The best car for the zombie apocalypse isn't a Hyundai Elantra

Consumer Reports News: July 13, 2012 04:08 PM

With Comic-Con transforming the San Diego Convention Center into a fan boy's fantasy land this week, there are numerous movie, book, and video game announcements pouring out, teasing near-future projects. Mixed within are abundant marketing tie-ins. Before getting caught up with the latest super-hero film trailer, it is important to make sure the flashy sponsorship doesn't sway your zombie apocalypse preparedness.

Automakers have long found television programming to be an effective, uh, vehicle for promoting their wares. The infectious AMC series "The Walking Dead" has been treated to sponsorship from Hyundai, leading to a Tucson being prominent in the survivors' caravan. (What the show really needed was RV sponsorship...)

As a horror/sci-fi/comic fan, I appreciate any corporate support that can see creative programming reach the masses without compromising good story telling. But the latest Hyundai tie-in strikes me as a bit much, the just-unveiled Elantra Coupe (pictured above).

Here at Consumer Reports, we rate the Elantra highly. It's well appointed, fuel efficient, and not a bad drive. But when it comes to facing a zombie apocalypse, I would seek mightier iron.

To me, and yes I have given this too much thought, the ultimate survival machine must be an SUV with serious off-road abilities. A pickup truck is tempting, but the bed makes it too easy for flesh eaters to scramble aboard. And a fully Mad-Maxed compact coupe, even with a zombie-catcher plow, just doesn't cut it. True survival demands go-anywhere ability, easy egress with a machete, and ample storage for supplies.

Further, the vehicle must be reliable, with minimum complexity and decent range. Looking through our ratings, a Chevrolet Traverse or Toyota RAV4 each make wise choices based on our tests, surveys, etc. Seriously.

Jeep-Wrangler-Unlimited-Call-of-Zombie-Duty.jpgBut for me, the must-have escape machine would have to be a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, complete with 10.1-inches of ground clearance. Admittedly, it scores poorly in our tests. The Wrangler just isn't as civilized as, well, every other vehicle offered in America. But when the undead horde is on the hunt, I am willing to compromise on civility. I think George A. Romero would agree.

Make mine factory stock, with minimal customization. Although it would be tempting to outfit a Wrangler with a lift kit and monstrous tires, it is key that the escape vehicle be easy to maintain and repair. A winch and push bar are essential concessions to this rule. Clearly, a hard top is a must. In fact, the removable Freedom Top roof panels can come in handy for double-tapping through zombie crowds. I could be tempted to put an exterior roof frame on for securing additional spare tires, though that would risk zombie cling ons. Another mod worth considering would be a snorkel for deep water fording.

For interior options, built-in navigation is critical. Likewise, an automatic transmission is a must; I don't want to tie up a hand unnecessarily with shifting. The standard 120-volt outlets would no doubt prove useful. Otherwise, the simpler the better.

In addition to a traditional roadside emergency kit, be sure to stock the vehicle with the prerequisite boomstick, chainsaw, first-aid kit, and bottled water.

In total, the Wrangler Rubicon would be able to go up, over, or around obstacles as needed. Additional gas cans would compensate for the poor fuel economy. As this prospective threat is slow moving, acceleration and handling are much less a concern than with other equally improbable fantasy scenarios, like surviving a Cuba invasion "Red Dawn" style.

Should the viral doomsday scenario occur, I wouldn't mind a fast lap around Manhattan in a Shelby Mustang (as in "I am legend"), but the Wrangler would be my first choice to live to fight another day.

What would yours be? My hunch is that your pick won't be an Elantra coupe.

CDC: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse
My torrid love affair with the lowest-rated vehicle, the Jeep Wrangler

Jeff Bartlett

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