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#86914 - 02/28/07 05:43 AM Best SUV for survival
Jess Offline


Registered: 02/13/07
Posts: 17
Loc: NJ, USA
I am shopping for an SUV and wanted everyone's opinion on what would be an optimal SUV make and model for use during a survival situation (I.E. using it during a storm or evacuation, driving it off road, etc). I do not need anything monstrous in size, but it must have adequate room for my survival kits (which my husband insists are too big and bulky) and 50lb dog.

Right now I am focusing on the Ford Escape Hybrid, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. They are all small to mid-size, but get great gas mileage and are fairly safe and reliable.

I would appreciate hearing your opinions/comments/concerns.
Many thanks,
Jess


Edited by Jess (02/28/07 05:44 AM)

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#86916 - 02/28/07 06:24 AM Re: Best SUV for survival [Re: Jess]
Paul810 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 1428
Loc: NJ, USA
Ah, something I know a bit about. smile

First, I owned a Mazda Tribute, same as the normal Ford Escape. It was a good truck (pretty quick with the V6), but it had its short comings. First, interior storage was limited and those batteries for the hybrid take up a good bit of storage. It also wasn't that great off-road. With no low range and open differentials I got it stuck a few times. Also, having an IRS/IFS it will have problems with certain obstacles and the chance of something breaking is high. The Rav-4 and Honda CR-V would have similar problems. They simply aren't made for any real off-road use.

At bare minimum you want an SUV or truck with a low-range transfer case, locking or limited slip differentials (rear only is what you usually find nowadays), a solid rear axel, skid plates, and off-road tires if you plan on taking the road less followed.

Here are some suggestions as far as new vehicles go:

Hummer H3
GMC Envoy/ Chevrolet Trailblazer
Jeep Wrangler (Extended Wheelbase version is nice)
Jeep Liberty
Nissan Xterra

Personally I would check out the diesel version of the Jeep Liberty. I believe they stopped making them in diesel form for 2007 (or they would have had to redesign the engine to meet new emissions standards), but they are still out there as leftovers. A friend of mine just picked one up and I was real impressed with it. It gets over 20mpg no matter how you drive it (and you can run it on bio-diesel), it's small but has plenty of interior room, it had a solid rear, good low range transfer case, tows 5,000lbs, all-terrain tires, ect. If you get it with the off-road package it adds a locking rear, skid plates, tow hooks, heavy duty cooling, and a few other features. It really is worth it to at least give it a look.

As to myself, I drive a 2007 GMC Envoy V8 every day. I get 22mpg highway, tow 6,000lbs, have a locking rear, plenty of power from the V8 (from an engine that any gearhead knows how to work on), and have plenty of interior room and storage. I also have a 1995 diesel Suburban 2500 and two 1970's K5 Blazers that I use for plowing and off-roading.

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#86919 - 02/28/07 11:29 AM Re: Best SUV for survival [Re: Jess]
redflare Offline
Addict

Registered: 12/25/05
Posts: 647
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
Good choice of cars.
Probably Honda CRV is the best reliable and comfortable. It also comes in all wheel drive. smile

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#86921 - 02/28/07 11:29 AM Re: Best SUV for survival [Re: Jess]
redflare Offline
Addict

Registered: 12/25/05
Posts: 647
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
Good choice of cars.
Probably Honda CRV is the best of the bunch. It is reliable and comfortable. It also comes in all wheel drive. smile


Edited by redflare (02/28/07 11:29 AM)

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#86922 - 02/28/07 01:13 PM Re: Best SUV for survival [Re: Jess]
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
As Paul pointed out, these really aren't intended to go very far off the pavement. Most of them are built on car-weight frames, not truck weight. Particularly the hybrid Escape- it's a lot heavier than the normal escape. I like hybrids, because when the highway turns into a parking lot, you aren't burning gas, but with the exception of a couple of prototype armoured vehicles, I wouldn't take any of them cross country.

I suppose the first piece would be to ask where in NJ you are, and where are you planning on bugging towards, so that we can get a feel for the terrain. If by off road you mean hopping into the median, that's one thing. If you mean taking the four-wheeler trails through the Barrens, thats another. And if your bugging destination is say, up in the Pensylvanian mountains, then that might be another.

The other thing I'll say is, unless you know how to drive off road, you can get stuck real fast, real easy. And knowing on a four-wheeler or something like a Wrangler or a full sized truck is going to be different with the little guys you've mentioned.

