Car Buying Advice / Nine Great Used SUVs for Under $20,000

Nine Great Used SUVs for Under $20,000

By Manuel Carrillo III | May 20, 2020

The average new vehicle price hovers around $35,000, but you can save thousands by driving an above-average used vehicle that's not only affordable, but is also safe and reliable. Best of all, a wealth of data analytics is on your side to help you make the best used-purchase decision.

Automotive research firm crunched the data on more than 6.1 million, 2011-model-year or newer used vehicle purchases between October 2019 and March 2020. The firm then cross-referenced that data with earlier longevity studies, so that only vehicles proven to last longer than 200,000 miles were included. Finally, eliminated any models that failed to score a four-star rating or higher in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash testing.

The result, in part, is the assemblage of nine SUVs listed below that are sure to deliver the most value for the least of your hard-earned dollars. Read on to learn all about them and browse inventory on AutoNation Drive!

2007 to 2013 Acura MDX

The Acura MDX is a great used car buy

Back in 2013, we in the automotive media loved to make fun of the Acura MDX's overly aggressive shield grille. Seven years later, the shield grille actually looks restrained.

Behind the wheel of the MDX, you'll look like a smart buyer. The Acura MDX is a paragon of build quality and reliability, all for an average used selling price of $17,138. Interestingly, that average price drops to $14,662 for the 2012 MDX, which looks the same as the '13.

When the MDX was new, it retailed at starting prices between $43,280 and $54,805*. According to EPA estimates, it achieved 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg highway**. Power comes from a 3.7-liter, 300-horsepower V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The 2013 model marked the MDX's final year of the second generation before the current third-generation design arrived.

Shop Acura MDX Inventory

2007 to 2017 Ford Expedition

The Ford Expedition is a great used car buy

Who would have thought that oil would be trading at $0 per barrel in 2020? That means gasoline prices should stay low for a while. If you've been eyeing a big SUV purchase, maybe it's time to go bigger. The 2013 Ford Expedition could be just the ticket for you, with an average used selling price of $17,175.

Back in 2013, the Expedition retailed at starting prices between $40,605 and $54,005*, and returned 14/20 city/highway mpg for rear-wheel-drive models. When optioned with four-wheel drive, EPA estimates declined to 13/18 city/highway mpg**.

Expeditions of the time were powered by a 5.4-liter, 310-horsepower V8 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2013 model is part of the 2007-2017 third generation of Expeditions. The current, fourth-generation Expedition has been on sale since 2018.

Shop Ford Expedition Inventory

2007 to 2014 Toyota Highlander

The 2013 Toyota Highlander is a great used car buy

The current, fourth-generation Toyota Highlander has been on sale since the end of last year, and is a solid choice for people who need to stuff an SUV full of screaming kids and soccer gear. But why pay $40,000 for a new one when you could spend $18,239 (on average) for a lovely, used, second-gen example?

In 2013 (the final year of the second generation), the Highlander retailed between $29,020 and $46,370*. Three powertrain choices were available, starting with a 2.7-liter, 187-horsepower, inline four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission routing power to the front wheels. That version got 20/25 city/highway mpg**.

When equipped with the 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6, a five-speed automatic and AWD, EPA estimates fell to 17/22 city/highway mpg**. The hybrid version offers the same V6, but with 10 more horsepower channeling through a CVT to all four wheels. The electrified 2013 Highlander gets 28/28 city/highway mpg**, and carries an average selling price of $18,270; just $31 more, on average, than gas-only versions.

Shop Toyota Highlander Inventory

2011 to Present Dodge Durango

The 2014 Dodge Durango is a great used car buy

The third-generation Dodge Durango has been on sale since 2011, so the 2020 model doesn't look too different from a 2014 model, which you can have for an average of $18,494.

In '14, the Durango bounded off dealer lots with base prices ranging from $29,995 to $43,395*. When equipped with the standard, 3.6-liter, 290-horsepower V6, and rear-wheel drive, EPA fuel economy estimates were a sedan-like 18/25 city/highway mpg**.

With four-wheel drive and stump-pulling 5.7-liter, 360-horsepower V8, EPA estimates fell to a very SUV-like 14/22 city/highway mpg**. Regardless of engine, all Durangos in 2014 were equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Shop Dodge Durango Inventory

2009 to 2015 Honda Pilot

The 2014 Honda Pilot is a great used car buy

Unlike the Durango above, you definitely will look like you're stepping back in time if you buy a 2014 Pilot. The 2014 model year marked the second-to-last year of the Pilot's second generation, and not quite as handsome as the current offering.

