I don't know if this discussion has been started on here, but I figured what the hell. I have a 92 Jeep Wrangler I recently picked up for a reasonable price. I have some plans for it, using it as a daily driver, but my go to bug out vehicle if such a need arises.
Its my belief that while probably not the best bug out vehicle, its one of the top choices. Great reliability, with the right parts its off road capabilities are great, and parts should be easy to find in the even of any type of catastrophe.
So what are your thoughts out there in lost zombies land?
For a single person, the dirtbike or a crossover bike is probably the best. Yes, it provides no physical protection from the Undead themselves, but it is an extremely maneuverable machine, has plenty of power and the best off-road abilities. It can carry a BOB and extra supplies easily, is small enough to fit through just about any traffic jam, light enough for most people to move by hand over barriers, has great gas mileage, can usually hold two people in a pinch, and is easy to hide. Also, many militaries have designed systems for them to carry more gear and be used better in battle, especially the scouting aspect, which requires stealth, speed, and maneuverability, so some models have survival equipment pre-made if you know where to look. You could also easily make this equipment with a little know-how and materials. I feel that the job of a BOV is more for escape than to be living quarters, and this one is a very good bet for getting you out of a danger area quickly. They're also easy to find and fix, and very sustainable.
My own BOV will be my '89 Jeep Cherokee (XJ), because I am planning on more than two people. First-off, I am a learning mechanic and I have done a lot on these vehicles, so I know it well. I will say that Jeeps in general are problematic, difficult, and very costly to own (which Jeep specialists agree with), but for $3k, you can buy a Cherokee and turn it into a very good, reliable machine that has tons of off-road ability. The 4.0l straight six is a great motor, and any Cherokee after '92 has the high-output version, which provides a great power to weight ratio for a stock vehicle, although the pre-92 4.0 is also great. It's a unibody vehicle, which means that the frame and body are a single part. This may take away a bit of strength, but it reduces a ton of weight. Jeeps in general have a great cult following, aftermarket, and availability for parts, so you won't have a problem with any kind of resource you'll need for it. They're small for an SUV, so it'll be easier to get through smaller trails and even to hide, but they still carry four to six passengers with plenty of cargo room and pretty decent gas mileage, That generation of Cherokee is prettymuch a slightly updated Chevy underneath and behind the dash (the 4.0, and steering column are an almost direct drop-in to the straight-six and column in my '73 Nova for example), and it's a bullet-proof setup except for theft-proofing, which is an easy situation to fix. You can also fit a dirtbike in the back of it sideways, and they're VERY easy to trick-out (you don't have to disassemble half the truck to chop the roof or lift it, for example). Even stock they are good for most light to intermediate off-road driving, and they're pretty tough as far as most collisions go.
Now, try to stay away form the YJ's, (Grand Cherokees). They're more difficult to fix, more costly, worse off road, and even less common. While the XJ was meant to be a more family-friendly alternative to the (POS) Wranglers, the YJ is a more soccer-mom friendly alternative to the XJ, which makes it prettymuch a luxurious car that looks like an SUV. They do sometimes have the 318 V8, which is great, but the rest of them is watered down. Also, try to get a Jeep that doesn't have the 2.8l four-banger. Those engines are very lackluster and can be a total pain to keep running, especially the Throttle Body Injection models. You're much better off with a carbureted version if you do choose this engine.
I agree that the VW vans would also be great, and Samurais are awesome little trucks. I recommend taking a look at the Toyota SUVs and of course the Chevy Blazer, Dodge RamCharger, and Ford Bronco and Bronco 2's.
Also, when picking a BOV or any BO material for that matter, one of the best kinds of camouflage is societal. In any true disaster, there is a risk of someone recognizing you as a prepared person, which means that in some way or another, they are gonna' want to take what you have. So there is a benefit in going with a vehicle that you commonly see tricked-out for things like off-roading. Of course, if they want to steal a vehicle anyway, they'd likely head for something like what I've described, but at least you'd be harder to spot as just the right person to choose lol.
Brother the YJ is a Wrangler. I gotta say I completely disagree with you on the reliability and the mechanices of the Wranglers. I have a 92 YJ and its super simple to work on. May not be the cheapest for some parts, but their easy to find and easy to install. My only I think your confusing the YJ model classification with with the Grand Cherokee(ZJ).
