Rugged Vehicles to Help You Survive an Emergency

By Cherie

The apocalypse may be far, but previews of it are happening all over the world right now. Both Japan and Nepal saw major earthquakes this year, California is facing its worst drought in more than a century and the world overcame an Ebola epidemic just last year. Combine that with political uncertainty in the United States and the need to prepare is more dire now than ever before.

So how can you prepare for anything? The essentials needed for severe drought aren’t the same for political unrest, but there is one constant that’s always guaranteed for any survival situation — the right vehicle.

Forget what you see on TV. Escaping the end days in a Bugatti Veyron looks sexy, but it’s not going to get you far (good luck finding a spare part for that car on the side of the road). But you also know you’ll never get around to building the zombie-proof bus from “Dawn of the Dead.” What you need is a realistic, obtainable rig for the road. Set pipe dreams aside and look out for these vehicles fit for survival:

Jeep Wrangler

The creme de la creme of survival machines, the Jeep Wrangler sits at the top of nearly every prepper’s essentials list. There are several factors that make the Wrangler an absolute no brainer in this category:

  • It goes everywhere. The Wrangler is so versatile that owners venture out to discover if there are places the Jeep can’t go. It falls short only to the Hummer 1 in off-road capability.
  • It’s cheap and available. Because the Wrangler is so popular, there are used models everywhere. Pre-owned dealerships and retailers like DriveTime have them for sale on lots all over the U.S., and many of them go for less than $10,000.
  • American versatility. Unlike that Bugatti, Chrysler (who owns Jeep) would have parts laying on every road and highway if it came down to a severe emergency.

Hummer H1

If you can find one, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, buy it. The Hummer H1 is the ultimate SUV in survival situations. In fact, calling it an SUV is an insult to the H1, which resembles more of a tank than a street-legal vehicle. It was good enough for Desert Storm, and it’s good enough for your driveway.

The H1 can drive through deep water and automatically inflate and deflate air from the tires based on the terrain. And it sports a suspension so aggressive you feel like you could drive upside down.

Important Note: None of this applies to the Hummer H2, which is a hollow shell compared to the Hummer H1.

There are a dozen or more crazy vehicles you can buy to survive the end of days, but most of them will either cost your life savings or are practically illegal to own. The Jeep Wrangler and Hummer H1 are staples for a reason — they’re reliable, relatively cheap and they work.

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29 thoughts on “Rugged Vehicles to Help You Survive an Emergency”

  1. The Jeep is an exc. vehicle-rugged-but not the best gas mileage.The Hummer has terrible gas mileage.
    Thanks for writing . Arlene

  2. I really like my wifes nissan exterra for the gas mileage and 4wd. I have an older dodge ram 4wd that I can put my camper shell on and be loading supplies in 10 min. The gas mileage is not bad either

  3. Okay, so I think we have a good debate going here. I don’t see it as a disagreement, because I believe Rourke is right. Of the only very few proven vehicles that can compete with a Land Rover or back/forth. A Jeep is one to name. And for sure is the most attainable. However, comparing vehicles on price, from the factory stock compatibility, comfort, the ride inside, interior room, size, towing, mileage, and gas mileage. I think you will see some interesting numbers. I will use since it’s the most well known. There are other sites and there are other ways to scour for a vehicle, but we will use since it’s the easiest for everyone.

    Also, it should be noted I’ve seen both of these vehicles fail based on the over confidence of the driver. I myself physically helped push a stock Jeep Wrangler being driven by a teenager and his girl friend off a snow embankment in Colorado.Likewise, let’s not start a forever debate on what or will break. Again, both of these vehicles, not matter what they come with. If you drive them wrong you can break anything. This includes a Hummer. As I’ve seen destroyed by fellow Marines. A from the factory, stock, used Jeep Wrangler, will only cost about $12,000 or so, but cannot compare to a stock Land Rover. Let’s just say an LR3. A factory stock Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock that will compare and can compete with an LR3 will cost you about $40,000 and up brand new. However, any other mods or additions to the Jeep will now put you in the brand new Land Rover range of prices easily.