If what you are looking for is something that will handle just about any road made by man, or go across open and fairly hang up free land (like fields), look at the Outback. They are practically the state car of Vermont becuase they can get traction in almost anything that they don't get hung up in, and they have a lower center of gravity than things like the RAV, so they are more stable.
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#86924 - 02/28/07 01:18 PM Re: Best SUV for survival [Re: redflare]
oldsoldier Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 742
Loc: MA
Most SUVs are not really designed for serious offroad use. They are built on car chaissis, and do not have good ground clearance. I have been a Jeep owner for years, and would recommend a Rubicon Unlimited package, as this is about the best you'll get (except for storage, but, if you take out the rear seat, you'll be fine) for an offroad vehicle, off the lot. Alternatively, you can go for an older model range rover, or even bronco. New, you really dont have alot of choices. I would stay away from the Hummers, simply because they are expensive, and if you break one, you'd be hard pressed to find someone to fix it. Jeep has so many aftermarket manufacurers and clubs, you'd be hard pressed to drive 20 miles without running into someone who has owned one in their lifetime (at least, its that way around here). The one major drawback is gas mileage; mine gets about 18 MPG.

EDIT: I thought 128 was a little too generous wink


Edited by oldsoldier (03/01/07 01:27 AM)
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#86941 - 02/28/07 03:44 PM Re: Best SUV for survival [Re: oldsoldier]
AROTC Offline
Addict

Registered: 05/06/04
Posts: 604
Loc: Manhattan
Second the Jeep Liberty in diesel if you can get it. One of my friends has one. We went rock hounding last fall in the mountains around here. Good solid vehicle that will traverse most any terrain you want to get into. Plus from what my friend said the gas mileage is decent on road or off road. I wouldn't recommend the Ford line of SUV's. Much as I like my Explorer, it isn't really an off road vehicle, nor is it a good highway vehicle. The main plus for me is that I can pack my whole dorm room into the back and not have to worry about weather like I would in a pick-up.
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#86946 - 02/28/07 04:13 PM Re: Best SUV for survival [Re: Jess]
gatormba Offline
Member

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 136
Loc: Alabama
Having grown up in hurricane central (more commonly known as Florida) I can tell you from personal experience that a key factor for an evacuation vehicle is going to be ground clearance. With debris blowing all over the roads, down tree limbs, etc., ground clearance is a very important aspect to take into consideration.

An equally important aspect of an evacuation/survival vehicle is how you outfit it, particularly when it comes to the tires. Very few production vehicles come with TRUE off-road capable tires. I'm amazed at how many people buy these huge 4x4s and then put street tires on them for driving comfort and reduced road noise. I can't tell you how many people I know who have full size, v8 powered, 4 wheel drive trucks and SUVs who THINK they are prepared and ready to drive off road in an emergency when in fact they will be lucky to get 50 feet off of a paved roadway before they get stuck in the wet grass or mud during a storm.

And my last $.02 worth would be a note on making sure it has storage room for extra gas cans (either on top or inside) because gas is worth its weight in gold during a true evacuation.
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#86959 - 02/28/07 05:26 PM Re: Best SUV for survival [Re: oldsoldier]
williamlatham Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 242
Loc: Stafford, VA, USA
I think we got off topic here. What was asked was a BoB SUV not a rock crawler. I personally would go for the Jeep Rubicon (I only buy Jeeps) but for average I need to get out of town and maybe take some dirt roads then just about anything will do. Set of chains, come-a-long, and a tow strap will help immensely, so does ground clearance and an agressive tread. In the end look for something that gets good gas milage, doesn't stand out, carries all you want it to, and you can afford.

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#86961 - 02/28/07 05:29 PM Re: Best SUV for survival [Re: AROTC]
Paul810 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 1428
Loc: NJ, USA
Originally Posted By: AROTC
I wouldn't recommend the Ford line of SUV's. Much as I like my Explorer, it isn't really an off road vehicle, nor is it a good highway vehicle. The main plus for me is that I can pack my whole dorm room into the back and not have to worry about weather like I would in a pick-up.


That is one thing that annoys me about Ford. They keep making more and more car-based SUVS and with every generation of the Explorer they remove some of its capability off-road in favor of making it into a big car with a truck frame. You can't even get a limited slip rear axel anymore and you can't lock it into 2Hi. I had three explorers and they were great vehicles, but unless they turn them back into trucks (or put the Cobra engine in them :))I'm not buying another one.

I am however looking at the new Expedition EL (if they put the diesel in it that they are talking about), since it seems GM isn't making a replacement for my diesel Suburban and I need an SUV that can tow 9,000lbs and still get over 20mpg.

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