10 Used And Affordable SUVs That Have 5-Star Safety Ratings - SUV VEHICLE

10 Used And Affordable SUVs That Have 5-Star Safety Ratings

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, the law of supply and demand, as well as general hysteria, sent the prices of used vehicles through the roof. Things have since come back to reality, but now new vehicle prices are getting out of hand and out of reach for most people. Given the state of the economy, it makes sense to purchase a used vehicle, especially for families on a budget, and a pre-owned SUV is going to check off most of their needs affordably.




Obviously, everyone has a different idea of what constitutes “affordable” but anything under the average price of a new vehicle is a good starting point. Unfortunately, in 2024 the average price for a new car is almost $50,000, which is as bonkers as it sounds. A better perimeter for affordability is somewhere between $13,000 and $35,000. That’s a range that fits almost anyone’s budget and allows for a wide array of solid used SUVs from basic transportation to a bit of luxury.

There’s really no point in buying a used, or even a new SUV if it isn’t safe and reliable, so TopSpeed has compiled a list of the best in all categories. Each of these vehicles has an overall five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, a better-than-average reliability rating, and a price tag that works for everyone. Those looking for full-size SUVs on this list are going to be disappointed, because, for whatever reason, they don’t do well in front-end crash-testing and have a greater risk of roll-over.


In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from various manufacturer websites and other authoritative sources, including NHTSA, Edmunds, and Car and Driver.

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10 2019 Buick Encore

Starting Used Price: $13,000

2019 Buick Encore
Buick

The fact that most people couldn’t name anything that stands out about a Buick is a pretty good indication that they have a reputation for making rather bland vehicles. The Encore, however, bucks the company’s mediocre trend with a stylish subcompact SUV. This little four-door is so packed with features and design aesthetics that it almost qualifies as a luxury vehicle.


Performance Specifications

Engine

1.4-liter turbo I-4

Transmission

Six-speed automatic

Horsepower

153 hp

Torque

177 lb-ft

Driveline

AWD

0-60 MPH

7.8 seconds

Top Speed

119 MPH

Towing Capacity

N/A

Payload Capacity

N/A

(Data was collected from Buick, and Car and Driver)

The Buick Encore also has surprisingly good acceleration for a budget ride. It was priced right when it was new and a used 2019 model in excellent condition with low mileage can be snagged for as low as $13,000. More than just basic transportation, the Encore gives a little taste of luxury without breaking the bank.


Pros

  • Quick acceleration
  • Loaded with standard features
  • Attractive styling

Cons

  • Engine sounds weird
  • Rough ride
  • Limited second-row legroom

9 2022 Kia Soul

Starting Used Price: $13,000

2022 Kia Soul 
Kia

The Kia Soul is another subcompact SUV that is loaded with features and comfort that comes at an affordable price. Where this tiny crossover truly shines is with the seemingly impossible interior space. It is so much bigger on the inside than it looks from the street, and a perfect ride for people who don’t normally fit comfortably in a subcompact.


Performance Specifications

Engine

2.0-Liter I-4

Transmission

Continuously variable transmission

Horsepower

147 hp @ 6,200 RPM

Torque

132 lb-ft @ 4,500 RPM

Driveline

FWD

0-60 MPH

8.0 seconds

Top Speed

120 MPH

Towing Capacity

N/A

Payload Capacity

N/A

(Data was collected from Kia Soul, and Car and Driver)

Like the Buick Encore, the Kia Soul is a short-wheelbase vehicle, which translates into a less-than-smooth driving experience. It’s not a deal-breaker, nor is it that big of an issue, but don’t expect the silky ride of an $80,000 luxury vehicle from this budget SUV that can be found used for as little as $13,000.


Pros

  • Roomy interior
  • Peppy acceleration
  • Great standard tech

Cons

  • Rocky ride
  • No AWD
  • Excessive wind noise

8 2020 Mazda CX-5

Starting Used Price: $18,000

Front 3/4 of the 2020 Mazda CX-5
Mazda

For drivers who want some extra performance to go along with the practicality of an SUV, the Mazda CX-5 is a great choice. The compact crossover has a sporty suspension, crisp handling, and some powerful turbocharged engine options. For the starting used price of around $18,000 for a 2020, it’s hard to find a vehicle in any class that can go like CX-5.


Performance Specifications

Engine

2.5-liter I-4

Transmission

Six-speed automatic

Horsepower

187 hp @ 6,000 RPM

Torque

186 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM

Driveline

FWD

0-60 MPH

8.6 seconds

Top Speed

130 MPH

Towing Capacity

2,000 pounds

Payload Capacity

N/A

(Data was collected from Mazda, and Car and Driver)

The Mazda CX-5 has the added advantage of being a sharp-looking ride, with distinct styling that sets it apart from the conformist mid-size crossover SUV segment. Add in the upscale interior and this is one of the best values in the used market. The only drawbacks are the interior is less roomy than rivals, and the fuel economy could be better.


