The Best Used Midsize SUVs (2024)

For every new car sold in the United States, between two and three used cars change hands. All of them, however, are more expensive than they used to be. In the spring of 2023, average new-vehicle prices crested $48,000, a number that partly reflects consumers’ huge appetite for SUVs and trucks, which generally cost more than cars. But even used SUVs aren’t cheap. According to CarGurus data, the average used SUV cost more than $37,000 in the fall of 2023.

That’s still quite a bit less than $48,000, so buying used can save you a whole lot of money without compromising much on quality or reliability, but simply “buying used” is too broad a term. Many consumers, especially family buyers who are most interested in roomy SUVs and three-row models, might not have the budget to stretch this far. For that reason, we’ve organized recommendations for you in each of four different price classes under $40,000.

These aren’t “official” rankings, but you can use them as benchmarks to navigate the used vehicle market in your area. Before we get to our choices, know that we focused on a couple of important factors:

1. Reliability — Our selections enjoy a reputation for dependability because reliable SUVs can save you even more money over the long run.

2. Safety — Chances are you’re going to put people you love into your new-to-you SUV. Nearly all of our recommendations boast "Top Safety Pick" ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and good ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Beyond this, we considered roominess and practicality, fuel economy, driving dynamics, and style. Each one of these is a factor in every buyer’s decision, even if aesthetics may come last. Some very popular models, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner, and Nissan Murano didn’t make the cut as their scores weren’t as high or they weren't available for the price. Our selections won’t be right for everyone, but we’re confident that what you’ll see below are among the best used midsize SUVs you can buy.

The Best Used Midsize SUVs

Under $12,000

  • Midsize SUV: 2010–2014 Subaru Outback
  • Midsize Family SUV: 2008–2015 Buick Enclave
  • Midsize Luxury SUV: 2007–2013 Acura MDX

$12,000 to $20,000

  • Midsize SUV: 2016–2020 Kia Sorento
  • Midsize Family SUV: 2009-2017 Honda Pilot
  • Midsize Luxury SUV: 2010–2015 Lexus RX

$20,000 to $30,000

  • Midsize SUV: 2016–2020 Mazda CX-9
  • Midsize Family SUV: 2014–2019 Toyota Highlander
  • Midsize Luxury SUV: 2016–2019 Lexus RX

$30,000 to $40,000

  • Best Midsize Luxury SUV: 2016–2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
  • Best Midsize Luxury Family SUV: 2016–2020 Volvo XC90

Best Used Midsize SUVs Under $12,000

In these inflationary times, $12,000 doesn’t buy as much as it used to, particularly if you’re shopping for in-demand SUVs, which generally cost more than equivalent sedans. There are, however, still good SUV choices in this price class. They may not have the very latest features, but they’re reliable, safe, and can be found with reasonably low mileages. With that said, here are our choices for the best used midsize SUVs under $12,000.

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Best Midsize SUV: 2010–2014 Subaru Outback

To drive a Subaru Outback is to love a Subaru Outback. Looks are not the reason to get this five-passenger crossover SUV. Instead, the Outback provides a solid reliability track record, roomy comfort for a family of four, exceptional practicality, standard all-wheel drive (AWD) and outstanding safety ratings. When the snow flies or the pavement ends, an Outback simply shrugs as if to say: “Let’s go.”

This fourth-generation version of the Outback grew in size, adding more passenger and cargo space. The most popular engine is a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Some Outback 2.5i models even have a partial zero-emission vehicles (PZEV) rating.

Unless you hate stopping at gas stations, we encourage you to find an Outback 3.6R with the 256-hp 3.6-liter six-cylinder and five-speed automatic transmission. This recommendation is especially true if you live at elevation or frequently travel to the mountains, where the Outback 2.5i gets better gas mileage but can feel sluggish. In addition to Subaru's excellent AWD system, the Outback also boasts 8.7 inches of ground clearance—more off-road height than most people need.

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Best Midsize Family SUV: 2008–2015 Buick Enclave

The first-generation Buick Enclave is a foot longer than a contemporary Toyota Highlander and about as big as a midsize crossover SUV can get, but its size makes for a really comfy, roomy three-row family machine. Buick’s fancier accommodations also make it feel luxurious compared to alternatives like the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, or Ford Explorer. Introduced in 2008, the Enclave was an instant hit for Buick and has remained one of its most popular models ever since, and today it makes a really good budget family three-row SUV with a comfortable ride.

