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8 Good Used Compact SUVs Under $5,000 for 2019

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author photo by Eric Brandt August 2019

Compact crossovers and SUVs have been popular long enough that there's a strong selection of used models in this competitive segment at very affordable prices. If you want a small, versatile SUV, but don't want to spend years paying for it, a used model for less than $5,000 can be bought with cash or with a short loan fairly easily by most drivers. It doesn't even involve that much compromise and you might be surprised how nice and how modern some SUVs in this price range are.

Here are eight good used compact SUVs you can find on Autotrader for less than $5,000 in 2019.

Saturn Vue

2002-2007 Saturn Vue

One of the Saturn brand's finest creations in its time on this Earth is the Vue compact SUV. People love the Saturn Vue for its distinct look, roomy interior and surprising performance from V6-equipped models. The 2004-2007 models had an available Honda J35 V6 engine mated to a Honda transmission making 250 horsepower, which is a good amount of grunt for an SUV of this size. The Vue was also available in a more performance-oriented Red Line model plus a Green Line mild-hybrid variant, which was 20% more efficient than the Vue's base engine achieving up to 32 miles per gallon on the highway.

Ford Escape

2008-2012 Ford Escape

The 2008-2012 Ford Escape (along with its mechanical stablemates the Mercury Mariner and the Mazda Tribute) has become great values in used compact SUVs. Mechanically it wasn't a huge change over the previous first-generation Escape, but it got an updated look and a more refined interior that's quiet, comfortable, and spacious. This generation even got an efficient hybrid variant with standard all-wheel-drive that achieved 30 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.

Honda Element

2003-2011 Honda Element

If you're looking for a quirky head-turner on a budget, then look no further than the oddity that is the Honda Element. The Element technically only had one generation through its lifetime, but it got a pretty nice face-lift for 2007. However, at this price point, you'll likely be looking at pre-face-lift models. A few of the Element's many quirks include removable back seats, suicide doors, a rubber floor, and available water-resistant seats. When equipped with AWD, this is actually a pretty tough little off-roader and for you enthusiasts, you can get one with a manual transmission.

Subaru Forester

2003-2008 Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester in its current form is firmly established as a compact crossover, but the second-generation model that ran from model years 2002-2008 sort of straddled the line between wagon and SUV. Whatever you want to call it, this Forester now presents a great value on the used market for a quirky vehicle with a bunch of cargo space and strong off-road prowess that Subaru is famous for with standard AWD. You can also get a high-performance XT model, which uses the same turbocharged engine as the Impreza WRX at the time.

Kia Sportage

2005-2010 Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage has always been a competitively priced compact SUV, which makes used examples a strong value. The second-generation model that ran from 2005-2010 had a roomy interior for both passengers and cargo. It also did a good job of doing what every crossover in this class aims for: combining SUV versatility with car-like handling. The Sportage is comfortable and roomy enough for family road trips, but the base 4-cylinder engine is a bit underpowered and we recommend upgrading to the V6.

Toyota RAV4

2001-2005 Toyota RAV4

The second-generation Toyota RAV4 of the early 2000s presents a great value in used compact crossovers. It's a well-rounded SUV that delivers just about everything you could ask for in a small SUV like good fuel economy, available AWD, a roomy interior, and the rock-solid reliability and low running costs that Toyota is famous for. The RAV4 got a nice midcycle refresh for 2004, which brought with it a styling update, an improved safety structure, standard vehicle stability control, and a newly available 2.4-liter engine making 160 hp.

Jeep Cherokee

1984-2001 Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee XJ has become a classic SUV for its rugged simplicity, its infinite customizability, and its awesome off-road capability. As you can see by the year range we've given you to work with, the XJ had a very long production run meaning they're quite abundant on the used market despite being out of production for almost two decades. It's an SUV you can drive to work every day and have some great off-road adventures with on the weekend without missing a beat. We strongly recommend the legendary 4.0-liter inline-six engine for its amazing durability.

Acura RDX

2007-2012 Acura RDX

This one is a bit of a rarity at this price point, but the first-generation Acura RDX is definitely worth keeping an eye out for if you're interested in an affordable compact luxury SUV with surprisingly good performance. At a time when 4-cylinder luxury SUVs were uncommon, the RDX came out with a turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four with all-aluminum construction and i-VTEC variable valve timing making 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It also had available torque-vectoring SH-AWD. Again, we're not saying it'll be easy to find one of these for less than $5k, but they're out there and it's one of the best-kept secrets in affordable performance cars.

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.
8 Good Used Compact SUVs Under $5,000 for 2019 - Autotrader