Pros

  • Great driver
  • Powerful available engine
  • Elegant styling

Cons

  • Low cargo capacity
  • Below-average gas mileage
  • Puts performance over practicality

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7 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

Starting Used Price: $22,500

White Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
Hyundai

The Hyundai Santa Fe may be the perfect SUV for families, and a 2020 used one is definitely ideal for families on a budget. With plenty of interior room and brimming with practicality, it’s a not-too-fancy mid-size crossover that delivers value, safety, and dependability above other vehicles in its class. Available in either FWD or AWD, there are also a couple of engine options to configure the Santa Fe for many uses.


Performance Specifications

Engine

2.4-liter I-4

Transmission

Eight-speed automatic

Horsepower

185 hp @ 6,000 RPM

Torque

178 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM

Driveline

FWD

0-60 MPH

7.8 seconds

Top Speed

130 MPH

Towing Capacity

N/A

Payload Capacity

N/A

(Data was collected from Hyundai, and Car and Driver)


The top turbo engine option isn’t the most powerful thing in the world, but the Santa Fe isn’t a performance model or a serious off-roader, it’s a family ride. For a pristine 2022, used base model Santa Fes run around $20,000 and if a buyer doesn’t mind a few cosmetic flaws, they can be had for a grand or two less. Dealer markup adds some unnecessary price, but a little research and some haggling will bring that down.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Practical vehicle
  • Roomy interior

Cons

  • On the slow side
  • Basic interior
  • Mediocre gas mileage

6 2022 Subaru Ascent

Starting Used Price: $23,500

2022 Subaru Ascent
Subaru

The Subaru Ascent is the perfect mid-size SUV for growing families with three rows of seating. It’s also loaded with cubbies and cupholders, making the most effective use of the interior space of any vehicle in the segment. The cabin is plush, the suspension smooth, and the turbo engine is competent, which adds up to a very enjoyable driving experience.


Performance Specifications

Engine

2.4-liter turbo I-4

Transmission

Eight-speed automatic

Horsepower

260 hp @ 5,600 RPM

Torque

277 lb-ft @ 2,000 RPM

Driveline

AWD

0-60 MPH

6.9 seconds

Top Speed

130 MPH

Towing Capacity

2,000 pounds

Payload Capacity

N/A

(Data was collected from Subaru, and Car and Driver)


The Ascent, like all Subarus, is all-wheel drive, but it’s street ride all the way. For those looking for an off-road Subie, a 2022 Crosstrek will do the trick, and for less money. Used 2022 Ascents start just above $23,000, but a Crosstrek from the same year can be had for as little as $20,000. It doesn’t offer the same comfort, but there will always be trade-offs.

Pros

  • Spacious interior
  • Comfortable ride
  • Looks less like a station wagon than most Subarus

Cons

  • Annoying driver’s assist system
  • Rear seats don’t fold flat
  • No off-road packages\

5 2021 Nissan Murano

Starting Used Price: $25,500

2021 Nissan Murano
Nissan

The Nissan Murano has aggressive styling that gives the impression it’s strictly a performance SUV, but on the inside, it’s a comfortable family-friendly vehicle. The standard 260-horsepower V-6 gives it plenty of acceleration, but the mid-size crossover really shines with its way-above-average smooth ride and handling. It’s the perfect mix of a family daily driver and a weekend adventure-mobile.


Performance Specifications

Engine

3.5-liter V-6

Transmission

Continuous variable transmission

Horsepower

260 hp @ 6,000 RPM

Torque

240 lb-ft @ 4,400 RPM

Driveline

RWD

0-60 MPH

7.3 seconds

Top Speed

120 MPH

Towing Capacity

1,500 pounds

Payload Capacity

N/A

(Data was collected from Nissan, and Car and Driver)


Probably not a top choice for rock climbing, it is a great SUV for country and mountain road excursions. While there are other SUVs in the class with a bit more cargo room, the Murano is spacious enough that few would complain. It’s also near the top in the segment for fuel economy and the price is right, especially for a used 2021, which starts at around $25,000.

Pros

  • Aggressive styling
  • Comfy interior
  • Good gas mileage

Cons

  • Low towing capacity
  • Less cargo space
  • All-wheel drive option gets expensive

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4 2021 Ford Bronco

Starting Used Price: $26,500

Red Black and blue 2021 Ford Broncos at Moab
Ford

A brand new 2024 Ford Bronco starts at $41,525, but a 2021 used one can be had for about half the price and chances are it’s going to be just as good. The rebooted Bronco, launched in 2021, offers so many configurations and trims that there is literally one for every possible use. It can be a cool-looking grocery-getter or a killer off-road monster.