While the Enclave’s most obvious weak point is fuel economy, and you can’t expect more than 18 mpg combined, it has lots of other endearing features. It has solid reliability ratings, very good safety scores from IIHS and NHTSA (with some important active-safety features added in 2013), and plenty of power. The standard 3.6-liter V6 first made 275 hp and later 288 hp, and AWD was optional every year. Timing chain replacement is important on these engines, but they’re quite reliable.

All that size, of course, means lots of room on the inside, and the Enclave boasts the largest third row seating area of any vehicle on this list. There are more than 33 inches of legroom back there, enough for real adult occupants and as much as some full-size SUVs. On higher trim models, the interior also feels quite luxurious, and later years have a modern, if modest, infotainment system. This Enclave was made until 2017, but the very newest ones aren't available for this price.

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Best Midsize Luxury SUV: 2007–2013 Acura MDX

Though Acura’s second-generation MDX introduced the world to the polarizing (and gigantic) “shield” grille design, it looked right on this SUV. The unusual design, paired with top marks for dependability, safety, practicality, and seating for up to seven people, cemented the MDX as Acura’s most popular model, which it still is today.

A 300-hp, 3.7-liter V6 engine was standard in these years, powering all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Every 2007–2013 MDX also came with Acura’s torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). It can send up to 70% of the engine’s power to the rear wheels, and all of that to a single rear wheel, depending on the situation. The SH-AWD helps to make the MDX fun to drive.

In addition to a base level of specification, original owners could add Technology or Sport option packages, each available with an additional Entertainment package supplying a rear-seat entertainment system. Although it doesn’t have the modern touchscreens of a new model, this MDX’s interior looks and feels modern, and many were equipped with luxuries like navigation.

Best Used Midsize SUVs $12,000 to $20,000

If you have up to $20,000 to spend, there’s a much wider array of SUVs to choose from. These three, however, are easy to recommend. In this price class, we’ve even got a luxury SUV for you to consider.

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Best Midsize SUV: 2016–2020 Kia Sorento

Too many SUV buyers overlook the excellent third-generation Kia Sorento. In terms of style and sophistication, this version of the company’s midsize SUV took a giant leap forward, but to really enjoy those benefits, you need to upgrade to a higher trim level. Happily, that’s possible even at this price point. For example, in SX specification, the reliable and safe Sorento is downright luxurious.

Choosing a higher trim level also gives the Sorento a much-needed boost of power. Many examples of the SUV have the standard 190-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder. That standard engine isn’t bad, but we recommend the turbocharged 240-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder or the impressive 290-hp 3.3-liter V6. If you live or play at higher elevations, these engines just make for a more enjoyable driving experience. Sadly, unlike the post-2021 Sorentos and Hyundai Santa Fe, there’s no hybrid version.

A third-row seat was also available for the Sorento, but it’s so small as to be nearly useless. It’s nice to have if you very occasionally have extra little kids on board, but it’s best to think of the Sorento as a two-row SUV that’s best for no more than four or five. On the plus side, because the Sorento was engineered for that seat, it has lots of cargo room behind the second row at nearly 39 cubic-feet.

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Best Midsize Family SUV: 2009–2017 Honda Pilot

It’s easy to think of the Toyota Highlander as the default choice among midsize family SUVs like this, but the Highlander Hybrid, the one which offers really meaningful advantages over other midsize SUVs, isn’t cheap and if you really need a usable third row, the Honda Pilot just offers a whole lot more. The Pilot’s third row is easier to access than the Highlander’s and, once passengers are back there, it has almost half a foot more legroom. It also bests the Toyota on cargo space in every dimension and has many clever storage features.

Beyond that penchant for practicality, the Honda is also just a little bit nicer to drive and more characterful to look at, for good or ill. These years encompass two generations of the Pilot, the bluff-fronted 2009 to 2015 second-generation models and the less distinctive 2016 and newer third-gen kind. In this price range, you’ll find nicer and lower-mileage versions of the earlier version, but it does lack some of the newer infotainment and driver-assist features of the later models.

