to that realization for hours, days, or maybe never.

    1. Old Chevy that seems to be the CRUX of the matter. Knowing and being able to push you and yours out the door to beat the crazy rush. Normalcy Bias and fear of looking like “Chicken Little” may strand a few of us into enforced Bug IN situation.

      That said I find older Toyota vehicles very capable given careful driving. I am unsure about the new bells and whistles on the new ones yet. A older model good bodied 4WD Tundra Crew cab (salt eats everything in NH) can do all I require of it and give decent mileage. AND I can scavenge parts pretty easily.

  38. I have a 05 Tundra crew cab with a 3″ leveling kit and 33’s. It seems to do just about anything I want it to. It gets about 18 mpg on the freeway and it has a 27 gallon tank. Its never left me stranded and it has about 140k miles on it. All it needs is an oil change and tire rotation every 5k. DVD in the dash keeps the kiddo happy. It tows pretty good with a 3000lb trailer, but I don’t push it hard over the Sierra Nevada, so go around.

  39. Many thanks to you Joe c for the cautionary note regarding purchasing Honda vehicles at the present time. My wife and I were both one time Honda owners and drivers. We both loved our Civics ( mine was a 1979 model hatchback.).

    As time goes on companies change and some of that change is not for the better. I was driving p/u trucks by the time I met my wife. My wife bought a Civic, upgraded to a CRV then bought and drove a Toyota Camry ( solid car by the way..).

    We went with a Subaru when we relocated to the North with the possibility of ice and snow because Subaru had the longest history of making all wheel drive vehicles over the years.

    In Eastern Oregon, where I go hunting, the full sized diesel p/u truck with the shell on back is so ubiquitous I refer to that combination as the “Eastern Oregon Shopping Cart” which makes a lot of sense when you have a large family and you live more than 100 miles from the nearest big box stores like Costco.

    Even the housewives drive the Eastern Oregon Shopping Carts which dwarf my little Toyota Tacoma. It is almost enough to make me feel like a girly-man driving my little truck.

  40. Bear with me, I’m really tired but wanted to put this out there as a sort of primer for folks to think about. I could go on and on about this stuff. I didn’t have time to write this when I commented earlier.

    Work under the premise that in a SHTF situation you may need to leave established roads. This was the primary reason we built up our Jeep. Not to go bouncing around the side of a mountain for fun, or slog through the mud, but to increase the capabilities of the vehicle to increase the chance that I would be able to get to my wife, and get her home whether on established roads or not. Our Jeep is BUILT. The list of mods are longer than this comment :D

    I would like to offer up the following things to consider. These come from my being involved in OHV’s for years, OHV clubs, etc., and I will stick to the less expensive stuff that allot of folks can do themselves to look for and improve a vehicle. This stuff applies to slightly older vehicles mostly, but still works on many newer ones.

    IFS vs. Solid axle- IFS(Independent Front Suspension) is pretty much that standard on most vehicles today. IFS separates the front wheels so that they are not “connected” to each other the way they were for most of automotive history. More comfortable on roads, less capable off road than a solid axle. There are significantly more parts and assemblies involved in IFS, and your vehicle is only as strong as the weakest part. I’ve seen guys do amazing trail repairs on solid axle vehicles many times. Usually, the IFS vehicles just get towed. Solid axles tend to be beefier, have fewer parts and assemblies to cope with, and are usually easier to access and repair. They simply prove themselves again and again off road. I don’t mean a dirt road or a fire watch road. I mean OFF ROAD. Solid axles win. More on that in a moment, and it’s called flex.


    4 Wheel Drive requires you, the operator, to select 4wd manually. Either through a lever coming up through the floor, or an electronic means via a button or switch. The rate at which all four tires turns is the same when in four wheel drive. If you put a vehicle into 4wd on dry pavement and turn, you will feel a rhythmic hitching as the tires are being forced by the transfer case to turn at the same rate, but they are also being forced by the turn of the vehicle on a high traction surface to spin at slightly different speeds (the outside wheels must go faster than the inside wheels while turning).

    Usually, 4wd vehicles have at least four settings on the transfer case. This is the mechanical device (like a small, simple transmission) that is between the actual transmission and the drive shaft going to the rear axle. There will be another drive shaft coming from the transfer case to the front axle. This sends power to the front wheels while still sending power to the rear wheels.

    The four settings on a 4wd are usually:

    2WD– Two wheel drive. To be used most of the time, when surface conditions are good and traction is acceptable, power is sent only to the rear axle.

    N– Nuetral. BOTH the front AND rear axles are without power. They are disconnected

    4HI– Four wheel drive (high range). This is used in poor conditions but traveling at speeds higher than about 20 mph. It should not be used when conditions are good and traction is acceptable.

    4LO– Four wheel drive (low range). This is used in very poor conditions on or off road, when pulling out another vehicle that had gotten stuck, etc. The engine will rev higher to achieve the same speed. 4LO should not be used for long, and usually not for speeds above approximately 10-15 mph.

    To give you an idea how different 4HI and 4Lo are, most vehicles allow you to shift from 2wd into 4HI at highway speeds or close to it. In order to shift into 4LO, you usually have to come to a complete stop.

    All Wheel Drive is in the hands of a computer and the many sensors that monitor wheel speeds, slip, braking, power, etc. It decides how much power to send to what wheel and when. You have little say in the matter. On all the off road club trips I’ve gone on, the AWD vehicles are usually the ones that get stuck first, and get stuck the most. AWD is great for everyday driving in variable conditions, but it is not four wheel drive, and if you have to leave the road, you may learn that fact fast. This is NOT something you want to learn in a SHTF scenario. Still more capable than most two wheel drive vehicles though.

