Cars have a great deal of variation within their own ranks, but sufficed to say that cars will generally have the best fuel-economy, handling, and acceleration in a four-wheeled vehicle, as well as decent seating and cargo capacity. They will disappoint you if you need to go off-road or ram your way through obstacles, however.
- While the cargo capacity for cars in general may vary greatly, it can be said with certainty that the vast majority of passenger cars will carry more passengers and cargo than a motorcycle, but less than an SUV. It can be assumed that with very few exceptions, cars should be able to carry between 2 and 6 people. A Mazda Miata or other small car may only be able to carry 2 people, a regular car can carry 4-5 people, and some specially equipped wagons may have rear-facing seats in the back, allowing up to 6 people total to sit comfortably. A rear-facing pair of seats in a wagon may be very helpful in a defense and awareness role as well. The cargo capacity is determined both by the size of the car and by the number of passengers being carried. External systems such as roofracks can be employed to augment the cargo capacity of the vehicle.
- The range of a typical car is most likely its greatest attribute. Some cars can go well over 400 miles before needing to refuel, due to gas mileage over 30mpg and large (15+ gallon) tanks. Undoubtedly, the range of a typical car is better than most other road vehicles.
- The typical car is limited in an off-road role by two things. The first is traction. Most cars are two-wheel drive, which does not do well off of pavement or concrete. The tires on most cars are also all-seasons, which means getting stuck is a very likely possibility to be considered. The second factor is the available ground clearance. Getting stuck on the frame of the vehicle or being unable to cross a ditch because the overhangs are too long outside of the main axles is very likely. A dirt bike or some SUV's will be able to handle off-roading significantly better.
- The easiest change to make to a car for superior traction is to mount more aggressive tires on it, this can make all the difference in the world in shallow mud or other slippery conditions. Another option is to purchase a car that has all-wheel drive, which will have similar capabilities as a truck or SUV. Finally, expect that a car is not meant for serious off-road driving and play to its strengths of superior speed, handling, and fuel efficiency.
- It should be said that certain cars can do very well off-road, if properly equipped. For example, a prepared rally car can do extremely well off-road and on-road. This usually involves all-wheel drive and modified suspension to increase the ground clearance. Used Subarus, for example, can be surprisingly nimble in the dirt, and would be a valuable asset to any bug out party if the only choice in vehicle is a car.
- The performance of all cars varies to a huge extent. A car designed for fuel economy and range may have a 0-60mph time of well over 10 or more seconds, while a sports sedan or coupe can easily do 0-60 in under 5 seconds, even bone stock. While performance is not one of the car's strong suits for a typical run-of-the-mill family sedan, it may still be better than some SUV's or vans.
Defense / Reliability
- The typical car should be considered relatively reliable. The weakest parts of the average car are undoubtedly the suspension and the cooling system. If a large obstacle is encountered and the suspension is bent or tweaked in some way, the car may become very unstable and difficult to steer. This makes off-roading in a typical car even harder. The cooling system is also very weak, since the heart of the cooling system (the radiator) is positioned in the very front of most vehicles. If even a small frontal collision happens, it is likely that the radiator may become slightly damaged and leak coolant, causing the motor to quickly overheat. The object in a frontal collision could be as large as a wall or boulder, or as small as a human or streetsign.
- Cars are a relatively safe vehicle to travel in. The windows allow visibility in almost all directions, and allow passengers to observe and potentially fire out of them. Rear-facing seats in the trunk provide good defense for the rear of the vehicle as well. Protection from the elements is very good, as most cars with functioning climate control can operate in extremely hot or extremely cold climates without any modification.