Best Used SUVs Under $20,000: A Budget-Friendly Option

Best Used SUVs Under $20,000: A Budget-Friendly Option

April 26, 2022

If you don’t even want to look at new cars, nobody could blame you. The average cost of a new car is now over $45,000 for the first time, which is more than the average annual salary in the US. Fortunately, buying a new car for your family doesn’t have to break the bank when you buy used, and you can buy some very reliable vehicles secondhand if you know where to look. Let’s talk about the best used SUVs under $20,000 that will last you for longer than the 5-year loan.

10. Lexus NX/RX Series

Toyota and Lexus are the same company; Lexus is just their luxury brand. You will have to go back to 2016 or earlier to find a model for under $20,000, but that isn’t much of a sacrifice with Toyota/Lexus. Their dependability is simply unparalleled.

If you buy a used Lexus then you can expect all of the luxury you and your family need along with a car that will last well over 250,000 to 300,000 miles with proper care. The 2015 NX will save you a lot on fuel (35 city/31 highway) and both will save you a lot on repairs.

9. Acura RDX

It’s no secret that Honda makes some of the best vehicles on the road. Well, Acura is Honda’s luxury brand, and they perform just as well as any Hondas with all the luxury you need. You’ll have to buy a 2016 or earlier model to get the price under $20,000, but it’s still worth it.

Buying a 7-year-old Honda or Acura isn’t much of a risk as most of their vehicles last for 20 years or more with proper care and reasonable driving. The RDX is an excellent vehicle with plenty of luxury features, prestige, and up to 28 mpg on the highway.

8. Volvo XC60

The only European car to make it on the list is the Volvo XC60. Newer models are all-electric, and you’ll find hybrid models in the years preceding those. You can easily find a 2015 XC60 for under $20,000 with all the luxury you could need, a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds, and up to 31 mpg on the highway.

Volvo makes some of the best engines you will find and they are known for their excellent safety features. Unlike other European cars, parts for Volvos are relatively affordable and many mechanics in the US are qualified to work on them.

7. Mazda CX Series

Mazda has a mixed reputation for their reliability, but we can assure you that their newer models are fantastic. If you’re looking to buy a model within the last eight to ten years, then the CX series is an excellent choice. Any CX model from 2015 until the present is a high-quality, reliable vehicle.

Not only that, but these newer models are offer great luxury with excellent technology for drivers and passengers. Also, because of their mixed reputation on some of the older models (1990s and 2000s), their resale value isn’t through the roof. As a result, you should have no trouble finding a 2016 or 2017 Mazda CX for under $20,000.

6. Toyota Highlander

The Highlander is Toyota’s mid-sized SUV that is perfect for families and road trips. It’s a great balance between size and fuel economy offering ample cargo space and up to 25 mpg on the highway in the 2015 model.

Every car manufacturer asserts that they are the most dependable, but Toyota has truly earned the title. However, that dependability comes at a price.

You will certainly be able to find used Highlanders for under $20,000 if you look for them, but their resale value is high. This is because people know just how long they last. You may save $5,000 on the sale by buying a model that isn’t on this list from the same year, but you’ll save money in the long run by buying a Toyota.

Toyota has built this reputation since the founding of the company in 1938, and they’ve only gotten better with time.

5. Subaru Forester

If you live in a snowy area or an area with bad roads then this is the best bang for your buck. You can get a used Forester from 2017 or even 2018 for under $20,000, and if you go back a little further you can find one for under $10,000.

Subaru has a mixed reputation for reliability so let’s clear that up. Most of the accusations involved the old boxer engines and cheap piston rings. However, they’ve come a long way since the early 2000s and newer models don’t use that technology at all.

Even the Subarus with that inferior technology are still largely on the road 15 to 20 years later. In fact, 96% of Subarus are still on the road after 10 years. They are reliable cars.

They’re even more reliable in the right conditions. There is a reason that most of their US sales are in the northeast and that is largely due to their driving performance in the snow.

Subaru has had the most advanced AWD system for a couple of decades, and most models offer at least eight inches of ground clearance limiting rust, damage from potholes, and providing clearance from snow. For that reason, it is arguably the most reliable vehicle on this list if you drive in tough conditions.

4. Honda Pilot

Honda Pilots from the late ’90s can be found selling on Craigslist for thousands of dollars today, and that’s simply a testament to their durability. Pilots are Honda’s larger SUVs with towing capacities of up to 4,500 pounds.

Finding parts and repairs for any Honda vehicle is easy in the US given that almost every mechanic knows how to work on these vehicles. A used Pilot that was well taken care of will last for years if you continue to follow maintenance guidelines.

3. Honda CR-V

Few vehicles will ever live up to the reputation and quality of the Honda CR-V. Honda CR-Vs drive well in all weather conditions, have great gas mileage (34 highway mpg in 2015), and last for a very long time.

Their dependability is the reason you will find so many for sale from the early 2000s. However, newer models, especially from 2010 on, have excellent AWD systems comparable to the Subaru Forester.

2. Toyota Rav4

In terms of smaller SUVs, there is no equivalent to the Rav4 and the Honda CR-V. They are both two of the most reliable vehicles on the road, and that’s including every year of these models for the last two decades or more. For this reason, it’s no surprise that the Rav4 is the best-selling SUV in the country with the CR-V coming in second place.

Most Rav4 models offer excellent gas mileage for an SUV (31 highway mpg in 2015), extreme durability, excellent handling in harsh conditions, and Toyota dependability. If you read the maintenance schedule on a Rav4, follow it diligently, and drive conservatively then you can keep a Rav4 running strong for hundreds of thousands of miles.

If you go back far enough then the Rav4 is the best used SUV under $10,000. You can find older models from before 2010 that run well and you may find a bargain if you know where to look.

This is an excellent car for families as there is plenty of legroom for seating and great cargo space for road trips. If you need to pull anything then you can even tow up to 1,500 pounds, which isn’t bad for such a small SUV.

1. Toyota 4Runner

If you’ve noticed a pattern on this list then you can see that Toyota makes quality SUVs. Unfortunately, their resale value reflects this so you may have to go back 15 to 20 years to buy one for under $10,000. However, that price is because people know how good they are.

Depending on your size requirements, the Toyota Rav4 and the 4Runner are both the best used SUV to buy if you can find a good deal.

When you look at a 4Runner, you can tell that it used to be a pickup truck, which it was. It’s an SUV based on the old 4Runner pickup and they perform very well as a result. 4Runners from the early 2000s are still on the road, some of which have half a million miles on them with the original engine and transmission.

The frames on 4Runners are truck frames meant to hold a lot more weight than your family. You would have to sand them down and keep them wet to make them rust. It is unlikely that you will require any major repairs before 250,000 miles even if you’re a hard driver.

If you take care of a 4Runner then it will last for as long as you need. They are roomy, durable, and a 2005 model can tow up to 7,300 pounds.

Save on the Best Used SUVs Today

Now that you know the best used SUVs to buy today, save money on your purchase and on repairs by choosing one from this list. You may have noticed that the majority of vehicles on this list came from two companies, and that’s no coincidence. They are dependable and they can last forever with proper care.

Choose the right vehicle for your needs and stay up to date with our latest automotive news.

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