    All these vehicles are going to be under the Used price range

    Hummer H1

    In the original 1992 production run, the price of the basic open-top was $40,500 while a fully loaded wagon with all options was $54,700. In 2006, the suggested retail price was $129,399.00 for the open-top; the wagon was $140,796.00, H1 Alpha was priced at $150,975.00.

    So, if I won the lottery, maybe. Otherwise, for the average Joe. I’m going to scratch this one off my list. Moving on

    Land Rover

    Used 2009 Land Rover LR3 HSE

    Mileage: 62,299

    Price: $26,591

    Used 2008 Land Rover LR3 SE

    Mileage: 49,143

    Price: $24,995


    Used 2013 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Unlimited Sahara

    Mileage: 33,939

    Price: $42,950

    Used 2011 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Unlimited Sport

    Mileage: 43,694 miles

    Price: $54,995

    Here is a super awesome tricked out Jeep that I wouldn’t mind having and a link to it. However, I could trick out a $26,00 Land Rover for $10K and still come out on top.

    Used 2012 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Unlimited Rubicon

    Mileage: 17,501

    Price: $43,785

    Gas Mileage Winner: Jeep. It gets 2 miles more than the Land Rover City/Hwy. Special note should be given to the Land Rover that all models from LR3 and forward are all wheel all drive all the time. Not bad gas mileage considering all 4 wheels are pulling continually.

    Used Price Winner: Land Rover. The LR3 still cost almost half the price of a Jeep.

    Mileage Winner: Jeep. The Jeep on average comes used with lower mileage. However, it should be noted there is a reason for it. This based on the physical ride itself. Not everyone rides their Jeep all the time and that has to do with the ride inside.

    Comfort Winner: Tie. Both the Jeep and the Land Rover come with different seat options. Some better than others depending on what you can afford or find.

    The ride inside Winnner: Land Rover. Only by default of factory model. Some Jeep models come with special packages, hard tops, and tires at extra cost that make the ride smooth, quite, and is not stock. Other Jeep models depending on extra money spent for added features are better than Land Rover turning radius. But we are talking stock here. All Land Rovers come stock with a smoother ride, better turning radius, and considerably less road noise. This means mom can take the kids, family or girl friends for a quiet comfortable ride any time. The LR3 and LR4 are the same turning radius. Steering is precise and quick, if a bit lacking in feel. The LR4 has a remarkably tight turning radius for a vehicle of its size, 18.8 feet. By comparison, a Chrysler 300 sedan has a 19.4′ turning radius. At the steering wheel it’s just a bit over three turns lock to lock. Also, the LR4 is not as large as it seems. The LR4 is tall, wide and heavy, but it’s not that long, 191 inches, only about 2″ longer than a Toyota Camry, and since it’s designed to be able to climb over things like a Camry there’s not much overhang, particularly at the front of the truck. Add in the four wheel drive and various sophisticated drive train components and stability controls and the result is a fairly maneuverable SUV.

    The interior packages that come with a Land Rover vary by model, but comes with more options than a Jeep. Radio, Satellite capable, DVD player, wireless connectivity, blue tooth, voice commands, on board GPS, reverse back up cameras, touch response media and environmental controls. This includes the outside environmental controls for the LR3 also. At the touch of a button or twist of a nob you can drive a stock factory LR3 over Snow, Sand, Water, Rock Crawl, steep high incline/decline all without leaving the vehicle to lock or change anything. All LR3 models come with an air suspension. You can either raise the vehicle or lower it depending on where you need to go. If needed I can include photos of a destroyed Explorer that rammed me. A Jeep hit by another larger SUV will not drive away like I did in my LR3

    Interior room Winner: LR3. It comes with more room than the Jeep. All LR3 have the same room space, but depending on which model you choose you can get the third row which allows more room for people without compromising the ride. All seats for all LR3 models lay down flat up to the driver so you can store almost anything inside. I bought a new dryer and stuck inside the LR3, laying down, in the box. Won’t be able to do that in a Jeep ever. Also, the seats except for the driver/passenger are designed to come out by pop and lock-lift design.

