Why on earth would I consider an underpowered 4cyclinder subcompact sized SUV that doesn’t have real off-road capabilities? Why? Because in a SHTF situation like hurricane Katrina or the 7.0 Chilean earthquakes or the LA riots or the 911 terrorist attacks…you don’t need a hard core rock crawler, tank of a vehicle just to get out of the city in my opinion.
You probably just need a vehicle that is capable of getting you and your loved ones down the road and away from danger. If the road is blocked or destroyed, your vehicle needs to be able to go off road into the dirt, mud, sand, snow, or be able to cross small bodies of water… which is where a Honda CRV comes in handy.
The 1st generation CRV (1997 to 2001) is affordable. The 1st Gen. CRV’s are by far one of the best vehicles for off-road and are reasonably priced at around $4000 to $5000 on average. You get a lot of reliability and performance for your money. Sure you can buy a Jeep wrangler for $4000 but is it going to be reliable enough to drive to work every day let alone reliable enough to get your family up to the mountains when the SHTF?
The CRV is practical. You can buy it for work as a daily driver commuter car and if the SHTF you can use it to save your families life and get out of town even if the roads are down. It seats 5 and still has room for some gear. Most have a/c and a heater which my old Jeep Wrangler CJ7 didn’t have.
The CRV is small. If its just you or you only have 5 people total then you probably don’t need a huge 4×4 truck or SUV to get out of the city? Obviously bigger can be better but in a SHTF situation bigger can be a disadvantage because roads might be cluttered with debris such as broken down vehicles. Of course a big vehicle could just push through obstacles but I would want not want to risk breaking a perfectly running engine or drive train due to broken radiator or pop a tire etc etc. I’d rather slip past an obstacle with a tiny SUV. Big vehicles are harder to maneuver if you need to slip through congested traffic or back up and change directions. Plus big vehicles use A LOT of gas fairly quickly.
The CRV is good on gas. A big V8 4×4 truck or SUV is a seriously powerful but are gas hogs. I know because I currently own a Chevy Tahoe and I used to own a lifted GMC Yukon. You may be able to get out of the city quickly but how far will you be able to trek into the desert, hills or mountains after that? The range in a V8 is limited. Your range in a CRV can be extended substantially if you have 1 or 2 jerry cans of extra gas on the roof?
Also keep in mind that gas will be hard to find and what gas you to scrounge up outside of the city won’t be much. Having a small Honda 4 cylinder motor to feed will get you a lot further.
The CRV 2.0L engine in stock form is very reliable. In my opinion a stock engine = reliability and in my own personally experience from owning 2 Honda CRX’s and an Acura Integra I can tell you that they are far more reliable and durable in stock unmodified form than any other vehicle I have ever owned.
My Jeep Wrangler CJ7 and GMC Yukon were bad ass looking but they required a lot of maintenance to stay running reliably. And like I already mentioned they were both horrible on gas. Even though the Wrangler had an inline 6 it still drank down gas like a V8 due to the big tires.
The CRV is quiet. Why is this important? If you have survival supplies such as food, water, clothing, shelter, means to make a fire, guns and ammo…then you own the key to life itself. This makes you a target to those who did not properly prepare. Those people will be desperate and you can bet they would love to try to take it from you. To avoid this issue its best to stay quiet. A little Honda CRV is great at moving around quietly in the desert or woods. My lifted GMC Yukon with its powerful V8 was a loud even with the stock exhaust. My Jeep was a little less loud.
The CRV is a 4 door 5 passenger SUV. This means you can use it as shelter easily. My jeep had no room to lay down to sleep and its soft top sucked at keeping out the cold wind or rain. A small SUV like the CRV is essentially the size of a 2 man tent when you fold down the seats. Its water tight and will keep out the wind, rain, sand and snow.
You could carry a tent but that usually puts you on the ground with the dirt, mud or rocks, not to mention the snakes, spiders, mountain lions, wolves, bears etc etc. Sleeping inside a vehicle is just saferō and you can just roll up the windows and lock the doors. If you have to bug out again, its just a matter of hopping in the drivers seat and taking off!
The CRV has a real time AWD system. This means it can get you in and out of places a 2wd passenger car or 2wd truck might not be able to? I live in Las Vegas so the possibility of needing to drive in sand is very possible if I want to get out of the city if the freeways are jammed. If you live in snow country then I don’t have to tell you how awesome AWD drive is.
The down side is that the CRV is basically a front wheel drive vehicle with a viscous limited slip differential (VLSD) in the back. It doesn’t have locking differentials to handle really rough off roading or rock crawling like a jeep or 4×4 truck or SUV.
I think for the average man trying to get his family out of the city, hopefully he wont need to hit the hard core rocks or black diamond trails to get to safety. I am taking a chance but hopefully all I really need to do is cross an open field, cross a muddy road, cross a dry creek bed, cross sand, cross a small stream or navigate through snow or ice covered roads without chains. A Honda CRV with AWD can do all of this fairly easy.
A hand operated winch and tow hooks can be used to get you unstuck if you bite off more than you can chew. This is a must have item for any off-road vehicle regardless of it capabilities.
The CRV’s suspension is higher than pretty much any 2WD car. The suspension is high enough to handle light off-road use. Its not going to be able to hang with lifted Jeeps, trucks and SUV’s but like I said, its just enough to get you out of the city and up into the woods or out into desert. It can be lifted up to 3” if you really want to optimize the capabilities of the little AWD SUV. This would obviously allow you to mount better off road tires which I think would be a wise upgrade. Ground clearance is always good for survival.
CRV parts are widely available. The 1st generation CRV is based off the Honda Civic platform. That means there is literally thousands of parts and donor vehicles across the United States. I’d be willing to bet that there are more Honda CRV’s and Civics inside my 25 mile radius than any other type of car? More cars = more parts at my disposal to scrounge off of in a SHTF situation.
Some weakness of choosing a Honda CRV? Its very small so if you have more than 5 people or a lot of gear it might not be a good choice. Compared to any other SUV it is underpowered so you won’t be outrunning anyone or powering up serious hills. It doesn’t come in a V6 option if you want more power but you can slap on a K&N hi flow air filter, 4 in 1 headers and a hi flow exhaust to get a little bit more power without compromising reliability? It can’t tow very much with a 2.0L 4 cylinder engine, so no big trailers. High winds make it (and any small vehicle) unstable. It lacks true off road locking differentials so Jeeps and real 4x4s will leave you behind if they have enough gas?
So that’s my suggestion on a simple, cheap, reliable, practical, fuel efficient, off-road capable “bug out vehicle” that most folks might overlook.
Of course there are other very good options like the Subaru with their legendary AWD or the Ford Escape AWD or a newer more reliable Jeep or a Toyota 4runner or Tacoma or RAV4 and so on, but I sided with Honda because of the sheer numbers of Hondas on the road and the huge supply of parts the Honda civic family of cars (which the CRV is based on) has across the country. And of course the cheap price! Those 2 reasons put the CRV on top in my opinion.
more bug out vehicle