Budget-Friendly Powerhouses: Best Used AWD SUVs Under $20,000

Last Updated on
best used awd suv under $20,000

If you’re in the market for a used SUV that can power through any terrain and weather, an all-wheel drive (AWD) model is the way to go. But finding the perfect balance between performance, reliability, and affordability can be a daunting task. That’s where we come in.

We’ve compiled a list of the best used AWD SUVs under $20,000 that offer great value for your money without breaking the bank. Our selection includes vehicles from various makes and models that deliver impressive performance, spacious interiors, and a range of features to meet your needs. So, buckle up, and let’s take a closer look at these budget-friendly powerhouses.

Understanding AWD Vehicles

When searching for the most reliable vehicle, it’s crucial to understand the different types of drivetrains available. One such type that stands out due to its enhanced traction and control is the All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system.

What is an AWD Vehicle?

An AWD vehicle is a car that utilizes all four wheels for power distribution. Unlike two-wheel-drive vehicles, where power is sent to either the front or the rear wheels, an AWD system distributes power to all four wheels simultaneously. This system can either be full-time, where all wheels are always driven, or part-time, where the vehicle operates in two-wheel drive until additional traction control is needed.

Benefits of Owning an AWD Vehicle

Among the top reasons to consider an AWD vehicle is improved traction. Because power is distributed to all four wheels, these vehicles can maintain better control on slippery or uneven surfaces, such as snow, ice, or off-road terrains. This makes AWD vehicles an excellent choice for those living in areas with harsh winter weather or for those who enjoy off-road adventures, as highlighted in our article on the best all-wheel drive cars for snow.

In addition to enhanced traction, AWD vehicles offer better acceleration and stability than two-wheel-drive vehicles. The equal power distribution to all four wheels allows for quicker acceleration, while the improved traction provides better handling and cornering ability.

While AWD vehicles tend to cost more and can be more expensive to maintain due to the additional drivetrain components, many buyers find the increased safety and performance capabilities well worth the investment. When looking for the most reliable AWD cars of all time, focusing on models known for their longevity and durability can help ensure you get the best value for your money.

In the following sections, we will explore some of the best-used AWD SUVs under $20,000, providing reliable and budget-friendly options to consider.

Factors to Consider When Buying

While searching for the best used AWD SUV under $20,000, it’s crucial to consider critical factors to ensure you get the most value for your money. These factors include the vehicle’s performance and reliability, its resale value, and fuel efficiency.

Performance and Reliability

The performance and reliability of an AWD SUV are essential aspects to consider. This involves looking at the vehicle’s handling, engine performance, and overall reliability record. Evaluate the vehicle’s track record regarding mechanical issues, recalls, and consumer complaints.

For instance, the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V are known for their excellent reliability. They offer a comfortable and roomy cabin and firm performance, making them top choices when looking for the most reliable AWD cars of all time.

Resale Value

Another important factor to consider is the resale value of an AWD SUV. Vehicles that maintain their value over time can offer a better return on investment when it’s time to sell or trade in them.

Models like the Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester are known for their strong resale value, making them popular choices for a used AWD SUV under $20,000 (Consumer Reports). When buying, consider the vehicle’s age, mileage, condition, and brand reputation for maintaining value.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency is another key consideration, especially with rising fuel prices. More fuel-efficient vehicles can save you money in the long run and are also better for the environment.

Models like the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 are known for their good fuel efficiency (Consumer Reports, MyValuCar). When assessing fuel efficiency, consider the vehicle’s miles per gallon (MPG) ratings for both city and highway driving.

In conclusion, when searching for the best used AWD SUV under $20,000, considering these factors will ensure you make a well-informed decision and find a vehicle that offers reliability, strong performance, good resale value, and fuel efficiency. For more options, explore our lists of the best AWD cars under 10k and most reliable new cars under $20,000.

Top Used AWD SUVs Under $20,000

Several high-performing and reliable options exist when finding the best-used AWD SUV under $20,000. In this section, we’ll explore three top-rated models that offer excellent value for money: the Subaru Forester, the Honda CR-V, and the Toyota RAV4.

1. Subaru Forester

Renowned for its reliability and substantial resale value, the Subaru Forester is one of the top choices for the best-used AWD SUV under $20,000 (Consumer Reports). This model is praised for its spacious cabin, comfortable ride, and impressive fuel efficiency. It also features Subaru’s signature symmetrical AWD system, providing excellent traction and stability even in challenging driving conditions.

ModelReliabilityResale ValueFuel Efficiency
Subaru ForesterHighHighGood

2. Honda CR-V

Another reliable and fuel-efficient option is the Honda CR-V. This used AWD SUV offers a comfortable and roomy cabin, making it an ideal choice for families. Despite its compact size, the CR-V does not compromise on performance, offering responsive handling and a smooth ride.

ModelReliabilityResale ValueFuel Efficiency
Honda CR-VHighGoodExcellent

3. Toyota RAV4

Known for its durability and strong resale value, the Toyota RAV4 is a popular choice for those seeking a used AWD SUV under $20,000. It offers a comfortable ride and good fuel efficiency, making it an economical choice for daily commuting (Consumer Reports).

ModelReliabilityResale ValueFuel Efficiency
Toyota RAV4HighExcellentGood

While these models are top contenders in the under $20,000 category, other affordable and reliable AWD SUVs, such as the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5, are worth considering. It’s important to conduct thorough research and consider factors such as performance, reliability, resale value, and fuel efficiency before making a final decision. For those seeking additional options, our guide to most reliable awd cars of all time provides valuable insights.