Both versions use a standard 3.5-liter V6 delivering 250 hp in the earlier models and 280 hp in the later ones, though they also weigh a little more. Performance is decent in either case, and fuel economy is roughly comparable to the four-cylinder, non-hybrid Highlander. 2016 and newer Pilots earned higher marks from IIHS and NHTSA for safety, but both are safe, reliable choices.

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Best Midsize Luxury SUV: 2010–2015 Lexus RX

Styled to look like an SUV coupe before SUV coupes were a thing, the third-generation Lexus RX is a plush, serene, and utterly smooth sanctuary from the outside world. Dependable as the sunrise, roomy enough to hold five people, very safe in a collision, and available as a fuel-efficient hybrid, the Lexus RX was also popular when new, making it easy to find a used one in good condition today.

The RX 350’s standard 275-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine is a model of refinement, powering the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The RX 450h hybrid was more powerful and efficient, supplying nearly 300 horsepower and delivering 30 mpg in combined driving. It’s also the fuel economy king of the luxury class, with no other rival even coming close to that figure.

This Lexus is about quiet, soothing luxury, so don’t expect BMW-like moves or speed from either powerplant, but it is a great antidote for a stressful commute. It can also be obtained packed to the gills with the latest safety features of its era, including optional adaptive cruise control. There is also a sportier-looking version, the F Sport, which adds a beefed-up suspension and more aggressive looks if not any power.

Best Used Midsize SUVs $20,000 to $30,000

When your budget says you can afford to shop in this price class, choices include newer models chock-full of modern technologies. But when $30,000 is your price cap, you still can’t touch a midsize SUV unless it was first owned by someone else, even if you're shopping high-volume mainstream brands like Kia, Hyundai, Honda, Nissan, Ford, and Chevrolet. Here are three used midsize SUVs priced under $30,000 that we recommend.

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Best Midsize SUV: 2016–2020 Mazda CX-9

Mazda redesigned the CX-9 for the 2016 model year, bringing with it a dramatic sense of style and an upscale interior look and feel. Plus, the CX-9 is both reliable and safe, and it offers numerous driving-assistance technologies like lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring to help prevent a collision from occurring in the first place.

A turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is the only power plant available, and it makes as much as 250 hp and 320 pound-feet of torque. That torque is terrific, especially in versions of the CX-9 equipped with optional AWD. And the engine’s turbocharger ensures that a CX-9 feels responsive at altitude. As you might expect of a Mazda, the CX-9 is entertaining to drive—for a fairly large midsize SUV. This is, after all, ostensibly a three-row machine at the outer edge of the midsize spectrum and nearly as big as the Buick Enclave.

Available in Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and luxurious Signature trim levels, the CX-9 offers something for everyone. Everyone except third-row passengers, that is, because the CX-9’s aft seating is really small and best suited to little kids. It’s nice to have in a pinch, and it does help cargo volume when not in use, but like the Kia Sorento it’s best to the CX-9 as a five-passenger machine with a little extra for occasional use.

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Best Midsize Family SUV: 2014–2019 Toyota Highlander

There are really good reasons why the Toyota Highlander is so popular, and why used models sometimes cost a little more than their competitors. All Highlanders are rock reliable, safe, and user-friendly. They all come with a third row and plenty of cargo space, and the Hybrid versions get almost unbeatable gas mileage among midsize SUVs, with up to 29 mpg in combined driving. In these third-generation models, hybrids also come with AWD.

In previous years, this list has featured even cheaper Highlanders in the lower-tier price points, but those older models are still in demand and pricier than more budget-minded alternatives now. In the $20,000-$30,000 range, however, there’s a wide swath of choices among these Highlanders. Toyota redesigned the SUV for 2014 and then updated it for 2017, adding a new SE trim level with a sport-tuned suspension, installing a new 3.5-liter V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, and adding more trim levels to the Hybrid lineup. Updated styling either improved or worsened the Highlander’s looks, depending on your perspective.

The new powertrain was supposed to improve efficiency, but when driving, the transmission often suffered from delayed downshifts, making this “improved” version of the SUV less enjoyable on the road. This observation does not apply to the Highlander Hybrid, though, which carried on the same as it was before. In fact, if you’re going to get a used Highlander, the Hybrid is the one to have.

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Best Midsize Luxury SUV: 2016–2019 Lexus RX

Lexus is synonymous with reliability, and the fourth-generation RX is quite safe, so it’s a natural pick for this list of the best used midsize SUVs. It has all the virtues of the previous-generation RX listed above, but with more interesting styling and more modern tech features. The only caveat is that with this redesign, you either love or hate the looks, there’s no middle ground.