    Size Winner: Jeep. Jeep has a much smaller design physically which will allow it to go some places a Land Rover cannot.

    Tow capacity Winner: Land Rover. The Land Rover towing capacity is 7,500 and the Jeep’s is 3,500 lbs. Now, you can push both of these to do more, but you will over heat the transmission and cause possible failure.

    Jeep is not bad at all and is a beast. If you want a beast, awesome, survivable off road vehicle, and smaller. Perhaps a Jeep will do nicely. If your on a budget, need a vehicle that can do both, have a duel purpose with a good ride, and provide superior protection. I choose Land Rover.

    Thoughts, comparison, missed details?

    • My favorite SHTF vehicle is the Jeep. I own one and love it. The short wheel base has me going over rocks and small boulders while other vehicles are banging their undersides. FYI – I didn’t write the article it was a guest post. In a dream world the H1 Hummer would be great but the cost is just out of reach for most of us.

  4. Now, I’m not disagreeing with anything written above, but how many of us actually have our dream car(s)? I’m stuck with an undersized yuppie-style SUV for the next 4 years and 9 months, but I’d like to give a round of applause to Buick LeSabres. I wouldn’t drive one over rocks or badly pitted dirt roads, but we’ve had several in our family that managed to get through unplowed winter roads and unmown fields while the 4WD was stuck in the driveway. Not an ideal getaway vehicle, but if you have a LeSabre, I think you’re better off than most people.

  5. I have a 1984 K25, GMC High Sierra that is the perfect survival vehicle. It is not good on gas, however, with a 4 inch suspension lift, “bulldog” 4 speed, 350 4 bolt (mine is just recently rebuilt and is bored over, it’s now a 357 “beast”). Parts are plentiful (relatively cheap as well) and it’s easy to work on. Plus it’s EMP proof as well; I took out all electronic components that could be affected. Would love to show a picture, however, it seems I can’t.
    Thunder 7

  6. Would like to enter into the mix the pre-2001 Jeep Cherokee Sport. Basically a Wrangler station wagon. Most parts fit on both vehicles.

  7. One last thing to add about Jeeps, pre-2005 that is.
    Before 2005 Jeep had the I6 engine.
    Originally a tractor engine designed by Maasey-Ferguson or John Deere, I can’t recall which.
    Near indestructible.
    Gooberment regs made them quit using them.

  8. Cheri, nice article. I own an old 1970s era Jeep with a Chevy crate engine we named TEOTEAWKI (thinking about stenciling that on both sides of the hood in subdued black). The disadvantage to the H1 is poor fuel mileage and mechanical complexity; same with the GMC H2 – horrible fuel mileage. The H1 really hasn’t much interior space and may seat four but uncomfortably. Repair parts are hard to find in remote poorer areas. H1 interiors are cheap for the total cost of the vehicle and rapidly become ratty.

    comingstorm, that straight 6 was a wonderful engine. I owned a Jeep with one and sold it with more than 200,000 miles. 1990 era Ford trucks were available with an International diesel that was bulletproof and renown for lasting durability. Pity we don’t make vehicles with such anymore but we must care for the environment…. See and


  9. Last night while watching Texas rising I thought about my post and suddenly something hit me about my post. I realized the massive amount of data and the posts may have come out wrong. Sometimes, my zeal can come on strong. So it bothered me all morning until I could get back in front of the pc. I wanted to apologize to Rourke and all of you if it come across aggressive, attitudish, or any way other than information.

    Maybe it’s just me, but those older model trucks like the 1984. The just look more solid and like a strong vehicle. Kind of like those 80’s full size Bronco’s. Always liked those. Jeep? I think they have a special tough category that only they qualify for.