Additional Reliable AWD SUVs

In addition to the top-rated Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4, buyers can consider other reliable AWD SUVs. Here, we explore three additional models that offer excellent performance and reliability at a budget-friendly price: the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, and Chevrolet Equinox.

1. Ford Escape

The Ford Escape is popular for those seeking a reliable AWD SUV under $20,000. Known for its comfortable ride, user-friendly technology, and ample cargo space, the Escape offers versatility and affordability (Consumer Reports).

This SUV is frequently lauded for its spacious interior, comfortable seating, and strong engine performance. Buyers can expect a well-rounded vehicle that performs well on the road and offers decent cargo space.

Moreover, the Ford Escape is recognized for its strong safety ratings, adding to its appeal as a used AWD SUV (source). For those interested in exploring more about reliable AWD vehicles, check out our list of the most reliable awd cars of all time.

2. Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5 is hailed as the best used SUV under $20,000. Renowned for its sleek design, responsive handling, and exceptional fuel efficiency, the CX-5 stands out as a top contender in its class. With advanced all-wheel drive ensuring enhanced traction and stability, this dynamic SUV excels on diverse road surfaces. Whether navigating city streets or venturing off-road, the CX-5 delivers a smooth and enjoyable driving experience. For budget-conscious buyers seeking reliability and value, the Mazda CX-5 emerges as the ultimate choice in the used SUV market.

3. Chevrolet Equinox

Enter the Chevrolet Equinox, a formidable contender for the title of the best used SUV under $20,000. With its robust build, spacious interior, and smooth ride, the Equinox offers versatility and comfort for drivers and passengers alike. Equipped with optional all-wheel drive, it provides enhanced traction and stability, making it suitable for various driving conditions. Whether navigating urban streets or embarking on weekend getaways, the Equinox delivers a refined driving experience. For budget-conscious buyers seeking reliability and functionality, the Chevrolet Equinox stands out as a compelling choice in the used SUV market.

4. Toyota RAV4

Meet the Toyota RAV4, a standout contender among used SUVs under $20,000. Renowned for its reliability and versatility, the RAV4 offers a spacious interior, fuel-efficient engine options, and optional all-wheel drive for enhanced traction and stability. Whether navigating city streets or exploring off-road trails, the RAV4 delivers a comfortable and capable driving experience, making it a popular choice for budget-conscious buyers seeking value and practicality in a used SUV.

5. Honda CR-V

Introducing the Honda CR-V, a top choice in the used SUV market under $20,000. Praised for its practicality and refined driving dynamics, the CR-V features a spacious and well-equipped interior, along with available all-wheel drive for added traction in adverse weather conditions. With its reputation for reliability and strong resale value, the CR-V offers peace of mind and comfort for drivers and passengers alike, making it a compelling option for budget-conscious buyers.

6. Subaru Forester

Discover the versatile and adventure-ready Subaru Forester SUV, designed to tackle any terrain with ease, both on and off the road. With Subaru’s renowned Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system as standard, the Forester delivers exceptional traction and handling in any driving conditions. The Forester’s spacious interior, generous cargo capacity, and impressive safety ratings make it a top choice for families and adventure enthusiasts seeking an affordable SUV under $20,000. Whether you’re navigating tough terrains or cruising on the highway, the Subaru Forester offers the reliability, versatility, and performance that you need in a used SUV. Get ready to embark on your next adventure with the Subaru Forester.

Tips for Buying a Used AWD SUV

Choosing the best used AWD SUV under $20,000 requires careful consideration, from evaluating the vehicle’s condition to assessing its history and performing a test drive. By following these steps, buyers can ensure they are making an informed decision.

Evaluating Vehicle Condition

The vehicle’s overall condition is crucial when purchasing a used AWD SUV. Inspecting the SUV’s exterior and interior can reveal potential problems. Look out for signs of rust, dents, or scratches on the body, and check for any damage to the seats, dashboard, and other interior components. It’s also important to check the condition of the tires, brakes, and lights.

Under the hood, check for signs of leaks, damage, or unusual noises. If possible, have a trusted mechanic inspect the vehicle to identify any potential mechanical issues. This could save you from expensive repairs in the future.

Assessing Vehicle History

Before making a purchase, it’s important to obtain a vehicle history report. This report provides valuable information about the SUV’s past, including previous owners, accident history, and maintenance records. A vehicle with a clean history report and regular maintenance records is a good indicator of a reliable SUV.

Be wary of vehicles with a history of major accidents or frequent repairs, as these could indicate potential reliability issues. Also, look at the vehicle’s mileage. A high-mileage vehicle might have more wear and tear, affecting its performance and reliability.

Performing a Test Drive

A test drive is an essential step in the buying process. It allows you to see how the SUV performs on the road and identify any issues that might not be apparent during a stationary inspection.

During the test drive, consider how the SUV handles, including its acceleration, braking, and steering. Listen for any unusual sounds, and check the performance of the AWD system. If the SUV doesn’t feel right or if you notice any problems, it’s best to consider other options.

Buying a used AWD SUV can be a great way to get a reliable and capable vehicle without breaking the bank. You can ensure that you’re making a smart investment by evaluating the vehicle’s condition, assessing its history, and performing a test drive. For more tips on finding the best used AWD SUV under $20,000, check out our articles on the most reliable awd cars of all time and best used all-wheel drive cars for snow.