Skip to main content

There are many things to consider when looking for SUVs or cars for teens. Safety is a big one, and reliability is another significant factor, but there is an endless supply of stipulations. We rounded up some of the best used SUVs under $20,000 that might be good options for your teenage driver. If all else fails, Toyota, Subaru, and Acura have your back, even if you can’t always be there.

What is the best-used SUV for teens to drive?

The best used SUVs for teens include this 2016 Toyota Highlander
The 2016 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

One of the best used SUVs for teen drivers is the 2016 Toyota Highlander for a few reasons. If you have not checked out the IIHS list in collaboration with Consumer Reports, it has some great options. The 2016 Highlander is a good used SUV for a few reasons, but safety is high up there. Adults and teenagers like the Highlander because it is comfortable and spacious, along with a long history of reliability to back it up.

This midsize Toyota SUV earned the Top Safety Pick Plus award when equipped with the optional Advanced Technology Package. If you can find a Highlander with this optional Pre-Collision System, it has some of the best safety systems to protect the driver and passengers. Since this SUV is from 2016, many standard driver-assistance features now were only optional equipment.

This used Toyota slides in under the $20,000 budget and earned high marks on the main crashworthiness tests. Toyota’s Highlander protected the driver and passengers in the critical front, side, and roof strength tests. The vehicle-to-vehicle front-crash prevention tests met the requirements. When it comes to good cars for teens, Toyota has a lot of suitable options depending on what size car or SUV you prefer.

What is a safe used SUV under $20,000?

The best used SUVs for teens include this 2016 Acura RDX
The 2016 Acura RDX | Acura

The 2016 Acura RDX checks all the boxes for a safe used SUV and comes under budget. This luxury SUV from Acura also earned the Top Safety Pick Plus award from the IIHS when equipped with the optional Advance Package. This adds a Collision Mitigation Braking System that earned superior marks in the front crash prevention test. If you can find a 2016 RDX with this system, it provides the best protection.

This Acura SUV earned high marks on all five main crashworthiness tests. It protected the driver from injuries and earned high marks for the structure and safety cage. Beyond safety, the RDX has a comfortable cabin and a smooth engine. Bluetooth, USB ports, and dual-zone climate control are additional creature comforts your teen might like. Plus, the RDX is expected to last a pretty long time. Make sure your teenager keeps up with routine maintenance to keep it running at its best.

What is a good SUV for a first-time driver?

The best used SUVs include this 2017 Honda CR-V
A 2017 Honda CR-V | Honda

The 2017 Honda CR-V is another good used SUV option. This Honda SUV earned high marks on the IIHS crashworthiness tests to earn the Top Safety Pick Plus award. While the CR-V comes in a few trims, the Touring trim with its LED reflector headlights provided the best visibility and protection. The optional Honda Sensing Package adds an optional Collision Mitigation Brake System, which earned a superior score during testing.

The CR-V is Honda’s best-selling SUV and one of the top sellers, so it will hopefully suit your teenager. Some even say it is as solid as a rock. It has comfortable seats, a spacious second row, and a class-leading cargo area. 2017 was a redesign year, so it still looks pretty new, even after a few years. All-wheel drive was an option, so consider that if you live in snowy areas.

If your budget to take home one of the best used SUVs increases at all, going up a model year or two adds a lot of safety features. These started becoming more commonplace in 2017, which meant better protection for the driver and passengers. If not, these are some good cars for teens to get you started. Don’t forget insurance!


1 SUV Dominates This List of ‘Best Used SUVs for Under $15K’