Woman sitting in SUV trunk surrounded by forest.

10 Best Used And Approved SUVs Under $20,000 In 2022

Hanna Kielar5-Minute Read
UPDATED: December 12, 2022


Table Of Contents

    Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are remarkably popular across the United States, with impressive cross-demographic appeal. Some enjoy the safe and comfortable feeling of driving around town in a big, rugged vehicle, while thrill-seekers love the off-road capabilities of a purpose-built crossover SUV. It's no surprise there's been an explosion in the popularity of the SUV; 2019 saw the global pool of these vehicles grow six times over compared to 2010.

    While they have a reputation for being pricey, you can find great used SUVs under $20,000 if you know where to look. We've made it easier for you by selecting 10 affordable, top-quality pre-owned SUVs to satisfy adrenaline junkies and soccer moms and dads alike.

    Ranking Methodology

    Naturally, our first ranking criterion for this list was a proven make and model SUV that’s available for $20k or less. We've listed the lowest asking price currently available at the time of publication in the Rocket AutoSM inventory, but keep in mind that this will fluctuate with time due to changes in demand.

    General affordability is also a priority, which makes fuel economy our next major factor of selection. While you may not find the best SUVs of 2019 here, there are surprisingly recent models available. We also exclusively chose vehicles with good reputations for safety and reliability. Lastly, we looked at desirable safety features (such as traction control, crash warning, or multiple airbags) and interior comfort and technology, such as seating, wireless charging for devices, and premium sound systems.

    Best SUV Under $20,000

    Subaru Forester

    MPG: 21 city | 27 highway

    Drivetrain: All-wheel drive

    Lowest asking price: $11,000

    The Subaru Forester is a natural pick for the best SUV under $20,000, with multiple respectable model years and trim levels to choose from. You can find great bargains on the '12 Forester, but the '15 is also available for right around $20k. It's well worth the money, thanks to the optional 5-speed manual transmission (lower MSRP and better fuel economy), always-active all-wheel drive and a great track record for reliability among all SUVs. The Subaru Forester is perfectly suited to clearing rough conditions, traveling dirt roads and transporting a growing family — this jack-of-all-trades appeal is what makes it the best SUV for less than $20,000.

    Most Reliable Used SUV Under $20,000

    Toyota Highlander

    MPG: 18 city | 24 highway

    Drivetrain: All-wheel drive

    Lowest asking price: $18,500

    Toyotas are famous for their reliability, and the company's line of SUVs is no exception . When you're looking for the most reliable used SUV under $20,000, pick the Toyota Highlander for its blend of first-class reliability and comfort. You can often find the '14 Highlander for under $20k, and this model combines the basic reliability of the Highlander with quality-of-life standard features like tri-zone automatic climate control.

    Best Used Crossover SUV Under $20,000

    Buick Enclave

    MPG: 16 city | 22 highway

    Drivetrain: All-wheel drive | Four-wheel drive

    Lowest asking price: $16,750

    The Buick Enclave is one of the best used crossover SUVs on the market when you're trying to stay on budget. Older models offer plenty of room for a family, with an upscale interior and standard features, including all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Electronic stability control and side airbags contribute to excellent safety ratings. While Enclave is not among the best for fuel efficiency, it’s one of the only drawbacks to an otherwise excellent crossover SUV.

    Best Midsize SUV

    Hyundai Santa Fe

    MPG: 22 city | 27 highway

    Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive

    Lowest asking price: $15,499

    While the Hyundai Santa Fe isn't ideal for tackling swamps and rocky terrain, it's great for the suburban commuting that midsize SUVs are often used for. The '13 model is ideal for families, with a decent price point and upgraded safety features from previous models. Standard features like backup cameras go a long way to help you stay safe on the road, while dual climate control and heated seats ensure good comfort as well.

    Best AWD SUV Under $20K

    Nissan Rogue

    MPG: 25 city | 32 highway

    Drivetrain: All-wheel drive

    Lowest asking price: $14,796

    Things like an optional third row of seating, wide-swinging rear doors and other quality-of-life features help make the Nissan Rogue the best AWD SUV under $20,000. There's plenty of space for camping trips and outdoor excursions, with an intuitive AWD system that can help you tackle all sorts of rough terrain.

    Best Full-Size SUV

    Chevrolet Suburban

    MPG: 14 city | 19 highway

    Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive

    Lowest asking price: $16,995

    The '08 Chevrolet Suburban has everything many people look for in a full-size SUV, with standard features like a powerful eight-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive. It's an outstanding family vehicle with excellent entertainment options, such as an eight-speaker sound system, XM satellite radio and dual-zone climate control.

    Best Luxury SUV

    Acura MDX

    MPG: 16 city | 21 highway

    Drivetrain: All-wheel drive

    Lowest asking price: $16,499

    Older Acura MDX models offer a luxurious driving experience and low cost, but we believe the 2011 model offers the best overall value. It offers a comfortable riding experience with third row seating and cuts a stylish, sleek look from the outside. The interior is even more elegant, with leather seating and simulated koa wood grain.

    Best Hybrid SUV

    Kia Niro

    MPG: 46 city | 40 highway

    Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive

    Lowest asking price: $17,000

    You can find fairly recent models of the Kia Niro used for under $20,000, typically up to 2017 model year vehicles. Going for the '17 Kia Niro means enjoying the outstanding mileage and spacious interior design alongside modern amenities like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

    Best SUV For Snow

    Jeep Grand Cherokee

    MPG: 16 city | 23 highway

    Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive

    Lowest asking price: $14,996

    The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a timeless choice for tackling difficult conditions, and if you often find yourself snowed in, it should be your first pick. Choose the '13 Jeep Grand Cherokee for an affordable vehicle with standard features like four-wheel drive, front and rear anti-roll bars and traction control that'll help you stay safe during inclement weather conditions.

    Best SUV For Off-Roading

    Nissan Xterra

    MPG: 15 city | 20 highway

    Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive

    Lowest asking price: $16,998

    You can find Nissan Xterra model years from '11 to '14 for less than $20,000, and each model is an excellent choice for off-roading. The best option is the '14 Pro 4X, which has extra off-roading features, such as Bilstein dampers and a selectable locking rear differential.

    The Bottom Line: There's An SUV For Every Driver

    Not only are there great SUVs for suburban commuters and outdoor adventurers alike, but you can even afford many of them on a modest budget. 

    Hanna Kielar

    Hanna Kielar is a Section Editor for Rocket Auto℠, RocketHQ℠, and Rocket Loans® with a focus on personal finance, automotive, and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.