    Traction Assist- Learn when to turn it off!

    Tow Assist Packages– These usually mean you will have some highly desirable extra stuff on the vehicle such as a transmission cooler, lower differential gears (our are 3:55) and ALLOT more low end power! Tow assist can actually help you get unstuck if used correctly, can help move downed trees, pull trailers, stuck vehicles, etc. It’s worth it. Lower gear ratios usually mean lower gas mileage.

    Tires– Simply put, these are the biggest factor in traction. No traction = no go home, no bug out. You can have a heavy built Jeep or truck but if your tires are street tires, you will get stuck VERY quickly when you leave the road. I like BFG KM2 tires for the Jeep, and BFG AT2 on our 4×4 F-150. The AT’s are very well behaved on pavement, but have excellent traction off road. The bigger the tire, the better. Bigger tires usually mean lower gas mileage.

    Ground clearance– it’s more important than most people think! Lifts do help off road, but in the OHV groups we tend to measure ground clearance from the bottom of the differential to the ground. Clearance comes chiefly from bigger tires. These are the things that actually lift the axles up further from the ground and thus, increase the vehicles ground clearance. You CAN’T just put bigger tires on most vehicles though. There are multiple clearance factors to account for such as will it fit in the wheel well when the suspension is under load. Will it rub when the steering wheel is turned all the way, etc. Sometimes changing tire size requires changing the wheel to gain the correct offset. Lifts allow bigger tires (and some other important stuff). If you increase your tire size one inch, you have increased your clearance by half that much.

    Lifts– This is “lifting” the vehicle, usually via a suspension lift which pushes the frame and body of the vehicle up higher. There are also kits that simply lift the body of the vehicle up a little higher from the frame. Both of these have great benefits. Again, I could go on and on about just this topic, but lifts come in many sizes and price ranges. BE CAUTIOUS of buying a vehicle that is already lifted. If you are not familiar with lift kits, take someone along WHO IS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND TRUSTWORTHY. I’ve seen some horrendous and terrifying lift jobs. Lifts allow two very important factors in being able to traverse off road; bigger tires and room to flex. Flex is something you can get quite allot of with a solid axle vehicle. Simply put, flex is the ability for the axle to have a greater range of motion. It can travel further up towards the vehicle which means it can overcome larger obstacles and deal better with grossly uneven terrain. Modifications can be made to IFS vehicles, but they tend to cost more and you don’t tend to get the same increase in range of motion. We’ve all seen sports cars with tires that fit so snugly in the wheel well that it’s difficult to get your hand in there. Those have very little range of motion. Once an obstacle (say.. a curb) is encountered, the suspension maxes out quickly and the entire vehicle will tilt. We’ve also all seen trucks and Jeeps that have been lifted. Those tires can travel further up and down without telegraphing the change in attitude to the entire vehicle.

    Fuel– Fuel tanks can be modified or replaced with increased capacity tanks, supplemental tanks, etc.

    Storage space– You have to factor in what you realistically are going to have in your vehicle. People, supplies, gear, etc. The bigger the vehicle, the more storage space you have, but this usually translates into lower MPG. Everything is a trade off. Our Cherokee holds a decent amount of stuff, but nowhere near what our F-150 with the camper top will hold.

    CB radios, hand helds, HAM radios– Yes. Have all of them. CB’s for the vehicles as they will run off the vehicle power and afford instant comms even if the cell towers are overloaded. Hand held radios (Baofung is good) for comms outside of the vehicles. HAM radios for news and long distance comms. In SHTF, assume someone is listening and they know what you’re driving and/or the general area you are in. Watch what you say.

    – Yes. But be aware you can seriously damage your vehicle (even burn it down) with a shoddy inverter. You can drain your battery. Use them, but do so sparingly.

    1. It’s sad to say but Toyota has more American made parts than Ford, Chevy or Dodge.

  41. Thank you to restoring Brad for the primer on 4×4 vehicles. It was a good comprehensive guidelines for explanation and modification of said vehicles. I hope Ken will consider making this a separate article.

    Prior to purchasing our all-wheel drive Subaru, I have done some research on all wheel drive to include test track driving and interviews with transmission shops. The results were the following advice:

    All wheel drive is intended for on pavement driving with occasional patches of ice. It is controlled by a computer and uses a differential fluid viscosity clutch system to send power to those wheels that have not started spinning due to lack of traction.

    Upside: all wheel drive system will distribute power to the wheels that have traction faster than human reaction time.

    Downside: The complicated system can overheat and burn out if it is used all the time such as trying to keep up with the 4×4 vehicles on the Rubicon Trail or Pismo Beach.

    As noted by r-Brad: My wife and I use studded tires for icy conditions. Traction is everything in regards to vehicle control.

    Being the asian driver here on this site, I am not going to comment or admonish people to drive responsibly.

  42. My girlfriend has an Subaru Outback handles like a 911 easy to drive long
    distance didn’t get stuck in deap sand at the beach .
    Never in the shop. Me I drive a 1967 VW with a peace sign mag wheels and
    A four on the floor. Coil over shocks and all terrain tires. New motor and trans.
    Rebuilt motor and trans at the undisclosed location.. don’t need to haul much
    just need to get there.

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