Best Used SUV – Orange County

While brand-new vehicles are quite popular, a used vehicle is often the right choice for a lot of people. It is important to realize, however, that choosing a used model does not mean you have to sacrifice quality or feel like you are missing out on anything. All you have to do is make sure you find the best used SUV possible, and at a dealership that puts your needs first and makes sure you drive away in the perfect vehicle. That can seem like a lot to ask for, but you deserve to get the very best and to be treated right.

Here at Orange Coast CJDRF, we offer a large selection of both new and high-quality used SUVs for you to choose from. It is important to us that every customer is able to find exactly the right vehicle, no matter what you need it to be able to do for you. The best used SUV for you is the one that has everything you want, in great condition, and that will reliably keep you moving for many years ahead. Come visit us at Orange Coast CJDRF today to let us show you the right vehicle for whatever life holds in store.

A group of friends are sitting in the cargo area of a used SUV.

Why a Used SUV?

There are many different reasons people choose a used SUV over one that is new, though the price is a major factor for a lot of our customers. Overall, you are going to pay less for a used model than you will for a comparable brand-new SUV. This means you may be able to get a type of SUV or a certain model that would be outside of your price range normally, by looking at used models that are a few years older.

Along these same lines, a lot of people also choose used SUVs in order to skip some of the initial depreciation that vehicles suffer. Depreciation refers to a loss in value that a car goes through simply by being driven every day, regardless of how it is treated or used. The largest spike in depreciation occurs within the first year, with fairly high depreciation over the next couple years after. So, by choosing an SUV that is three or four years old, you skip this initial depreciation and not only pay less, but you can have the value of your vehicle remain closer to what you paid.

Finally, the environment is a big concern for a lot of our friends and neighbors throughout Southern California. We all enjoy the gorgeous scenery and beautiful weather that California has to offer, and we want it to endure for generations to come. Choosing a used SUV can actually help out the environment by keeping the vehicle on the road longer, thereby offsetting and justifying the energy and materials that went into manufacturing it. As long as you keep your used SUV in good shape, with regular maintenance so it runs as cleanly as possible, a great used model is a terrific way to help the environment.

A woman is standing next to one of the best used SUVs on a Costa Mesa pier at sunset.

Different Types of SUVs

SUVs are generally looked at with two different categories in mind: the design and the size, both of which can be seen as “types” of SUVs. When you are looking for the best used SUV, it is important to know what you want from your vehicle. This allows you to choose the right type of SUV to meet your needs.

There are two main designs for SUVs:

  • Standard SUV: The traditional SUV design uses a “body-on-frame” method of construction, much like a pickup truck. This means the frame is built, and a separate body for the SUV is built, and then the body is attached to the frame. These are typically the largest and most powerful models.
  • Crossover SUV: You will also see a lot of used SUVs referred to as crossovers or crossover SUVs. These models have a “unibody” design much like a car, rather than a design based on a truck.

With a unibody, the body and frame are built together as a single unit – you will typically find crossovers in the smaller size categories.

There are several common size categories for SUVs:

  • Compact: The smallest SUVs on the market are generally referred to as compact models, though some manufacturers call their smallest models “small” instead. A compact will almost always be a crossover and anything smaller would be a hatchback.
  • Small: Small SUVs are typically two-row vehicles that offer seating for either four or five total people, with decent room for cargo. This is a great choice if you want an SUV, but you do not need a larger model that can take over your garage.
  • Midsize: Much like with a lot of other vehicles, a midsize SUV is right in the middle of the road in terms of size. These can be crossovers or standard SUVs, and might have either two or three rows of seats. There is a lot of flexibility within this size category, so keep that in mind.
  • Full-Size: A full-size model is quite a bit larger than other SUVs and typically includes three rows of seating for seven or eight people. These are usually standard SUVs with a design based on a truck platform, giving them power and performance comparable to a pickup, with lots of room inside for cargo.
  • Large: The biggest SUVs you will find are typically those referred to as “large,” usually by companies that also offer “full-size” models but still want to go bigger. These are standard SUVs and can include seating for up to nine people, with very powerful engines and tons of room inside for all of your cargo needs.

When shopping for the best used SUV, keep these categories in mind so you know exactly what you are looking at. For example, if you know you need seating for seven or eight people, then you want to look for a full-size or large model, rather than a small crossover.

