10 Best SUVs for Less Than $15,000

2009 Subaru Forester

CarGurus spent two days previewing the 2016 New York International Auto Show, and if one trend stood out more than others, it was America’s apparent obsession with crossovers and SUVs. This could be due to low fuel prices, or perhaps it’s more a consequence of our country’s longstanding enthusiasm for adventure and frontiers. Whatever the reason, from the introduction of the Maserati Levante and the over-the-top Lincoln Navigator concept to Mitsubishi’s last-ditch effort with the Outlander PHEV, this message was clear: automakers are hitching their wagons to crossovers and SUVs.

Since the public apparently has a hankering for high-riding, do-anything transportation, we decided to find the best used crossover vehicles using CarGurus’ user-submitted reviews. To keep things interesting, we set a price limit of $15,000, but eliminated any cars more than 15 years old or with an average of more than 100,000 miles. If you want to submit your own ranking reviews on CarGurus, we’d love to hear what you have to say!

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Toyota FJ Cruiser: The Unlikely Collectible

2014_toyota_fj_cruiser

I may have accidentally cost myself a lot of money.

Since my son was about 10, he’s been in love with the Toyota FJ Cruiser and obsessed with having one as his first car. Being a loving and supportive dad, I told him that I’d pay half and match his contribution to buying one when the time came.

My son is 14 now, and his driving years are getting frighteningly close. He’s still set on having an FJ Cruiser, but prices haven’t exactly fallen like I expected.

Insead, some used FJ Cruisers are selling for more than when they were new. What’s going on?

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Make Room for More Suburbans

2015 Chevrolet Suburban

There could be 60,000 extra General Motors SUVs on American roads next year.

I want to say more, but first you should sit and let that marinate for a few seconds.

Sixty thousand additional Suburbans, Tahoes, Escalades, and more will choke our highways and suck down mad amounts of fuel, easily negating any environmental gains created by alternative-fuel cars.

This isn’t a tirade against fuel-thirsty SUVs—I happen to own one of the least efficient vehicles built in the last decade (a 2008 Audi Q7), which I need for family purposes. I’m just saying that 60,000 Suburbans is about 50 percent of the 119,000 electric cars sold in the U.S. in 2014. And those are just the *extra* SUVs GM plans to build.

Why is the American carmaker increasing production so much, and what does it mean?

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2015 Lincoln Navigator Poses One Question: Why?

2015 Lincoln Navigator

Despite the decreasing practicality of the giant luxury SUV, I see some really compelling reasons to get a used Navigator.

A new one… not so much.

Getting a second-hand Navigator means substantial savings over buying new, along with guaranteed access to a proven, sturdy, rumbling V8. Getting a Navigator that’s about 5 years old can easily save 50 percent or more off the cost of a new one, which is a real no-brainer for people who enjoy the status that a luxury SUV offers.

We could sit here all day and debate why Lincoln even built a new Navigator. Honestly, I was under the impression it had gone extinct quite some time ago.

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Big Family, Big Cars, Big Prices

family car decal

You’ve seen the stickers on the back of Suburbans everywhere. You know the ones, the little caricatures of each family member happily bouncing soccer balls or petting a puppy.

There’s usually a mom, a dad, 4 kids or more and two pets. Presumably they are all in the vehicle at the same time, and I’d almost guarantee they aren’t nearly as happy as their sticker-selves represent.

A lot of crying and yelling happens in the back of those Suburbans, I’m just sayin’.

For large families in need of a 7+-passenger vehicle, the choices are surprisingly ample. Expensive, but ample.

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Ready or Not, Here Comes the New Escalade

2013 Cadillac Escalade

There will be chrome.

The Cadillac Escalade is a vehicle that shouldn’t exist. It goes against all current rationale of what a car should be. It’s big, heavy, extravagant and laden in what the kids today call “bling.” The Escalade is expensive and gets horrid fuel economy. People who buy a new one are telling the world that they don’t care about money, the environment or a little thing called subtlety.

The Escalade might be the most in-your-face mass-produced vehicle on the market today. Common sense would say that it shouldn’t exist any longer.

Since General Motors has never been one to succumb to the pressures of common sense, not only will the Escalade live on, it’ll be re-imagined and introduced all over again in October.

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When New Cars Lose Value Fast, Used Buyers Win!

2009 Jaguar XF Supercharged

2009 Jaguar XF

Quick depreciation is a terrible thing. And a beautiful thing.

For buyers of new luxury cars, a sinking value can lead to abandoning a car after just a couple years of ownership. For buyers of used luxury cars, it can lead to some killer deals on cars that would have been unattainable new.

Think about it: If you had the choice between a brand-new, top-of-the-line Toyota Camry or a 3-year-old Jaguar XF, wouldn’t the Jag bring you an exponentially greater amount of happiness? Of course, it might also bring heftier insurance and repair bills, but that’s beside the point. We’re talking image here—and a well-priced used luxury car can provide ample amounts of that!

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