The rear tail light is shown of a black used SUV for sale on a beach.

Scratching The Itch: Buying Used SUVs

It’s hard to find someone who isn’t passionate about SUVs: Most people either love them or hate them. Briefly viewed as a passing fad, annual sales of new SUVs rose from $5.6 million to $8.3 million between 2007 and 2017, compared with car sales dropping from $7.9 million to $6.1 million during the same period. It is no surprise that now people are looking for used SUVs for sale as more and more new models enter the market. This is not a fad folks.

Despite their mass often taking up 1½ parking lot spaces and getting the lowest MPG of many vehicles, SUVs are still the darlings people crave. If the big ticket prices have kept you at bay from buying a new one, check out the deals on some of the most reputable, reliable and popular used models available today, all for under $10,000.

2009 MAZDA CX-7

A grey 2009 Medza CX 7 SUV is parked with a white background.

Ever since the first Mazda passenger car hit the market in 1960, they’ve been going strong in both innovative design and dependability. The 2009 CX-7 has all the features you want, including 244 horsepower on either 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive to make merging and passing smooth and easy. Five passengers ride comfortably in the ample interior, and the driver is guaranteed top notch maneuverability in all driving conditions with a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine. The body style is timeless, and repair parts are readily available and reasonably priced. This sweet package has it all, and at $10K or less, it’s gets top billing for the best-used SUV deal.


Ford tough. That advertising slogan wasn’t just conjured up in a boardroom. Since the Model A and Model T Fords rolled out in 1903, Ford has been known for toughness and longevity. The 2009 Ford Explorer has the conventional body-on-frame platform, adding that sturdy, no-holds-barred ruggedness many drivers crave for off-road adventures and serious hauling jobs. It comfortably seats seven although the ride can be a little rough and the cargo space isn’t the best. But if you want an SUV that can hold it own, this is a good choice. And for $10,000, you can choose either 210 horsepower V6 or a 292 horsepower V8.


A red 2009 Chevy Equinox is parked on a road with trees in the background.

Smaller than many of its counterparts, the 2009 Chevrolet Equinox is known for its work-horse powertrain and nationwide availability. Buyers have a choice of two V6 engines, one a 3.4-liter with 185 horsepower and a 3.6 liter pumping 264 horsepower. Most Equinox models get good gas mileage at 17 MPG for city driving and 24 MPG on the highway. 2009 Chevy Equinoxes easily accommodates five passengers and while the interior is less than memorable, the rear cargo space is larger than many other models in this category.


Toyota introduced the first mainstream midsize SUV with a 4-cylinder engine in 2009, and other manufacturers followed. With a then unheard of 24 MPG highway, the 2009 Highlander became the one to beat – or at least match – by the competition. They upped the MPG to 27 in 2010, but if you decide on the 3-row model that seats up to six passengers, the V6 with 270 horsepower will perform better. These models also get top ratings for a smooth ride, abundant cargo space, and high safety ratings. To buy one for under $10K, you’ll likely have to settle for a lot of mileage, but as with many Toyota models, this one may outlast your grandmother.

2009-2010 HONDA CR-V

A 2009 green Honda CR-V is parked near a dealership on a cloudy day.

Looking for a safe, fun family 5-seater SUV that won’t break your budget? You can’t go wrong with a 2009 or 2010 Honda CR-V. With a nearly perfect balance of cushy inside comfort, great gas mileage, a silky-smooth ride, and a small chassis that’s easy to park, this jewel is ideal for active families. However, the 4-cylinder 166 to 180 horsepower engine (the 2010 gained more hp than the previous year) isn’t conducive to hauling heavy loads or pulling trailers. To keep your investment under $10,000, be prepared to buy a Honda CR-V with high mileage, but Hondas typically outlast many other brands by many years, so be confident in your decision.


The newly designed Nissan Murano was so well-received in 2009, the company made hardly any changes in it over the next two years. That dependability proved solid over time and has made the Murano one of the most sought after used SUVs today. You’ll find a selection of 5-seaters that includes both front- and all-wheel drive, a second-generation CVT transmission, and a 3.5-liter engine with 265 hp in the 2009 and 2010 models and 260 hp in the 2011. Fuel economy is okay at 18 MPG city and 23 MPG highway. Don’t let high mileage stop you from buying. The Murano is praised for its longevity as well as its unique design, first-rate interior, and exquisitely receptive handling.


A 2010 silver Subaru Forester parked near the woods with trees in the background.

If you’re looking for a rough-and-tumble SUV that performs as well on an open freeway as it does on rugged off-road terrain, a 2010 Subaru Forester is the car for you. Revamped in 2009, this all-wheel drive, wagon-SUV clone steps up to just about any task at hand, including towing, trailering and hauling large loads in the generous cargo space. You can also find it with a manual transmission, a rare option on SUVs even 10 years ago. Subaru doesn’t produce nearly the volume of other makes, so finding one could be challenging… but well worth the search.


Kia introduced the Sportage to the compact SUV market in 2010 to much less fanfare than anticipated and immediately redesigned it for the following year’s lineup. The model has been on a steady track of success since then. But the 2010 Kia Sportage is still a great car and an amazing value at less than $10K. Its safety ratings are higher than many competitors, owners consider it highly dependable, and its rate of mechanical problems is lower than many others in the compact category. You’ll find used Sportages with both front- and all-wheel drive, both of which average 20 MPG city and 25 MPG highway. Treat it well, and a Sportage will keep you mobile for years to come.


A silver 2010 Chevy Tahoe parked on a road with mountains in the background.

Finding this top seller at $10,000 or less will be challenging, but the payoff is worth your patience. It holds its value better than many others based on several factors. The Tahoe seats up to 9 passengers, its 320 hp supports either 2 or 4-wheel drive, and the 5.3-liter V8 engine gives you 15 MPG city and 21 MPG highway. You can haul substantial amounts of cargo or tow up to a whopping 8,500 lbs. The best deals will likely be on used Tahoes with high mileage and if you get frustrated, check out similar models of the GMC Yukon or Chevy Suburban.


Driving in busy large cities, it sometimes feels like RAV4s are the only cars anyone buys. Often hailed as the mother of crossover vehicles, the model was a big hit for drivers of all ages, not surprising considering its list of highly desirable features. A 4-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive gets 22 MPG city, and 28 MPG highway had mass appeal, as did the optional V6 with all-wheel drive. Throw in the option of third-row seating and the package was irresistible to many. Take your time to shop around, and you’ll find a used RAV4 that will make you smile for many years down the road.

The Verdict

If you are in the market for a used SUV, these are all great options. First-time drivers and seasoned drivers looking to save a few dollars will find any of these models a great fit. Go to any used lot, and you are bound to find at least one of these models for sale in the particular model years mentioned and any choice you make will provide you with a great and reliable used SUV.