Ground Transportation for the End of the World with or without Zombies
Whether you’ve been barricaded in your dwelling for months and are now ready to bug-out or you are making your getaway as the zombie apocalypse begins, one of the most important things you’ll need—besides that well thought out escape plan—is having the right vehicle to make your getaway from population centers and to outrun those hungry, flesh-eating hordes.
Now my preferred vehicle would be a US Army Stryker Engineer Squad Vehicle (ESV) armed with a MK19 40mm grenade launcher and a .50-cal M2 MG. The Stryker ESV comes equipped with a mine-clearance blade—great for plowing your way through undead—has high ground clearance, is an 8-wheeled (full-time 4-wheel) drive, all-terrain vehicle with the ability to climb and descend steep inclines, negotiate obstacles, and maneuver through confined, curvy areas. The Stryker has a range of 300 miles on 53 gallons of diesel fuel, can reach speeds in excess of 60 mph, and holds 2 crew and a 9 man infantry squad. It also has optional bolt-on slat armor for added all around protection and can tow a 2.5-ton trailer—good for hauling your gear and supplies.
Let’s face it the only way you’re going to get your hands on one of these is if it has been abandoned. Not practical if you’re trying to flee an initial breakout.
Below is my list of the best vehicles for surviving the zombie apocalypse. It encompasses a broad-spectrum of pricing, are not post-factory modified, or prototypes, and are all commercially available to civilian buyers.
Here is my criteria:
• Must be production models (street legal and licensable) and available to the public.
• Maximum defensive capabilities (no soft or hard removable tops, or an exterior cargo bed).
• Strong reliability.
• Descent gas mileage.
• Minimum 8” ground clearance.
• Hold a minimum of three days food & water, along with survival gear and weapons for two people.
We’ll start on the high-end of the price scale and work backwards:
This South African built behemoth is as robust as it is large (weighing 10 tons and is 21 feet long and 9 feet high), and has been called the “World’s most unstoppable vehicle” by Top Gear UK.
With a Cummins 6-Cylinder, 6.7-litre Turbo-Diesel engine that churns out a whopping 811 ft lbs of torque through its Allison SP3000 6-speed automatic transmission with Axleteck BT600 transfer box, a ground clearance of 16.5 inches (14.37 in. under differential), a departure angle of 46 degrees, a ditch-crossing ability of 33.4 inches, a step-climbing ability of 19.6 inches and fording depth of up to 35.4 without preparation, this 4×4 wheeled vehicle can go through or over just about anything.
But if running over zombies is less of a worry than the marauding living out to steal everything you own, then set your worries aside. “The Marauder is independently proven to offer mine protection up to 8kg TNT (STANAG 4569 level 3b) anywhere under the hull and 14kg TNT (greater than STANAG 4569 level 4a) for a blast under any wheel. It is fitted with a double-skinned spaced armour hull throughout the cabin and crew compartment to protect it against kinetic attack up to STANAG 4569 level 3. Additional armour can be added to protect against specific threats such as RPG and increased kinetic attack up to STANAG 4569 level 4,” according to Paramount Group’s website.
The vehicle can hold a crew of 2+8 on the standard version and 2+10 on the stretched version. It has a max road speed of 62 to 74 mi/h (tire dependent), a road range of 535 mile, comes with air-operated disc or drum brakes (ABS ready on some models), air-operated front, center and rear diff locks and air conditioning. No civilian weapons packages offered. Price: $485,000 – $500,000.
Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6
I am immediately breaking the “”no exterior cargo bed” rule, just this once. The positives of the terrain versatility counters the negative of the open cargo bed.
So, if you’re really in need of a 6-wheeled vehicle but can’t afford the price tag of the Stryker, then German auto maker Mercedes-Benz has just what you need. Dubbed the “Mini Unimog”, this version is built off their more rugged military G320 CDI 6×6, conceived and engineered for the Australian army and in operation since 2011.
