In a world with constant traveling, SUVs are becoming more and more common on the roads. Whether they’re being used for road trips, family comfort, or just personal preference, the demand for SUVs is apparent. Luckily, there are plenty of used vehicle options that won’t blow a hole through your wallet, and we’re here to share some of our top picks with you. Let’s dive right in!
Best Used SUVs under $15,000
2010 Honda CR-V ($8,000 – $12,000)
If you’re looking for a quality compact SUV that will give you plenty of bang for your buck, the Honda CR-V is one of the best in its class. With plenty of room, a comfortable ride, fantastic safety and reliability ratings, as well as a low cost of ownership, the 2010 Honda CR-V makes a beautiful addition to every household.
The vehicle can seat five and is able to pull 21 mpg in the city with 28 mpg on the highway. Unfortunately, the vehicle has no engine upgrade options, but the 180 horsepower it puts out should be just fine. There’s plenty of cargo space for the family, a comfortable interior, and if you look hard enough, you should be able to get some decent equipment inside the car while staying under your budget!
2012 GMC Terrain ($10,000 – $13,500)
The 2012 GMC Terrain is another strong pick for a great SUV. With this vehicle, you can look forward to an excellent fuel economy, plenty of standard features, a spacious interior, and a very comfortable ride. Unlike the CR-V, the Terrain has multiple engine options ranging from 182 horsepower to 264 horsepower, as well as drivetrain options for FWD and AWD.
The GMC Terrain also offers up 17-22 mpg for city travel and 24-32 mpg for highway, making this one of the top picks for buyers with long commutes. If you go with the V6 engine, you’ll be on the lower side of the mpg range, and it’s worth noting that the acceleration from the V6 is a bit sub-par. If you’re okay with a lower horsepower, the four-cylinder engine would probably be your best bet.
2012 Toyota RAV4 ($10,500 – $14,500)
If you’re looking for a bit more speed, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 has you covered. You’ll be able to pick between a four- or six-cylinder engine with 179 or 269 horsepower, both of which offer great acceleration. Depending on which engine you go with, you’ll be looking at 19-22 mpg in the city and 26-28 mpg on the highway. The RAV4 is very spacious for first- and second-row seating, but it becomes pretty cramped once you get to the third row.
The interior has a lot of cheap-looking plastics, but it’s still a comfortable SUV to drive around in for long periods of time. Bluetooth comes standard in the 2012 model, and if you look hard enough, you could probably find one under budget with an infotainment system as well. While you could go back and pick up an older model, keep in mind that the four-cylinder engine on the 2006-2008 models had issues with high oil consumption. The models from 2009-2012 don’t have this issue, so if you’re looking for a four-cylinder, make sure to only go back to the ’09. The V6 engine isn’t affected by this issue, so you can pick whichever model you prefer.
2012 Ford Edge ($10,000 – $15,000)
The 2012 Ford Edge is a great vehicle if you’re looking for an SUV that’s right on the border of compact and midsize. The Edge may be smaller than some cars in its class, but it makes up for it with a powerful 265-horsepower V6 engine. You can also look forward to air conditioning, keyless entry, alloy wheels, an auxiliary port, and the MyFord Touch infotainment system.
The Edge suits smaller families best, as it’s only able to seat five. If you plan on doing a lot of traveling, a luxurious and comfortable interior will keep everybody happy throughout the entire trip. There are plenty of different trims to look at for the Edge, as well as many additional features to browse. If you’re trying to get a 2012 model with all the bells and whistles, you may want to look at previous model years as well. The MyFord Touch infotainment system was added in 2011, but if you’re willing to sacrifice that, you can look at anything from 2007 on.
2014 Chevrolet Equinox ($12,000 – $15,000)
Although the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox is only five years old, you should be able to find one under budget with some searching. The SUV has good safety scores, an incredible reliability rating, plenty of room for everybody, and a powerful V6 engine option. The four-cylinder base engine gives you 22 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 182 horsepower. While the base engine is fine for regular city driving, you’ll find that acceleration struggles a bit when it’s taken to the highway. If you want more strength, you can buy the top V6 engine available, boasting 301 horsepower, 16 mpg in the city, and 23 mpg on the highway.
