The SUV craze started in the 1990s, and has never really slowed down, gobbling up market share and draining demand for the once-dominant sedan in the process. While the humble beginnings of the SUV included truck-based models like the Ford Explorer and Ford Bronco, the segment has evolved to range in size from subcompact crossovers to full-size rugged haulers. Whatever your driving preference, there is an SUV model to suit your needs. And because there are so many SUVs to choose from finding the best used SUV can be difficult.
To help used car shoppers find the best SUVs, iSeeCars analyzed over 12 million cars and narrowed down the Best Used SUVs across all sizes. The winners are the SUVs that are the longest-lasting, hold their value the best, and have the highest average safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Here are the best non-luxury SUVs by size:
Best Used Subcompact SUVs
Subcompact SUVs are the most recent entrants to the SUV segment, many coming to market around 2014 or later. Subcompacts are the smallest SUVs available, making them the perfect choice for drivers wanting something more spacious and flexible than a small sedan while still being easy to park and drive.
Best Used Subcompact SUVs - iSeeCars
Quality Score (of 10)
Average 3-Year Old Used Car Price
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
1. Mazda CX-3
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The Best Used Subcompact SUV is the Mazda CX-3. The Mazda CX-3 made its debut in the newly established subcompact SUV vehicle segment in 2016. The CX-3 offers the sporty driving dynamics and attractive styling characteristic of the Mazda brand and a long list of standard safety and infotainment features. The small but mighty CX-3 also earns the Top Safety Pick+ designation from IIHS, the Institute’s highest honor.
2. Subaru Crosstrek
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The Subaru Crosstrek earns second place for the Best Used Subcompact SUV. The Crosstrek offers standard all-wheel drive, which is rare for the small SUV class. It has perfect safety scores and includes many driver assistance features, earning it the title of Safest SUV in our subcompact category. Safety features like blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert became available on higher trim levels beginning with the 2016 model year vehicle.
3. Honda HR-V
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The Honda HR-V ranks third. Along with displaying Honda’s strong reputation for reliability, the HR-V leads the segment in cargo space with 24.3 cubic feet behind the rear seat, and nearly 59 cubic feet with the seats folded down. The HR-V also is one of the most efficient models in the class with a combined MPG of 30.
4. Chevrolet Trax
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The Chevrolet Trax ranks fourth. The easy-to-maneuver Trax is among the most affordable vehicles in its class and it has ample head and legroom despite its small size.
5. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
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The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ranks fifth. Highlights of the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport include a lower-than-average starting price for the class and more cargo space
For more vehicles in this category, refer to the iSeeCars list of Best Subcompact SUVs.
Best Used Small and Compact SUVs
Compact SUVs are versatile vehicles that offer enough space to haul a family and cargo while still being easy to maneuver and providing effective fuel economy.
Best Used Small and Compact SUVs - iSeeCars
Quality Score (of 10)
Average 3-Year Old Used Car Price
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
1. Jeep Wrangler
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The Best Used Small SUV is the Jeep Wrangler. The Jeep Wrangler earns a high score for its proven durability and stellar value retention, both of which are boosted by its capability across all terrains. It also has above-average cargo capacity for the small SUV class.
2. Subaru Outback
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Despite its official designation as a crossover wagon, the Subaru Outback is often compared to compact SUVs, and earns the distinction as our runner up in the Best Used Small SUV category. The Subaru Outback has proven to be a long-lasting and safe vehicle with high value retention. It is also the iSeeCars pick for the Best Family SUV in the compact category. It is praised for its car-like driving dynamics, standard all-wheel drive, and class-leading cargo space. The Outback also earns the Top Safety Pick+ designation from IIHS.
3. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
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The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, which is the four-door variant of the first-ranked Jeep Wrangler, ranks third. The Wrangler Unlimited has 31.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind its rear seats, while the standard Wrangler has just 12.9 cubic feet. The Unlimited also has added seating capacity for five passengers compared to the Wrangler’s four.
4. Subaru Forester
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A second Subaru, the Subaru Forester ranks fourth. It is among the most spacious in its class, offering 31.1 cubic feet of cargo space and 76.1 cubic feet after folding down the rear seats. It also provides comfortable seating for five passengers with ample head and leg room. Like all Subarus, and unlike most SUVs, it comes standard with AWD and has above-average fuel economy for the class. Beginning with the 2019 model year, the Forester comes with standard safety features including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning.
5. Honda CR-V
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The small but mighty Honda CR-V ranks fifth. Along with being the most reliable compact SUV, the Honda CR-V is also one of the most spacious vehicles in its class, offering a cargo capacity that’s on par with larger midsize SUVs. It also provides excellent fuel economy, earning an estimated 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway for its front-wheel drive models. All-wheel drive fuel economy only decreases slightly at 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. It comes standard with a continuously variable automatic transmission and a 190-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A suite of standard safety features are available, which include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. These features became standard for the 2020 model year.
For more vehicles in this category, refer to the iSeeCars list of Best Small SUVs.