If the 2014 Pilot's looks good to you, you can pick one up for an average of $18,591. Back in 2014, the Pilot's base prices spanned between $29,670 and $41,420*.

All 2014 models were powered by a 3.5-liter, 250-horsepower V6 connected to a five-speed automatic transmission. Base models with front-wheel drive returned 18/25 city/highway mpg** while models with AWD got 17/24 city/highway mpg**.

Shop Honda Pilot Inventory

2007 to 2014 Chevrolet Suburban

The 2012 Chevrolet Suburban is a great used car buy

The Chevrolet Suburban holds the distinction of being the longest-lasting nameplate in continuous production. The SUV will enter its 12th generation when the 2021 model goes on sale later this year, likely for a starting price north of $51,000**.

But you can pick up a 2012 model from the Suburban's 10th generation for a mere $18,794 on average. Back during that pivotal year for the Mayan Calendar, Suburbans retailed at starting prices between $42,220 and $58,115**.

Base models came equipped with a 5.3-liter, 320-horsepower V8 sending power to the rear wheels. Optional was a 6.0-liter, 352-horsepower V8 that powered all four wheels. Both engine options mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. With the smaller V8 and RWD, the Suburban got 15/21 city/highway mpg** while the 6.0 with 4WD returned 10/16 city/highway mpg**.

Shop Chevrolet Suburban Inventory

2012 to 2016 Honda CR-V

The 2016 Honda CR-V is a great used car buy

The 2016 model year was the final run of the Honda CR-V's fourth generation, which began in 2012. The current, fifth-gen design has been with us since 2017.

These days, you can pick up a 2016 CR-V for an average of $19,061. Four years ago, the compact crossover carried base prices ranging between $23,745 and $33,395*.

All 2016-model-year CR-Vs were powered by a 2.4-liter, 185-horsepower inline-four mated to a CVT. With FWD, the CR-V returned 26/32 city/highway mpg**. With AWD, EPA estimates went down by 1 each to 25/31 city/highway mpg**.

Shop Honda CR-V Inventory

2007 to 2014 Cadillac Escalade

2011 Cadillac Escalade is a great used car buy

For those wanting to appear extravagant without having to pay a small ransom, the 2011 Cadillac Escalade is a terrific option for $19,472 on average. That's a far cry from 2011's prices, which spanned between $63,455 and $76,685**.

Although almost a decade old, the 2011 Escalade still carries a fresh-looking and tidy design. Even though the 2021, fifth-gen model goes on sale later this year, the third-gen, 2007-2014 Escalade should look fresh for several years to come.

Most 2011 model-year Escalades were powered by a 6.2-liter, 403-horsepower V8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. RWD Escalades were good for 14/18 city/highway mpg**. With 4WD, mileage dropped to 13/18 city/highway mpg**.

Like the Chevy Tahoe on which it's based, the Escalade was sold as a hybrid in 2011. The electrified Escalade employed a 6.0-liter, 332-horsepower V8 mated to a four-speed automatic. Both RWD and 4WD models returned an EPA-estimated 20/23 city/highway mpg**.

Shop Cadillac Escalade Inventory

2007 to 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe

The 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe is a great used car buy

If you were to give us a choice between buying a 2011 Escalade or a 2012 Chevy Tahoe, ten times out of ten we'd pick the Escalade. But if you absolutely must put a bow tie in front of you, then you can pick up a 2012 Tahoe for an average of $19,529, just $57 more than the year-older Escalade above.

When new, the 2012 Tahoe spanned between $38,755 and $56,075*. Base Tahoes were powered by 5.3-liter, 320-horsepower V8 connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. Both 4WD and RWD configurations with the smaller engine returned 15/21 city/highway mpg**.

The 6.0-liter, 332-horsepower hybrid model with its four-speed automatic returned 20/23 city/highway mpg**, also regardless of drive configuration.

Shop Chevrolet Tahoe Inventory

Related Articles

Looking for more research articles from our panel of automotive experts? Try out these guides or head to the research section for more.

Image of a woman smiling in the driver's seat of a red car

Automotive Glossary

Have you uncovered strange terminology in your car buying experience that is just like Greek to you? Here, enjoy our glossary of automotive terminology to help decode your dealership experience.

Image of a Honda sedan against a city backdrop

CPO Programs Guide

Did you know that certified pre-owned vehicles are often better than the average bear when it comes to used cars? Check out our editor's guide to the top automotive CPO programs before you hit the used car lot.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.