Most articles about vehicles that relate to prepping are about cool bug out vehicles and secondary vehicles that are heavily modified into bug out vehicles and extreme zombie rigs.
While I think that those vehicles are really darn cool – and I’d love to have a few of them in my stable – the reality is that for most preppers it’s an unreasonable need with a low likelihood of necessity.
There is a possible need for a bug out vehicle that can handle some pretty serious terrain. Even in the “Suburban jungle” a capable 4×4 or All Wheel Drive could mean the difference between life and death.
If you’re prepared to get away from major civilization centers in a SHTF scenario you realize that regular roads may not be an option. For a concerned prepper a capable 4-wheel drive vehicle is a good idea as a daily driver.
There are a host of reasons why your urban eco-friendly grocery-getter sedan could leave you stranded up sh*t creek without a paddle. Situations like:
- Congested roadways covered in panicked sheeple. MPG means nothing when you can’t get through on paved roads.
- Low centers of gravity cause easy high centering on some of the simplest of obstacles.
- Two wheel drive vehicles are easily stuck in mild mud. I’ve pulled my fair share of 2x4s off of damp grass that couldn’t get traction.
- Thin side walls on the tires are easily damaged and suffer from blowouts.
- Low seating position makes it hard to see possible escape routes and obstacles.
- Desperate people could view you as an easy target.
- Won’t take near as much abuse, they use lighter-weight and weaker parts.
- Less room for gear, may not be able to pull a trailer.
I could probably list out dozens more reasons but the point should be clear. I’m not saying that you should go out today and make a horrible financial decision. Buying a vehicle – especially a nice daily driver – is something you’ll be invested in for a while.
When it’s time for you, think about it. Sometimes to stretch your vehicle budget you can lease a vehicle – who really cares if SHTF, bang that hooptie up if you need to save your life.
If you’re ready to consider a new daily driver, or an upgrade to your current daily driving situation here are some features to look for:
- All Wheel Drive or “AWD” vehicles will go places a regular 2-wheel drive won’t. However they aren’t as capable as a true 4×4.
- Newer SUVs that claim AWD and 4-Wheel drive may not be using a proper transfer case. The transfer case transfers power to the front wheels as well as the rear wheels – or vise versa. Look for a vehicle with a true Two Speed transfer case, having both a high gear and a low gear. The low gear will let you crawl over and through obstacles that a higher gear would leave you spinning the wheels.
- Differential Lockers will engage all four wheels for the most extreme traction you can imagine. This option is usually only added to premium packages that can cost a pretty penny. You can always add one later if there is support on the aftermarket. Check and make sure there is one available for your make and model. Rear lockers are the most effective and you should research which one is the best for you. Since this is about your daily driver you want really good road manners! Read reviews before you buy.
- Tow Rating is important to since you may need to pull a trailer loaded with supplies or any other gear you may need. Check the tow ratings on vehicles that you are considering and get one with a tow package or have it installed.
- Skid Plates are available on many off-road edition trucks and SUVs. They will help protect vital driveline components during harsh use.
- Off-road Tires will help you gain traction in sticky situations. When buying a new vehicle – even the off-road editions – the tires are usually mild-mannered street to all-terrain tires. Once you wear them out throw on some rubber with some meat to the treads.
- Vehicle Ride Height can determine whether you can make it through a mud pit or over an obstacle. For a daily driver there isn’t much of a reason to jack it up high, Most off-road editions have ample ride height for daily driving. My preference is just a couple of inches above stock height. Sometimes slightly larger tires are enough to make a substantial difference.
Even after you’ve taken all of this into consideration it’s important to remember about vehicle reliability, value, availability of spare parts, and being able to handle minor repairs on your own.
Reliability means you want a proven vehicle that has been on the market for a long time that is known to stand up to abuse.
Value is it’s financial impact. What’s the initial purchase price versus the projected monetary value it should hold over time? Are you going to be in the hole on a vehicle with high depreciation just to save a few benjamins up front? Or are you spending two to three times the amount on your vehicle when there is a comparable one for a fraction of the price?
Availability of spare parts is important because you never know when you’ll need a spare in a pinch. Needing a part could hold you up if there aren’t many others on the road to scavenge from, or it’s an odd part for a junkyard or parts house to carry.
A good vehicle should be repairable by the average Joe mechanic, preferably by you as well. Having something you can do minor repairs on in a pinch can mean the difference between getting out alive or being stuck in a fevered frenzy.
So What’s My Pick For The Prepper’s Daily Driver?
My ultimate daily driver pick is the Jeep Wrangler JK – the four door version – with a hard top. I just wish it was available with a diesel engine before the 2016 year model. I’ll have to live with the gas engine – it has enough power but a diesel would just be awesome!
It was readily available with all the features and durability that was important in a daily driver – and as possible bug out vehicle. I feel confident it’ll get me just about anywhere I’d need to go and can get me out of dodge if SHTF.
Not everyone reading this will agree. Everyone has their own flavor and their own preference. You just have to weigh your needs and what fulfills those needs.
Let me know what your preferred daily driver is for a prepper and why. Jump below and let me have it!