Best Used Midsize SUVs
Midsize SUVs offer more space than their compact counterparts and many provide a convenient third row of seating. They combine the best of both worlds as capable family haulers that are easier to drive and more efficient than behemouth full size SUVs.
Best Midsize SUVs - iSeeCars
Best Midsize SUV
Quality Score (of 10)
Average 3-Year Old Used Car Price
Hyundai Santa Fe
1. Toyota Highlander
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The Toyota Highlander earns the honor of Best Used Midsize SUV for being a long-lasting SUV with high value retention that is also a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS. A popular family hauler, it’s roomy and has an accessible third row of seating and ample cargo room. It also offers a suite of safety features to add to its solid reputation for reliability. The Highlander is among the top iSeeCars picks for the Best SUVs for Snow.
2. Honda Pilot
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The Honda Pilot crossover ranks second in the midsize SUV category. The Honda Pilot is a spacious three-row crossover SUV for those seeking a family-friendly hauler without the bulkiness of a full-size SUV. It’s available in all-wheel-drive or front-wheel drive and is a popular minivan alternative due to its spacious seating for up to eight passengers.
3. Toyota 4Runner
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The Toyota 4Runner ranks third as the Best Used Midsize SUV. The 4Runner’s presence on the list is no surprise, as its age-old 4.0-liter V6 engine is one of the toughest engines out there. The 4Runner’s reputation for durability and off-road superiority puts this genuine and capable four-wheel-drive SUV among the top ten most reliable SUVs.
4. Hyundai Santa Fe
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The Hyundai Santa Fe ranks fourth for its combination of quality and value. The Santa Fe also has above-average fuel economy for its class with its base engine offering an EPA estimated 26 combined mpg. Beginning with the 2019 model year, a number of infotainment and safety features became standard including Bluetooth, Apple Car Play, Android Auto, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and lane departure warning. Santa Fe buyers can also take advantage of Hyundai’s class-leading new car warranty of 10-years and 100,000-miles for the vehicle’s powertrain, which transfers to used car buyers. The Santa Fe has two rows of seats, while a three-row option falls under the Santa Fe XL nameplate.
5. Ford Explorer
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The Ford Explorer ranks fifth. The Explorer has multiple powerful turbocharged engines to choose from and drives comfortably. The Explorer also has plenty of cargo space, with three rows of seats and a list of standard features that includes an intuitive infotainment system. A list of activesafety features became standard for the 2020 model year, which include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, automatic high-beam headlights, post-collision braking, and a pre-collision system with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection. Prior to 2020, these features were avilable on upper trims.
For more vehicles in this category, refer to the iSeeCars list of Best Midsize SUVs.
Best Used Large SUVs
Bigger is better when it comes to cargo capacity and towing capability. For drivers who require three full rows of seating and don’t partake in frequent parallel parking, these are the best used large SUVs available.
Best Used Large SUVs - iSeeCars
Quality Score (of 10)
Average 3 Year Old Used Car Price
Toyota Land Cruiser
1. Toyota Land Cruiser
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The Toyota Land Cruiser is the Best Used Large SUV. Known for its longevity, the Land Cruiser is the longest-lasting car across all vehicle segments, and also has excellent value retention. The rugged three-row hauler provides above-average towing capacity for the class and is a capable off-roader.
2. Toyota Sequoia
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A second full-size Toyota, the Toyota Sequoia, earns its honors as the Best Used Large SUV runner-up. The Sequoia’s high score is attributed to its proven long-term reliability and excellent value retention.
3. Ford Expedition
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The Ford Expedition ranks third. Unlike its rivals with V8 engines, the Expedition has a twin-turbo V6, giving it better gas mileage than the rest of its class. Ford introduced a new base two-row trim forthe 2021 model year, which makes the vehicle available as a two- or three-row SUV for the first time. It has vast cargo and passenger space with 19.3 to 20.9 cubic feet behind the third row, which expands to 57.5 to 63.6 cubic feet with the rear row folded down.
4. Chevrolet Tahoe
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Ranked fourth is another American full-size SUV, the Chevrolet Tahoe. Fully redesigned for 2021, it has three available engine options, including two powerful V8 engines and a turbo diesel inline-six. The Tahoe features impressive cargo and passenger space, and its redesign increased its legroom and added standard safety features.
5. GMC Yukon
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Ranked fifth is the GMC Yukon. The Yukon and its extended wheelbase variant the Yukon XL share a platform with the other full-size GM SUVs including the Chevrolet Tahoe and the Chevy Suburban. GM’s 5.3-liter and 6.0-liter V8 powertrains found in these SUVs have been known to go the distance with minimal issues, and buyers love to use them for long-distance jaunts.
For more vehicles in this category, refer to the iSeeCars list of Best Large SUVs.
From small subcompacts to full-size heavy haulers, there are many high-quality are reliable used SUVs to suit your needs. With used car prices at record highs, a safe and reliable SUV that retains its value is a smart purchase decision.
Refer to our full guide for the complete list of Best Used SUVs including the best SUVs by price.
More from iSeeCars.com:
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This article, the Best Used SUVs, originally appeared on iSeeCars.com.