Our Picks for Top 5 Used SUVs

July 23rd, 2021 by

A silver 2020 Toyota driving on a highway past a modern city

SUVs are excellent vehicles for managing daily driving in places where the weather can turn snowy during much of the year or for those who live on rough back roads. They also make excellent family vehicles with larger cargo space than sedans and improve visibility with a higher ride height. Each of the choices listed here seats five passengers and offers the option of all-wheel drive. For our drivers seeking used cars in Durham, here is our list of the top 5 used SUVs.

#1. Toyota RAV4

Toyota built its first generation of the RAV4 in the mid-1990s as a Recreational Activity Vehicle made for roving the countryside with four-wheel drive capability. Now in its fifth generation, introduced for 2018, the RAV4 has experienced several iterations to become the well-loved SUV it is today. Powertrains include gas-powered and hybrid variants, which make the RAV4 a more fuel-efficient SUV, and trims have the option of adding all-wheel drive that features a rear-wheel disconnect to save on fuel costs. Selectable drive modes allow the driver to adjust capability for adverse terrain, and it has seating for up to five passengers.

Standard technology for the RAV4 is generous for newer model years, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Alexa capability all included on recent models. An available JBL audio system can be added with higher trims for better sound quality, and a WiFi hotspot can be activated with Toyota’s connected services. Interior comforts like a roomy back seat and large cargo area add to the standard conveniences like keyless entry and LED headlights. Upper trims open up available features like leather seating and push-button start. Toyota is known for its attention to safety, and the RAV4 comes standard with Toyota’s excellent safety features, which can include desirable options like Automatic Emergency Braking and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. The RAV4 offers buyers great value for its reliability and resale value.

#2. Honda CR-V

Around the same time as the RAV4, the Honda CR-V began production as another option for SUV buyers who wanted the cargo space and light off-road capability a vehicle like the CR-V offers. Since 2017, the CR-V has been in its fifth generation and is a top seller in the segment due to its reliability and safety. It comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and has the option of a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine available. All-wheel drive can be added to any trim level, and it is generally considered fairly quiet in the cabin at high speeds.

Interior comforts like automatic climate control and a rearview camera are standard equipment, and upper trims can be found with heated front seats or a hands-free liftgate going back to 2017. The Honda Safety Suite is standard for all trims and includes features like Adaptive Cruise Control and the Blind Spot Information System. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available for all model years in this generation, and Bluetooth is standard. Space inside the CR-V is one of the best in the class in the most recent generation, with about 40 cubic feet in the rear trunk area and over 75 cubic feet available when the rear seats are folded down.

A blue 2020 Honda CRV AWD Touring parked at a trail head in winter.

#3. Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is widely known as an excellent SUV for drivers who live in snowy climates, particularly due to the excellent quality of its standard all-wheel drive and 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Now in its fifth generation, which started for 2019 models, the Forester offers reliability, strong off-road performance, and space for cargo with an exceptionally large rear hatch opening. One powertrain is offered across all trims with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, though this single option has been optimized for better performance and fuel efficiency. Ride quality has been enhanced with electronic stability controls, which also affect the performance when cornering or taking tight turns. An additional option with the available X Mode can further improve the already impressive performance in slippery snow, sand, or mud.

With this latest generation, Subaru has improved its interior with soft-touch materials, and upper trims have gained the option of heated seats in both front and rear. With the exception of the entry-level trim, all other trims come standard with a panoramic roof. Technology like standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be accessed with the 6.5-inch touchscreen, and the option of a hotspot or the Harmon Kardon audio system is available for upper trims. Interior space is generous for passengers, especially for taller passengers in need of headroom, and visibility is excellent thanks to large rear windows. Safety features included in Subaru’s EyeSight suite range from Adaptive Cruise Control to Lane Keep Assist, and trailer stability assist is also standard.

#4. Chevy Equinox

Almost since the first year of its production, the Chevy Equinox has been a segment favorite of families due to its comfortable interior, smooth ride quality, quiet cabin, and reliability. In comparison to other SUVs on this list, the Equinox is fairly young in its third generation since 2005. Three powertrain choices were made available for its redesign in 2018, with the standard engine being a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that is turbocharged and propels the Equinox with pep. Front-wheel drive is standard, with the option to add all-wheel drive for better performance on rough terrain, though the Equinox generally lends itself better to paved roadways.

Interior seating is comfortable, and cargo space in the rear is double the volume found in the average sedan. Materials inside are pleasing and relatively upscale in appearance, and a standard seven-inch touchscreen sits in the center console for access to the standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Chevy MyLink is loaded into the infotainment and offers remote services through a smartphone app. Available safety features like the Safety Alert Seat and Surround Vision offer more confidence on the road through offered packages, though parents are likely to appreciate the inclusion of a Rear Seat Reminder and Teen Driver, which improve safety for small children and beginner drivers. For 2020 models, new safety features are offered as standard equipment.

A white 2020 Chevy Equinox parked in a gravel driveway.

#5. Ford Escape

Though Ford is known for its truck-based SUVs, the Escape rides on a car-based platform like the other SUVs listed here. With a car-based foundation, an SUV’s ride quality is less jarring, and the Escape provides riders with a smooth experience in the cabin. Ford’s most recent redesign actually occurred in 2020, so here we will focus on the third generation, which spanned from 2013 to 2019. In the first year of the previous generation, the Escape was offered with three engine choices, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder being the standard option. Front-wheel drive is also standard, with the option to add all-wheel drive on all trims. Driving performance with the two available turbocharged engines is more robust with acceleration and passing power.

For technology, even going back to 2013, Ford provided the option of an infotainment screen loaded with the MyFord Touch system and its early SYNC system, plus the option of Sirius XM radio. The uppermost trim came with a remote and push-button start. In 2014, a rearview camera and the MyKey feature were added as standard, and then by 2016, the more user-friendly SYNC 3 system was added. Available safety features like a blind-spot warning system were reserved for upper trims, along with a hands-free liftgate. Plenty of cargo space is offered in the rear trunk area, and passengers can expect roomy seating in front and back in a pleasant cabin fitted with pleasing soft-touch materials.

Find the Perfect Used SUV Here

Each of the SUVs listed here will make great family vehicles with features parents will love for safety, ease of entry to the back seats, and plenty of cargo space for loading large items and supplies into the trunk area. Driving any of these SUVs will deliver both a comfortable cabin and responsive performance. Which one is right for you?