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Best Used SUVs Under $20,000 for 2018

There’s a lot of vehicle to be had with a budget of $20,000, and a lot of great values to be found. Here we take a look at the 10 best used SUVs available for $20,000 or less. At this price point, you’ll find a lot of gently used sport utility vehicles, and will likely be able to afford some luxury features unattainable in a new vehicle at the $20,000 mark.

As always, it’s recommended to test drive a few different models and to have a pre-purchase inspection done on whatever vehicle you choose before committing to buy.

2013-2016 Mazda CX-5

No list of top used SUVs is complete without a recommendation of the compact Mazda CX-5, plenty first-generation examples of which are available at the $20,000 price point. A performer all around, the CX-5 offers both an engaging driving experience and a well-appointed, upscale interior; attributes uncommon among other compact SUVs. Look for a later 2014-2016 model, which comes equipped with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and Mazda’s SkyActiv technology, good for 184 horsepower and a combined 26 miles per gallon when equipped with all-wheel drive. There are currently over 2,000 2013-2016 CX-5s for sale on Autotrader near the $20,000 mark.

Find a Mazda CX-5 for sale.

2010-2013 Toyota Highlander

The Highlander has been on the market for almost two decades and has long been a stalwart in the 7-passenger family crossover category. Sold new in its third generation for a number of years now, 2010 to 2013 examples of the second-generation Highlander are approaching the $20,000 mark, and there are currently around 300 such Highlanders for sale on Autotrader. The Highlander was modernized for 2010, with a number of features made standard, such as rear seat air-conditioning and keyless entry. Keep in mind that there’s also a Hybrid model available, which achieves around 26 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The Hybrid is more difficult to come by though, and there are currently only 25 2010-2013 Highlander Hybrids on Autotrader for under $20k.

Find a Toyota Highlander for sale. 

2007-2017 Jeep Wrangler

Looking for something fun? The Jeep Wrangler offers endless capability and configurability. It can be an SUV, a convertible or a full-blown doors-off beach buggy, all with a few tools and a bit of elbow grease. Like most vehicles offering this level of utility and versatility, Wranglers tend to hold their value pretty well, but as the ‘JK’-generation Wrangler just ended its production run after 11 years, there are currently around 2,500 used examples listed on Autotrader for under $20,000. The main options to choose from when considering a Wrangler involve whether you want a 2-door or 4-door bodystyle, a soft top or hard top and trim level — Sahara models offer some luxury, while if you plan to go off-road, you may want to target a top-tier Rubicon model; around 120 of which are currently listed on Autotrader.

Find a Jeep Wrangler for sale. 

2016-Present Mazda CX-3

Another Mazda makes the list, this time the subcompact CX-3, which is another great option at the $20,000 price point. The CX-3 has only been on the market for a few years, with sales starting in 2016. As the price of a new CX-3 starts right at our magic $20,000 mark, getting into the used market means you’re likely to find a nicely equipped example that is also practically brand new. There are currently over 500 CX-3s for sale on Autotrader at or near the $20,000 mark. For your money, you’ll get Mazda’s near-luxury levels of interior refinement and engaging driving dynamics. While the CX-3 is on the smaller side, even the top-tier Grand Touring model can be had for right around $20k used, which gets the buyer modern, luxurious features like blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, real leather seating and Mazda’s intuitive, dial-operated infotainment system.

Find a Mazda CX-3 for sale. 

2008-2015 Lexus RX

Third-generation examples of the Lexus RX, sold from 2008 to 2015, are a great luxury SUV option at the $20,000 price point. The non-hybrid RX350 uses a 3.5 liter V6, good for 275 horsepower, while the hybrid-ized RX450h puts out a total combined output of 297 horsepower, while also earning a city/highway combined fuel economy rating of 30mpg; a full 10mpg improvement over the non-hybrid RX. One of the best all-around vehicles on the market, the RX is available with either front- or all-wheel drive, but its best attribute may just be that it’s backed by world-renowned Toyota reliability. Right now there are close to 2,000 examples of the third-generation RX for sale on Autotrader for a budget of $20,000; over 200 of which are of the hybrid-variety.

