Doomsday preppers must be laughing at us now.
When the pandemic hit, everyone started stocking up on goods, fortifying homes, and making sure we have enough alcohol and toilet paper to last a lifetime.
While we're mostly bored at home and trying not to go out, we can't help but think: what makes a great bug out vehicle in the Philippine setting? And can you build one on a relatively light budget?
There are many choices in the market, but we thought we'd outline a few criteria that can help us decide. A proper bug out vehicle must have a proven track record for reliability, the capacity to haul, have a decent amount of space, easy to work on and parts must be easy to source. Four-wheel drive is optional but preferred. Fuel efficiency is important too so no thirsty V6 or V8 engines. Besides, where will you find a filling station in the middle of nowhere or, knock on wood, when the fuel supply has almost dried up?
Thankfully, there are still a lot of good platforms for bug out vehicles out there in the second-hand market, and we ranked 10 of them based on our criteria to arrive at the ultimate one... and you may be surprised.
#10: Toyota Fortuner (AN50/AN60)
This is perhaps the most modern among the group. There's little to no doubt about the Fortuner's reliability and durability thanks to its Hilux genes. Even if it does have modern tech and electronics, problems have been few and far between although there were injector problems during its initial release. Thankfully, Toyota rectified it and its diesel engines are among the sturdiest out there. Even the 2.7L gas engine has outstanding reliability too, but it can be thirsty.
Opt for the four-wheel drive and you'll be pleasantly surprised at its capabilities, again thanks to the Hilux DNA. There's room for seven and their luggage, plus it's easy to fix and mend thanks to a wide parts supply and dealership network. Because it's also relatively new, finding parts for it won't be that difficult either. The only thing stopping it from ranking higher is the potential problems lurking in the first batch of diesel-fed units.
The most affordable Fortuners you can find are the two-wheel-drive gas models which you can get for Php 350,000, more or less. Two-wheel drive diesel versions, on the other hand, would typically command a Php 100,000 premium, while the least expensive 4x4 diesel starts at about Php 550,000.
Pros: Most modern in this list
Cons: 2.5L non-intercooler diesel feels slow, electronics means it won't be as easy to maintain in an SHTF situation
#9: Suzuki Jimny (JB)
The Jimny may be small, but its size is what makes it such a great vehicle off-road. The diminutive dimensions help it climb over obstacles with ease without much risk of scraping. Yes, it's fuel-injected but it's still mechanically simple, and that pays dividends id you have to camp out. It doesn't have much in the way of electronics either. It may only have a 1.3-liter engine but it's tuned for torque so it's surprisingly punchy off the line. The automatic makes it an easy little SUV to drive but with a manual, it's almost unstoppable. Parts are aplenty and the modding community for it is huge, so fixing and upgrading will be easy. If it is pure capability you're looking for, the Jimny is right by the top of the list.
But it's not enough that it's a nimble mountain goat. It's not a big vehicle so it might get a little cozy when it's time to sleep. Also, it can seat four inside, but it's not going to be comfortable for the ones in the back seat. Cargo space isn't too generous either. Still, if you're trekking solo or with just one person, the Jimny should be fine. Just fold the back seats to make more room. Resale values are strong for the Jimny, and you'll struggle to find one under Php 400,000. An early model would typically start at Php 400,000, all the way to Php 700,000 for later ones.
Pros: Off-road capability, parts support, favored by enthusiasts, can still find nearly brand new units today
#8: Mitsubishi L200 (K30 to K70 series)
If it's hauling we're talking about, then it must be a pick-up. One solid choice is the Mitsubishi L200. You have the peace of mind of the bulletproof 4D56 diesel engine and those engines are easy to mend when something does go wrong. A few mods here and there will make it your home away from home. The only thing going against it is that it can't carry more than five people at a time.
Find one with four-wheel drive and taking on treks and trails will be mostly effortless plus you have mechanical simplicity working in your favor as these pickups are easy to work on for the most part. They might not have the same parts support network as Toyota but they're on hand in many shops. You can bag yourself an L200 for as little as Php 150,000, but those might be a little on the rough side. Later L200 pickups can go as high as Php 450,000 if you want one with four-wheel drive.