Performance Specifications

Engine

2.3-liter turbo I-4

Transmission

Seven-speed automatic

Horsepower

275 hp @ 5,700

Torque

315 lb-ft @ 3,400

Driveline

4WD

0-60 MPH

7.1 seconds

Top Speed

99 MPH

Towing Capacity

3,500 Pounds

Payload Capacity

1,243 Pounds

(Data was collected from Ford, and Car and Driver)


There’s no way a decked-out Wildtrack is going to sell for that price, but decently optioned lower trims are very affordable. Edmunds reports that a 2021 Bronco Black Diamond two-door four-wheel drive with the turbo four-cylinder can be purchased for around $26,500 from a private party and $28,500 from a dealer. That’s for a vehicle in outstanding condition, so if a few scratches don’t matter, they are even more affordable.

Pros

  • Fun off-road
  • Tons of configurations
  • Retro-modern styling

Cons

  • No V-8
  • Cheap interior
  • Excessive road noise

3 2022 Toyota Venza

Average Used Price: $27,000

White 2022 Toyota Venza
Toyota Newsroom

For an affordable, reliable, SUV that gets good gas mileage, buyers can’t go wrong with a used Toyota Venza. The mid-size crossover takes the sting at the pump away with a solid hybrid engine setup, and it actually delivers decent performance. The subtle, but classy body curves give it a stylish look, which is an added bonus to this all-round great vehicle.


Performance Specifications

Engine

2.5-liter I-4/3 electric motor hybrid

Transmission

Continuously variable transmission

Horsepower

219 hp @ 5,700 RPM

Torque

163 lb-ft @ 5,200 RPM

Driveline

AWD

0-60 MPH

7.6 seconds

Top Speed

118 MPH

Towing Capacity

N/A

Payload Capacity

N/A

(Data was collected from Toyota, and Car and Driver)


The Toyota Venza also delivers unprecedented luxury and features for a mid-level ride, putting it in Lexus territory for much less cash. The Venza doesn’t have as much interior space for passengers and cargo as many other mid-size SUVs, but that doesn’t mean it has a cramped cabin. With nice fuel economy, luxe features, and that legendary Toyota reliability, these babies are a steal in the under $30,000 used bracket.

Pros

  • Great gas mileage
  • Luxury features
  • Solid ride

Cons

  • Smallish cargo capacity
  • Hybrid engine whines
  • Acceleration could be better

2 2020 Lexus RX

Starting Used Price: $30,000

2020 Lexus RX
Lexus

Speaking of Lexus, the 2020 RX is a perfect used SUV for those who want actual luxury, rather than the luxury-adjacent Toyota Venza. The mid-size crossover from Lexus has a bit more refinement and better features, but doesn’t take that many more dollars to own. The RX is a little longer and a bit more roomy than its Toyota cousin, and comes with more standard features.


Performance Specifications

Engine

3.5-liter V-6

Transmission

Eight-speed automatic

Horsepower

295 hp @ 6,300 RPM

Torque

267 lb-ft @ 4,700 RPM

Driveline

FWD

0-60 MPH

6.9 seconds

Top Speed

124 MPH

Towing Capacity

3,500 pounds

Payload Capacity

N/A

(Data was collected from Lexus)


A major component that separates a luxury ride from a normal one is performance, and the RX has that covered with powerful engine options. It is available with a sensible hybrid set-up, but the ambitious V-6 is way more fun. If the budget allows, a fantastic luxury Lexus SUV can be found for as little as $30,000.

Pros

  • Roomy, luxurious cabin
  • Great acceleration
  • Impressive standard tech and features

Cons

  • Stiff ride
  • Steering could be more responsive
  • Third row in name only

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1 2022 Acura RDX

Average Used Price: $32,500

2022 Acura RDX
Acura

Hitting the upper level of five-star affordable used SUVs, the 2022 Acura RDX is a bit pricier than the others on this list, but also maybe the best value. The compact crossover has all the comfort and performance of a full-size luxury model in a tight little package. Unlike most small wheelbase SUVs with excessively stiff or spongy suspensions, the RDX rides like a dream.


Performance Specifications

Engine

2.0-liter turbo I-4

Transmission

10-speed automatic

Horsepower

272 hp @ 6,500 RPM

Torque

280 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM

Driveline

FWD

0-60 MPH

6.2 seconds

Top Speed

112 MPH

Towing Capacity

N/A

Payload Capacity

N/A

(Data was collected from Acura, and Car and Driver)


Thanks to the Acura Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, the RDX has a full-size luxury ride with a compact’s agility. It’s also a slick-looking crossover that is loaded with features and a plush interior, making for an overall impressive package. The only drawback is that it is a compact, so those who need more room for kids and cargo probably want to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Seriously quick
  • Smooth ride
  • Top-tier luxury

Cons

  • Awful push-button Infotainment system
  • Blind-spot issues
  • Gearbox can be wonky

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