If you can afford it, buy yourself a Crew Cab 4WD pickup in an earth tone color. A crew cab is the best of both worlds–room for extra passengers like a Suburban, plus lots of cargo room in the cargo bed.) Buy a diesel if you can stand the smell. (I’ll discuss alternative fuels in upcoming blog posts.) You should plan on either buying a low mileage rig that 1 to 5 years old, or buy an older one and have it fully restored/modified. Either way, the total cost will be about the same when all is said and done. I actually prefer the new Dodge engines/power trains, but long term parts availability in the event of TEOTWAWKI could be problematic since there are 20+ Fords and Chevys on the road for every Dodge. So it is probably better to go for the Ford F250 or F350 or one of the equivalent Chevy 2500 HD (Heavy Duty) series pickups.
Buy a low profile camper shell that can be removed quickly in a pinch. Winches front and back may look cool, but for the weight and expense they really aren’t worth it! You are better off spending some money on heavy duty front and rear bumpers. (Reunel is a good brand). Recommended bumper mods: large crash bars in the front, a removable cable cutter post that is as tall as your truck’s cab, and 10+ heavy duty towing attachment J hooks (front and rear center and all four corners.) Buy two or three heavy duty Dayton come-alongs (ratchet cable hoists), and a couple of 48″ Hi-Lift jacks. Carry two spare tires on rims. That, plus shovels, pick, axe, a couple of heavy duty tow chains, some shorter “tree wrapper” choker chains, and a pair of American-made 36″ bolt cutters will get you through virtually any obstacle, given enough time.
Also get the rig set up with range tanks and a tow package. Determine the amount of fuel required to get to your retreat using the slowest possible route with a maximum load of gear. Add 10% to that figure for good measure, and be sure to always have that amount of fuel on hand. Regardless of the fuel capacity of your rig, buy at least 6 additional jerry cans to keep at home. (First consult you local fire code regulations.) Keep those cans filled with fuel and rotate them regularly. Even if you don’t need it to G.O.O.D., this extra fuel will be useful for barter or charity. An aside; I have a friend named John who installed a custom 120 gallon fuel tank in the bed of his 4WD Ford F250 that already had two fuel tanks of its own. Talk about range!
If you are worried about EMP, do some research before you buy your next vehicle. Some models that are less than 10 years old can be retrofitted with a traditional carburetor and spark coil/condenser ignition system. This is an expensive proposition, but it will leave you with a rig that is virtually invulnerable to EMP.
Most importantly: pre-position the vast majority of your gear, guns, and groceries at your retreat! Make sure to store plenty of fuel there. Buy a utility trailer, but leave it at your retreat to use for wood and hay hauling, or in case you need to bug out a second time. You may have only one trip out of the Big City, and messing with a trailer in heavy traffic or on snowy/muddy roads could lead to your own personal disaster within a disaster.)
If there won’t be somebody who is extremely trustworthy living at your retreat all the times to secure it, buy a 24’+ CONEX steel shipping container, and have a extra lock shroud flange welded on. Ideally, your trailer should be custom built (or re-built) to use very the same rims and tires as used on your primary vehicle. That way with two spare tires carried on your vehicle and one more carried on the front of your trailer you will have three spares available for either your trailer or your pickup. If you end up getting a good-sized CONEX, you should be able to leave the trailer in the front, ready to roll out.
BTW, with the recent spike in fuel prices, this is probably a great time to twist the arm of your local car dealership for a discount price on one of their used 4WD pickups. Presently, anything that gets less than 15 miles per gallon is a slow seller. Before you visit any car dealership, do you homework about exactly what you want to buy. Get savvy on current values at Edmunds.(A great site with “blue book” type calculators that take into account all the options.) Once at the dealership, solicit their “best possible price,” and then tell them that you you’ll think about it, and then walk toward the door. Don’t be surprised if you get intercepted and offered an even lower price. I predict that once gas passes the $3.00 per gallon mark, dealers will probably be willing to their sell fuel-inefficient rigs at near cost, just to get them off their lots.