A closeup of someone holding keys to the used SUV for sale in the background is shown.

Why Buy a Used SUV?


Sport Utility Vehicles have taken over sedans and other cars as the most popular vehicles on the road. More than half of the automobile market is now SUVs, and that number is about to climb substantially higher. The major American automakers are discontinuing many of their car lines and focusing their time and money on SUVs and pickup trucks. So, right now and during the next few years is the best time to search for used SUVs for sale.

About 70% of all vehicles sold in the United States are used or Certified Pre-Owned. So, if you are looking at used SUVs for sale, you are certainly not alone. These versatile vehicles have dramatically risen in popularity in the past couple of decades, and if you look at what is out there, it is easy to see why. Every major automaker on the planet has at least one SUV in its garage, with most having more than one.

What are SUVs?

These SUVs run a wide range in styles, sizes, and uses. There is everything from the subcompact (they had to invent a term for something smaller than compact) all the way the Gigantosaurus XL (not a real trim level… yet) to fit the driving needs of every imaginable consumer. They have the traditional, classic look of the SUVs of the 90s and before, and they also have futuristic corners, angles, and fascia that make you wonder how it is really classified as a sport utility vehicle. And then there is the SUV that is specifically designed and engineered to get dirty, compared to the SUV that shouldn’t be taken on wet pavement, much less off-road.

What these automakers have managed to do, that they were never able to do before, was make a vehicle for virtually anyone and everyone in the world. Throughout the long history of cars, pickup trucks, vans, station wagons, motorcycles, RVs, unicycles, and every other vehicle with at least one tire, automakers have never before been able to appeal to everyone all at once.

A red 2017 GMC Acadia Denali is pulling into a driveway.

That is because these SUVs combine the best part of all of these vehicles. They can combine the agility of a car with the interior space of a van. They can take the engine power of a pickup truck and add the cargo room of a station wagon. There may be an engineer somewhere working on a 1-2 wheel SUV. Wouldn’t surprise us.

And because these SUVs range so drastically in size and function, these engineers are able to consistently tweak the ingredients for success and find new recipes that work. They have done it again and again and again. They quietly drove the station wagon and the minivan into niche markets. It is only with the imminent demise of the car that it is being noticed. And the car, for some reason, never saw it coming.

The Modern SUV

The modern SUV has supplanted the sedan as the go-to family vehicle in the United States. It offers the roominess and cargo capacity that any family will inevitably need. Whether it be car seats or book bags, the SUV offers much more room for the add-ons that come with having children. Due to its size and, in particular, its height, it also offers much greater ease of access. They also offer better safety than most modern sedans. They are larger, able to absorb more of an impact and offer a better line of sight for the driver than most cars. Larger sedans of the 70s and 80s, which were roughly street-legal mini-tanks, don’t count.

Now, with the huge amount of SUVs on the road today, the law of averages will tell you that there are bound to be a lot of used SUVs available. And that is definitely true. The automotive market is full of them. Whether you are going to a huge corporate lot, a small mom-and-pop place or looking at the classifieds, you are bound to see all kinds of available SUVs, running the full range of sizes and uses.

What Do You Want Out of an SUV?

Many people are opting for used SUVs for multiple reasons. First, is the obvious price difference. Used and Certified Pre-Owned are significantly less expensive than brand new SUVs. Even a model only a year old will be thousands of dollars less than the brand new model year. In the automotive world, depreciation definitely favors the used vehicle buyer.

Another reason is the advancements of modern automotive technology, especially found in SUVs. The insides of contemporary vehicles bear little resemblance to those from less than 20 years ago. Since SUVs combine the best parts of cars, trucks, vans and station wagons, they get some of the safety and infotainment features that a car might not, but a truck would, and vice versa. These can be anything from towing aids to steering and agility features. These features have been coming out at a breakneck pace over the last two decades, and SUVs have been getting the best of them.

Each automaker is trying to outpace the next one when it comes to these features, so these SUVs, particularly recently used, are loaded with all kinds of safety and convenience features. While new features do come out every year, they are sometimes just that automaker’s version of something that already exists somewhere else.

There are a lot of these features out there, ranging in scope from safety to infotainment to convenience. However, there are also a ton of SUV models out there. Most SUVs also have multiple trim levels, as well. So, with all the different possibilities between manufacturer, class, year, model, trim level, and available packages, the chances of you finding the perfect SUV with just the right technological features are much greater in a used SUV than a brand new one.

A woman is loading a suitcase into the back of her 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71.

Buying a Used SUV

People sometimes tend to balk at buying a used SUV. There is no real guarantee that you are getting what is advertised. Services like CarFax are great for finding out a vehicle’s history, but only if an incident was properly reported and documented. That may not always be the case, and the dealer or dealership may not even know the full history.

In order to ease the buyer’s mind about buying a used vehicle, automakers came up with the genius idea of Certified Pre-Owned vehicles. A Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is a used vehicle that has undergone an extensive inspection. The checklists for these inspections are upwards of 200 items, depending on the automaker and the vehicle. These inspections include a vehicle history report and a test drive.

Once the vehicle has passed to the satisfaction of the engineers, it will get Certified Pre-Owned status. This gives the buyer the peace of mind that it is beyond just road-worthy. It also comes with a warranty, which, again, varies by automaker. It will still give the Certified Pre-Owned vehicle coverage for at least a couple of years and tens of thousands of miles. These Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are more expensive than used vehicles, but the added assurance and warranty are worth the extra cost. Plus, they are still not as expensive as used vehicles.

It is pretty difficult to drive around or go to any parking lot and not see any SUVs on the road. And, chances are, more of them were purchased as used than you might guess. Buying a used SUV is an extremely practical approach to getting your next vehicle, and you have all the choices in the world. If you are diligent about doing your homework, that perfect used SUV is out there waiting for you.