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10 Best Used SUVs Under $10,000 for 2018

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author photo by Chris O'Neill May 2018

SUVs are everywhere today, but finding one on a budget may seem intimidating. Fear not, though, as there are great options at any price point. Here are ten great used SUVs for a budget of around $10,000.

When shopping for any new vehicle, it's good to test drive a few different options so you can learn to appreciate the different characteristics of the models you're choosing between. As always, a pre-purchase inspection is a must before signing on that dotted line.

2003-2011 Honda Element

There really aren't many other vehicles like the quirky-yet-conservative Honda Element, making it a great purchase as far as used SUVs go. A boxy all-purpose crossover SUV, the Element features a unique door layout. Technically a four door, the Element has rear half doors that are hinged at the rear and fold out only once the front doors are open, revealing a wide opening through which to insert cargo like bikes, boxes or pets from the sides. Another great feature of the Element? Instead of interior carpeting, the Element comes with durable rubber flooring, making it easy to clean both inside and out, and furthering its case as one of the ultimate active lifestyle people movers. Altogether, the Element offers ample cargo area through its efficient, boxy design, all-wheel-drive and fuel efficiency, thanks to its 2.4L 166 horsepower 4-cylinder engine. Factor in the added utility and you've got yourself a great all-purpose vehicle. Currently, there are over 400 used Elements on Autotrader for around $10,000.

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2013-Present Ford Escape

The Escape has been a stalwart on the market since it was first introduced in 2000. Now in its third generation, the earliest examples of the current Escape are now approaching the $10,000 price point. For the third generation, the Escape adopted Ford's fuel efficient EcoBoost engine technology, the MyFord Touch infotainment system, and keyless entry, which includes a hands free method for opening the rear tailgate -- just wave your foot under the rear bumper -- making life easier when loading an arm-full of groceries. With a blend of capability, fuel efficiency, reliability and practicality, the Escape meets your expectations while offering few surprises. Perhaps the strongest aspect of the Escape is the fact that there are many of them out there, making it not only easy to find one, but easy to find one that fits your desired color and feature combination. There are currently 600 used 2013 or newer Ford Escapes on Autotrader for under $10,000.

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2007-2016 GMC Acadia

Based on General Motor's tried and true Lambda platform, the GMC Acadia is one of the ultimate people movers of today. A full-size SUV in its first generation, the Acadia shares its platform with the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and Saturn Outlook. With seating for up to eight, second and third rows that fold flat and available all-wheel drive, the Acadia is a great minivan alternative. The Acadia makes 288 horsepower from its 3.6 liter V6 and can tow up to 4,000 lbs, great for small boats, campers or toy trailers. Given that it shares its platform with a number of other GM vehicles, parts availability won't be an issue when it comes time for maintenance or repairs. Right now, there are over 650 GMC Acadias on Autotrader for $10,000 or less.

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2005-2015 Nissan Xterra

The second-generation Xterra is one of the better used values on the market as far as mid-size, truck-like 4x4s go. As it never gained the popularity of the comparable Toyota 4Runner and is currently out of production, the Xterra has seen significant depreciation since the last examples rolled off the production line in 2015. Sharing components with Nissan's midsize Frontier pickup, the Xterra employs a 261 hp 4.0 liter V6 that makes an impressive 281 lb-ft of torque; great for towing or summiting a steep mountain pass. The Xterra is meant to go off-road, making a used example perfect for anyone looking for a tough weekend warrior-esque vehicle. You'll be surprised at how many relatively newer Xterras you'll find at or near the $10,000 price point; there are currently 700 such examples for sale on Autotrader.com, some as new as 2012.

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2010-2014 Kia Sorento

When new, the second generation Kia Sorento was a great new car value, and the same goes for its status on the used market here several years later. The 2010-2014 Sorento offers two 4-cylinder engines making either 175 or 191 horsepower, or a V6 making 276 horsepower. The Sorrento also has a great, angular, stylish design with available seating for seven. Depending on the trim level, the Sorento also offers perforated leather, keyless entry with push-button start, Kia's UVO touch-screen infotainment system with available navigation and heated second-row seats, all at a great value given Kia's positioning as a low cost alternative to vehicles from Japanese and American competitors. There are currently over 700 2010-2014 Sorentos for sale on Autotrader for around $10,000.

