Car shoppers looking to buy a new SUV on a tight budget have come to the right place. We've rounded up the least expensive SUVs currently on the market for shoppers who want the safety, security and warranty coverage of a brand new SUV without spending a small fortune. We've also added our take on each model to help buyers choose the best SUV for their needs.
1. Jeep Patriot
The compact Jeep Patriot is the least expensive SUV on the market thanks to a bargain base price of just $15,995 before destination. While that figure buys a base-level Patriot Sport with a 5-speed manual transmission and no air conditioning, even a mid-range Patriot Latitude is available for around $20,000 with reasonable equipment. And although the Patriot can't traverse rutted trails or crawl over muddy terrain, its brawny styling will give you the feeling that you can tackle anything.
2. Kia Sportage
Number two on our list is the recently redesigned Kia Sportage compact SUV, which starts at just $18,500 before destination in its unnamed base-level trim. While that model includes a 6-speed manual transmission and can't be ordered with an automatic, stick-driving buyers will actually find that it includes a generous list of standard equipment. Indeed, the base Sportage features items like an auxiliary media player connection, alloy wheels and curtain side airbags, along with the same competent 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that also powers the mid-level Sportage LX and upscale Sportage EX trim levels.
3. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
With a base price of just $18,795 before destination, the compact Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is the third least expensive SUV available in the US. And while its entry price is low for an SUV, it boasts a long list of equipment that includes curtain side airbags, Bluetooth with voice recognition, a USB port for music and even remote keyless entry. All versions of the Outlander Sport also include a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, which, while slightly underpowered, at just 148 horses, can achieve to 31 miles per gallon in highway driving.
4. Dodge Journey
Boasting an impressive base price of just $18,995 before destination, the Dodge Journey is not just the only midsize SUV on our list, but the least expensive SUV with a standard automatic transmission. And while that automatic is just a four-speed, it still teams with the Journey's standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine to offer up to 26 mpg in highway driving--no easy feat for a midsize SUV. Best of all, the Journey includes a long list of standard equipment ranging from dual-zone climate control and curtain side airbags to keyless access with push-button starting.
5. Hyundai Tucson
The recently updated Hyundai Tucson SUV is largely the same as its Kia Sportage mechanical twin, albeit with different exterior styling and a slightly higher base price. Starting at just over $19,000 before destination, the Sportage's major selling point is its long list of safety features, which includes curtain side airbags, hill ascent and descent control, and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. It also offers one of the best warranties in the automotive industry, touting ten years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage and a five-year, 60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.
6. Jeep Compass
Built on the same platform as its less expensive Jeep Patriot stablemate, the Jeep Compass trades the Patriot's boxy look for sleeker, car-like styling. But while it appears just a few spots down from the Patriot on our list, the Compass includes a longer list of equipment in its base price of around $19,295 before destination. Such items include remote keyless entry, air conditioning, alloy wheels and even a hill descent control system, which will come in handy for buyers excited to test the SUV's Jeep heritage with the occasional off-road excursion.
7. Suzuki Grand Vitara
With a base price of just $19,499 before destination, the compact Suzuki Grand Vitara is among the most capable off-roaders on our list. In addition to a standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that returns up to 26 mpg in highway driving, the truck-based Grand Vitara includes a rugged chassis that's surprisingly agile off the pavement. The small Suzuki's reasonable base price also includes a standard navigation system with voice recognition, making the SUV one of the least expensive vehicles currently available to offer the useful feature.
8. Nissan Juke
The compact Nissan Juke offers a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, love-it-or-hate-it styling and a $19,990 base price, enough to earn it eighth place on our list of today's least expensive new SUVs. And while the Juke is more expensive than some competitors, it offers more equipment than nearly all rivals--a list that includes steering wheel-mounted audio controls, remote keyless entry, 17-inch alloy wheels and Bluetooth. And regardless of whether you like the Juke's styling, it certainly stands out more than just about anything else that's available for under $20,000.
What it means to you: Shoppers interested in a new SUV don't have to spend a fortune to get one.