    Watched a video last night with pitting the Land Cruiser against the Land Rover. Was a little disappointed the Land Rover didn’t dominate over the Land Cruiser, but didn’t realize how good the Land Cruisers were. The only thing that put the Land Rover as the winner, was the biased video was done by the British, go figure. Both of them could match each other. The only thing the LR did that “supposedly” put it over the top was the ride and comfort it put out. I was like…what? Still confident in mine, but would gladly take an older model Jeep or vehicle that could match the specs. My needs dictated for a bigger family off road and on road. You can get some of those older Jeeps, LR’s, and Land Cruisers, let’s say 1995 or so for like 7G right?

  10. Land Rovers, never considered them particularly dependable my experience is/was middle to high maintenance vehicles.

  11. Hummer H1 was a bit of a pain to maintain and the tires & central inflation system were frequently needing something. It was way cool but a money pit. Its sold now after Uncle was heard cried. Looking for an older vehicle and this thread has a lot of good info.

  12. You guys are thinking on large scale. Lets tool things down a bit. My doomsday vehicle is a carbureted suzuki ltr450 quad with racks on the back. Its all black, emp proof, FAST, small enough to weave through a freeway of disabled vehicles, or agile enough to get off the highways and take it through the woods. I can put one person behind me, and I have a small utility trailer I can pull with it to add some gear, or another person. It runs almost all day long on a few gallons of gas. Its also my play toy when I wanna go 4 wheeling, so its practical. Ideally, a 4WD quad might have been a better choice, but I decided speed when evading someone would be more beneficial then the ability to go through heavy mud.

    • I like that idea Gary. What kind of range can you get with a full tank and spare gas can on the trailer? Appreciate you sharing!

  13. here in the real world, I would use the vehicle I own- a F250 Superduty 4×4 pickup- it is paid for, , I drive it almost every day. I don’t have the time or money to think about “the ultimate vehicle”. . . there are many of us who are busy just making it from day to day.” Ya run what ya brung. “. . whatever it is.

    • Rick – many of us live in the real world and have vehicles specifically for bugging out/mountain riding/off road purposes. I just had lunch with a guy that bought an older Jeep and is fixing it up. He is retired and has the time and money to work on his “ultimate vehicle”. Sound like you and I are in the same boat though – I don’t have the time and I drive my “ultimate” daily as well.

  14. Are any other states selling non ethanol gas at the pumps.Its pricey but available here. $3.27 per gallon reg gas is $2.75 My husband is glued to Texas Rising .He is enjoying the scenes with” the woman “…smile. I listen from the kitchen as I check the e mail so I dont have to watch the blood and guts !!! Arlene

  15. We live in rugged country and often have hunters and occasional camper/hikers limp in with flat tires, sometimes multiple flat tires. Recently learned that Fix-A-Flat won’t work on the fancy new wheels that have sensors to tell you to add air. We’ve been all over the backwoods and highly recommend Load Range E 10 ply tires regardless of what you drive off road.

  16. We are planning on mountain bikes and our plain old feet once we get to our location. Bike tires, bike rims, etc are pretty cheap, smaller to pack/tote, and quieter than a vehicle. We didn’t want to be like Mad Max foraging for gas which will become finite. We also had a concern about the noise any gas driven engine would make. However,…did you guys ever see that episode were Southern prepper built a wood burning engine on an old 50’s truck. Pretty Cool.
    I grew up dirt poor. Each year we got 2 new shirts, 3 new pairs of jeans, a pair of Sears Winner 2 shoes, and that was it. Just like our used cars we most often buy second hand clothes which saves a lot of money and are quick to take some hammy downs. However, if I can buy a North Face or Columbia at the second hand store. Just because well of people bought that stuff at full price and now I only have to pay $1.95. …pfffft. Yeah, I’m good with that too. It’s okay to like something nice, not pay full price for it, and pay less than something new at Wally world.

