I don’t believe in the idea of a “Bug Out” Survival vehicles, primarily because I have zero intention of ever bugging out. Nor can I afford a high maintenance, highly specialized vehicle for use just on the off chance the zombie apocalypse happens.
What I do have is a list of practical needs for my “prepper” vehicle.
1.Must be affordable
2. must be reliable and drivable for 200k miles or 5 years minimum from purchase
3. Must be useable as a work car/daily driver
4. Parts must be reasonable and maintenance as well
5.Good fuel economy and have a range of 350-400 highway miles.
6. AWD or 4WD
7. Big enough for two adults to camp in and also to haul things for the ranch,
If you know cars , you will know that #1 and a budget of 20k total will make this an impossible task, or will it.
I’ve had large pickups, small pickups, sedans and even an m1009, CUCV in the past. However my priorities in survival have gone from tactical to practical. In fact my most likely survival scenario in the next 10 years is RETIREMENT! So we are paying off debt and saving like crazy. Doing this on a single middle class income puts a real dent in the vehicle budget.
When I decided to move into something more practical from my hatchback and also cut down to two vehicles after parting with the cucv, I started looking for a newer suv.
Holy inflated prices batman! That search was pretty fruitless for a Tahoe or Explorer, not only were they in the upper 30’s USED, but gas mileage reports in the low teens turned me off. I did a lot of research and pondering and decided I could work with a small/mid SUV.
Choices in the small/mid SUV market are nearly endless. Every manufacturer makes one or more models. The problem comes when you want to use the “utility” portion of your sport utility. Ford escapes will park themselves and Honda CRV’s look sleek, but what about hauling a thousand pounds of bagged manure for the gardens? Or loading up 500lbs of camping gear and driving into the woods or up a logging road to car -camp?
I did a ton of research, and found the best two used options for our situation were Subaru and Toyota. I have family who swear by their Foresters and I will concede their AWD (All Wheel Drive) system seems to be the best. The problem is cost. My other logical choice and a vehicle I’ve had some experience with is a 4.3 Generation (2007-2012) Toyota RAV 4.
A huge deal to me was the fact that the 4.3 gen Rav’s have the spare tire mounted on the rear door, freeing up an insane amount of cargo storage space.
The biggest hurdles I found in my search were a good earthy color (low key camping) and again a low mileage 5 year old car (last year for 4.3 gen was 2012). It did take four months but in early November I located a 2012 with just 27 thousand miles on the clock! A 50 mile trip, some haggling and for 14000 dollars I drove it home.
What I have is an earth tone, mid size SUV with AWD that is capable of being locked into 4wd mode at speeds up to 25mph. I get 21-29Mpg depending on fuel used and type of driving
The Rav has a 2.5L I4 engine that generates 179HP. Its pretty much a 4wd Camry Wagon with about 8″ of ground clearance and good approach and departure angles. The car has been used daily for my commute for four months and 10000 miles already! Stay tuned as I decide if modifications to turn the Rav into a much more utility oriented homestead vehicle will give the desired result, or open the wallet for a Subaru….