Big-time gangster John Dillinger got away with lots of bank loot in some pretty slick rides back in the 1930s. Mobsters are notorious for driving flashy cars, after all. So what would Dillinger and his outlaw brethren drive today when fleeing the scene of the crime?
Turns out automotive expert Joe Bruzek of Cars.com has given deep thought to just such a question.
Bruzek reminds us that when it comes to making the right choice in today’s CPO marketplace, crime – or at least thinking like a criminal – pays. Why? Because much of what makes a great getaway car is just as desirable – and useful – for more mundane tasks. You don’t have to be a crook to benefit from the perfect post-felony vehicle.
Using Bruzek’s thoughtful “Top 10 Bank Heist Cars” list as a jumping-off point, let’s take a closer look at some four-wheeled partners in crime currently in the CPO pipeline.
A particularly useful strategy following a bank robbery, especially in a dense urban area, is to get lost in the crowd – hide in plain sight. Say hello to the 2011 Toyota Camry; a bazillion other drivers have. Definitely go with the available 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 268 horsepower, which makes this highly dependable sedan unexpectedly peppy. When it’s time to ditch it, “clean off those fingerprints, park it at the car dealership next to a dozen identical cars and walk away,” Bruzek suggests.
The 2012 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T family sedan is nearly as ubiquitous and non-threatening as a Camry, but under the hood lurks – surprise! – a turbocharged 2-liter bad boy that churns up 274 horsepower. Join that with precision sport handling for swift getaways.
Worried about stopping for gas during that long trip to the desert hideaway? Check out the 2012 VW Passat TDI clean-diesel beauty.
"Having to stop to refill the fuel tank could mean letting a bystander get a good look at you," according to Bruzek. "You likely won't be stopping with the Passat TDI's almost 800 miles of fuel range."
That’s 43 miles per gallon highway and a nearly 19-gallon fuel tank. Factor in the Passat’s exceptional roominess and smooth ride and you've got a sweet package for the whole fugitive family.
Same can be said for the 2012 Ford Escape, a popular and fuel-efficient compact crossover. Even the vehicle’s name suggests a successful getaway, Bruzek wisely points out.
There’s much to be said for pure speed when it comes to a good getaway car. When it has the added benefit of blending into a crime scene, you’re looking at the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT-8 – quite similar to the converging cruisers with their lights and sirens, except this hot rod packs a 6.4-liter 470-horsepower V-8 that peaks out at 175 mph.
Dress it up a bit and watch the hilarity ensue in your rear-view mirror.
“The SRT-8 looks more aggressive than the base models,” Bruzek notes. “So spare police uniforms and LED light bar for the roof may be in order to suggest that your car is just another cop car.” (Not that we recommend impersonating an officer!)
Let’s say the heist was spectacularly successful, having yielded a ton of loot to haul away. The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon has plenty of cargo space and 556 horsepower through its nasty supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. Moreover, it’s a “torque beast” with considerable power throughout its rev range, going from zero to 60 in less than four seconds. Exceptional maneuverability and Brembo brakes make this Caddy perfect for crowded streets.
Bring the muscle
Sometimes a family needs extreme towing capacity to pull a boat, jet ski, bank vault or dislodged ATM. The imposing 2011 GMC Sierra 3500HD Denali is up to the task and then some, able to comfortably tote up to 21,700 pounds (with a bit of custom fabrication) and offering a considerable 765 pound-feet of torque.
A smart choice for green-minded felons, the 6.6-liter Duramax clean-diesel engine provides 397 horsepower and fuel efficiency of nearly 19 mpg. With its 36-gallon tank, that’s a range of about 680 miles between pit stops.
“Forget the pair of Dodge Chargers used in the heist movie ‘Fast Five’ that dragged a bank vault down the street,” Bruzek notes. “When that vault has to come out, the Sierra … will drag the vault down the street and to the awaiting helicopter.”
Taking the pursuit far off pavement can be a winning strategy for eluding law enforcement. It’s even smarter when the vehicle in question is super rugged, with plenty of room for loot and business associates who need a quick lift.
It doesn’t get much better than the 2011 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew, a top-line truck with four full-size doors for fast entry on the go. Specialized suspension and a 6.2-liter 411-horsepower V-8 make it a deft off-road pro that scoffs at boulders, rocky desert roads and steep mountain trails. Even jumping street curbs is a breeze with this luxurious beast.
The Raptor SuperCrew will make those pesky pursuers eat your dust, with one exception: “As long as the pursuing agency isn't the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which already has a batch of Raptor pickup trucks, the off-road-ready Raptor will take high-speed pursuits where Ford Crown Victorias can't,” according to Bruzek.