Now Im not stating I think my Wrangler is a perfect bugout vehicle..far from it actually. No matter how great they are off road, they can't haul much. They don't have enough weight to pull a trailer thats carrying much. My personal choice is a 1982 CUCV. 6.2 diesel. One thing to think about that most people completely overlook is that fact that gasoline is going to be very very hard to come by, diesel will be much easier to find. Plus diesel gets better mileage.
Sorry, I meant ZJ lol. I keep getting those messed up. Maybe I've just had been experiences with the Wranglers, but I've seen the newer ones (after the CJ's and before these new JK's) fall apart like crazy, just from light off-road use with experienced drivers. I think that while they're good off-road, they come with good axles, and that the V8's and 4.0's they have are great motors, I keep having ass-backward problems with them, and return problems that are ridiculous. I helped a Jeep mechanic friend of mine do the same tranny job twice because of the way the tranny was designed - the same C Clip in the upper part of the tranny would love to fall out and cause Hell - I'm told that same tranny is most common on the ZJ's, too, which explains a lot lol. I've seen new factory t-cases go to crap within months, fixed a ton of column and wiring problems, dealt with more death wobbles than any crazy-lifted vehicle from any other brand than I can think of, and most of these problems were on stock or lightly-modded Wranglers. Also, I don't know what it is with Jeep hardware in general, but their bolts and metal seem to rust a lot more quickly than any other company's. At the garage where I work, there is a '50 Studebaker that I stripped all the paint and rustproofing off of (the owner tried to screw us, so we're letting it minorly rust until he learns). It's sat like that for two years and still has a fraction of the rust that either of my Cherokees has lol.
I'll admit that there are a lot of great things about Wranglers (although the Japanese probably wouldn't), and that maybe all my friends and I have just had bad luck with them, but you're one of about three people who know how to work on a car and have had good things to say about Wranglers.
I think it depends on what you use your Wrangler for on a regular basis too. Ive talked to people who have had issues with their Wranglers and most of the time from what I can tell its because they rag the hell outta them off road and never do any maintaineance work on them. They dana 35's that most of the Jeeps came with from the mid 80's to now leave a little to be desired when it comes to being holding up off road. Thats is the most of the time because people have put larger tires of them, never upgraded the gears or shafts. If your running 33-35" tires on stock 35 dana's your asking for trouble if your run in the rocks, or high incline off road. If you upgrade to the dana 44's, or a ford 9" rear end your rock solid. I'll be the first to admit that when you have to work on the transmission on the Wranglers is a pain in the ass with the skid plate, but its not too bad. If I was seriously going to consider my Wrangler for my bugout vehicle I would swap out my 4.0 and the tranny for a NV4500 out of a power wagon, and 4 cylinder diesel.
For a bugout I think you should seriously consider one of these. Im looking at this as my first option because the 6.2 detroit diesel is one of the most indestructible engines you can find. The transmission is as tough as it gets for a automatic. Their is a ton of room for supplies, and they strong enough to pull a trailer loaded with a couple thousand pounds of supplies at 70mph and not blink. Im not talking about the big dueces. Look at the Blazers, and look up CUCV on youtube, their the way to go. Really versatile.
I think I might just be wrong about the Wranglers then. My ratio of fixing them to driving them is probably way off. That CUCV is sweet - reminds me of Tremors. Check this out: http://www.gizmag.com/go/4799/
Although you've done a list of "things to consider" so have i that ive applied to the ford F150 "raptor" which you can find at any ford dealership today.
Parts: Well ive worked on fords for all my life and their parts are VERY easy to find and quite compatible if you know what you're doing.
Functionality "on pavement": with a couple push rails and steel, it would have no problem pushing a couple cars out of the way, and being experienced with pedestrian involved collisions, it can handle a good 4-5 zeds at 50 without major engine problems (which is good!)
Funtionality "elsewhere": As most know, the family of this variant of truck is quite popular for off road, and the "Raptor" can be purchased from a dealer ready to do some "Off road mobbin' " if you know what you're doing.
Also the crew cab can fit 6 if you're willing to get in tight with youre team.
Fuel: The arguement of fuel ends in a common understanding, you might make it a year or so befoore you have to switch to another form of transport, So keep some reserve in case of a bug out...besides that your S.O.L, i suggest a horse.
Good luck and stay alive, semper fi.
Hell yeah, I've heard some good things about those. Don't they have a 5.0?