Car Model: 2016 Toyota Prius Three Touring
MPG: 54 city / 50 highway
MSRP: From $28,100
Horsepower: 121 hp
Engine: 1.8 L 4-cylinder
Battery: 207 V lithium-ion
What kind of person would drive it: Someone who’s environmentally conscious and likes to be an early adopter of new technology would be behind the wheel of a Prius or any hybrid vehicle.
Cool features: A sophisticated lane departure and cruise control that can detect zombies or vehicles ahead of the car that will apply the brake automatically and slow down and even come to a stop for you if you’re paying more attention to the zombies chasing you. If you’re too heavy on the gas pedal or being an aggressive driver your rating will not be good. When you turn off the car, a rating from zero to 100 is given to you. It measures how well you use the gas pedal, how hard you brake, and if you use too much air condition to come up with a score. I scored an average of 62 out of 100. We live in Texas–it’s hot. When I turned off the A/C during some of my commute it showed a 100 rating in that category, but I could only stand it being off for five to ten minutes. When you’re stuck in rush hour on Interstate 35 and going below 25 miles per hour, you can turn it on full electric mode until the battery gets too low and the car will automatically switch over to either eco-mode, normal, or sport mode depending on what you had it on prior to switching to full electric.
Why it would be a good survival vehicle: When sh*t goes down and the apocalypse is upon us, you’ll want to have a fuel efficient car that will get you far away from the epicenter of destruction. The Prius has a little over 11 gallon gas tank so that when gas becomes a scarce commodity and prices skyrocket, you’ll be able to fill up and get over 700 miles to the tank. Texas is 790 miles long and if you were to make it to the border of Texas and drive another 790 miles, you could almost reach Canada and to the southern tip of Mexico. It’s also really quiet so the zombies won’t hear you coming.
What it’s missing: The cons to Prius is that it technically can’t tow a trailer so you’re stuck with the capacity in the car and maybe a roof rack carrier. If the roads are destroyed and you have to go off-road, good luck!
Car Model: 2015 Jeep Wrangler
MPG: 16 city / 23 highway
MSRP: From $32,795
Horsepower: 355 hp
Engine: 5.3L EcoTec3 V8
What kind of person would drive it: Despite being Cher’s vehicle of choice in the movie “Clueless,” the Jeep Wrangler has evolved into the car of athletic and adventurous types. Frat-boys also like to drive a souped-up version of the Wrangler.
Cool features: As a midsize SUV, the Wrangler touts many of the benefits of large SUVs as well as smaller sedans. The Wrangler is offered in three variations: Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon. The Sport is more basic, while the Sahara is more refined and luxurious. The Rubicon is a fancy combination of both. But before you buy a Jeep Wrangler, know this: You will not purchase this car for the frills. The latest may be one of the few 2016 models that doesn’t come with a rear vision backup camera. You will be drawn to the Wrangler for the experience. With the top and the doors off, it’ll bring you closer to the great outdoors. The sound system is fantastic if you like to feel the bass vibrate in your seats. Underneath the speedometer, a digital reader alerts you when you’re driving in a fuel-efficient manner. That same reader also tells you when you need an oil change and how much air is in each tire.
The comparison I like to make between the Wrangler versus the Tahoe: Buying a Chevy Tahoe is like living in the Austonian. You’ve got the best views of Austin, marble countertops, access to a pool, a gym, lots of open space, proximity to great night-life and customizable to your desired luxury. The Wrangler is like having a two-bedroom in Barton Hills. You (likely) have a backyard, walking distance from Zilker Park, and central air conditioning. It may have wood floors and some stainless steel appliances, but ultimately it’s got character. And more importantly, it’s got everything you need to be comfortable. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of preference.
Why it would be a good survival vehicle: The Jeep Wrangler recently took the title of “4×4 of the Decade” by Four Wheeler Magazine. When everyone else is crowding the highway, the Wrangler can forge its own off-road path for you. The exterior is built like a tank—perfect for fending off anything incoming. It’s also strong against the elements, so crossing rocks, mud, water, snow, and hail aren’t a concern. The Wrangler is capable of towing 3,500 pounds (about the weight of a Toyota Camry). For a relatively small stature, this car can carry some serious weight.
What it’s missing: I bought my Jeep with black leather interior, with complete disregard for the brutal Texas heat. In case you’re wondering: yes, it burns, even when the top and doors are on. It has seat warmers, but it would be better to also have a cooled seats feature (like the Tahoe has).
Car Model: 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe
MPG: 16 city / 23 highway
MSRP: From $47,000
Horsepower: 355 hp
Engine: 5.3L EcoTec3 V8
What kind of person would drive it: From the outside, it looks like a secret service vehicle. On the inside, it’s got the bells and whistles to fit the standards of any executive. This car is sleek, but could work just as well for a soccer mom.
Cool Features: With a press of the keyless start button, high-tech computer screens greet you with colorful displays. One of my favorite features on the model I drove was the heads-up display, a windshield projection that serves as a safety feature. With the heads-up display, you don’t have to lower your eyes to see the speedometer or upcoming turns on the navigation screen. Most of the car works off minimal manual labor. Handful of groceries and don’t want to set them down to open the back? That can be done with a simple click on the fob. Don’t want to wrestle with back seats to lay them flat or bring them upright? There’s a button for that. Don’t want to fidget with the radio? Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connects automatically–easy, even for the most technologically challenged. If you loathe parallel parking, especially in a large SUV, the sensors around this vehicle are your savior. A gentle vibration lets you know when you’re too close to a wall or a surrounding vehicle (this includes blind spot alerts). Combined with the backup camera, you can park the Tahoe with confidence. OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with Wi-Fi hotspot provides a mobile hub for drivers and passengers to stay connected. The hotspot is on whenever the vehicle is on.
Why it would be a good survival vehicle: I took this car on a long trip out west, where I spent most of the journey crossing the desert or passing signs that said “population: 400”. I intentionally drove through Nowheresville to test the strength of the WiFi capabilities. Sure enough, it proved to be a solid hotspot, which is crucial when you’re trying to figure out where to find any sort of relief away from a disastrous situation. The Tahoe has multiple charging outlets and a wireless phone charging station to keep you connected.
It’s incredibly spacious, so when you’re driving for hours upon end your legs won’t cramp up and give out on you. With all of that space, you can get a good stretch in without having to get out of the car and risking a zombie ambush. The Tahoe plays DVDs too, so when your kids are freaking out, just pop in “Frozen.”
What it’s missing: It’s a large car, so inevitably, it’s going to guzzle more gas. To be honest though, the Tahoe has everything you could ever need, and gives you everything you didn’t know you wanted. Fantastic vehicle, but it’ll cost you a pretty penny.