Used vs. CPO SUVs

When looking for the best used SUV, you are going to see a lot of different terms used, and it is important to make sure you understand them all. You will see “used,” “pre-owned,” and “Certified Pre-Owned” (CPO) often displayed to refer to different vehicles, but they are not all the same. For the most part, “used” and “pre-owned” are generally interchangeable when referring to vehicles. The term “pre-owned” simply sounds a bit nicer, so you will often see and hear it coming from car dealerships.

“Certified Pre-Owned” or “CPO,” however, is not the same thing at all and is used with a specific meaning. A CPO model is a used SUV in the best condition possible, with strict limits on how many miles it can have on it and how old it can be. These vehicles have to pass rigorous inspections established by their manufacturer to ensure they are in the best shape. All of this means CPO vehicles are in excellent condition, and they come with warranties on them from the original manufacturer. They tend to cost more than other used models, but represent a great overall value that gives you unbeatable peace of mind.

Best Used Compact SUV – Jeep Renegade

a red 2015 Jeep Renegade is angled right.

Although it has only been available since model year 2015, during that time, the Jeep Renegade has established itself as one of the best used SUVs on the road, and a fantastic compact option (though some would call it subcompact, but that is splitting hairs). Even though it has been available for less time than some other models out there, that can actually work in your favor. It means that any Jeep Renegade model you find will be fairly recent, so it will have great features and impressive performance.

When looking at used Renegades, there are several different engines to watch for, including a 2.4L I-4 Tigershark, which offers excellent performance. Front-wheel drive has been standard on the Renegade, though four-wheel drive is available on certain trims if that is something you are interested in. For some impressive off-road performance, look for a used model with the Trailhawk trim, which has 4WD standard and other excellent off-road-focused features. There was a facelift and some updates for model year 2019, so keep that in mind as you look at different used models and see what is available.

Best Used Small SUV – Jeep Compass

 A black 2011 Jeep Compass is angled left.

For a small option, but something a bit larger than the Renegade, the Jeep Compass is among the most popular and well-designed crossover SUVs on the road. First introduced for model year 2007, the Compass is an excellent, four-door option that offers a sporty combination of quick responsiveness and nimble handling. There have been a couple of different generations available, with the second generation starting with model year 2017. As you look at different used models, you will want to pay attention to the year and the features it has available.

Front-wheel drive has been standard on the Compass over the years, though four-wheel drive has been available. You will find a couple different engines as you look at used Jeep Compass models, including a 2.4L I-4 engine that offers impressive performance. One thing to keep in mind is that early models of the Compass were not “Trail Rated” by Jeep and were primarily intended as city vehicles. Starting with 2011 models, however, the Jeep earned the Trail Rated badge thanks to an updated design and facelift that year.

Best Used Midsize SUV – Jeep Cherokee/Liberty

 A white 2011 Jeep Liberty is angled right.

One of the most popular SUVs on the road, the Jeep Cherokee has proven itself time and again for decades as an amazing vehicle for any use. Although some people consider the Cherokee a compact model, its size and performance lend itself more to being a midsize option in our view. Though, we will admit, it is a bit on the smaller size for a midsize vehicle, but that does not change the fact that it is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for the best used SUV.

Most Cherokee models you find will be from model year 2014 or newer, which has been the fifth generation for the Cherokee. The reason for this is that it replaced the Jeep Liberty, which from 2002 to 2012. In other words, if you are interested in a Cherokee, but you cannot find a year that quite fits what you are looking for, try searching for a Jeep Liberty to find a similarly impressive design and excellent features. No matter which one you choose, you will get a terrific crossover SUV that has been incredibly popular for decades.

Best Used Crossover SUV – Jeep Patriot

 A gray 2016 Jeep Patriot is angled left.

This is another great model to look for specifically when you are trying to find great used SUVs, because it is no longer in production. The Jeep Patriot was introduced for model year 2007 and was available until 2017; during that time, it sold well and was very popular among a large number of drivers. Despite its popularity, production on the Patriot came to an end as Jeep decided to focus on fewer, more distinct models rather than having an excess number that overlapped too much.

A couple of different engines were available on the Patriot, including a 2.0L and a 2.4L I-4 engine, so you can watch for both of those when looking at used models. Front-wheel drive was standard on the Patriot, though 4WD was available, and both manual and automatic transmissions were offered throughout the Patriot’s run. About halfway through its lifespan, for model year 2011, the Patriot received a facelift with some upgrades inside and out. Look for the Limited trim if you want to find the most impressive features and technology.