Find a Lexus RX for sale. 

2013-2018 Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 has become the best-selling non-truck in the United States, and many examples of the current generation, sold from the 2013 to 2018 model years, are easily attainable for $15,000-$20,000. Right now, there are over 5,000 such RAV4s for sale on Autotrader. With so many used RAV4s available, you may want to narrow your search to an updated 2016 or newer model. Right now there are about 1,000 2016-2018 RAV4s listed on Autotrader for around $20,000 or less. We highly recommend the hybrid model, which offers considerably better fuel economy at a small price premium when new, but used RAV4 Hybrids tend to be more difficult to come by at this price point, with only around 20 listed.

Find a Toyota RAV4 for sale.

2009-2015 Honda Pilot

Introduced for the 2003 model year, the Honda Pilot offers the capability and practicality of a crossover (including seating for eight) with Honda sensibilities. The second-generation Pilot was sold from 2009 to 2015 and offered one engine and transmission combo — a 3.5-liter V6-producing 250-hp mated to a 5-speed automatic — good for up to 18 mpg city/20 mpg highway. Fold flat second and third rows along with ample storage space for other items mean the Pilot is ready for the rigors of family life. Right now, there are around 1,000 2009-2015 Pilots for sale on Autotrader for under $20,000.

Find a Honda Pilot for sale. 

2010-2014 Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is an excellent blend of SUV- and car-like features. With a long, wagon bodystyle, the Outback is capable of hauling equipment and pets and a few kids much like a compact SUV. But given that its platform is a raised, wagon version of Subaru’s Legacy sedan, the Outback still offers car-like ride and handling characteristics, not to mention fuel efficiency, earning up to 30 mpg highway when equipped with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, which makes 170 hp. Buyers who want more power do have another option, though, in the form of a 3.6-liter 256-hp V6, which should make those steep mountainous grades a little easier to summit once ski season rolls around. There are currently around 1,800 2010-2014 Outbacks on Autotrader for $20,000 or less.

Find a Subaru Outback for sale. 

2015-Present Ford Edge

The recently redesigned Ford Edge presents a great bargain at the $20,000 price point, provided you aren’t in need of third-row seating. Slotted between the Escape and Explorer in size, the Edge offers attractive, sporty styling and some great features, like adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, lane-keeping assist and a 180-degree front camera, in addition to other tech that will keep it feeling new for years to come. Buyers have three engine options — a 4-cylinder making 245 hp, a V6 putting out 280 hp, and a 2.7-liter 315 hp EcoBoost V6, which is reserved for the top tier Edge ST. Regardless of which engine you choose, the Edge brings with it a certain attitude not present in the Escape and Explorer. There are currently almost 550 options for Edge buyers listed on Autotrader at the $20,000 price point.

Find a Ford Edge for sale. 

2010-2014 Chevrolet Tahoe or GMC Yukon

Need something big and powerful? The Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon siblings fit the bill nicely. Built on a shared platform that also underpins the larger Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL, and featuring many components shared with GM’s full-size trucks, the 2007-2014 Tahoe and Yukon both offer a range of powerful V8 engines making up to 405 hp, great for hauling the family to the beach with a boat in tow. Reliability is also pretty good, and with so many of these on the market, parts sourcing won’t be difficult. GMC buyers also have the option of the upscale Yukon Denali, which comes with GM’s excellent Magnetic Ride Control Suspension. There are many 07-14 Tahoes and Yukons for sale on the used market for under $20,000, but we recommend opting for an updated 2010-or-newer model. There are currently around 1,200 Yukons and Tahoes for sale on Autotrader that match this description, 159 of which are of the upscale Denali variety.

Find a Chevrolet Tahoe for sale.

Find a GMC Yukon for sale. 

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

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