However, unlike the military version, which is fitted with Mercedes-Benz’s 3.0-litre V6 diesel and is offered in outputs of up to 220 hp, the G63 AMG 6×6 gets a twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 from AMG with 536 horsepower and 560 lb ft or torque – crucial for moving the vehicle’s 8332.5 lb curb weight.
The AMG Speeshift Plus 7G-TRONIC (7-speed) automatic transmission features three modes and automatic double declutching during downshifting, supplying the power via a cardan shaft to the transfer case with an off-road reduction gear that sends the torque to portal axels with Unimog-spec 18-inch beadlock wheels fitted with six huge 37-inch all-terrain tires. Torque distribution is 30 percent to the front, 40 percent to the middle axle and 30 percent to the rear. There are five differentials that can be locked while on the move and a tire pressure control system that operates at world-record speed.
Ground clearance is a whopping 18.1 inches while fording depth is put at 3.28 feet – the largest in this top ten list. Approach and departure angles have been increased by 16 degrees and 27 degrees at 52 degrees and 54 degrees respectively over the military version, while the break over angle has increased by 1 degree at 22 degrees.
Of course the G63 AMG 6×6 is not without luxury. It features a beautiful interior that has been crafted with plenty of leather to ensure driver and passengers are comfortable at all times. The nearly 8,400 pound vehicle will carry a sticker tag of $437,800, and will be limited to only 20 to 30 total units built each calendar year.
Production begins in October for the 2015 model with deliveries to start on Sept. 1. Unfortunately the G63 AMG 6×6 does not come equipped with any armor or fire power.
Dartz Kombat T98
If this vehicle seems slightly familiar, it should be. It was the vehicle used in the 2012 film The Dictator, starring Sacha Baron Cohen. This is the ultimate in survival vehicles if you can’t get your hands on that US Army Stryker. At a base price of 225k to 500k (depending upon the option package), the Dartz armored 4-wheel drive SUV from Russia is the world’s most expensive SUV. This ultra-luxurious, super fast, high mobility vehicle is equipped with a massive 8.1 liter Vortec V8 engine that is capable of reaching a top speed of 110 mph with a 70-gallon fuel capacity. Unfortunately, the fuel efficiency is poor at only 10 mpg. But in the T-98’s defensive it is made for high asset VIPs and meant to go from short point A to B.
The base armor protection package provides Level B4 ballistic protection that will stop a 44 magnum round. If you’re concerned about living threats that wish to take your vehicle and its contents away from you, than the “Hi Pro S” package can take a hit from an RPG-7 or similar anti-tank weapon.
If you need fire power to kill the rampaging undead, then this is the vehicle you want. Standard armaments include a vehicle-mounted 23 mm auto cannon, a 14.5 mm machine gun (KPVT), 12.7 mm machine gun (KORD), a 55 mm small-sized remotely controlled smoke grenade launching system, and a 7.62 mm AKM assault rifle. Base price starts at $200,000.
Conquest Vehicles Knight XV
The next best thing in survival vehicles is this one-of-a-kind gasoline or diesel-powered SUV that can churn out 325+ horsepower and 400-660 ft. lbs of torque (depending upon engine type), and is capable of tackling water, snow, and rugged terrain.
The Knight XV is another ultra-luxurious (entertainment system, night vision and air ride suspension are standard), fully armored, handcrafted sport utility vehicle and is nearly twice the size of a HUMMER H2. This vehicle will have no problems surviving the grabbing hands of undead hordes, while its opaque bullet-proof glass will keep you out of sight of those “cadaver eyes”, and with a 14” ground clearance you should have no difficulty driving even the most bloated body.
Don’t worry about those living threats either. Though the armor options are not has robust as the Kombat T-98, the Knight XV’s opaque armor has been tested against 16 types of ballistic threats, ranging from a .22 Long Rifle 40 Grain Lead Round Nose to a .44 Magnum 240 Grain Semi-Jacketed Hollow Point. Even the door hinges are reinforced, and the optional ASC Ballistic run flat system on all tires will help ensure your escape.
