Savvy shoppers know there are a couple of ways to find the best used SUVs under $15,000. You can follow popular models back in time until you hit your desired price point, or you can seek outstanding models the market overlooked when they were new. Given the depth and breadth of the SUV segment, this happens quite often. Of course, the other side of it is the "overlooked" SUV will probably be worth less when you decide to trade it. For this list of the best used SUVs under $15,000, we’re presenting a mix of the tried and true along with a few that never really got their due.
Valuations for this list of the best used SUVs under $15,000 are based on Kelley Blue Book’s Fair Purchase Price from a dealer of a model in good condition. Private party sales typically result in lower prices; meaning newer models may be offered at a comparable price point. As always, whenever buying used, we strongly recommend commissioning a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted professional mechanic, one highly familiar with the make and model of your choice.
Valuations for this list of the best used SUVs under $15,000 is based on Kelley Blue Book’s Fair Purchase Price from a dealer of a model in good condition Private party sales typically result in lower prices; meaning newer models may be offered at a comparable price point. As always, whenever buying used, we strongly recommend commissioning a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted professional mechanic, one highly familiar with the make and model of your choice.
Finding a good clean Chevrolet Equinox under $15,000 means you’ll be looking at a 2011 model or earlier. Many of the modern features we take for granted were in place back then, easily qualifying the Equinox as one of the best used SUVs under $15,000. The 2011 Equinox delivers handsome styling, Bluetooth, full power accessories, and an iPod interface. The small crossover was up against pretty stiff competition back in its day though, so it pretty much languished on dealer lots; bad for Chevy, good for you on the secondary market. The Equinox is reliable, safe, and very nicely equipped. The base engine was a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder with 182 horsepower and 172 ft-lbs of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission were standard, all-wheel drive was an option. Maximum cargo capacity was 63.7 cubic feet.
Another overshadowed model was the 2010 Ford Edge. Easily qualifying as one of our best used SUVs under $15,000, the handsomely styled mid-size crossover comfortably seats five; it’s also quiet, rides well, and handles nicely. Standard features included keyless entry, reclining back seats, and a nice set of alloy wheels. Power came from a 3.5-liter V6 with 265 horsepower and 250 ft-lbs of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission were standard; all-wheel drive was offered as an option. The 2010 Edge racked up some strong crash-test scores and is capable of carrying some 69 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seat folded.
Photo by Ford
While the Honda CR-V makes our list of the best used SUVs under $15,000, it’s important to note as a percentage of the new car price, the CR-V holds its value very well. To find a good clean one in our price range, you’ll be looking at an example built for model year 2009 or earlier. Anyone familiar with Honda product will tell you this is attributable to the outstanding reliability and craftsmanship the Honda CR-V enjoys. Since the model’s inception, it has always delivered a smart interior layout, agile handling, and a great deal of versatility. The 2009 Honda CR-V used a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 166 horsepower and 161 ft-lbs of torque. Front-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic transmission were standard, all-wheel drive was offered as an option. The 2009 CR-V delivered great crash test scores and is good for a maximum of 73 cubic feet of cargo.
People knew a great deal when they saw one, and the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe did pretty well on the new car marketplace. The attributes responsible for this success are the same attributes making it one of the best used SUVs under $15,000. Value is inherent to Hyundai’s DNA, so it comes as no surprise to find the Santa Fe was stocked with an outstanding array of standard features for its price point. Keyless entry, full power accessories, satellite radio, steering wheel mounted audio controls, and a USB port are but a few of the niceties. The base engine was a 2.7-liter V6 good for 185 horsepower and 183 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed manual transmission was standard for this engine, along with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive was offered as an option. The 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe did very well in crash tests and is capable of carrying up to 78 cubic feet of cargo.
Easily one of the best used SUVs for under $15,000; the 2010 Mazda CX-9 three-row seven-passenger crossover goes down the road like a car half its size. When it was new, reviewers praised its carlike driving position, nimble handling, wide opening doors, excellent build quality, and attractive interior treatment. Power was supplied by a 3.7-liter V6 capable of 273 horsepower and 270 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive were standard; all-wheel drive was optional. Other standard features included three-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, and alloy wheels. Strong safety scores and the ability to handle up to 101 cubic feet of cargo also make the CX-9 a worthy consideration.
Yes, you read it correctly, a 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander can be had for less than $15,000. This is a clear-cut case of an undervalued model if ever there was one. It’s no secret Mitsubishi has been struggling to sell vehicles of late. Without a strong marketing push to get the word out about its products, they get lost in the noise. Meanwhile, the Outlander is nicely equipped, exceptionally reliable, and capable of delivering sporty handling with good power. Plus, it’s good looking too. For 2013, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 168 horsepower and 167 ft-lbs of torque powered the base model. A continuously variable transmission and front-wheel drive were standard. All-wheel drive was optional. Strong safety scores and 73 cubic feet of cargo space completed the package.
If you’re looking to seat up to eight—or need a 9,100-pound tow rating—in a reliable and handsome full-size SUV for under $15,000, the super-sized 2007 Nissan Armada is a strong choice. You’ll get an enormously spacious interior with outstanding legroom for passengers in both the first and second rows. The 2007 Armada also came with some nice features, including a power-operated driver’s seat, reclining rear seats, dual-zone climate control with redundant rear-seat controls, an in-dash CD changer, and of course full power accessories. Power came from a 317-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 with 385 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed manual transmission and rear-drive were standard; four-wheel drive with a push-button transfer case was an option. Maximum cargo capacity was 97 cubic feet.
Subaru made its bones on all-wheel drive. Therefore it should follow the marque’s mid-size SUV is well regarded. And, for the most part it is—by people who love Subarus. The rest of the world has been less accepting of the Tribeca, which makes for some nice deals on the secondary market. Thus, a reasonably late-model Subaru Tribeca qualifies for our best SUVs under $15,000 list. Meanwhile, Subaru’s reliability is legend, its all-wheel drive system is unassailable and— being something of a flagship for the marque—the Tribeca comes nicely equipped. The 2010 Tribeca featured a 256-horsepower 3.6-liter flat six with 247 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission completed the powertrain. Maximum cargo capacity was 74 cubic feet.
Credited with being the original small car-based crossover SUV, the Toyota RAV4 has also been a leader in the segment since its introduction. Today’s RAV4 is of course much larger than the original, as is the 2010 model qualifying for our list of the best used SUVs under $15,000. With more than abundant storage, easy handling and parking, as well as ready ingress and egress, the RAV4 is one of the most accommodating offerings in the segment. Power for the base model 2010 RAV4 came from a 179-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 172 ft-lbs of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive were standard. All-wheel drive was offered as an option. With seating for five, 73 cubic feet of cargo capacity, and Toyota’s reputation for reliability in its favor; the RAV4 is strong contender.