The Nissan Armada SUV, Chevy Suburban, or Toyota Sequoia.
None are a first choice. (Think Fuel Consumption)
While on paper the Armada was a great vehicle I did find it unfit for serious off road excursions due to ground clearance relative to the lumbering length of it which should have been better used in a pick-up. The upside is that Armadas can be found a lot cheaper than a used pick-up truck and their towing capacity is outstanding. The people hauling and junk jamming space inside the vehicle is amazing, but gas mileage is low, very low like around 14-15 mpg. Crummy gas mileage is a big problem in possible shortage situations so a monster machine may end up leaving you half the way to your destination which of course is a total failure of the mission, that being survival.
I presented this oversized bug-out vehicle as just an example. I found one with 180k miles on it that still ran well for less than $6000 and it passed all safety inspections. For a serious Mad Max machine this one was disposable at that price. Imagine having a machine you could ditch and not grieve over it for the rest of your life. Still, I doubt that I’d recommend it or most other large sports utility vehicles over a pick-up truck unless you have lots of people to haul, and not just stuff and maybe a trailer. There are many other ones out there that can suit the purpose and if you don’t need one for daily use I’d consider finding a second had vehicle that can get you there safely. Eventually I replaced this vehicle with a more nimble and economical transport. Big and bad is good, but not good enough.
What is the ideal
What vehicle falls into the category of ideal for survival? Of course it depends on your needs such as where you will drive, off-road or in the city. My own feeling is that if you want a survival vehicle for the city you might invest in some good running shoes or a dirt bike. The roads may be blocked.
Now let’s get to the real category of what you might need to ride out the apocalypse. I have a system of thought on this and it piggybacks on the resale value concept. In my view any vehicle that has such a reliability and functionality reputation to gain high resale values is one that I will seriously consider for the post collapse vehicle. The market has proven its worth aside from the on paper technical aspects of the vehicle. A big part of the resale value is reliability and that is the absolute most essential element in a post collapse vehicle.
Here is a list of the top 10 in resale values for 2015.
You might notice that the majority are trucks. Surprise, Surprise!!
Little Sedans have their place.
Still, you may not need a truck and it seems that the resale value of trucks must have as much to do with market demand as actual perceived quality and reliability so I wouldn’t rule out some other approach. For instance, even a little Toyota Tercel FWD 1500cc used to get me in and out of a mountainous back road retreat. It gave me 36 mpg and the vehicle only cost me $2500 when I bought it used. It also served well as a city machine that wasn’t worth stealing, breaking into, or hijacking. I used it to get in and out of D.C. and Baltimore for years and parking with it was a dream when in the city. If you pared down your needs to food, water filters, one or two firearms and two sets of clothing, a tent, and a sleeping bag along with some basic things like flashlights you might be able to justify such a nondescript and nonthreatening little people mover. I’d put it well above a motorcycle for utility since it can haul much more and if you really wanted to get serious you could use a winch to get you through most tight spots. Pushing it or digging it out is also easy compared to some of these monster machines. As usual, Toyota reliability makes it tough to kill.
Think Pick-up Trucks
Pick-up trucks are the most versatile vehicle out there for bad times of any kind. Whether you have to get all your transportable worldly possessions in the bed under a cap or you need to tow a trailer it is hard to beat a truck for utility.
I’ve owned Nissan compact trucks, a couple of them, and also some Toyota mid-size trucks, and a Ford F250 in the past. You could even say I was a Ford Guy simply based on my long term purchase of many types of Ford sedans, Vans, and of course an F series truck. One conclusion I came to was that for least amount of time in the shop I had to consider the Nissan and Toyota vehicles the most reliable and trouble free. My experience is borne out by most surveys and also by market resale prices as you’ll see on the list I linked to above.
If you don’t need to tow big numbers and don’t need a full size truck bed the Toyota Tacoma has taken the top spot in resale value and reliability in the small to mid-size truck category and you couldn’t go wrong with it since resale is so easy. The one issue I don’t like about it is the seating that is low to the floor giving you a semi-reclining driving position similar to a sports car. You can always add cushions I suppose but this makes it less desirable for long distance driving. Around town there is nothing like having a truck of this size when it comes to maneuverability.
That is why I recommend the Tacoma as the primary choice. It has the proven history of a machine that has been used in desert warfare successfully. As a work truck but for its size it has no equal in terms of reliability. It is a size that can be managed in tight trails where a larger vehicle must stop. It can tow a sizeable load in addition to a full bed. All in all, it is one superb vehicle. Expect to get at least 200k miles out of one. They keep going and going with few problems.
SUV Options – Honda – Toyota
If you want an SUV and want to stay small then a Toyota RAV4, or 4Runner might do the job, and another top ten choice is the Honda CR-V. Though the RAV4 was not on the top ten list I know from experience it is a great vehicle and has solid resale value. I got a regular average of 25mpg with a 4 cylinder 2.5 liter 4wd version. It handles well in every environment I could task it with including mountain trails, snow, mud, desert sand, and gullies.
If you have an older vehicle and especially if is is old enough to not be filled with electronics and black boxes then I’d consider keeping it and rebuilding it.
Here is a good article on this subject of making an old vehicle your survival vehicle.
Trucks, SUV, and Vans are the biggest sellers in the USA.
This also means that resale value should be higher if you need to get rid of your vehicle.