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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated Nov. 16, 2023

Navigating Today's High Car Prices? Perhaps Consider Older SUVs For Value and Reliability

Related: How To Get The Best Deal On A "Brand New" SUV

There are many possible candidates. Back in the day, for example, gave its used Compact/SUV Crossover "Best Bet Award" to the 2003 - 2010 Honda CR-V. The honor went to the 2004 - 2010 Ford Explorer in the Midsize/SUV Crossover category. And the best bet for the Large/SUV Crossover category went to the 2003 - 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe.

Extremely high current new and used car prices has many car shoppers looking for "older" vehicles as a way to better fit their budgets. Of course, older vehicles raise the risk of unknowingly buying a car that either needs major repairs or soon will.

So, very importantly ...

Things To Do When Considering An "Older" SUV

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the Dealer or private seller, it's usually best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $150-$200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

And My #1 Price Tip: Please, always get online price quotes at auto sites such as and (both, actually), whether looking for a new or used car. Competition among dealers for your business does amazing things to prices, and it's so easy. It really does make a difference.

And quickly, while we're at it, my #2 Tip is to always know the up-to-date trade-in value of your current car. You can get a quick and surprisingly accurate one at Edmund's Trade-In Quotes.

It's free and just takes a couple of minutes. I think what helps its accuracy is the inputs will include either your plate# or VIN# followed by many simple, but specific, yes/no questions. It really focuses in on the detail of the specific vehicle.

Others With Good Reputations Include:

Used Acura MDX (2008)

Acura MDX: First released in 2001, this luxury SUV quickly became renowned for being one of the first crossover SUVs with third row seating. Able to boast of a seven passenger capacity and excellent crash test scores, the MDX became a favorite among families. Over the years the Acura MDX has maintained its focus on both family usefulness and luxurious surroundings.

Cadillac Escalade: The Escalade was a ground-breaker for Cadillac, being its first light truck. And it went a long way, along with the Cadillac CTS, in paving the way to change Cadillac's 'image' away from "old-fashioned" and "traditional" and towards "modern", "innovative" and "edgy". And it's gone on to become the #1 selling full-size luxury SUV.

Chevy Traverse: The Chevy Traverse is a vehicle that fills an important niche for those seeking the passenger and cargo capacity of a minivan with the sportier look of an SUV. Sure, minivans are versatile and functional, but a growing market segment just can't live with its image. The result is a stylish crossover with a carlike ride and plenty of room.

Ford Escape: It says a lot that since first introduced in 2001, the Ford Escape has been one of top selling small SUVs in the country. And this is no small feat given the intense competition in this segment of the SUV market, many of which were already well established. The Escape simply offers qualities with wide appeal and is definitely worth consideration as a used car purchase.

Older Used Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer (2008)

Ford Explorer: More than any other vehicle, it's really the midsize Ford Explorer that's responsible for America's love affair with SUVs that blossomed in the early 1990s. The Explorer delivered comfort, roominess, versatility and affordability, and all with a more attractive design than "ho hum" station wagons or minivans. The rest is history.

Jeep Wrangler: Although the look is still based on the famously classic World War II model, the modern day Wrangler has come a long way. And when it comes to driving, whether you're motoring down the highway, driving through city streets or taking on the most demanding offroad obstacles, the Wrangler is nimble, quick and precise.

Lexus RX: Lexus pioneered the "crossover" SUV with the RX 300 in 1999. And with genes like this, the further development of the RX over the years has continued to impress. In fact, this midsize luxury crossover SUV has been a consumer favorite from the beginning due to its plush ride, roomy cabin, popular high-tech features and impressive reliability record.

Nissan Murano: From its innovative styling, to its feature level, to its car-like handling, we've always been impressed. And we're far from alone on this. "Expert" reviews have always been strong for this crossover (an SUV built on a car platform) and commonly note superior steering and handling, transmission behavior, ride stability, comfort and support as well as performance.

Toyota 4Runner: We happen to think the 4Runner is one heck of an SUV ... and we're far from alone on that. Its become one of the most widely recognized SUV names on the planet, earning an outstanding reputation as rugged, tough and durable ... both off-road or on.

Older Used 2008 Toyota RAV4

Toyota Rav4: The Toyota RAV4 is the smallest of Toyota's rather large lineup of SUVs and was one of the first crossover SUVs available. This has enabled the RAV4 to benefit from years of refinement and develop many best-in-class attributes. Many of its crossover competitors are still in their first generation, while the RAV4 is currently in its third.

Older SUV Mechanical Problem Checklist

Inspecting an older SUV requires a thorough examination to ensure it's in good condition. Consider having a qualified mechanic perform a comprehensive inspection. They can use diagnostic tools to assess the vehicle's overall health, providing a detailed report on potential issues or upcoming maintenance needs. Here are key areas to include in a mechanical inspection:


Body and Frame: Look for signs of rust, corrosion, dents, or structural damage.

Tires: Check the tire tread depth and condition. Uneven wear could indicate alignment issues.

Suspension: Check for worn-out shocks, struts, and bushings. Bouncing or unusual noises over bumps may indicate problems.

Brakes: Inspect the brake pads, discs, and check for any leaks in the brake lines.

Engine Compartment:

Fluids: Check oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid levels. Look for leaks.

Belts and Hoses: Inspect for cracks, fraying, or signs of wear.

Battery: Ensure it's in good condition and holding a charge.

Under the Vehicle:

Exhaust System: Check for rust, holes, or leaks. Exhaust leaks can be a safety concern.

Transmission and Drivetrain: Look for leaks and ensure smooth shifting.

Suspension Components: Inspect for wear, loose parts, or damaged components.


Electrical Components: Test lights, wipers, power windows, locks, and the radio.

Dashboard Indicators: Ensure all warning lights turn on and off properly.

Seats and Seatbelts: Check for wear, functionality, and proper operation.

Test Drive:

Engine Performance: Listen for unusual noises, vibrations, or hesitation.

Transmission: Ensure smooth shifting and no slipping between gears.

Steering and Handling: Check for alignment issues, vibrations, or pulling to one side.

Brakes: Test their responsiveness, ensuring they don't squeal or feel spongy.

Remember, while an older vehicle might have wear and tear, a well-maintained one can still offer reliability. However, being diligent in the inspection process can help avoid unexpected expenses and ensure a safer driving experience.

Lastly, Suggestions For Getting The Lowest SUV Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" SUV if the price was crazy good, here's info on exactly How To Get The Best Price On A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.

Car Buying Tips:

Easily Negotiate A New Car At The Lowest Price

Do This To Get The Best Price For Your Trade-In

How To Get The Lowest Rate Car Loan

Used Car Reliability Ratings

This One Tip Will Save Thousands On Car Insurance

The Truth About Wholesale And Trade-in Values

The Best Used Cars For Gas Mileage

Use Auto Lease Residual Value To Your Advantage

How To Import A Car Into Canada

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