This generation of the SUV continued in RX 350 and RX 450h model series, each available with F Sport trim that improved the styling and tightened up the driving dynamics. In 2018, Lexus stretched the SUV’s wheelbase and styling to add a three-row version (RX 350L and RX 450hL) for seven-passenger capacity, but we can’t really recommend this version. It may have a third row, but it’s the smallest third row on the market and even little kids won’t really like it. If you really want a proper three-row luxury model in this price class, the Acura MDX is a better choice.

Unlike previous examples of the RX, the fourth-generation model, in F Sport trim, is engaging to drive. You won’t confuse it with an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes, but it won’t immediately put you to sleep. Unfortunately, this generation of the RX is also aggravating to drive because of its distracting touchpad infotainment system interface. This makes the navigation system hard to use and many drivers don’t like it, but it doesn’t overcome the RX’s other virtues.

Best Used SUVs $30,000 to $40,000

If you’re spending up to $40,000 on a midsize SUV, you can buy most new, mainstream-brand models. However, if you want a luxury SUV this price class still limits you to compact luxury crossovers—unless you choose to go used. Here are our picks for the best used midsize luxury SUVs at this price point.

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Best Midsize Luxury SUV: 2016–2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

Did you want to find another Lexus on this list? We didn’t think so. Instead, we offer you a nice Mercedes-Benz capable of seating up to seven people when equipped with its optional—and tiny—third-row seat. Many luxury SUVs—aside from the ones made by Lexus—don’t rank too well for reliability, but the GLE-Class seems to hold up well. We don’t recommend the optional BlueTEC diesels, as they have a record of problems, but the gas-powered GLE 350 models seem to draw few complaints.

Descended from the old M-Class, the GLE-Class was renamed when it was redesigned for 2016, and the new name persisted with a redesign for 2020. Although these SUVs don’t come cheap, a few more modern, and even more posh, 2020 versions fall into this price range as used vehicles. If you can find one, they’re materially nicer than the 2016-2019 models, but all GLEs are luxurious, and the slightly older versions offer more powertrain and equipment choices. These Benzes are also new enough to be available as Certified Pre-Owned models.

The GLE-Class isn’t as athletic as the rival BMW X5, but it does have a better reliability record and safety scores than the Bimmer. The GLE-Class was an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ in all of these model years. It’s also more self-consciously luxurious than the BMW, with an interior that looks and feels richer, and often has more standard equipment. The hot AMG versions will be hard to find at this price, but the GLE-Class isn’t a bad luxury pick.

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Best Midsize Luxury Family SUV: 2016–2020 Volvo XC90

If you’re looking for a relatively affordable family luxury midsize SUV with a decently-sized third row, the Acura MDX and Volvo XC90 are really the only games in town, and the Swede has a distinct edge in style and third-row room. Unlike the V6 Acura, all XC90s are powered by turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines, but power ratings vary from 250 hp to 316, and there’s also a much more powerful plug-in hybrid version, the T8. It doesn’t have much all-electric range or come cheap, but it’s the only plug-in on this list.

The first in a series of new-generation Volvos, this XC90 replaced the long-running original model in 2016 and telegraphed Volvo’s new house style. As a result, it’s design still looks fresh all these years later and Volvo is only now getting around to replacing it. It’s also roomy for what it is, with a proper adult-sized third row that has almost three inches more legroom than the Acura. It doesn’t do as well on cargo volume though, with a a scant 12.6 cubic-feet of cargo space behind that third seat and a compact-crossover-like 65.5 cubic-feet with both rows folded.

It’s opulent inside too, with details seemingly inspired by Scandanavian furniture, but base models skimp a bit on standard equipment. Volvo ladles on the modern active-safety features and like the Swedish automaker’s other models, the XC90 gets good marks from IIHS and NHTSA. While Volvo’s repair record isn’t as spotless as those of Acura or Lexus, the XC90 ranks above average with analysis sites like RepairPal and J.D. Power.

Related Topics:

  • Best Crossover SUVS
  • CarGurus Best Midsize SUVs
  • Best Hybrid SUVs

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The Best Used Midsize SUVs (2024)


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