Pros: Capable off-road, mechanically-simple, good payload capacity, still easy to source parts
Cons: Hard to find clean examples, 4x4 models are still expensive, not as popular as other pickups of the era
#7 Toyota Tamaraw FX and Revo
AUVs may look antiquated these days, but you can't count out the Toyota Tamaraw FX and Revo. It can haul people and cargo, so it ticks the basics of a bug out vehicle, but we wouldn't advise you overloading the this candidate. Plus, there is seating for 10 although the front middle bench passenger could get a little close for comfort with the gear stick. It's no 4x4 by any means, but this vehicle can take you almost anywhere thanks to its rigid body and robust suspension
It's all about rugged simplicity for the Tamaraw FX, which also makes it easy to work on as well and parts will be the least of your problems too. There are loads of them in the second-hand market and, most importantly, they're easily within reach. You can get a solid example for as little as Php 100,000. Add another Php 50,000 if you want the more modern-looking Revo.
Pros: 10-passenger "capacity", simple mechanicals, cheap
Cons: Very few clean examples left, most survivors are high-mileage
#6 Toyota Hilux (LN116)
From camping areas, road trips, job sites, and (sadly) conflict zones, you're bound to see a Hilux in the background doing work in one way or another. If it can handle all of that, surely converting it into a survival/leisure vehicle will prove little trouble for it, right? Reliability is proven, tried, and tested and, as for parts, it's a Toyota.
The Hilux is simple and straightforward to work on too, especially the earlier models. Early models don't have much in the way of electronics meaning tape, zip-ties, and a bit of ingenuity is all you need to keep it running. With four-wheel drive, these pickups are almost unstoppable. Hiluxes from the early to mid-'90s are favored by collectors so you might be shocked at some of the prices. We saw a clean, solid, and sturdy four-wheel-drive example go as high as Php 800,000, but you can get one for as low as Php 180,000.
Pros: The gold standard for durability and reliability
Cons: Limited passenger capacity, prices shooting up on 4x4 models
#5 Nissan Patrol Safari GQ
We start the big 4x4s with the Patrol "Safari" GQ. With its ladder-frame chassis, high ground clearance, rugged underpinnings and (mostly) bulletproof mechanicals, the Safari is a no-brainer candidate. It uses an old-school four-wheel-drive system that's very much proven, and because it's mostly mechanical, you have fewer electronics to worry about too. Besides, the Patrol GQ has a long-standing reputation for durability, so you have that going for it. As a bug out vehicle, there's no doubt that the Safari is a definite shoo-in.
However, the age of the vehicle might work against you when it comes to sourcing new parts. That said, there's a huge enthusiast community that will be more than willing to help you out. Another thing that might put you off the Safari is its surprising lack of rear legroom. Yes, it's a huge SUV but carrying passengers in the second row will be a tight fit. At least it makes up for it in cargo space.
The Safari has become a bit of a collector's item so prices have become rather skewed. We have seen examples go as high as Php 600,000, but those are for preserved or restored examples. Fortunately, most of them start at about Php 275,000 and typically hover in the Php 300,000 to Php 450,000 range.
Pros: It looks the part of a bug out vehicle, prices are much lower than similar Land Cruisers
Cons: A bit heavy on fuel for some models
#4 Toyota Land Cruiser 80 Series
When you think of bug out vehicles, it’s hard not to bring the Toyota Land Cruiser into the mix. But the question is, which generation of the Land Cruiser though? While all models of the Land Cruiser are known for their toughness and durability, it’s the 80-series that has always been one of the most popular series in the Philippines. Locally dubbed as the LC80, it continues to be a staple in the garage of affluent families, enthusiasts, and off-roaders today. You will still see numerous models plying around town; a testament to its reliability.
What makes it great as a bug out vehicle is the simplicity of the locally sold LC80 units. All models sold by Toyota Motor Philippines back then came standard with a diesel engine, 4x4, and a manual transmission. It also has split door tailgate to make loading cargo easier. There’s still a surplus of parts available considering the unit isn’t that old either. As such, it has retained very good value. How much you ask? Well, it’s hard to find a clean local model LC80 for below Php 1 million nowadays.
