When it comes to picking out a set of survival wheels, reliability is the name of the game. Wisdom dictates that you stick with a tried and tested brand, a manufacturer renowned for efficiency and toughness, whatever the conditions.
S hitting the F certainly presents a challenging set of conditions, wouldn’t you say? You’ll need a vehicle that’s good on gas, comfortable for passengers, and good for storing your gear. In short, you’ll need a Toyota.
There are several high-quality Toyota vehicles that would be ideal for survivalists. These vehicles span a variety of classes and sub-classes. There is the compact RAV4 SUV, as well as the mid-sized FJ Cruiser and 4Runner SUVs. Large SUVs include the Sequoia and the Land Cruiser. The Tundra and Tacoma are the manufacturer’s pickup truck options.
The post-WWII rise of Japanese car production has been relentless and, nearly a century on, their iron grip on the market shows no signs of loosening. Toyota is the undisputed gem in the Japanese crown, and all signs (revenue, marketing…traffic) indicate that it is the biggest car manufacturer in the world today.
Toyotas are known for their unparalleled value for money. They are robust, efficient on gas, and particularly practical across all classes. Such attributes are what allowed the company to penetrate, and then dominate the U.S. consumer market.
As far as bugging out, Toyota might just be the best brand to go for. Ford and GM cars might have a slight edge as far as availability of parts, though, so keep that in mind. However, Toyotas are much more reliable and repairable than most American and European brands.
With over 100 vehicle models all around the world, Toyota continues to spoil its customers for choice. If you need a fuel-saving (or electric) run-around car, Toyota has you covered. If you need a dune-crushing off-roader…Toyota has you covered.
Once you consider every possible bug-out vehicle requirement (mobility, off-road, durability, fixability, storage, etc.), you’ll quickly realize that there’s a Toyota for each. Even better, you’ll realize some exceptional ones that tick several boxes at once.
So, to answer the question…yeah, Toyotas are awesome bug-out rides.
Let's take a look at some of the best bug-out options from the manufacturer. For this article, we've opted against selecting smaller sedans and hatchbacks. Instead, we've placed our focus on SUVs and pickup trucks simply because of their additional power and versatility.
The Tacoma has been a thorn in the side of Ford and GM trucks for the better part of three decades…and for good reason. It breezes through the classic Toyota checklist (reliable, tough, efficient, etc.), and presents itself as a worthy choice for any survivalist.
The 2021 model is marketed as a weekend camper, and its off-road muscles are rippling under the surface to show you just what it’s about. It may be classed as a “compact” pickup truck, but you shouldn’t be fooled. The car’s performance, features, comfort, and sheer indestructibility allow it to comfortably keep pace with the big boys.
The Toyota Tacoma is available in six trims, each with a 3.5L V6 engine. While all packages come with a six-speed automatic transmission, some trims (like the top-of-the-range TRD Pro) also offer a six-speed manual option. Each trim also offers you the choice between a rear-wheel-drive and a four-wheel-drive layout.
You get a bucketful of features across the whole lineup. Some of these include alloy wheels (16-18 inches), integrated fog lights, Smart Key System, and Panoramic View Monitor system. You also get Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select with Crawl Control and an electronically locking rear differential, which could prove handy on the sketchy ground.
The Tacoma’s relatively small(er) size is a great boost to its fuel efficiency. The truck is capable of maintaining a highway MPG of up to 24. City driving is less forgiving, of course, but you can still get up to 19MPG in light traffic.
Other features of the bug out Tacoma include:
If your path to survival requires you to traverse through steep climbs, intricate descents, and other treacherous trappings, you could do far worse than the Toyota 4Runner.
The 4Runner (also known as the “Surf” in Japan and Europe) has been around for even longer than the Tacoma. Since its 1983 debut, it has jockeyed for mid-size SUV dominance with the Jeeps and Land Rovers of the world. In the U.S., it has continued to outclass any local competitor.
The 4Runner has always been a relatively simple what-you-see-is-what-you-get proposition, and the latest one is no different. It’s as tough as it looks, and driving it feels like you’re the king of the hill…literally. With 9 model packages to choose from, you’re bound to find the perfect 4Runner for your journey.
The car meets a lot of key criteria for a bug-out vehicle. You can seat 5-7 people. Storage is good (especially with a roof rack), and you have 5,000lbs of towing capacity. Not bad.
The Toyota 4Runner has a 4.0L V6 that delivers 270 horsepower on command. Like the Tacoma, you can opt for a RWD or a 4WD drivetrain. You can only get a five-speed automatic transmission though. The 4Runner also has internal bypass shocks in the front and remote reservoir shocks in the rear.
We recommend that you go for the top-of-the-line TRD Pro model, in 4x4 configuration of course. This trim features a very useful roof rack on top of a beefier body.
