How to choose the best used SUV under 10000? You could say that it is an impossible task, given the size and breadth of the used auto market. However, we’ve managed to pin down 15 used SUVs that, if found in good condition, will be absolutely solid and suit all of your needs. We’ve found everything from the tiny RAV-4 to the spacious and capable Ford Expedition.
2007 Honda CR-V
Thoroughly redesigned for the 2007 model year, the third generation Honda CR-V inherited the high-quality design of its older brother while still offering a whole host of improvements. The first-produced models count more than ten years of age and may finally fall in the list of “Best Used SUV Under 10000” I have compiled here. The thing is that sub 10k models are usually units produced in the first two years of production with around 100,000 miles on the odometer, so there may be a bit of a trade-off for the price.
Regardless of age and mileage, the used 2007 Honda CR-V seems to be a fine vehicle. However, before buying it, be smart and check out the most common problems its owners face. They include power door lock malfunctions, armrest peeling, and AC compressor failure. Also, some owners did report premature tire wear, but it was identified that the cars did, in fact, receive low-quality tires when new. If you’ve got rubber on the wheels that didn’t come with it from the factory, you should be just fine.
Power is provided by a 2.4-liter engine developing 166hp.
2007 Toyota RAV4
This is definitely one of the most important Toyota cars of all time. The third generation Toyota RAV4 introduced us to a smart family package in the compact SUV class. Now rather popular in the used car market, the 2007 Toyota RAV4 can still instill confidence and reliability. However, potential buyers of a used Toyota RAV4 should know a thing or two. Check for excessive oil consumption, clunking noises when steering, and exhaust problems.
Of course, these cars have seen their share of roads and highways, so do not expect to find a lot of low mileage units under 10k.
Here, Toyota sold the car with a 2.4-liter four-banger (2.5-liter from 2009) and a 270 hp V6. You don’t have to ask me which one would I choose. This car is so popular in fact, we had it on a list before.
2009 Hyundai Santa Fe
The second generation of the Hyundai Santa Fe really seems to be one of the most sensible rides on the used SUV market. Not only does it offer compelling safety equipment (Electronic Stability Control (ESC), side-curtain airbags, a tire pressure monitor, active front head restraints and more, but it also comes with a powerful V6 engine option and was named Top Safety Pick by the NHTSA. The 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe comes with an iPod connection and, with higher packages, a handy media system.
Now, the older 2.7 liter V6 was dropped in 2010 for the 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Same happened in 2010 to the 3.3-liter V6 which was replaced with a 3.5-liter V6. Both upgrades brought more power, better economy, and more refinement.
Now, the owner experiences did showcase that Santa Fe had some minute problems, the biggest of which may be a faulty fuel gauge. Owners reported the guage was not showing the fuel level correctly, or it did not work at all. Sometimes the problem could be fixed by replacing one or both fuel sensors or by updating the ECU. Updating the ECU handled the other issues as well, such as a check engine light was on for no real reason.
Apart from this, some did report paint coming off and even engine stalls. The latter was usually solved by replacing the throttle body.
2008 BMW X3 3.0Si
With an owner satisfaction rating of almost 4 according to Edmunds, the 2008 BMW X3 is a fine example of a sports-orientated compact SUV that does have some obvious family ties. With a three-liter Si engine developing 268 hp, the car could do some serious 0-60 mph runs in the seven-second region – automatic or manual. Now, the styling may be its lowest point, but if you can handle those strange front lights, the X3 definitely seems like it could be the absolute best used SUV under 10000. Sure, models with a bunch of equipment will be pricier (a lot), but $10k could give you an example with a bit more than 100,000 miles on the odometer and middle trim package.
Luckily, all models had the rather fine standard equipment. A used BMW X3 will get you:
- BMW Business AM/FM-CD radio with Bluetooth
- Eight-speaker premium audio system
- Leather seating surfaces
- Powered front seats
- Aluminum interior trim accents
- Keyless entry
- 17-inch alloy rims
2009 Dodge Durango
The main problem with the 2009 Dodge Durango is the fact that it lags behind the times. See, its engines are powerful but rather thirsty. Its interior equipment can be numerous and include electronic stability control, a tire-pressure-monitoring system, rear park assist, and a one-touch turn signal. Yet, it is all suited in a rather aging interior.
While these characteristics may be a bit of a turn-off, the fact is that the 2009 Dodge Durango is family friendly. It is large, roomy, and not particularly hard to live with aside from the whole fuel consumption thing.
Models after the redesign in 2007 have been nicely praised by owners at Edmunds and by other consumer reporting communities.
So, if you need a large SUV for less than $10,000 to tow a boat or to move a lot of real estate, the 2009 Dodge Durango is your answer. If interested, check out the transmission, interior handles, and electronic equipment.
2007 Nissan Murano
The first time it showed its face, the Nissan Murano was a rather controversial and futuristic SUV. It seems to have aged quite well, at least outside. Now, depreciation did its thing and a used Nissan Murano became a rather cheap SUV. However, this does not mean it is a bad SUV. In fact, it seems that owners are quite satisfied with it to this day.
The 2007 Nissan Murano perfectly fits on our best used SUV under 10000 list as they can be found for much less than that. Back when it was new, the Nissan Murano was praised for its engaging driving characteristics more so than for its practicality. Nevertheless, the only notable problem everyone reported is its rather jerky CVT transmission. The same problem remains to this day as the most of the owners do tend to report some problems with it. Buying a used example should be narrowed to sub 100,000-mile units – $10k is plenty enough to buy a car like that.
Apart from rather nice styling and driving characteristics, the first gen Murano was loaded with safety equipment.
