Our Top 5 Best Used SUV for Value and Practicality

Choosing the best used SUV crossover will take some research. And with SUVs and crossovers having largely displaced station wagons and, to some extent, minivans as the family vehicle of choice, there are plenty to choose from at the used car lot. Here’s our list of the top 5 best used SUVs on the market right now for buyers looking for dependable family transportation with loads of cargo. 

1. Subaru Forester

This Japanese brand has built a reputation for desirability based around its excellent all-wheel drive technology. The Forester’s no-nonsense design makes it easy to like for practical reasons, but there are a few issues to watch for. Check oil and coolant levels on any car you test drive; if either is low, it could be a sign of a bad head gasket, one of few weaknesses in Subaru’s engines. Wheel bearings can be touchy, too. The turbocharged XT model is quick, but the engine is very sensitive to poor maintenance, making it less reliable than the base model.

2. Mitsubishi Outlander

A bit of a dark horse, Mitsubishi builds better vehicles than the brand’s embarrassingly slow sales would suggest. The Outlander offers little special design wise, but resale values are low, and the 10-year powertrain warranty is worth taking advantage of, though you shouldn’t have to.

3. Dodge Journey

Like the Outlander, the Journey makes our list mostly because of its low resale values. It’s not flawless, but the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 is a great motor that moves the Journey with ease and decent fuel economy. Electrical/electronic quirks due to low battery voltage are what you’re most likely to run across, and it’s a good idea to pay attention to transmission performance during your test drive: any weird shift behaviours, like hard shifts or engine speed “flares” between gears, can indicate a vehicle worth avoiding.

4. Hyundai Tucson / Kia Sportage

Popular mostly because of aggressive new-vehicle prices and incentives, the Tucson and Sportage (which are twins, mechanically) have nonetheless proven to be durable little crossovers since a 2010 redesign, and are quite affordable on the used market. Known issues include bad brake/shift interlock switches, noisy suspension strut mounts and, occasionally, rough shifting from the automatic transmission.

5. Toyota Highlander

Thoroughly unexciting, the Highlander is perfect for its intended purpose: capable and trouble-free family vehicle performance. A 2008 redesign brought a bigger, more spacious vehicle. An available four-cylinder engine is a bit underpowered, and a hybrid model doesn’t return the promised fuel economy, so stick with the V6. The engine’s water pump is the only common mechanical issue.

Chris has been writing professionally about cars since 2004, in print and online. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and two feline tyrants. In rare quiet moments, he can be found travelling or playing one of his way-too-many guitars. Chris is also a journalist member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).