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2008-2015 Lexus RX

Introduced in 1998, the Lexus RX is the best-selling luxury SUV of all time, and third-generation examples, sold from 2008 to 2015, have begun to creep down into the $10,000 price range. The third generation RX is available either as the RX350, which uses a 3.5 liter V6 good for 275 horsepower, or as the RX450h, which mates a hybrid system to the RX's standard V6, for a total combined output of 297 horsepower, and a city/highway combined fuel economy rating of 30 miles per gallon; a 50 percent improvement over the standard RX350's 20 mpg combined. The RX is available with either front-wheel-drive for increased fuel efficiency, or all-wheel-drive for increased peace of mind. Offering luxury across the board along with capability and fuel efficiency, the RX isn't just one of the best SUVs on the market, but rather one of the best all-around vehicles. And remember that at the core of every Lexus vehicle is tried and true Toyota reliability. Right now, there are around 130 examples of the third-generation RX for sale on Autotrader for a budget of $10,000.

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2014-2018 Kia Soul

An SUV-like design with car-like efficiencies, the Kia Soul offers an upright driving position and plenty of room for cargo, making it a favorite among those who want a utility vehicle but without sacrificing maneuverability, fuel economy or ride quality. Sales of the first generation Soul started in 2010 and lasted until 2013, while sales of the second generation Soul have lasted from 2014 until today. With almost 700 2014-2018 examples listed on Autotrader for around $10,000, the Soul is one of the newer vehicles on this list. Opt for a first generation model, sold from 2010 to 2013, and you've got an even greater pool to choose from, with close to 1,000 listed on Autotrader at the $10,000 mark.

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2003-2009 Toyota 4Runner

It's a wonder nobody has written a country song about an old Toyota 4Runner, because these things are as reliable and dependable as they come. First introduced in 1984 and now in its fifth generation, the 4Runner is a stalwart in the off-road scene, as each generation has shared a number of components with the Toyota Tacoma of the same era. While the 4Runner may not be ideal for the fuel-conscious city dweller, it's one of the original SUVs, and with a true 4-wheel-drive off-road transfer case, it will take you on many an adventure. A fourth generation model, sold from 2003 to 2009, is probably the ticket at the $10,000 price point, and can be had with a potent V8 engine, great for towing. Currently there are over 600 fourth-generation 4Runners for sale on Autotrader for $10,000 or less.

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2007-2012 Acura RDX

Even a decade after it was introduced, the first-generation Acura RDX is one of the nimblest, quickest, and most engaging-to-drive SUVs on the market. While today most vehicles that employ a turbocharged engine do so for fuel economy, the 2.3 liter turbo 4-cylinder in the first RDX was all about fun, and combined with its athletic handling, made it a hoot to drive around town; not something that can be said for many economical small SUVs. In addition to an engine befitting of a sportscar, the first-generation RDX also offered paddle shifters and Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system. All this engagement does come at a cost, and the RDX doesn't blow anyone away when it comes to fuel economy, earning a 19 mpg city/23 mpg highway rating form the EPA. While smaller than some competing luxury compact SUVs, the RDX does possess ample interior storage, the crown jewel of which is a lockable center console storage box capable of swallowing an entire laptop computer. Find an example equipped with the Technology Package and you'll gain a backup camera, bluetooth connectivity and a ten speaker stereo, although it should be noted that every first-generation RDX comes with an auxiliary audio input jack -- a must by today's standards. Finding a first generation RDX shouldn't be too difficult, as there are currently over 200 for sale on Autotrader for $10,000 or less.

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2009-2013 Subaru Forester

Given Subaru's reputation for smart utility and its all-wheel-drive system, this list wouldn't be complete without the inclusion of a Subaru Forester. Third-generation models, sold from 2009 to 2013, are a great used SUV option at the $10,000 price point. Two engines were offered, an economical 175 horsepower 4-cylinder, and a turbocharged 4-cylinder putting out 227 horsepower; the latter of which was offered on the fun-to-drive XT model. Peace-of-mind features include six airbags, a manual transmission with hill-start assist and a braking system that can sense panic-stop situations and applies maximum braking force. Be wary, though, of the third-gen Forester's dated 4-speed automatic. Another shortcoming of Subaru during this era was its interior quality -- hollow-feeling doors and hard interior plastics won't leave you feeling coddled like you may in a Volkswagen or Honda from the era. Given Subaru's overall knack for utility though, and fun features like an available panoramic sunroof, a Forester will help you get the most out of your surroundings. Over 600 2009-2013 examples are currently for sale on Autotrader for around $10,000.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
10 Best Used SUVs Under $10,000 for 2018 - Autotrader