2008 Ford Explorer
As one of the most recognizable names in the SUV world, the Ford Explorer of the fourth generation was available with a four-liter V6 and 4.6-liter V8. While the engines are definitely capable, power and speed were never its strong suit, but rather, practicality and ease of ownership. In that regard, the Explorer was nominated to be the North American Truck of the Year in 2006.
Now, however, it is one of the most alluring family SUVs under $10k.
Buyers of used units should definitely check transmission condition, added electronic equipment, and overall condition of interior plastic surfaces.
With a tow rating of 5,395 lbs, the 2008 Ford Explorer may be the perfect family hauler and a companion to outlive even some younger competitors.
2009 Subaru Forester
A used Subaru Forester may be the most sensible purchase of your life. See, Subaru built its bulletproof dependability image on cars from this era. The 2009 Subaru Forester is a dependable, if not stylish car. The Japanese tried (successfully) to give some excitement to the Forester by installing standard all-wheel drive for all models and offering it with a fine turbocharged engine good for 225 hp (in the XT trim only).
The car was praised for its comfortable cabin and capable engines. Even the N/A 2.5-liter was rather raspy. Now, these cars hold value quite nicely, but if you search hard, you may find some in the $10k range.
Depending on the trim level, used Foresters can be found with alloy wheels, a panoramic moonroof, heated seats and mirrors, automatic climate control, in-dash navigation system, leather upholstery, and more.
2006 Toyota Highlander
No matter how you look at it, the Japanese seem to create the most reasonable midsize SUVs out there, and the Toyota Highlander is no exception. Especially the one from 2006. Propelled by some rather efficient four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines developing 155 hp and 225 hp, the 2006 Toyota Highlander was a proper family SUV. Rear independent suspension and unibody construction certainly made it fantastic on the roads, while its safety equipment was on par with the best. For the latest models, safety equipment included an EBD system, Vehicle Stability Control, a tire pressure monitor, front and second-row side curtain airbags and more. These cars, while dated, do hold their value well, but still perfectly fit our best used SUV under 10000 list.
Interested in one? Be aware of their faulty oxygen sensor, problematic center airbag sensor, excess oil consumption, or check engine light which turns on due to a bad hose fitment on the air filter.
2010 Kia Sportage
According to owners and reviewers, it does not have the fuel economy one would expect of a car of this age, and especially not of a car with little two liter and 2.7-liter engines. However, the 2010 Kia Sportage is affordable, rather practical, and of great value.
This is a humble and modest vehicle which will get the job done. After all, the long warranty Kia offered for the cars back then (up to 7 years for some components) probably means that they are all in great shape even today.
However, when buying a used one, be sure to check the throttle position switch and transmission. Interestingly enough, a jerky transmission could be fixed just by updating software.
One more point in the “buy it column” may be the fact that the Sportage was named as one of the most reliable vehicles of 2009 by Consumer Reports. That says something about it, doesn’t it?
2007 Mazda CX-7
I told you about the Nissan Murano being somewhat controversial in its styling. Well, the Mazda CX-7 was much the same when it appeared – dramatically different compared with the competition and rather futuristic. So, it looks rather appealing today, especially considering it does use that awesome 2.3-liter turbocharged motor from the Mazdaspeed3 with 260 hp.
However, age can be a problem with it, as some did report the engine timing chain stretching and some problems with the turbocharger. Nothing impossible to mend, mind you.
Solid build quality and sporty performance are the main advantages. The cabin seems to have aged rather well, too – especially with an updated touchscreen head unit. Expect some rather high fuel costs with it, though.
2010 Mitsubishi Outlander
Mitsubishi may be in a number of problems nowadays (which may be actually nullified by the fact that Renault Nissan bought them), but their Outlander is actually a rather nice car. In this case, I am referring to the second generation model from 2010. With its 2.4-liter motor and three-liter V6 option, the three-row Outlander was an appealing SUV of the time. Now, thanks to depreciation, the Outlander lands comfortably in the race for the best used SUV under 10,000.
If you are a buyer, you can expect a lot of room inside, a fantastic rear tailgate bench which can support 400 lbs, and a whole slew of safety equipment.
You should be aware, though, of the HVAC blower motor problems. Check it out before you buy it.
2009 Volkswagen Tiguan
Although not offering as much cargo space as its closest Japanese or American competitors, the Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact, peppy and rather refined SUV. Now, the version available in the US uses a two-liter turbocharged engine with 200 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque. Four motion models and FWD cars are on the used car market right now and all of them are rather nicely equipped.
Interestingly enough, owner experiences did show that the Tiguan had some problems with its engine. Thus, when opting for a used one check timing chain tensioner, plastic intake manifold and service history.
Safety? Really good!
2006 Nissan Pathfinder
This is possibly the most hard-core entry on the “best used SUV under 10,000” list. It is praised for its powerful V6 engines but also negatively criticized for its unrefined ride quality and cabin surfaces. Now, however, if you are interested in one, you should be considerate of the Pathfinder’s age.
The transmission seems to be one of the problems used Nissan Pathfinder buyers may face. Transmission slipping, coolant leaking into the transmission, and even fuel gauge inaccuracies can be a problem.
Some of them, really expensive.
2006 Ford Expedition
As far as full-size SUVs go in our “best used SUV under 10000” list, the 2006 Ford Expedition may be the best bet. It is an older SUV, but it does sport a fully independent suspension – the first one of the full-size breed.
With a 300 hp 5.4-liter Triton V8 and fully boxed frame, the Expedition can tow up to 8,900 lbs. Aside from the obvious practicality advantages, the Expedition uses an automatic full-time ControlTrac four-wheel drive system. Of course, this is an option.
Now, buying a car like this may be a trap you should not fall into. Check the spark plugs, throttle body, catalytic converter, and EGR sensor to make sure these problematic parts don’t give you any issues right off the bat.