The storm is approaching and you are going to evacuate. What’s the perfect vehicle in which to bug out?
This hurricane season has already been epic, with the disastrous Harvey hitting Houston and Irma tearing up the Florida peninsula. Now Jose is preparing to hit the Northeast, and another Category 5 hurricane is cycling up to hit the islands again.
What we learned from Irma is this: It’s a surprising 417 miles from Everglades City, Florida to the border of Georgia on Rt 75. The actual safe area was (according to the pre-storm warnings) 100 miles or so farther than that in the case of Hurricane Irma.
Many of us now have real-world stories of evacuating or have heard our friends and relatives tells us what it was like trying to escape Harvey or Irma. Two things that became pretty clear during that”Escape from Florida”:
- Traffic is a big deal Maybe the whole way.
- Refueling along the evacuation route may be problematic or impossible. Most vehicles can’t go 417 miles in traffic on one tank of fuel, never mind 517.
The folks at CarTalk and many other great communities have been debating whether electric vehicles or cars with gasoline engines would be best to make this run. We say, “why limit ourselves to just those choices?” Here’s our list of best bug out vehicles, as a pair of hurricanes prepares to make landfall this week.
Toyota Prius Prime Plug-in Hybrid
The Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid uses both electricity and gasoline. It can run on electricity alone for 25 miles. Its total range with a full tank of go-juice and a battery brimming with electrons is 640 miles.
That alone would put this vehicle at the top of our list for a practical bug-out buggy, but the Prius Prime has another advantage. In traffic, the Prime can use its EV-Mode to very efficiently crawl along.
Ahead of Irma, ABC News calculated that folks in Florida may have to endure as much as 20 hours of idling time. Once the EV battery is depleted, the Prius Prime reverts to being a hybrid. The Prius Prime shuts off its gas engine when not in motion.
Stop start technology may be annoying for those still adapting to this new normal, but in this situation, it is a true asset. With its roomy, high-tech interior and the ability to add more range from any 115-Volt outlet, public charging station, or any open gas station, the Prius Prime Plug-in hybrid has some real-world distance advantages in an evacuation.
Nissan Rogue Hybrid
One real story we know of was folks turning around on highways that were gridlocked in the direction everyone wanted to go. Whether to return home (as our source did), or to try to head back on the opposite side of the highway and find an alternate road, the ability to cross a wet grassy median may be a big advantage.
A one-wheel drive Prius is not the tool for that. An all-wheel drive crossover is. Better yet, an AWD hybrid crossover, like the new Nissan Rogue Hybrid AWD. This gas-only crossover has a range of 478 miles and it gets 33 MPG combined. That means if you throw a 3-gallon plastic gasoline container in back you now have a range of almost 600 miles. Of course, when you arrive at that final safe location every hotel room and Airbnb is going to be packed, so drop the rear seats, inflate your air mattress and go to sleep. It was a long drive and you deserve a break.
2018 Chevy Equinox AWD Diesel
The all-new Chevy Equinox is a hit. Chevy’s compact crossover has already passed the Ford Escape in monthly sales and came danger-close to passing the Honda CR-V in sales in August. One unique aspect of the Equinox is its turbo-diesel engine option. You are not going to win any stop-light races with this 0-60 MPH in over ten seconds sloth, but when bugging out nobody is racing.
The Equinox Diesel has a range of 499 miles from its viscous liquid happiness. One Car Talk regular told us that during his evacuation of Irma, the only fuel with no lines was diesel. Score one for the oil burners.
Tell us in the comments wherever you read this what you envision as a great real-world bug-out buggy.