Earlier this year, my friend Will Byrd wrote an article for this site looking at fast SUVs for less than $40,000. While a well-written and well-researched article, it did have one fatal flaw: He wasn’t thinking nearly cheap enough. Let’s cut that budget in half and see how fast you can go in a family SUV for less than $20,000. These are all as cheap as almost any new sensible car but without any care for fuel economy or sensibility.
Before the current generation Grand Cherokee SRT came to be, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 was the king of unpretentious and unfettered SUV performance. Equipped with a 425-horsepower V8, the SRT8 took the Grand Cherokee to 11 with Brembo brakes and a sport suspension at the expense of any towing or payload capacity. These days, you can get an SRT8 for under $20,000 pretty easily, like this model with 85,500 miles. Find a Jeep Grand Cherokee for sale
The X5 M is basically the gold standard for fast SUVs, but they normally come at a steep price. However, thanks to depreciation and potentially pricey BMW ownership, you can pick up an X5 M for a pretty reasonable (initial) cost. Models like this 2010 example feature a 555-hp twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8, giving it the ability to sprint to 60 in an incredible 4.7 seconds. This version has 90,000 miles, and it’s a complete roll of the dice — but if you’re willing to take the challenge, the X5 M will reward you with excellent performance. Find a BMW X5 M for sale
If you’re looking for something a bit more… reasonable, the Explorer Sport may be the fast SUV for you. While not as bonkers as others on this list, it’ll still hit 60 mph in about 6 seconds due to its 365-hp turbocharged V6. At the same time, it features three rows and all of the practicality of a standard Explorer while also scaring people on the interstate into thinking you’re a cop car. This model has 51,882 miles and appears very well-equipped for the price. Find a Ford Explorer for sale
The Audi SQ5 drives exactly how you’d expect it to: it’s quick, razor-sharp and it has grip for days. Equipped with a supercharged V6 with 354 hp, the SQ5 will sprint to 60 mph in about five seconds. Inside, you get an upscale and modern interior that is largely comfortable, and there’s plenty of technology to keep you occupied — for a week or so, at least. This particular model is in California, and it has just under 100,000 miles on the odometer. Find an Audi SQ5 for sale
If you’re looking for a fast SUV on a real budget, the Subaru Forester 2.0XT is worth keeping an eye out for. Equipped with a 250-hp 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder, the Forester 2.0XT can zip to 60 mph in about six seconds. That’s quite quick and when you factor in the go-anywhere abilities of Subaru’s all-wheel drive system, you have a recipe for a winner, especally for the money, as this 2016 model is offered for under $15,000. Find a Subaru Forester for sale