Dale should have dumped that broken down, gas sucking Winnebago by the second episode of The Walking Dead. But I do understand his need to have his own toilet and sleeping quarters. So Dale, if you’re reading this, I have a vehicle for you — the all-season, 4WD motor home that is built upon a Ford Super Duty F-550 four-wheel drive cab chassis.
The 2012 EarthRoamer XV-LT is only offered in a 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine with a five-speed TorqShift automatic transmission. The diesel-fuel capacity of 90 gallons not only feeds the engine, but also supplies the fuel source for the central heating system and ceramic cook top. A hydronic-style system provides heated house water (fresh-water tank capacity is 85 gallons) and is a way to preheat the Power Stroke under extremely cold conditions. For your electrical needs the 110-volt power is provided by a complete solar energy system with a 3,000-watt inverter, the panels are mounted to the roof.
The camper body is a one-piece, molded composite laminate body with excellent thermal and acoustic insulation properties. The amenities inside the camper include a galley with a 12-volt DC-powered 8.1-cubic-foot refrigerator/freezer, a 12,000 btu air conditioner, a sink, a convection microwave oven, and a coffeemaker. And for cleaning up after a day of killing “Walkers,” there is a marine-style cassette toilet and shower combo.
If you want to snuggle with the Misses or that honey you just rescued from the clutches of the living dead (check her for bites first), then the cab-over king-size bed is made for two. Have guests? The dinette converts into a twin bed, and the camper unit features an outside hot/cold shower when you don’t want to share your private space.
Though the XV-LT is a motor home, it still can deliver performance. While the gas mileage is low—owners report 12-mpg highway — the 350 horsepower engine cranks out 650 foot-pounds of torque. The rear axle has 9.8 inches of ground clearance, can ford through 24 inches of water, and take a gradient on an approach angle of 33.8 degrees (with a departure angle of 22.6 degrees). Base price is $174,699.
Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota has been long associated as one of the world’s builders of rugged and durable SUVs. Their first Land Cruiser, the six-cylinder FJ20, was designed for use by Japan’s police services. Since the Land Cruiser’s introduction to the United States, Toyota has continued to improve upon its traditional body-on-frame design along with its interior.
The current Toyota Land Cruiser represents the fifth generation, which was introduced for 2008. This year’s model combines legendary off-road capability with 8-passenger luxury. Standard Features include: Full-time 4WD system with Active Traction Control and Torsen® limited-slip center differential with locking feature, 381-hp 5.7-Liter 32-Valve V8 with Dual Independent Variable Valve Timing engine, 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission; sequential shift mode and uphill/downhill shift logic, independent double-wishbone front suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar; 4-link rear suspension with coil springs, stabilizer bar and semi-floating axle, 8.9 inches of ground clearance, 30/20/21 (degrees) angel of approach/departure/breakover, running boards, front and rear heavy-duty mudguards, and front and rear frame-mounted tow hooks.
So what does this all mean? It means that at the starting price of $68,920 you’re getting a dependable, rugged, and powerful SUV that goes from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds. This is what you’ll need to help you flee from those hordes of the living dead that have amassed at your doorstep.
Hummer H2 (2008)
The joke amongst Hummer owners is that you lose a gallon of gas just looking at your H2, but then again, H2 owners didn’t buy them for the gas mileage—they bought them for being large and powerful. However, this much-maligned SUV has unmatched off-road capability even when compared to today’s newer rivals in the same class.
This 2008 model 4-door SUV can ascend and descend a steep angle like mountain goat, came with an optional adjustable rear air suspension (great for heavy loads), and 8,000 pounds of towing capacity.
The powertrain combination consists of a Vortec 6.2L all-aluminum small-block V-8 engine—with variable valve timing technology (VVT) to maximize performance and fuel efficiency—rated at 393 horsepower, a Hydra-Matic 6-speed automatic transmission (including two overdrive gears), and according to True Delta — who collected their data from H2 owners — average fuel efficiency at a 70 mph highway speed is 13 mpg.