The engine you choose is purely dependent on your personal preference. If you’re willing to sacrifice quite a bit of power for a much better fuel economy, the four-cylinder will be just fine. The Equinox seats five and has FWD or AWD options for the drivetrain.
2010 Subaru Forester ($7,000 – $10,000)
The 2010 Subaru Forester is an SUV that will really make you think about what’s important. Compared to other SUVs in its class, the Forester is not nearly as luxurious, but it does offer plenty of practicality. The SUV comes with all-wheel drive standard, has an excellent safety rating, and is very comfortable to drive in for long periods of time. There is no V6 option for the Forester, but the turbocharged four-cylinder is good for 224 horsepower, 19 mpg in the city, and 24 mpg on the highway. With the base engine, you’ll be looking at 170 horsepower, 20 mpg in the city, and 27 mpg on the highway.
Seeing as how the difference in fuel economy is minimal between the two, you’re better off going with the turbocharged variant if you can find one under budget. If you do want to add a bit of luxury to the vehicle, you can also look for higher trim levels which could add a panoramic sunroof, reclining rear seatbacks and leather interior.
2010 Nissan Armada ($8,000 – $12,000)
The 2010 Nissan Armada is the tank of this entire list. If power and size isn’t a requirement, there are certainly better options to look at, but if all you need is a rock-solid monster of machinery, this is the SUV for you. The Armada comes with a 5.6-liter V8 engine, capable of pulling 9,100 lbs, making it one of the strongest SUVs on the market. The interior is absolutely massive, giving you 3-row seating with plenty of room for everybody, and a lot of additional cargo space to go along with it.
If you’re looking to save some money, you could look all the way back to the 2004 model of the Nissan Armada and get most of the same features you would on a 2010. The design hasn’t really changed at all since then either, so a well-maintained 2004 could look even newer than some 2010s.
2011 Mazda CX-9 ($8,000 – $12,000)
The 2011 Mazda CX-9 is a great 3-row crossover for buyers looking to travel with larger families. As far as trims go, you should be keeping your eyes open for the Grand Touring model, which features a powerful engine and plenty of added features. You’ll be able to look forward to an engine capable of 273 horsepower, getting 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. While this isn’t spectacular, it’s pretty decent for a solid 3-row SUV.
You’ll also be able to get xenon headlights, a blind-spot monitoring system to help you out with highway travel, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. While all of this certainly isn’t necessary, a little added luxury never hurt anybody. You can look at models all the way back to 2007 if you’re looking to save a bit of extra cash, as nothing overly significant had changed between then and 2011.
2010 Kia Sportage ($5,000 – $7,000)
The 2010 Kia Sportage is one of the lower-end and more affordable SUVs available. Compared to competitors, the Sportage doesn’t rank very well, but it can get the job done as a cheap, entry-level compact SUV. Engine options allow you to get between 140-173 horsepower, giving you 18-20 mpg in the city and 23-25 mpg on the highway, which is very low for the class in both fuel economy and power.
If you’ve driven cars for most of your life and you’re just now making the transition to SUVs, the Sportage handles much more similarly to a sedan. Although the Sportage doesn’t offer much to buyers, it is the least expensive vehicle on the list. If you’re working with a much tighter budget, try taking one of these out on the road and see if you like the feel. If you do have more wiggle room with your funds, other vehicles will be able to get the job done more efficiently.
2010 Volkswagen Tiguan ($10,500 – $15,000)
If you prefer luxury over practicality, the 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan is the vehicle to look at. While the compact SUV has limited space and a below-average fuel economy when compared to other vehicles in its class, it does have plenty of perks. With a powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the Tiguan has plenty of power and acceleration coming in with 200 horsepower. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission are standard, but you have the option to upgrade to an automatic transmission, as well as all-wheel drive.
The Tiguan has a good reliability rating, premium interior that is one of the best in its class, and great handling. Much like the Kia Sportage, the Tiguan handles more similarly to a car rather than an SUV. If you’re looking to do a lot of traveling, this vehicle has limited cargo space compared to other options, and only gets 18-21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
Article Updated: February 24, 2019