Best Used Luxury SUV – Porsche Cayenne

 A black 2017 Porsche Cayenne is angled right.

Although some people consider the very idea of a Porsche SUV a bit controversial, in our minds, any chance to drive a Porsche is fine by us. First introduced for model year 2003, the Cayenne is a luxury midsize crossover SUV that offers incredible performance, as you would expect from a Porsche, with the larger size and incredible functionality of an SUV. Numerous trims have been available for the Porsche Cayenne over the years, including performance-focused Turbo and Turbo S trims, both of which offer terrific power and luxury.

The second generation for the Cayenne kicked off with 2011 models, offering a larger overall design and a more distinctly “Porsche” front end. It was significantly lighter than the previous models, with greater fuel efficiency while still maintaining incredible performance. A third generation launched with model year 2019 and built upon the previous design with even more impressive features and greater luxury inside. No matter what year you look at, however, you are going to find something unique and truly special among SUVs if you choose a Porsche Cayenne.

Best Used Large SUV – Jeep Grand Cherokee

A silver 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee is angled left.

Although it has a unibody design, rather than a body-on-frame design like some other large SUVs, the Grand Cherokee is definitely our choice for the best option when shopping for a used model. We recommend models from the fourth generation of the Grand Cherokee, which started with model year 2011. These offer the finest combination of overall features and excellent performance that you deserve when choosing a used SUV.

There have been multiple engines available on the Grand Cherokee during this time, including a 3.6L V6 and an incredibly powerful 6.4L HEMI V8. If you are interested in going off-road, then keep an eye out for the Trailhawk trim, while the Overland is the one to look for if you want a luxurious and sophisticated experience. The performance-focused SRT Trackhawk trim is an experience unlike any other, with an incredible Supercharged HEMI V8 engine packed into the gorgeous body of the Grand Cherokee.

Best Used Hybrid SUV – Toyota RAV4

 A dark blue 2016 Toyota Rav4 is angled right.

Although the Toyota RAV4 has been around and been quite popular since the 1990s, the hybrid engine on it was only introduced starting with model year 2015. In that time, however, it has been embraced and has become one of the most popular and impressive hybrid SUVs on the road. When you combine the impressive performance of the RAV4’s hybrid engine with Toyota’s reputation for reliability and long-term value, it is no wonder that the RAV4 is one of the best used hybrid SUVs on the road.

The first few years following its introduction, only a standard hybrid engine was available. Starting with model year 2020, however, a plug-in hybrid also became available with fantastic range and excellent charging times. No matter which type you want, the RAV4 has proven itself many times as the best used hybrid SUV around.

Best Used SUV for Off-Roading – Jeep Wrangler

 A black 2017 Jeep Wrangler is angled left.

For many people, the Wrangler is the quintessential Jeep, and it is definitely the perfect SUV for going off-road. A used Jeep Wrangler can be a great choice for off-roading for a few different reasons. For one thing, it will save you some money, and you know it can take a bit of abuse since it has been on the road for a while. You can also find used models that had some off-road focused aftermarket accessories or additions made, making it an even better option for hitting the trail than it might have been when brand-new.

The Jeep Wrangler has been around since 1987, so you will find a lot of them out there, and there have been four different generations during that time. If possible, look for a model between 2008 and 2018, which represents the third generation for the Wrangler. These are among the best used SUVs for off-roading you will ever find, with excellent engines, drive systems, and Trail Rated off-road features. During this time, there was a standard two-door model and an Unlimited version with four doors available, so you can get the perfect size for what you need.

Best Used SUV under $5k – 1999 Jeep Cherokee

 A blue 1999 Jeep Cherokee is shown from the side.

The XJ or second-generation Jeep Cherokee went from 1983 to 2001, and during that long run it was one of the best SUVs on the road. While a more recent Cherokee might have a lot more luxury and sophistication to it, the classic Cherokee was the first unibody off-road SUV designed in the US. For a lot of people, especially those that prefer classic vehicles, this is the Jeep Cherokee to get due to its sturdy design, excellent off-road performance, and renowned reliability.

When you go this far back while looking at used models, you can get fantastic deals. If you look at a used model from a few years ago and see it selling for under $5k, then you really have to wonder what is wrong with it (probably something that will cost you a lot of money over the next year or two). With such an older model, however, you can save money and still get a great vehicle. You want to be sure the engine is in good shape and that it has been treated well by previous owners, but as long as there are no major issues, a Jeep Cherokee from this time will take care of you for years to come.