The Hummer H2 has a curb weight of 6,614 pounds, 9.7 inches of ground clearance (can ford 24” of water and traverse 16” tree limbs), and has a stout and strong engine capable of turning out 415 ft. pound of torque. Add in the H2’s ample tire grip and the optional heavy gauge carbon steel tube grill guard, this hulk of a truck can plow through and run over even the most hungriest horde of undead. Base price MSRP in 2008 for the H2 was $53,286.
Don’t let the exterior fool you, you can make your escape in a car providing its the right one. Motor Trend magazine chose this active AWD vehicle as their 2011 Sport/Utility of the Year, and you have your choice of 4 models, including a hybrid and a turbo, all with unibody construction. Starting price is just $47,700.
You have plenty of choices in powertrains. The V-6s, 4 of them, include a free-breathing, 300-horse, 3.6-liter that can be paired with a six-speed manual and a supercharged 3.0-liter gas-electric hybrid that cranks out a combined 380 horsepower with a fuel efficiency of 21 mpg city/25 highway. Two 4.8-liter V-8s round out the roster, making 400 and — in twin-turbo trim — 500 horsepower. All engines feature direct injection and have a fuel capacity of 26.4 gallons.
A hill-descent control function is standard and optional air springs lend extra ground clearance for rock climbing or mountaineering over bodies. Cayenne S’ 0.91g lateral cling out cornered everything Motor Trend has ever classified as an SUV except the new Turbo, which manages 0.95g.
For the fastest getaway you’ll want the Porsche Cayenne S Turbo with an 8-speed automatic transmission, twin-turbo 90-deg V-8 that delivers 500 hp at 6000 rpm with a 12.8 sec. quarter mile sprint at 108.9 mph. An additional incentive to buy the top price model is it has 10.75 inches of ground clearance and gets better gas mileage, 22.4 mpg; 26.4 highway, than its lesser models. Maxed out price is $106,000.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
The 2012 trail rated 4-wheel drive Jeep is a 5 person-midsize SUV that comes with a 3.6-Liter V6 24-valve VVT engine that produces 290 horsepower and 260 ft. pounds of torque, and a 5-speed automatic transmission. All 3.6-Liter V6 models have a fuel efficiency rating of 23-mpg highway and 16-mpg urban jungle and a fuel capacity of 24.6 gallons.
The Quadra-Lift® Air Suspension system can change your normal ride height of 8.1 inches to a ground clearance of 10.6 inches. The Selec-Terrain® system, which gives optimal on- and off-road traction, is available in two versions: Off-Road Adventure Group I includes Selec-Terrain modes, transfer case range selection, and Hill Descent Control, Off-Road Adventure Group II (optional) includes same features plus Air Suspension and a rear Electronic Limited Slip Differential.
This sport utility can go through snow, mud/sand, over large rocks, comes with a spacious cargo area (68.7 ft. – behind first-row seat w/ rear seats folded), a roof rack for tying down any extra gear, a 115-Volt Auxiliary Power Outlet, and can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 9 seconds. MSRP starting at $42,995.
Toyota 4Runner Trail
For about half the price of the Land Cruiser you can get this Trail model 4Runner with Toyota’s same rugged dependability and a lot of the same great off-road capability. Standard features include: 4.0-Liter 24-Valve V6 with Dual Independent VVT engine with 270 horsepower and; 278 lb.-ft. of torque, 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, and the same suspension found on the Land Cruiser.
The 4Runner Trail edition has part-time 4WD with Active Traction Control, has 9.6 inches of ground clearance, can ford up to 27 inches of water, gets a combined 19 mpg, and is fitted with added storage solutions that come in handy for storing extra ammo or weapons. MSRP starting at $36,755.
Whatever you choose, just remember: Think smart, shop wisely, stay vigilant and be safe.