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Despite high car prices, reliable used compact SUVs under $20,000 still exist. Though older used SUVs might be unreliable, specific Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Nissan Rogue, and Mazda CX-5 model years have proven dependable. These affordable small crossovers should be on your shortlist.

2016 Honda CR-V

Reliable used compact SUV under $20,000: 2016 Honda CR-V
2016 Honda CR-V | Honda Motor America

The CR-V is one of Honda’s most reliable vehicles, and the 2016 model is a prime example. It has also earned praise from experts and owners alike for its comfortable ride and spacious interior. 

The 2016 Honda CR-V has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 25 to 26 mpg in the city and 31 to 33 mpg on the highway. Its excellent gas mileage makes it an ideal daily driver.

J.D. Power ranks the 2016 CR-V fourth among compact SUVs from that model year. The data analytics firm gave the CR-V a “great” reliability score of 83/100. 

Owners reported to J.D. Power that they love the amount of hatch space, the transmission’s smoothness, and the easily folding rear seats.

Shoppers pay an average of $15,300 to $22,300 for a used 2016 Honda CR-V.

2016 Toyota RAV4

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 is another reliable used compact SUV under $20,000. One of the best reasons to own it is its high resale value. However, drivers also cite its quality and dependability. The 2016 model earned a superb reliability score of 86/100 from J.D. Power.

It’s an excellent road-trip vehicle, even for rear passengers. The 2016 RAV’s interior is roomy for a compact SUV, and the ride is comfortable. In addition, the infotainment and climate controls are easy to use, and drivers will appreciate this crossover’s versatility.

Used 2016 Toyota RAV4 models are going for anywhere from $15,500 to $21,500.

2016 Subaru Forester

The 2016 Subaru Forester trim boasts all-wheel drive and excellent outward visibility. Those qualities make this reliable used compact SUV an attractive choice for off-road adventures. 

Plus, the roomy cargo area and versatile rear seats are perfect for growing families. 

J.D. Power ranked the 2016 Forester third in the compact SUV segment that year and gave it a reliability score of 85/100. 

Owners told the market research firm they love the ease of entering and exiting the 2016 Forester. They also enjoy how stable it feels in less-than-ideal driving conditions. 

Pricing for this reliable used compact SUV ranges from about $12,600 to $19,800.

2017 Nissan Rogue

The 2017 Nissan Rogue is another reliable used compact SUV for under $20K. It touts plenty of interior storage space, which helps keep this small crossover tidy and organized. It also has voice recognition and Bluetooth.

Owners like that the 2017 Rogue is highly comfortable. The rear seats are spacious, and the smooth ride makes it an excellent daily driver.

J.D. Power placed the 2017 Nissan Rogue second among compact SUVs that year and gave it a reliability score of 86/100.

Bonus: Shoppers wanting seating for seven might be able to find a used 2017 Rogue with a third row. Nissan offered available third-row seating in 2013 to 2018 Rogue models. The third row better suits smaller riders like children, although anyone can fit back there in a pinch.

Used models average $12,900 to $19,400.

2018 Mazda CX-5

Reliable used compact SUV: 2018 Mazda CX-5
2018 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda North American Operations

For high style and sporty handling, consider a 2018 Mazda CX-5. This reliable used compact SUV delivers a premium experience thanks to its user-friendly infotainment system and upscale interior.

J.D. Power ranked the 2018 CX-5 fifth in the compact SUV segment that year. Its reliability score is 83/100.

Pricing hovers around $16,500 to $22,200.

Reminders when shopping for a reliable used compact SUV

Regardless of a used car’s reliability score, 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.