  17. Im a little disappointed that everyone here has missed the Toyota Tacoma. Highly dependable and tough vehicle. There is a reason that you can’t find used ones on Craigs list. I own a 2009, crew cab 4wd long bed bought brand new, and yes it cost me, the dealers never put the Tacoma’s on sale, but I worked hard and paid it off early. This truck has never let me down or stranded me. Plenty of torque and horsepower. Towing? How’s 10K max towing. Gas mileage is not the best, I average 17-19 city 22-23 hwy. Parts are everywhere, these trucks are all over the road. Much like the Jeep, highly customizable, and fun to own. Another fact, along with the Wrangler, the Tacoma has been in the top 5 for highest resale value, so if you bought one didn’t like it, well you wouldn’t lose your shirt on a trade in. I know its not American made but I was a mechanic before I got on the fire department, started off at Ford, went to a Ford program to get my degree, ended up at Toyota. I know from personal experience, the dependability of Toyota, vs American. Call me un-American if you like, but when it comes to my family’s survival and safety, I’m going with the Toyota. More dependable, better longevity, cheaper cost of ownership than any other vehicle mentioned here. Well I’ve kicked the hornests nest enough. I appreciate everyone’s comments already posted, and respect their opinions, just throwing mine in there.

  18. Rourke, Its kind of hard to say the “range” of the quad only because it doesnt have an odomoter nor do I normally drive it on the street. But I was out in the sand pit with it last night, RIPPING it and in 3 hours, I burned barely a gallon and a half of gas. So, at roughly a half a gallon an hour, with a spare 5 gallon can, I can drive it for roughly 13-14 hours. Had my buddy out for the first time last night too. He’s also on my “group”. My other friend in our group let him borrow his 4WD Honda for the evening. Within 5 minutes, he was HOOKED. He managed to learn to ride it in about 10 minutes, and by the end of the evening, we were ripping through everything. The 4WD is a good compliment to my sporty 450. I can do long range recon or serve as a fast attack vehicle, but he has the ability to go through any kind of mud and water. So I scope the trail ahead of everyone, and if I get stuck somewhere, he comes and pulls me out. Sport quads definitely have advantages as doomsday vehicles. Plus they double as play toys while we’re all waiting for doomsday; making them tactical and practical.

  19. My most favorite and toughest vehicle was a 1978 jeep J20 3/4 ton pick up with heavy duty suspention, 340 V8 with 4bbl carb, 4 speed standard transmission, and locking hubs, miss that truck. When I left NH I gave to the guy who plowed my driveway when I was stuck in Boston with a 180,000 + miles on it.

  20. I have a 1996 ChevyS-10 4WD extended cab. Right now it’s 100 miles shy of 400,000 and still running strong. It has never broken down on me, NEVER!. Take excellent care of it Valvoline High mileage oil every 3,000 miles. Transfer case and tranny oil changes when called for. Radiator flush when needed, and everything still works. Even the Air Cond. Best truck I’ve ever owned. When I bought it my wife said “98,000 miles! You wont have it long enough to pay it off” Sure fooled her and she admits it!

  21. I would look at the 2000-2006 Ford Explorer. We have 2 of them. Cheap to purchase used. Just looked at a loaded 06 EB with 60,000 miles for less than $15,000. You can find nice 00’s in the $2500-$3500 range. Average 18 mpg. My 00 has 230,000 miles and we use it daily.

  22. I HAVE A 92 CHEROKEE JUST TO BY PASS EMP, 8″ LIFT, steering stabilizers, 33″ TIRES, RAISED AIR INTAKE, 3 ROW RADIATOR/ 3X COOLANT, HP W.PUMP, SRC 3/8 STEEL FRONT N REAR BUMPERS,ROOF RACK W/LIGHTS 360. what can i possible do decrease EMP damage ????? could you make a small list of what i may have forgot..i have aggressive protection,food, water and 1000w solar sys.i have b.u. hoses and s belt and 5x 33″x12.5″ and 50gal fuel plus 20 in tank, thank you D. W. BUSCH (10 SF GRP)( JOINT COUNTERTERRORISM TASK FORCE, INSTRUCTOR,RET. 2010 ) ANY HELP????PLEASE THIS IS MY FAMILY. PS all ready have 6 baofeng 8w/70 3.7v 8k lumin in a 3 faraday bowes,but no car means no supplies. thank you for your time sir. spent my life protecting my country. ITS MY FAMILYS TURN


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