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Best SUVs Under $12,000

Finding a reliable, affordable, used SUV can seem daunting – there are so many options to choose from.  But fear not – we’re here to help.  Below we’ve highlighted the best SUVs under $12,000.  No matter your needs, you’ll likely find something in this bunch that fits them.

1. 2013 Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 has long been one of the top-selling vehicles in America, and it isn’t hard to see why.  A compact SUV offering space, safety, reliability, and efficiency, it offers almost everything a buyer could want today.  For this reason, used examples tend to hold their value pretty well, but there are still plenty out there at a reasonable price. Find a Toyota RAV4 for sale

2. 2013 Honda CR-V

The CR-V is another fan-favorite in the compact SUV segment, and it’s been around for about as long as the segment itself.  The CR-V boasts an upscale interior and notable exterior design, the hallmark of which are its taillights, which have bracketed the vehicle’s rear window since the model’s first generation.  Find a Honda CR-V for sale

3. 2012 Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot is known for its consistency and family-friendly design, making it a great minivan alternative.  It offers seating for up to eight passengers and plenty of room for all of their stuff too.  Power comes from a stout V6 engine. It’s the full package, and it comes backed by Honda’s great reliability. Find a Honda Pilot for sale

4. 2010 Toyota Highlander

Like the Pilot, the Highlander is made for families.  It comes standard with a third-row seat, leaving room for up to seven passengers.  All-wheel drive is available, though opting for a two-wheel drive model is a great way to save a few dollars and some fuel, provided you don’t anticipate needing four-wheel traction.  Four- and six-cylinder engines are available, as is a hybrid model. Find a Toyota Highlander for sale

5. 2014 Mazda CX-9

Mazda is known for offering a little extra in terms of style, interior quality, and driving dynamics, and the mid-size CX-9 takes these traits and bundles them into a three-row family hauler package.  Under the hood, you’ll find a 273 horsepower V6 engine, while all-wheel drive is also on the table.  All of this combines to make for an SUV that deviates from the norm when it comes to character. Find a Mazda CX-9 for sale

6. 2012 Chevrolet Traverse

The Traverse is about the biggest SUV out there that you can still refer to as ‘mid-size.’  Like a comparable Pilot, Highlander, or Explorer, the Traverse comes standard with three rows of seats, a V6 engine, and room for lots of stuff.  There are also a lot of used Traverses out there to choose from. Find a Chevrolet Traverse for sale

7. 2014 Kia Sorento

If you’re looking for an SUV on the small side, but could still use a third row on occasion, then the Sorento may be for you, and as far as SUVs under $12,000 go, it’s a great value.  In addition to offer room for up to seven passengers in a pinch (provided the last two are small children), the Sorento comes with sporty styling and is available with a V6 engine and all-wheel drive. Find a Kia Sorento for sale

8. 2011 Nissan XTerra


While most modern SUVs ride on car platforms, a few still ride on old-school truck frames.  Take the XTerra, for example; a rugged mid-size SUV, it’s built on the same underpinnings as the Frontier pickup, meaning that it boasts go-anywhere capability and is even available with a manual transmission.  Additionally, since it’s been discontinued for a few years now, people tend to forget about it, so as far as used SUVs under $12,000 go, it’s a great alternative to a comparable Toyota 4Runner. Find a Nissan XTerra for sale

9. 2013 Mazda CX-5

As the CX-9 is to the three-row segment, the CX-5 is to the compact SUV space.  Not as common as the RAV4 or CR-V, the CX-5 offers a more upscale, driver-centric experience.  While we won’t refer to it as a luxury car, at least not in its earliest generation, we can confidently say that drivers wanting more than what you get in most mainstream compact SUVs very well may find what they’re looking for in the CX-5. Find a Mazda CX-5 for sale

10. 2012 Ford Flex

The Flex’s low-slung, boxy design is both timeless and cool.  While it’s styled like an old-school wagon, the Flex can be thought of as a low-riding SUV; a retro take on an Explorer or Pilot.  It comes with three rows of seats, family-friendly features, and a few different engine options; some of which are more potent than you’d probably expect.  As far as SUVs under $12,000 go, the Flex is a head-turner. Find a Ford Flex for sale

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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