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Buying a new SUV like an Audi in 2023 can be costly. Even the average compact SUV is close to $30,000. If you’re looking for a bigger or more luxurious option, you’ll likely be paying tens of thousands of dollars more for something new.

The used luxury SUV market could offer great deals to buyers in 2023. U.S. News put together a list of the best used luxury subcompact SUVs you can get for less than $30,000. Among the best options are three models years of the Audi Q3: 2015, 2016, and 2018. All three were ranked in the top six best options for buyers. Here’s why you should consider them.

The 2015 Audi Q3 

Clouds are reflected on a hood of an Audi A3
The 2015 Audi Q3 | Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

The 2015 Audi Q3 earned an 8.6 score out of 10 from U.S. News, putting it tied for second-best behind the 2016 BMW X1 at 8.7. The 2015 model year marked the debut for the Q3. It came on the market as a slightly smaller version of the flagship Q5. 

The 2015 Q3 was the debut model, but it came on strong to the market. Two trims are available: the base Premium Plus and Prestige. Both options are front-wheel drive with optional all-wheel drive. All models have a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, 10-speaker sound system, and a seven-inch touchscreen. Bumping up to the Prestige trim includes an upgraded Bose sound system, an Audi Connect system (enhanced navigation and a Wi-Fi hotspot), and a power liftgate. Multiple packages are available on both trims as well.

It’s ranked the best luxury subcompact SUV of 2015 by U.S. News by a healthy margin. Reliability is a big factor in that. J.D. Power named it the best small premium SUV of 2015 with a “great” 85 out of 100 rating for quality and reliability. In the near decade since its release, just two recalls have been issued by the NHTSA. One is for side marker lights that may not illuminate, and the other is that the sunroof may continue to close while the vehicle is shut off and an occupant is in its path. Both are relatively simple fixes, and no new ones have been reported since September 2016.

Though many of these models probably surpass 100,000 miles on the odometer, there’s little reason to think they’ll stop soon. J.D. Power’s 2018 dependability study on 2015 vehicles found the Q3 to be the most dependable luxury SUV on the market. Don’t let the first model year scare you off of a good deal. It’s less than half the price of a new Audi Q3 and certainly not half as good.

The next year brought the reliable 2016 Audi Q3

One of the next best Q3 models for the money is one year younger. It remains a fantastic choice for a used luxury SUV at 8.5 out of 10 in U.S. News’ rankings. 

The 2016 model looks different right off the bat. A facelift brings a new front grille and updated lights and fascia. There are new features for drivers as well. Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are standard for all models.

The 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine remains from 2015, generating 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque across all trims. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional for the two trims, Premium Plus and Prestige. The Q3 did not improve as much as some competitors for 2016 — namely, the redesigned BMW X1 — but offers similar reliability and safety ratings at the 2015 model. J.D. Power gave it another perfect five out of five rating for reliability. The 2016 Q3 also earned J.D. Power’s award for the most dependable small premium SUV in its 2019 dependability study. The IIHS named the 2016 Q3 a Top Safety Pick.

The NHTSA has issued just three recalls for the 2016 Audi Q3: side marker lights not illuminating (like the 2015 model), brake lights not illuminating when the parking brake is used in emergency braking, and no indicator for a failed turn signal. The last of those recalls was issued in May 2019, and dealers updated the software and hardware free of charge.

At an average price of $19,813 (per KBB), the 2016 Q3 provides much of what made the first model a good investment. For roughly $2,000 more, you can get the same level of luxury and reliability with a few extra features and likely a few thousand less miles on the odometer. That average price still comes in much lower than the cost of a new Q3 or other similar luxury compact SUVs. It’s one of the least problematic SUVs from the 2016 model year and worth consideration for a used luxury SUV. 

Look past the 2017 model and at the 2018 Audi Q3

The 2018 model marked the last year of the first generation of the Audi Q3. There are a few changes with this model year. First off, there’s a restyled front bumper for all models. The two trim options changed in name with the available Premium and Premium Plus models. Though the Prestige trim was eliminated, its included features became part of packages or stand-alone additions.

The 2018 model still gets the same power figures from the 2.0-liter inline-four, and all-wheel drive is still optional. The base Premium model includes leather seats, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a 10-speaker sound system, heated side mirrors, and a panoramic sunroof. It continued to offer a comfortable, cushioned ride inside a luxurious cabin for passengers and drivers alike. 

Its perfect 10 out of 10 score for safety means you can make this SUV a daily driver and feel safe behind the wheel. The NHTSA has just one recall issued for the 2018 Q3: no indicator for a failed turn signal, like in the 2016 model. 

The 2018 model year saw a slight dip in J.D. Power reliability ratings but only to a 4.5 out of 5. That’s still one of the best marks in the segment. U.S. News put it second to the BMW X1 for the best luxury subcompact SUVs of 2018. By this time, the Q3 had become a fully-formed part of the Audi SUV fleet. The 2018 models are going for a slightly higher price than those from 2015 or 2016, but that’s due to fewer miles on the odometer.

Which used Audi Q3 model is the best of the three?

Any of these used Audi models is a great choice for a reliable luxury SUV. They will be much less costly than a new Audi model, with the peace of mind that they can go for many more miles. 

If you want a lower price overall, go for the 2015. It may be the model’s oldest and first year of the model, but there’s no reason to pass it up. If you want the fewest miles and more standard features, the 2018 model is the better choice. The 2016 Audi Q3 is a good medium between the two, though more like the 2015 model than the 2018.


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