Best Used SUV under $10k – 2010 Toyota RAV4

 A white 2010 Toyota Rav4 is angled right.

If you go back a decade or so, you can find one of the best SUVs on the road, at a price that works great for a wide range of drivers. The exact price will depend on the trim and features the vehicle has, but in general you should be able to find a 2010 RAV4 for well under the $10k mark. Although this is not part of the most recent generation for the RAV4, this will help you save some money, especially since these models are so renowned for their reliability and dependability, putting them in high demand.

We like 2010 models in particular because they come in near the end of this generation’s run. That means that any bugs or issues that might have been around at first had been resolved, so you know that you are getting the best RAV4 possible. There was a facelift for this generation of the RAV4 in 2009, which makes a 2010 model even better, as you can take advantage of the boosted engine options that came with this mid-generation update.

Best Used SUV under $15k – 2013 Jeep Patriot

A white 2013 Jeep Patriot is angled left.

The Jeep Patriot is one of the best used SUVs available, and in particular is a fantastic option for this price range under $15k. Because so many of the features you get will depend on which trim level you find, keep an eye out for the different options on each of them. The Sport has a 5-speed manual transmission and 16-inch wheels, while the Latitude features a continuously variable transmission and 17-inch wheels. The Limited trim upgrades the interior seating and adds more impressive interior technology.

One of the reasons we like models from 2013 so much is due to the facelift that the Patriot received for model year 2011. By choosing a 2013 model, you can take advantage of the upgrades that became available, including an impressive sound system and a more refined exterior design. Because this year also falls around the middle of the total run for the Jeep Patriot, with sales quite high, you will find a lot of them out there and still be in great shape.

Best Used SUV under $20k – 2016 Jeep Renegade

A brown 2016 Jeep Renegade is angled right.

The Jeep Renegade has not been around very long, especially compared to models like the Wrangler or Cherokee, so you will not find them from a decade ago with very low prices. This makes them a bit more expensive in terms of a great used SUV, but with that higher price tag comes a lot of great features. As a newer model, you will get more modern and sophisticated safety features with a used Renegade compared to an older Cherokee or even an older RAV4.

Because 2015 was the first model year for the Jeep Renegade, we suggest going with a 2016 to avoid any first-year bugs or issues that can sometimes occur with vehicles. The price of a used Renegade will typically depend on the trim level and features it has. Look for a Sport if you want as budget-friendly a model as possible, while a Latitude or Altitude will give you more luxury, but can also cost more, especially if it has 4WD. A Trailhawk model is ideal if you want a used Jeep Renegade to take on the trail, but it may be more difficult to find one under $20k.

Best Used SUV under $25k – 2019 Jeep Cherokee

 A gray 2019 Jeep Cherokee is angled left.

Twenty years after our pick for the best used SUV under $5k, we have a much more recent Jeep Cherokee that really showcases the development of these gorgeous vehicles over those two decades. The difference in price is certainly noteworthy, but by paying more, you also get access to a lot more incredible features and options. The 2019 Cherokee is a fantastic choice due to the powerful engine it has on offer plus numerous trims for you to choose from.

One of the main reasons we like 2019 models is that there was a facelift for this year that gave the front an overhaul and added some upgrades inside across the different trims. Plus, a model that is still so recent will often have just come off a lease, which means there was only one previous owner and it was likely well taken care of. This creates much less uncertainty for you as a buyer, and you can rest easy knowing your used SUV is about as close to brand-new as possible, while still saving a lot of money.

Best Used SUV under $30k – 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

A silver 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee is angled right.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the best options for a used SUV in general, and a recent model is a great choice if you have a generous budget and want some of the nicest features possible. By choosing a model from around 2017, you can still get fantastic and modern safety and luxury features inside the Grand Cherokee, but skip a lot of depreciation and save money overall. The 2017 was a very popular year with hundreds of thousands sold here in the US, so they are pretty easy to find.

One of the main reasons we like these models so much is that you do not have to worry about any of the recall issues that affected earlier Grand Cherokees. There was an issue with some 2014 and 2015 models not remaining in park properly. This was fixed for late-2016 models, but by choosing a 2017, you know that you do not have to worry about it at all.

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