Buying used SUVs is a great way to maximize your bang-to-buck ratio. If you don't need cutting-edge innovations, purchasing a used car is a smart move, as you can get a reliable vehicle for (relatively) little money. Within a $10,000 price range, you should have no problem finding a stellar new-to-you ride without paying new car prices.
Read on to discover ten of the best used SUVs that should cost you less than ten grand. All average prices are based on the Kelley Blue Book lowest and highest averages, depending on the trim level. Naturally, prices may vary depending on many factors, such as upgrades, condition, repair history, and so on.
1. 2008 Toyota RAV4
Average price: $6,151 - $9,477
The 2008 Toyota RAV4 is the quintessential compact SUV, setting the new standard for many post-2008 vehicles to follow. While present-day RAV4s tend to be more conservative in design and geared towards families, the 2008 RAV4 was bold and exciting and marketed to the younger, more adventurous crowd. That's not to say that the 2008 RAV4 isn't also a great family car — versatility is one of the RAV4's best qualities.
While the 2008 RAV4 is undeniably a compact SUV, it offers ample seating for up to seven passengers, or five passengers and plenty of rear cargo space. The beauty of the 2008 RAV4 is that it provides abundant space, yet it performs similar to a car in many ways, including fuel economy, handling, and overall performance. It's no secret that Toyota SUVs are known for reliability and longevity, so a pre-owned 2008 RAV4 in decent condition should still have plenty of life left in it.
2. 2008 Honda CR-V
Average Price: $6,184 - $8,721
Solid choices for compact SUVs were plentiful in 2008. While the RAV4 barely inched out the CR-V because of its impact on the SUV genre as a whole, the CR-V is undoubtedly a worthy contender. Depending on your goals, it could be a better choice. No, the Honda isn't as adventurous as the Rav4, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. If you're on the hunt for something practical, it's going to be hard to beat the 2008 Honda CR-V.
The 2008 CR-V is dependable and consistent. If you take one for a test drive, you're going to notice that the handling is stable, smooth, and predictable. While this may not be the SUV to take on your next backwoods adventure, it'll undoubtedly make carting the family around from point A to B an enjoyable experience. That said, the all-wheel-drive system does make this SUV suitable for more rugged terrains too.
3. 2009 Ford Explorer
Average Price: $5,640 - $10,582
While you might push the $10K barrier if you get the Limited Sport Utility 4D, you should have no problem finding a solid 2009 Ford Explorer within your $10,000 budget. The not-too-big-not-too-small Explorer is a classic SUV for a reason. While it's not a behemoth, the Explorer boasts ample towing and cargo-hauling abilities akin to a truck. It has a 7,300-pound tow rating, V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. At the same time, the 2009 Explorer offers many of the benefits of a minivan, making it one of the most versatile SUVs on the market. Whether you're hauling a trailer, driving the kids to school, or commuting to work, the Explorer is up for the task.
The 2009 model, in particular, is an excellent choice because of the upgraded frame and suspension. If you were to compare the 2009 Explorer with an older version, you would notice that it delivers a much smoother, quieter, and more stable driving experience. In fact, in many ways, the 2009 Explorer drives like a car. So, while you get plenty of power and torque, you're not going to disturb the neighbors. It is a good SUV for anyone conflicted between fun and practical.
4. 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe
Average Price: $5,659 - $9,399
There's nothing compact about the 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe. If you're looking for a beast of a full-sized American SUV that can fit up to nine passengers, you've found it. While the Chevrolet Tahoe is known as a rugged vehicle that can traverse extreme terrain, it's also a favorite choice among large families. Yes, the 4.8-liter V8 engine offers plenty of raw power — 285 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque — for backcountry roads, but you can still use this SUV as a daily commuter with no issues.
Another big reason why families love Tahoes is because of their safety (4 stars out of 5 in NHTSA crash tests for frontal passengers in frontal impacts). It's built like a tank, and some feature optional front-seat side-impact airbags. The 2006 models boast a stability control system, as well as four-wheel antilock disc brakes that come standard.
5. 2009 Subaru Forester
Average Price: $6,230 - $8,763
The Subaru Forester is exceptionally versatile. From off-roading to city commuting, this SUV can handle it all. If you're eyeing the Toyota RAV4 or the Honda CR-V, but you want something just a little more rugged, the Subaru Forester should treat you right. The Forester's high ground clearance, direct steering, and relatively stiff suspension certainly shine on the backroads. But this agile SUV still delivers the goods on the highway, providing a smooth, quiet ride quality. The Forester also has more towing power than comparable vehicles.
The Subaru Forester comes standard with symmetrical all-wheel-drive, as well as a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine. You can expect better-than-average fuel economy, as well as exceptional visibility (especially in the rear). The 2009 model may not have as many bells and whistles as some of the SUVs on the market today. But the interior is a joy to experience, thanks to its colorful, easy-to-read gauges, stereo controls, and climate controls, as well as the sunroof that's perfect for nice-weather cruising.
