Best Used SUVs Under $5,000, According to Car and Driver

Even with record inflation and higher record vehicle prices, you can still find yourself behind an SUV for under $5,000. However, buying a cheap car is rarely that simple. When buying a car for around $5,000 or less, you rarely know what you are getting into. With high miles comes years of possible issues that the previous owners may pass on to you. Without knowing the previous owners, you may get into a car with years of different maintenance or a vehicle that only has a few hundred miles left. On the other hand, if you find a used car for cheap with super low mileage on the odometer, you may be in even worse shape with old fluids and gas sitting in the vehicle, creating invisible internal issues from the outside.

When buying an ultra-cheap SUV, it’s essential to look at simple models that do not have a wide range of expensive components that could break. Does a vehicle have a complicated air-ride suspension that is prone to failure? You are better off looking for a simpler vehicle. Does the SUV you are considering buying have an engine that is prone to blowing head gaskets? That may be the reason you are finding such a great deal. With reliability and simplicity in mind, here is everything you need to know about the best SUVs you can buy for under $5,000, according to Car and Driver.

Jeep Cherokee

The 1984 to 2001 Jeep Cherokee is one of the most legendary SUV models in automotive history. This model, designated as the Cherokee XJ, is an offroad legend with a classic square body style that is equally capable of hauling groceries and climbing dunes. These XJ Cherokees are desirable but still fantastically cheap, thanks to availability. Don’t be fooled by listings online; there is nothing rare about a run-of-the-mill XJ. It sold over 100,000 units nearly every year of its production, making spare parts and replacement donor cars easy to find.

If you can handle preventative maintenance to avoid oil leaks and possible rust, the XJ Cherokee is one of the best options for an SUV under $5,000, according to Car and Driver.

Nissan Pathfinder

A silver-gray 2003 Nissan Pathfinder midsize SUV model parked on a dirt plain in a mountain forest
2003 Nissan Pathfinder | Nissan Motor Corporation

While Nissan’s reliability may not be fantastic these days, the 1995 to 2003 Nissan Pathfinder model years are a whole other story. This second-generation Pathfinder came equipped with an unstoppable V6 engine, and when properly equipped, these Nissans can tow up to 3,500 pounds. With a towing capacity large enough to haul a light sports car to a track day on the weekend, remote keyless entry, a roof rack, and an optional Bose audio system, the Nissan Pathfinder is one of the best options around for a versatile daily driver under $5,000.

Toyota Sequoia

Related The New 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV May Be Able to Tow More Than Your Truck

The New 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV May Be Able to Tow More Than Your Truck

When the Toyota Sequoia was first introduced for the 2001 model year, it brought Toyota into the mainstream for full-size SUVs. Of course, Toyota was always great at building SUVs and trucks, but the Sequoia was built with Americans in mind. This Tundra-based SUV came standard with a V8 engine that was clean-running enough to earn the designation as an ultra-low emission vehicle by the California Air Resources Board. Even though this was a clean-running V8-equipped vehicle, it had body dimensions that rivaled the Ford Expedition and made the Chevy Tahoe look small. 

For less than $5,000 used today, the Toyota Sequoia has a 6,500-pound towing capacity and can be found with a full-leather interior in some high-end models. The Sequoia is an absolute hidden gem today, especially as a way to tow a weekend toy in total early 2000s-era luxury for an extremely affordable price.