The 4Runner’s interior is very functional with subtle styling. All of your standard bells and whistles are here. The 8-inch infotainment system is the centerpiece of the interior, and you have a lot of tactile controls around it and on the steering wheel.
There’s a lot of storage space thanks to the trunk, compartments, door bins, cubby trays, and more. All in all, you have nearly 90 cubic feet of trunk space.
Superlatives abound for this enduring SUV. With a 4Runner on your side, you too could last decades in a strange new land.
The mighty Tundra continues its titanic tussle with All-American icons like the Dodge Ram, Ford F-Series, and Chevy Silverado. Boasting brute strength, efficient utility, and all-weather/all-terrain survivability, the Tundra is truly worthy of the name.
The 2021 version is an evolution rather than a revolution in terms of design and features. However, that is no knock because we love the current-gen Tundra. The hulking frame is made from sweet steel, which gives you an idea of the strength you have to work with.
All Tundra packages come with a 5.7L Aluminum iForce V8 engine that puts out 381 horsepower and 401lb-ft of torque. The Tundra only comes with a rear-wheel-drive powertrain and a six-speed auto gearbox.
The Tundra has a lot of the standard features found in other vehicles in this list. Of course, some features depend on the trim package you choose. Non-trim-specific features include:
Other trim specific features include:
All models of the Tundra will perform exceptionally off the beaten path thanks to a coiled suspension in the front and a leaf layout for the rear. Ground clearance and approach angles are more than adequate for the terrains you will encounter.
Toyota’s FJ Cruiser certainly sent tongues wagging when it was unveiled as a concept back in 2003. However, following its 2006 release, it simply failed to wrestle market share from the Jeep Wrangler, with Toyota experiencing disappointing sales until they decided to discontinue the SUV in 2014.
Of course, sometimes sales figures can be misleading and that is certainly the case for the FJ Cruiser. We’ll never know the specific reasons why the FJ Cruiser flopped on American shores but what we do know is that it’s not because of its quality.
The FJ Cruiser is no exception to Toyota’s rule of reliability. Even though Toyota discontinued the Cruiser, you can still find used models that are in great condition. This retention of value is arguably Toyota’s signature quality.
The FJ Cruiser’s robustness and durability are no surprise, especially once you consider the fact that it shares certain skeletal elements with the legendary Land Cruiser. A born off-roader, the FJ Cruiser is ready and able to tackle the most extreme conditions without batting an eye.
The SUV is powered by a 4.0L V6 gas engine that can be paired with a six-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. You can also choose between rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The suspension setup (also borrowed from the Land Cruiser) is extremely adaptable and has an impressive 8 inches (front) and 9 inches (rear) of travel!
Its off-road abilities are also noteworthy. The FJ has 9.6 inches of ground clearance, a 34-degree approach angle, and a 30-degree departure angle. It can ford up to 27.5 inches of water too, which rivals plenty of off-roaders on the market today.
The interior is practical and comfy, although storage space is somewhat limited. Luckily, the FJ Cruiser has a towing capacity of over 5,000lbs, which allows you to haul a small storage or camper trailer.
The Sequoia is to the 4Runner what the Tundra is to the Tacoma…a bigger, burlier, all-terrain beast. It is Toyota's largest SUV, and an obvious choice for any bug-out vehicle shortlist.
The Sequoia has, admittedly, fallen behind some of its rivals in terms of revolutionizing its design and style. It is still based on the 2008 model, although Toyota has made gradual improvements over the years. For 2021, Toyota has introduced a new “Nightshade” trim package, that features special 20-inch wheels, emblems, and a special grille.
The Sequoia Nightshade is still powered by a 5.7L V8 engine that produces 381 horsepower. Other Sequoia engines include a 4.7L V8 (276hp) and a 4.6L V8 (310hp). All trims come with a six-speed automatic gearbox with a dual-range transfer case. Again, you can choose between rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
As is typical for V8 cars, fuel efficiency is a bit of a problem. The Sequoia can get up to 13MPG in the city and 19MPG on the highway. This is probably its biggest weakness, especially when compared to some of its rivals. GMC’s Yukon, for example, can do 15MPG in the city and 22MPG in the center.
The 4WD version has up to 7,000lbs of towing capacity. This is possible thanks to its steel chassis (shared with the Tundra). Unlike the Tundra though, the Sequoia is fitted with an independent rear suspension for improved off-road maneuverability.
The SUV can seat 7 people, although it’s best to save the third row for smaller children. The interior is typical Toyota, but it is somewhat dated. You get loads of quick storage and optional amenities. You also get a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, adaptive cruise control, lane detection, and collision mitigation.
The Sequoia may not be the freshest kid on the block, but its sheer build quality, people carrying, and overall utility make it a noteworthy consideration for any prepper.
