Used Cars: Top 5 Compact SUVs under $15K

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Nope. Not for under $15K.
Nope. Not for under $15K.

The cargo area of a truck with the driving feel of a car — that’s the charm of a compact SUV. These trucks are compact on the outside with spacious interiors and room for a ton of cargo. They are normally equipped with very fuel efficient engines and a standard front-wheel or optional four-wheel drivetrain, making them practical at the pump and capable of negotiating rugged terrain. Some are extravagantly equipped with leather seating, LCD monitors, and navigation, while others are sparse but which ones are the best? Let’s take a look.


You can find all of these compact SUVs and more at Used car websites can be an invaluable tool when shopping for a used car, truck, van, or SUV. There are hundreds of thousands (maybe even a million) of high-quality, low-mileage, used cars right at your fingertips. So, take it from a guy that knows his tools, you really don’t want to pass up this valuable used car shopping tool.


1. 2012 Chevrolet Equinox

2012 Chevrolet EquinoxThe Chevrolet Equinox is one of the most eye catching entries in this compact SUV segment. It features side curtain airbags, front side airbags, mitigated antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, and OnStar. Engine choices include a 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 3.0-liter V6 that delivers 264-hp and 222 lb.-ft. of torque. Both are mated with a front-wheel drive six-speed automatic, although all-wheel drive is also available. These fantastic looking compact SUVs are readily available used, some with factory warranties remaining. Like its twin, the GMC Terrain, the Equinox features an adjustable rear seat and a comfortable ride that is light years ahead of its competitors.

2. 2010 Toyota RAV-4

2010 Toyota RAV-4The RAV-4 is more fun to drive than greased nail. It comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder but you can find the 3.5-liter V6 equipped versions if you do your research. Both are available with automatic transmissions, a four-speed with the four-banger and a five speed with the V6, and both are available with front or all-wheel drivetrain. Front seat side airbags, full length side curtain airbags, front seat head restraints, antilock brakes, and electronic stability and traction control are standard on most of these little Toyotas. The interior of the RAV 4 is the model of practicality with a well organized design, large, simple controls, and ample cargo space.

3. 2010 Honda CR-V

2010 Honda CR-VHonda has a tradition of reliability and safety. This tradition lives on in the economical CR-V. You can find a high-quality, low-mileage, used CR-V in your choice of four distinctive trim levels, so there should be one to strike your fancy. The only engine choice is an extraordinarily dependable 2.4-liter four-cylinder that is mated with a five-speed automatic transmission and is available in front or all-wheel drive. Standard safety equipment on your next, best used car is antilock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, active front head restraints, side airbags, and side curtain airbags. Although interior amenities are far from extravagant the CR-V’s interior is functional and attractive. The instrument panel gauges are highly visible and the controls are straightforward and easy to operate.

4. 2010 Ford Escape

2010 Ford EscapeFord has been producing trucks long enough to have the bugs worked out by now and the Escape proves it. These compact SUVs are out there with low mileage, they sit up high like a truck but handle like a car and they have loads of cargo space. It is available in three trim levels and either front or all-wheel drive with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Antilock brakes, full length side curtain airbags, front side impact airbags, and electronic stability and traction control are standard on most late model Escapes. Once you plant yourself in this compact SUV you will never want to Escape its spacious interior, though it does ride a touch higher than its competitors.

5. 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan

2010 Volkswagen TiguanThe Germans build a sound automobile. The Tiguan is named after two animals; the Tiger and the Iguana — that is too strange for me to have made it up — it is true. Whatever kind of critter it is, this compact SUV is equipped with a powerful four cylinder. The turbocharged 2.0-liter produces 210-hp and 206 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is transferred through either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, available in front or all-wheel drive. Four wheel antilock disc brakes, side impact, and side curtain airbags are standard on most late models. In typical European style, the Tiguan interior is cloaked in stylish refinement with firm well placed seating and classical aluminum accents.

S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.