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Shoppers have many factors to weigh when buying a used car. In addition to considering all the makes, models, and prices, choosing a reliable used car is crucial. No one wants to spend their hard-earned cash on a vehicle needing constant repairs. For consumers with caviar taste on a canned tuna budget, here are three reliable used midsize luxury SUVs under $15,000. 

(Note: Regardless of a used car’s reliability score, always obtain a vehicle history report and have a trusted mechanic perform an inspection to uncover potential problems before purchasing. Also, prices may vary depending on trim level, mileage, overall condition, and location.)

The 2012 Lexus RX is a highly reliable used midsize luxury SUV

The Lexus RX has been the brand’s best-selling SUV for over a decade for a reason. Its legacy of dependability and good performance helped earn the RX the top spot in J.D. Power’s rankings for the best midsize premium SUVs of 2012. 

The market research firm gave the 2012 RX an overall score of 85 out of 100. J.D. Power bases its scores on independent reviews from hundreds of thousands of verified car owners. In the Quality and Reliability category — covering the level of defects, malfunctions, and general flaws reported by owners — the 2012 Lexus RX rated even higher with an 89. In the Driving Experience category, which includes design, functionality, and comfort, the RX got an “average” 78. And it received a “great” 85 in Resale, an estimate of deprecation over three years. The 2012 RX also won a Quality Award for having the fewest reported problems per 100 owners during the first 90 days. 

After 90 days of ownership, owners told J.D. Power their three favorite features: the vehicle’s voice-activated navigation system that calculates multiple routes to a destination, the comfort of the second-row seats, and the ease of getting in and out of the SUV. Dislikes include the style of gauges and instruments, the 3.5-liter V6 engine/exhaust sound, and a lack of stability in harsher conditions. 

Average used prices for the 2012 Lexus RX range from $14,457 to $17,021.

A used 2012 Porsche Cayenne under $15,000 is a steal

The 2012 Porsche Cayenne is a reliable used midsize luxury SUV
2012 Porsche Cayenne | Guenter Schiffmann/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The 2012 Porsche Cayenne is another reliable used midsize luxury SUV. It boasts more durability and off-road utility than its name might suggest. 

The Cayenne received an overall J.D. Power score of 83. It earned an 81 in Quality and Reliability, an 87 in Driving Experience, and an 82 in Resale. This model also won a Performance Award due to its excellent reviews from owners for its design and performance after 90 days. Drivers appreciate the 2012 Cayenne’s handling in curves, the dashboard styling, and the quiet 3.6-liter V6 engine.  

However, drivers took issue with the lack of cargo space (20.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats and a maximum of 59.7 cubic feet), the HVAC system, and forward visibility. 

Buyers are paying between $14,360 and $28,070 for used 2012 Cayenne models.

The 2011 Acura MDX has a great reliability score, but proceed with caution

We round out our shortlist of reliable used midsize luxury SUVs under $15,000 with the 2011 Acura MDX. During that model year, the MDX ranked fourth among premium SUVs.

J.D. Power gave the MDX an overall score of 81. It earned an 83 in Quality and Reliability, a 75 in Driving Experience, and an 82 in Resale. 

Owners are fans of this SUV’s GPS-enabled navigation system, including a destination database with information on over 7 million points of interest, voice recognition, and AcuraLink real-time traffic coverage. They also like the interior storage space and easy handling on winding roads. 

Drawbacks include a cramped third row, the awkwardness of getting in and out of the vehicle, and the dashboard styling. 

Also, check that any used 2011 Acura MDX you’re considering has no history of burning excessive oil. This common problem in 2010 to 2013 models prompted a class-action lawsuit from disgruntled owners. In 2020, Acura agreed to reimburse qualified owners for out-of-pocket expenses with valid documentation.

But if you can find a well-maintained example, $9,482 to $13,095 is a fair price.


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