The first question potential SUV buyers should ask themselves is “Do I really need an SUV?” Between the poor fuel economy and the significantly higher price than a minivan or wagon, sometimes it makes sense to go with one of the other options.
But if you need the features that an SUV provides — ground clearance, towing power, general ruggedness — then it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best deal out there. Shopping for a used Honda or Toyota SUV is a great place to start.
The recent surge in SUVs
SUVs have surged in popularity recently and new cars can easily clear $30,000 for non-luxury models. But just like any other vehicle on the market, there’s plenty of opportunity to buy used.
There are a few additional considerations when buying a used SUV, but there are some great deals out there. Kelley Blue Book recently listed some of their favorite SUVs available under $8,000 and there are some familiar names at the top.
The top five vehicles on the list are as follows: At #1, the 2009 Honda CR-V. Then, the 2007 Toyota Highlander, 2009 Honda Element, 2009 Toyota RAV4, and the 2009 Honda Pilot.
Honda and Toyota have a history of making cars that hold up well over time, but this is almost a new level. Given the price restrictions, it’s difficult to find cars more recent than 2009 or further back than 2005.
Older cars are cheaper, of course, but these Hondas and Toyotas fit in just fine under the $8,000 price limit. Here’s more information about each of the listed vehicles and whether it might be right for the potential SUV buyer.
KBB’s top five SUVs under $8,000
As we said, the 2009 Honda CR-V topped the list. The CR-V is notable due to just how many excellent model years it has. 2013 and 2017 are in the books as excellent values, and it appears 2020 will join them. Going back a little further, 2009 is also a CR-V model year for the ages.
Next came the 2007 Toyota Highlander. The Toyota Highlander is a great vehicle, but recent versions of the SUV have seen some pretty hefty price increases. However, the quality of the Toyota line goes all the way back to 2007 models on the highlander, and that model year’s vehicles are a great option.
The 2009 Honda Element is a solid choice. Too pure for this world, the Honda Element was discontinued in 2011. But fans of the vehicle are still numerous, and if you can find a 2009 version there’s plenty of life left in it. It’s still a bizarre-looking SUV but it’s great value for the price.
The 2009 Toyota RAV4 is a great alternative to the CR-V. Similar to the CR-V, you can find a great used RAV4 whether you’re looking three years back, or 10. The 2009 model hits the price point perfectly, but there are newer options if you’re looking for them.
The 2009 Honda Pilot is a superb family SUV. The Pilot is a vehicle where going too far back might actually be unsafe. Many reports of issues with 2003 models made it the model year to avoid, but the 2009 Honda Pilot received the opposite reaction. It’s a great vehicle with Honda quality at a great price.
Why buying a used Honda or Toyota SUV makes sense
New SUVs are listed at intimidating prices, but the vehicle designs are solid. If you’re willing to go a few years back, you can usually find a great deal for under $8,000 or less. Toyota and Honda top the list of available used SUVs at that price point due to their extended history of reliable vehicles.
Purchasing a vehicle from the late 2000s means that depreciation isn’t something you’ll have to be concerned about, and you can simply drive the vehicle for as long as it makes sense.