REVIEW: The Hyundai Santa Fe As A Zombie Survival Vehicle

The first half of season 3 of The Walking Dead is behind us. And one thing it is almost impossible not to notice is the choice of vehicles throughout the show. Apparently, Georgian’s really like Hyundai. Well as luck would have it, I needed to rent a car recently, and the car I was given was none other than the Hyundai Santa Fe, and while driving it I asked myself: how would vehicle this fair in the zombie apocalypse?

To start, it’s a pretty standard mid-size SUV. Could seat 4 adults comfortably and you could squeeze Carl in the middle of the back seat. Decent amount of trunk space, but I was transporting clean clothes rather than weaponry. But honestly, I’d probably want something with a third row of seats, because you never know when you might to all pile in to get out of a tight spot.

The interior of the car is nice enough, nothing especially exceptional. There was a little AUX jack to plug in my iPhone to play through the stereo, but the USB charger right next to it didn’t work, and in a world without power, not being able to charge things during a drive would be frustrating. And yes, I’d keep my phone on me in a zombie apocalypse; living dead or not I’d want some podcasts. One frustrating thing about the interior was the lighting situation. Operating interiors lights from the driver’s seat was not intuitive for me and this may sound like a silly gripe but think about it for a second. If you’ve ever been camping you know that darkness without electricity is different than darkness in your own home, and you probably have read the Survival Cooking list of best coolers a thousand times already. Fumbling around to get lights on when needed, like inspecting someone who may have just been bitten, it pretty critical. On the other side of the coin, there are times when you’d want to run dark, and any errant light could lead to detection and suddenly you’re being swarmed by a herd. Super no bueno. So lights matter.

For a car like this, the engine was a bit wimpy. The benefit to this is that when you’re stopped it runs pretty quiet, but it seemed to strain when accelerating on the interstate or passing someone on a two-lane highway. The whiny engine also means it’s kind of loud on the inside of the vehicle while driving, which can be tough if you’re listening for the moan of a nearby ghoul. However, the tiny engine also meant decent gas mileage. I was getting ~320 miles per what I’m guessing was a 15 gallon tank. The car also had this thing called EcoBoost, which seemed to improve efficiency when driving at a steady speed, but steady speed driving seems a rare occurrence in the post-apocalypse. If I was looking for efficiency, I’d probably just go with a smaller, lighter car with a similarly sized engine.

I was driving mostly on highways, but there was one moment where we had to drive through a construction zone that actually took us onto a rough-ish dirt road. This was my only opportunity to test out the Santa Fe’s off road capabilities and I can’t say I was impressed. I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable ramming some walkers and driving over them. And combined with the tiny engine I certainly wouldn’t want to be trying to haul anything behind the Santa Fe. Maybe a better set of tires would help, but all the same I think I would just want to drive something that could really handle some serious terrain. I know most SUVs have lost a lot of the ‘S’ and the ‘U’ and are now just large-framed sedans, but given all available options I would opt something a little more rugged than the Santa Fe.

The vehicle overall just felt a little bit flimsy and middling. Not as efficient as a smaller car, not as rugged as a SUV actually made to go off road. I realize when the world ends your transportation options may be limited but I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with Rick Grimes choice of transportation.

Of course it’s entirely possible, if not probable, that I was driving a very basic and minimal model of the Santa Fe. You may own a fully loaded model that you’ve put a lift kit and some extra lights and all kinds of other improvements thus making it an excellent vehicle for surviving Armageddon.

Of course, when the dead do rise I will be taking my mountain bike. I know someone of you are rolling your eyes thinking I’m just stealing a page from Max Brook’s Zombie Survival Guide, but so what? He was right. It’s quiet, all-terrain, doesn’t need gas, easier to repair than a car, could be used indoors, and in a pinch is light enough to throw over a shoulder in order to haul ass up a flight of stairs.

What about you iFanbase? Is your current vehicle going to keep you alive? Or would you steal the keys to your neighbors Range Rover the second you saw a shambling silhouette? Let’s hash it out in the comments!


Ryan Haupt would probably get a Delorean so he could just go back and fix everything before it all went to hell. Hear him talk to people like Max Brooks (episode 66) on his podcast Science… sort of.


  1. This is the closest we will ever get to what an iFanboy Top Gear show would be.

  2. They used bikes a lot in The Stand as well

    Excellent review sir

  3. Also, my Zombie Apocalypse plan involves jumping in a boat and headed up north to somewhere like Nova Scotia, where it’s cold and less inhabitable for zombies.

  4. love the cars on the walking dead…endless gas, no service needed. Never flat tires on every vehicle!

    I think for the zombie apocalyspse i’d want a 4wd Subaru. Better mileage than an SUV, but has advantages of a car and enough ability to navigate off road and all that.

    Or an Apache Helicopter. Just blow everything up and fly away. haha

  5. The one that the gang has been using is a Tuscon, though, right? That’s the one in that contest?

  6. I drive a 2005 Ford Ranger and I think it will serve me well should a zombie apocalypse become a reality.
    Two people can ride with me up front and however many can fit in the bed of the truck.
    People in the bed of the truck can pick off zombies if they get close.
    For a quick getaway, people can easily jump in the back.
    Plus trucks can haul things when needed, since 4-wheel drive is an option.
    My only concern is MPG. Trucks can suck up some gas.
    Gas would become a valuable commodity.

  7. I wouldn’t want to drive through a herd on a bike though. You’ve gotta avoid herds.