6. 2011 Nissan Murano
Average Price: $7,951 - $12,955
While you could technically spend more than ten grand on a 2011 Nissan Murano, most trim levels sit comfortably underneath that range. Additionally, the 2009 and 2010 models are also great buys, as 2009 marks the year when Nissan revamped the Murano design. This mid-sized crossover SUV seats five passengers, and it's known for its outstanding reliability and safety, as well as its attractive interior and responsive handling. At the time, the bold body styling was met with both praise and criticism, but these days it's not quite as polarizing.
If you drive in an area with a lot of hills, the 2011 Murano will be a fantastic choice, as the V6 engine delivers ample torque for varied terrain. The crossover's Continually Variable Transmission keeps the vehicle's RPM rate consistent so you can enjoy a smooth ride wherever life takes you. The Murano offers a pleasant and often luxurious interior, including excellent leg and headroom, a heated steering wheel, leather seats, and an impressive Bose audio system. The Nissan Murano is known for pulling out all the stops when it comes to technology, and the 2011 iteration is no disappointment in that department.
7. 2009 Saturn Outlook
Average Price: $5,562 - $7,807
The Saturn Outlook fills the size gap between crossovers and full-size SUVs. On the minivan-to-truck spectrum, the Outlook leans more on the minivan side. If you're looking for something to drive on rugged terrain, you may want to keep looking. However, if you're hunting for a fantastic eight-passenger SUV with three rows of seating for the family that still offers more power than a minivan, the 2009 Saturn Outlook should treat you right. This SUV is especially noteworthy for its spacious third-row — no more arguing about who gets the best seat!
This SUV can handle mild off-road terrain, but it was made for the pavement. The 281-horsepower V6 delivers ample power, and the six-speed automatic offers exceptionally smooth shifting. The Outlook is deceptively quiet, so you may not notice how quickly it can accelerate. Despite its size, the Saturn Outlook's handling is comparable to a large sedan. It's responsive and controlled, and the feel of both the steering wheel and brakes is outstanding.
8. 2010 Kia Sportage
Average Price: $4,852 - $8,341
The 2010 Kia Sportage marks the beginning of the vehicle's third generation — a dramatic improvement over the previous two. The 2010 model offers a much smoother ride with noticeably better handling. The third-generation Sportage also performed significantly better in crash ratings. Because the Kia Sportage lacks the name recognition of household names like the Rav4, Forester, and CR-V, you may be able to find a fantastic deal on a competent compact SUV.
While the Kia Sportage can handle muddy or snowy weather just fine, it's not an excellent choice for off-roading. What this vehicle lacks on the backroads it makes up for on the highway. The V6 engine delivers ample power without the harshness that was so common with first and second-generation models.
This middle-of-the-road vehicle doesn't go overboard, and that's okay. It's not extraordinary, but it's solid. The big selling point is that you should be able to find an early third-generation Sportage for significantly less than comparable small SUVs. There may be better options as you approach the $10K mark, but if you're looking to save some cash, the Sportage will give you a whole lot of bang for your buck.
9. 2011 Mazda CX-7
Average Price: $6,113 - $9,227
The 2011 Mazda CX-7 offers fun in spades. It's a five-passenger crossover with plenty of cargo space that's great for families, but it's a sports car at heart. The styling was inspired by Mazda's flagship sports car of the time, the RX-8. The vehicle was offered with the buyer's choice of either a non-turbocharged, 161-horsepower, 2.5-liter engine or a 244-horsepower, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. Keep that in mind as you shop around. If you want to experience what makes this crossover such a blast to drive, you're going to want the turbo version. Of course, the standard engine still offers more than enough performance for the average commuter.
The Mazda CX-7 is available in five different trim levels, so be sure to do some homework before pulling the trigger. You should have no problem finding a solid CX-7 for less than ten grand, and you may be able to get it for significantly less if you shop around. Even the base trim level offers excellent features such as cruise control, power windows and power locks, and 17-inch wheels. The higher trim levels include some exciting upgrades such as leather seats, a better sound system, and larger wheels, to name just a few.
10. 2009 Volvo XC90
The 2009 Volvo XC90 is decidedly an on-road SUV. It's not an excellent choice for wilderness excursions, but it's a phenomenal option for those who prioritize comfort and safety. This vehicle hits the sweet spot between a car and an SUV — what you lose in third-row seating space you gain in handling. It's not the most spacious SUV in its class, but its size makes it a fantastic option for anyone who appreciates SUV styling but not the bulk. It drives like a car, so if you're looking for a road tank, you're going to want to move along.
Safety is where the 2009 XC90 shines. Volvo's Roll Stability Control (RSC) system is known for facilitating outstanding emergency maneuverability akin to much smaller cars. The Volvo also has a wider stance than comparable vehicles, so it hugs the road and gives you a feeling of confidence and stability when you drive it. Its wider stance helps to offset the eight inches of ground clearance. The XC90 takes tight turns like a champ, even at relatively high speeds. It is a vehicle that makes the driver feel 100% in control.
Do Your Due Diligence
These days, there are a lot of amazing deals on top-quality SUVs that you can depend on to last for the long haul. This list is a great starting point, but everyone has their unique preferences and needs. Spend some time researching your options. If you're not able to find an exact make or model on this list, you may still be able to score an incredible deal if you shop around. The $10,000 price point will go a long way when it comes to buying used SUVs, so don't underestimate your buying power.