If you’ve watched even a few minutes of “I Am Legend,” “Dawn of the Dead,” “28 Days Later” or AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” then you know that having the right tools and being prepared are the keys to surviving a zombie apocalypse. If you’re dealing with an infectious zombie plague, you’re also going to want to get away from population centers as quickly as possible. Buy the right car now, and you’ll have no trouble outrunning the zombie apocalypse when it comes.
[In Pictures: 5 Best Cars for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse]
To find the five best cars for surviving the zombie apocalypse, we looked at cars with good performance (for outrunning zombie hordes), maximum ground clearance (for plowing through zombie mobs without getting stuck), decent gas mileage (fuel will be scarce when society collapses), strong reliability ratings (try getting your car serviced when your mechanic is feasting on your brains), nice interiors (outrunning zombies is stressful and you’ll want good lumbar support) and maximum defensive capabilities (zombies will rip through a ragtop and devour you in no time). We’ve also pointed out cars that may seem like good options, but could end up turning you into the main course at a zombie buffet faster than you can scream, “Rick! Behind you!”
While any truck will do for slow-moving zombies, we chose the F-150 because it’s available with Ford’s V6 EcoBoost engine. That will help you get the heck out of Dodge with fewer pit stops. If your budget can handle it, load up on options that maximize your chances of survival. Four-wheel drive lets you outrun zombies in any road conditions, plus gives you better traction for running over any zombies who get in your way. Ford’s Work Solutions package includes an in-dash computer so you can create spreadsheets to track your zombie kills. If the Internet is still working, in-truck Wi-Fi can help you share and compare your kills with other survivors and help you locate a safe haven. Encourage your friends to buy F-150 models with Ford’s Crew Chief fleet tracking system. After the apocalypse, it will tell you where your friends are and what direction they’re traveling in, so you can meet up. There’s safety in numbers.
Trucks without braaains: So long as you’re dealing with classic, slow-moving zombies, a pickup truck makes a great zombie apocalypse ride. Load up a few friends, motor over to the closest abandoned military depot, mount a Ma Deuce on the back and you’re ready to deal with any slow-moving zombie mob. But, if you’re dealing with “28 Days Later”-style fast-moving zombie types, you’ll want to skip the open bed. The zombies will leap into it, get your machine gunner and move on to you.
Because they tend to get better gas mileage than SUVs, wagons have a natural advantage as a zombie-fighting tool. But, because they also tend to be lower to the ground, wagons have a significant disadvantage. If you run over a zombie, he might get stuck in your undercarriage, making you a sitting duck for the rest of the zombies. The Subaru Outback is a nice cross between a wagon and an SUV. It has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which is good enough for running over most zombies; just try and steer around the obese ones. Standard all-wheel drive means you’ll have traction even when the ground is slick with zombie gore. Inside, the Outback has 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat, and standard roof rails, which are perfect for carrying the supplies you’ll need (don’t forget your chainsaw). The Outback’s seats are extremely roomy and comfortable, and the back seats even recline, so people who aren’t on zombie watch can catch a few benign z’s while riding to safety. As a bonus, the Outback has some of the best crash test scores a car can get, so if zombies cause you to wreck, you may still be able to flee on foot.
Wagons without braaains: Because it’s available with all-wheel drive or a diesel engine, you might be tempted to select the Audi A3 for outrunning zombies. Just know that if you do, you’ll be paying more than you would for the Outback while also giving up lots of passenger and cargo space. Also, J.D. Power and Associates gives the A3 pretty low ratings for predicted reliability. The last thing you want in the face of an advancing zombie horde is a blown fuel sensor.
We’d normally hold off on recommending the Jeep Grand Cherokee for outrunning zombies, but with its off-road capabilities and ability to access remote (read: safe) areas, we couldn’t leave it off our list. But, what really makes it a strong SUV for the zombie apocalypse is the fact that Jeep has confirmed that the Grand Cherokee will get a diesel engine for 2013. Diesel fuel can be tough to find now, and will likely be more scarce once the zombie infection begins, but diesel drivers can make their own fuel out of used cooking grease. When panic sets it, just drain the grease tanks of a few abandoned fast food joints, hunker down and make your fuel. Load canisters of it on the Grand Cherokee’s available roof rack and you won’t need to stop for gas. Making your own grease-based bio-diesel may help your survival in other ways: cars running on it smell like fried food, which could mask the smell of your delicious flesh from hungry zombies.
SUVs without braaains: We hate to put the supremely capable Jeep Wrangler on this list, but with a roof and doors that are designed to be removed, a Wrangler full of fleeing people is as tough to get into as a bag of Doritos for a hungry zombie. The Grand Cherokee may cost more, but it’s more defensible – so long as you skip the sunroof.
If you’re going to be running from zombies, you want to do it in comfort. The Lexus GX may not have the best fuel economy, but it does have an opulent cabin with room for seven. Save enough people from zombies and you’ll have built-in votes when you decide to run for president of the Resurrected States of America. The GX has optional Crawl Control, which automatically optimizes the GX’s responses over off-road terrain, so even if you don’t know what you’re doing when the road ends, the GX does. That could save you from costly off-road zombie-fleeing mistakes and keep all six of your newly-beholden passengers safe. If the GX costs too much, consider the Toyota Sequoia. The two SUVs are closely related, but the Sequoia is cheaper.
Luxury SUVs without braaains: Like the Lexus GX, the Land Rover Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and LR4 have systems that let even novice off-roaders handle the toughest trails. That would seem to make them good choices, but they have terrible reliability ratings. You could flee into the woods to escape zombies only to be trapped there with a software issue. Stick with the Lexus.
We can focus on things like ground clearance and fuel economy, but sometimes the people who survive are simply the people who act the fastest. You can’t get much faster than the Porsche 911 Carrera. There are lots of models in the Carrera lineup, but the best for outrunning zombies is the Carrera 4 GTS. You get all-wheel drive, 408 horsepower and a 4.4-second 0-to-60 time. No, the Carrera GTS doesn’t have a lot of ground clearance, but it’s so low that most zombies you hit will go over the top of the car (especially if you keep your foot on the gas). It also only has room for one adult passenger, which is good if you have an every-man-for-himself mentality. Finally, no reanimated corpse is going to out-handle this car. You’ll be able to maneuver around any obstacle – burnt-out cars, families screaming for help – and get yourself to safety.
Sports Cars without braaains: A convertible sports car may seem like a good idea. You could put the top down and drive while your passenger uses the extra space to wield a chainsaw at any attacking zombies. If that plan works for you, great. Just keep in mind that with the top down, there’s nothing to prevent a lucky zombie from getting in, and the first thing he’ll have access to is your head. Good luck driving while your face is being eaten.