Best Used SUVs Under $5,000

By Suzanne Kane

If you’re in the market for a great sport utility that’s a few years old, be sure to check out these contenders for best used SUVs under $5,000. Keep an open mind and don’t expect to snag the top-of-the-line models for this low price bogey, and do your due diligence before you buy. That means get a professional vehicle inspection, obtain a vehicle history report, do a test drive, and negotiate your best deal.

To arrive at these choices, we looked at Consumer Reports “Best Used Vehicles for Under $20,000” and also checked Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) pricing. Here, then, are our top picks for Best Used SUVs Under $5,000 (and all of them are on the Consumer Reports list in one category or another):

  • 2002 Nissan XterraEdmunds says: “Compared to its car-based SUV competition, the Nissan Xterra’s on-pavement performance is not as comfy or refined, but if serious off-roading is part of your routine then we’d recommend it as one of the better new or used sport utilities on the market. The Xterra features solid build quality and a reliable nature…” Look for Edmunds TMV for the 2002 Xterra ranging from $5,902-$9,195.
  • 2002-2003 Mazda TributeThe compact Mazda Tribute, and its mechanical twin, Ford Escape, offer sporty handling, carlike ride, good V6 performance and lots of value for the money. Edmunds remarks: “Roomy and comfortable on the inside, stylish and practical on the outside and fun to drive wherever life took it, this quasi-first-generation Mazda Tribute was always one of our favorite compact sport utility vehicles.” Edmunds TMV for 2002 starts around $5,273, while the 2003 begins at $6,260.
  • 2002-2003 Hyundai Santa FeThe midsize crossover SUV from Hyundai, the Santa Fe, is a good bet for consumers looking for a vehicle with SUV style and functionality and car-like sporty ride quality, handling and fuel economy. Edmunds TMV for 2002 starts at $4,630, while 2003 begins at $5,875.
  • 2000 Honda CR-VA perennial Consumer Guide Best Buy, the Honda CR-V for 2000 has Edmunds TMV pricing beginning at $5,376 – surely worth a look. Consumer Guide remarks: “CR-V is America’s best-selling compact SUV, although there’s new competition from the enlarged 2001 Toyota RAV4 and especially from Escape and Tribute. Some buyers might wish for a stronger, quieter engine, others for more off-road brawn than CR-V offers, but with its smart, efficient design, this Honda is sensible, handy, and easy to like.”
  • 1999-2001 Chevrolet TahoeThe 2nd-generation 2000-2004 Chevrolet Tahoe (and sibling GMC Yukon) were either the top or runner-up picks in “Most Wanted” awards for full-size SUVs. Edmund TMV for 1999 Tahoe starts at $4,843, while 2000 TMV begins at $6,016, and 2001 at $6,497. Consumer Guide, commenting on 2000-2006 Tahoe, says: “GM’s impressive new full-size SUVs are capable, comfortable, and easy to live with. Though too big for a lot of buyers, their size fits nicely into the gap between Ford’s Expedition and Excursion. Don’t buy a big SUV without trying a Chevrolet or GMC.”
  • 1999-2000 Toyota RAV4One of the first entries in the recent crossover SUV market, the Toyota RAV4 offers value for the money for consumers checking 1999-2000 model years. Edmunds TMV ranges from $5,667-$6,515 (1999), and starts at $6,343 for 2000. Consumer Guide notes: “The 2000 RAV4 has its points, but the CR-V, Ford Escape, and Mazda Tribute are larger, roomier, and more practical.”
Bottom line:  If you’re looking for the Best Used SUVs for Under $5,000 – check these first and get out there.

See all currently available for sale used cars under $5,000