If you are looking for excellent value in a used SUV, choosing one that is two or three years old can save you money. At that still young age, vehicles have experienced the greatest depreciation, yet many are still like new. Moreover, new vehicle, rust and powertrain warranties may still be in effect, giving you an extra measure of protection as you weigh your purchase options.
The following five late-model SUVs offer excellent value and can be had for under $25,000.
2012 Toyota Highlander
Toyota completely redesigned the midsize Highlander for 2014, a model that first went on sale in 2001. The 2012 model was the next to last year for the second generation Highlander, a vehicle that was sold with standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive and available in base, SE and Limited editions.
With room for up to seven, the 2012 Toyota Highlander makes for a very good family vehicle. When a third row is present, that seat is best used by children. To provide access to the back row, the middle position of the second-row seat can be removed. Or, keep the rear seat folded to expand cargo capacity. Fold the second- and third-row seats and you get 95 cubic feet of storage room.
The 2012 Highlander offers a standard 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission or an available 3.5-liter V6 engine mated with a five-speed automatic transmission. The larger engine extends the standard towing capacity from a respectable 3,500 pounds to 5,000 pounds.
Standard equipment with the 2012 Toyota Highlander includes power accessories, air conditioning, a six-speaker audio system with a CD player and cloth seats. Higher trim level models bring in alloy wheels, power heated side mirrors, a rear DVD entertainment system and navigation.
2013 Ford Escape
Newly redesigned for 2013, Ford’s compact crossover utility vehicle continues to make a strong presence in a competitive segment. The 2013 Ford Escape is sold in front- or all-wheel drive configurations and is available in S, SE, SEL, and Titanium trim levels.
Seating five, the 2013 Ford Escape may be ideal for your growing family or as a second vehicle. This model has bucket seats up front and a 60/40 split-folding bench seat to the rear.
There are three four-cylinder engine choices with the 2013 edition. Only the “S” model comes with a 2.5-liter normally-aspirated four-cylinder engine. The other models offer turbocharged 1.6- or 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines. All three engines come paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The standard Escape tows up to 1,500 pounds, while models with either turbocharged engine can tow up to 3,500 pounds. The Escape offers a generous 34.3 cubic feet of storage space behind the second-row seat, and that capacity doubles when the seat is folded.
Standard equipment with the 2013 Ford Escape includes power accessories, cruise control, Ford’s Sync infotainment system and automatic headlamps. As you work your way up through trim levels, a 10-speaker audio system, reverse park assist, leather seating surfaces, a panoramic sunroof and a power liftgate are just a few of the many additional amenities available.
2012 Honda Pilot
Honda first began selling the midsize Pilot in 2003, redesigning this model in 2009. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional. The 2012 Honda Pilot is available in LX, EX, EX-L and Touring trim levels.
This crossover offers standard seating for seven with room for eight. The Honda Pilot provides a utility vehicle alternative to the award-winning Honda Odyssey minivan.
Only one powertrain is available with the 2012 Pilot. A 3.5-liter V6 engine is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Towing capacity ranges from 2,000 for the front-wheel drive model to 4,500 pounds when equipped with all-wheel drive. Standard storage capacity measures 18 cubic feet, expandable to 47.7 cubic feet with the third row folded and to 87 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded.
Standard equipment with the 2012 Honda Pilot includes power accessories, cruise control, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel column, a seven-speaker audio system and cloth seats. Higher trim level models bring in Bluetooth streaming, a navigation system, a DVD entertainment system, integrated second-row sunshades and zoned climate control.
2013 Chevrolet Equinox
Besides the Ford Escape, the Chevrolet Equinox is another compact utility vehicle worth considering. Its dimensions and interior room are on the top end of the segment, and the Equinox is sold in LS, LT, and LTZ trim levels. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional.
The Chevrolet Equinox seats five and has bucket seats up front and a split-folding bench seat to the rear. The Equinox has 31.5 cubic feet of standard storage capacity, expandable to 63.7 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
Chevrolet offers two powertrain arrangements with the 2013 Equinox. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is standard; a 3.6-liter V6 is also available and is the most powerful engine you will find in this segment. Despite its larger size, the base model delivers an EPA-rated 32 mpg on the highway. Models with the base engine have a 1,500-pound towing capacity, while V6 models can pull up to 3,500 pounds.
The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox comes equipped with the following standard equipment: air conditioning, power accessories, keyless entry, Bluetooth phone connectivity, OnStar and a six-speaker audio system. Upgrades bring in heated side mirrors, a rear view camera, a seven-inch touchscreen, power front seats, alloy wheels, a sunroof and a navigation system.
2012 Hyundai Santa Fe
rolled out an all-new Santa Fe in 2013, but the 2012 edition provides excellent value for people shopping for a five-passenger utility vehicle. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional. The 2012 Santa Fe is available in GLS, SE and Limited editions.
The Hyundai Santa Fe has bucket seats up front and a split-folding bench seat in the second row. It provides generous standard storage, coming in at 34.2 cubic feet, expandable to 78.2 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
A 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter, V6 engine are available. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The base Santa Fe is rated to pull 2,000 pounds; the V6 model has a 3,500-pound towing rating.
Standard equipment for the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe includes: alloy wheels, roof rails, heated side mirrors, keyless entry, power accessories, cruise control, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speed audio system. Popular options include dual-zone climate control, leather seating, heated front seats, a 115-volt outlet, navigation and a rearview monitor.
With five great utility vehicles to choose from, you can find one with your desired equipment level for under $25,000. Verify the vehicle’s history by obtaining your CARFAX reports and have a mechanic examine it before you finalize your deal.