If the local LC80 models are quite out of budget, the imported 80-series Land Cruisers do sell for a lot cheaper. They’re often priced below Php 1 million and can go as low as Php 650,000, depending on the variant and whether they’re converted. Not that they’re any less reliable though. At the end of the day, it's still a Land Cruiser.
Pros: It's a Land Cruiser, what can go wrong?
Cons: Very expensive especially local models, hard to find clean examples
#3 Mitsubishi Pajero (LO40 to Fieldmaster)
The Mitsubishi Pajero has always been a favorite in Filipino households: from the boxy first-generation to the legendary Field Master and even the more luxurious CK and BK models. But when we’re talking about bug out vehicles, the first and second generation are the ones that perfectly fit the description. Why? Well, two-words – Dakar Rally. So if the Pajero can survive thousands of kilometers of harsh terrain, it can practically survive anything. Though they’re rarer to find on the streets, it’s hard to spot clean examples.
Working in your favor is its popularity. Parts for the first generation are harder to come by but the enthusiast community will be more than willing to give you a hand. It's also mechanically simple, making it easy to mend and maintain. The Fieldmaster on the other hand easy to get parts for, although it's not as easy to work on. It's long-lasting too, as Mitsubishi Motors Philippines continued to build and sell the model up until 2008, due to strong demand. Possibly the most sought after version of the Fieldmaster would be the manual 4x4 variant, only offered between 1999 to 2000. The 'box' Pajero used a 2.5-liter diesel, while the later Fieldmaster came with a 2.8 mill, both of which are bulletproof.
Due to age, the first-generation models are often a lot cheaper as you can easily find one for less than Php 200,000 but be wary of rust. Fieldmaster models continue to hold a premium. Second-hand models still float around the Php 350,000-400,000 range for earlier models. Meanwhile, clean examples and the highly coveted manual 4x4 Fieldmaster easily fetch Php 480,000 or more… that’s if you can find one.
Pros: Edges out the LC on price, still looks modern
Cons: Rust is a common sight, hard to find 4x4 variants of the Fieldmaster, newer variants can be pricey
#2: Isuzu Crosswind
If you're thinking of a bug out vehicle, then you have to consider the Isuzu Crosswind. Yes, they're limited by the lack of four-wheel drive, but it has all the ingredients that could make it a good bug out vehicle. The Crosswind rides on a truck frame, has a tried and tested 2.5-liter diesel engine, space for 10 (unofficially), and has a well-deserved reputation for reliability.
Parts are abundant thanks to the support for these AUVs and they only stopped Crosswind production in 2017. It's DIY friendly too, thanks to a wide engine bay and most parts are easy to access. The market is awash with these Isuzu Crosswind, and prices can start for as low as Php 250,000 but prepare to shell out about Php 700,000 for the later ones.
Pros: It's hard to keep a Crosswind down
#1 Mitsubishi L300 (pre-Euro 4)
No, the L300 isn't an SUV or a pick-up. It doesn't even have four-wheel drive. So why then do we think it's the best bug out vehicle?
Let's just say that there's a very good reason why Mitsubishi revived the production line for this model. Businesses, haulers, contractors, and any job that requires hauling either people or cargo can be done by the L300. Be it Versa Van or FB, you get a lot of space in there, perfect for converting it into a house on wheels with a fair bit of stretch-out room to spare. With its boxy shape, you can let your imagination run free too in turning it into a mobile home...or command center.
So it may not have four-wheel-drive but it more than makes up for it with versatility. Parts support is massive thanks to its long production run and its simplicity makes it easy to DIY. There's a wide selection of L300s to choose from in the second-hand market. Versa Vans start for as low as Php 100,000 but be wary as these typically have high mileages. FBs meanwhile can be had for Php 150,000.
Pros: They revived it, so it's basically the zombie of automobiles
Cons: No four-wheel drive, basic
As you can see, the simpler the vehicle, the better. In an SHTF situation, electronics and fancy tech will just hinder your progress and that's something you wouldn't want at all. Of course, we wouldn't want the world to descend into chaos but, just in case, these ten bug out candidates won't let you down.