SUVs continue to be a popular vehicle choice for many drivers due to their higher driving position, versatile cargo-carrying capabilities, towing capacity, and available all-wheel drive. Plus, full-sized models can seat up to eight and offer even greater towing capacities. New SUVs range in price from around $17,000 to luxury models costing over $60,000. Used models can save you significantly as long as you choose wisely.
The first major purchase consideration is deciding what size you need: small, medium, or large. For most drivers, a small or medium-sized car-based SUV (aka crossover), such as a Toyota Highlander or Nissan Murano, can provide a good balance of features, fuel economy and function.
Be honest with how you intend to use your SUV. For example, if you almost never go off road or tow a trailer, it doesn’t really make much sense to buy a heavy truck-based model (such as a Toyota 4Runner or Ford Explorer), and have the vehicle carry around all that extra weight and hardware that you’ll never use. Plus, truck-based models tend to be thirstier at the pumps than car-based vehicles.
As with all cars, safety is a key concern with SUVs. Due to their inherent higher center of gravity, SUVs are more prone to rollovers. When shopping for a used model, check to make sure that it’s equipped with electronic stability control and curtain air bags—two features we strongly recommend. Most 2005-present midsized and large SUVs have these important safety features.
To help you narrow the field, we have compiled a list of Consumer Reports recommended used SUVs. These vehicles have performed well in our road tests, have average or better reliability, and have performed adequately if included in crash tests.