The compact SUV market is for consumers who want most of an SUV's key features in a smaller, fuel-efficient package. These cars are just as comfortable in city traffic as they are in the wilderness. Naturally, many manufacturers have dove headfirst into this market, with mixed success.
Toyota is perhaps the only brand that can be said to have truly succeeded in this market, and that is thanks to its iconic RAV4, one of the most recognizable compact SUVs anywhere.
The 2021 iteration is also an evolution of the current (fifth) generation of the RAV4. It is available in five petrol engine trims and four hybrid trims. Its sharp, angular design is very striking and indicative of the car’s overall awesomeness.
As far as engines, there are 2.0L and 2.5L motors, and two 2.5L hybrid motors. Hybrid versions have a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor. All in all, the RAV4 produces 169 hp (2.0L gas versions), 202 hp (2.5L gas versions), and 302 hp (plug-in hybrid version).
There are also different transmissions across the trim levels, including a six-speed manual, an 8-speed Direct-Shift automatic (for gas cars). The hybrid versions feature a 10-speed direct-shift CVT transmission. You can also choose between a rear-wheel drive or an all-wheel-drive powertrain.
The interior is solid, if not spectacular, although the upper trims have nice amenities like heated leather seats. You can seat five adults comfortably, and you get a lot of quick storage. The trunk is quite sizable, but you might need a trailer if you want more space. Towing capacity is a rather disappointing 1,500lbs.
The Land Cruiser name is traditionally known for off-road supremacy all over the globe. Whether it is curbing revolutions or being used to save lives in the most inaccessible jungles, Toyota’s legendary SUV is ready for anything.
Over the last couple of decades, Toyota has evolved the Land Cruiser into a luxury SUV to compete with big hitters like the Land Rover Range Rover and Mercedes G-Class. Needless, to say, Toyota has accomplished its mission…and then some.
The 2021 Land Cruiser is true to form and combines its all-terrain ruggedness with top-notch quality and comfort. At the heart of this beast is a 5.7L V8 that whips out 381 horses. The engine sends about 401lb-ft of torque to all four wheels.
Unfortunately, the Land Cruiser suffers from the same inefficiencies that plague the Sequoia. You get a disappointing 13 MPG in city driving (if you're lucky) and up to 19 MPG on the highway. This is a very important consideration because once SHTF, the fuel situation will be anyone’s guess.
While the Land Cruiser's fuel efficiency is certainly a downer, there are no doubts over its off-road nous. The Land Cruiser has a 32-degree approach angle, a 21-degree break-over angle, and a 24-degree departure angle. You get over 8-inches of ground clearance as well as 18-inch alloy wheels.
The Land Cruiser is jam-packed with technology. LED headlights, parking sensors, heated wing mirrors, and front and rear cameras are some of the exterior highlights. The interior features memory seating controls, a JBL sound system, and a small fridge.
The ride quality is great, and the comfortable interior will have you snug as a bug in a rug. Leather (and heated) seats, cruise control, hands-free phone support, and a 9-inch infotainment screen are some of the key features. Toyota also incorporated a classy touch of wood to bring the interior to life.
Storage space is very good, considering the seven-seat layout. You can get a trailer too if you need to. The Land Cruiser has a towing capacity of over 8,000lbs, and a useful roof rack. The interior also has a lot of compartments for storing smaller items.
Your bug-out preparations must be in accordance with your living situation. If you have a designated bug-out shelter, you will be less reliant on your car for livability. All of the vehicles listed here are quite spacious, but living and sleeping in them for long periods is less than ideal.
If you plan on bugging out nomadically (i.e., moving from place to place), you should get a camper trailer. The trailer you choose must be appropriate for your car’s towing capacity. Camper trailers have sleeping facilities and homestyle amenities that will make life on the road significantly easier.
We also touched on the issue of fuel. You should definitely invest in additional fuel canisters in case the precious juice becomes difficult to source.
Last update on 2022-06-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Communications are crucial in any emergency scenario. Make sure to keep devices like police scanners, mobile phones, and survival laptops on hand. Keeping in touch with authorities and loved ones could save you time and other resources. Communication will keep you updated with key information (weather, safe/danger zones, search and rescue briefs) in real-time.
Last update on 2022-06-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The bug out car should also be stocked with essential gear and supplies. Some of these items may be subjective to personal circumstance, but, in general, you should make sure you kit your survival Toyota with:
Check out our 5 lists for bug out vehicles for even more critical survival gear to store in your survival car as well as important checklists to keep track of.
The reliability and durability of Toyota vehicles have been instrumental in propelling the brand to the lofty perch it occupies today.
With an unrivaled lineup of vehicle choices, Toyota caters to many different bug-out needs all at once.