A red ford explorer in the desert with a white check mark

5 Most Reliable SUVs Under $10,000

Milad Hassibi May 10, 2018

If you are in the market for a reliable SUV, chances are you have a family or are in need of more cargo space than what’s offered in today’s typical sedans.

SUVs are great for long distance trips and can be a great median between a truck and small car. Whether you are looking to get around town or travel with family and friends cross-country, a SUV is the perfect choice.

Since SUVs are the 2nd most common type of car sold in the United States, we decided to compile a list of the top 5 most reliable SUVs under $10,000. We will also discuss ways you can ensure that the SUV you are buying will provide you with years of reliable service.

2009 Ford Explorer

The 2009 Ford Explorer is the standard SUV most people think about when they decide to buy a SUV.

The 2009 Ford Explorer is a reliable SUV that offers both a V6 and a V8 engine.

Depending on the options equipped, you can find an Explorer with leather seating, satellite radio, and a USB connection.

Both engines are great for hauling heavy loads and cargo, but that shows in its less than amazing fuel economy at 15 MPG city.

There are 2WD and AWD versions available as well. Parts for the 2009 Ford Explorer are readily available at local dealerships and auto part stores.

Compared to most of the other SUVs under $10,000 the Explorer is a large SUV meant for hauling families across America.

Owners have complained about excessive road noise and a rough ride. However, the 2009 Ford Explorer received the Most Dependable SUV award from J.D. Power.

A image of a gray Honda CRV2009 Honda CRV

The Honda CRV has been Honda’s flagship compact SUV ever since its introduction.

The CRV features great ride quality along with interior creature comforts that make it a great road trip vehicle.

The 5 seat SUV is known for going above and beyond its call of duty, with some owners still driving theirs after 300,000 miles.

Although the CRV is only available in a 4 cylinder, this SUV has stellar safety rating and better fuel mileage than most comparables.

It is also backed by Honda’s legendary reputation for reliability, making it one of the most reliable SUVs ever.

Honda has a stellar reputation of producing some of the most reliable SUVs on the market. J.D. Power gave the 2009 Honda CRV an award for high quality.

The one downside many consumers complain about with their crossover CRV is the premium fuel requirement.

The CRV is also a great SUV for tall drivers, with drivers as tall as 6’4″ being able to drive comfortably.

If you are looking for a practical and efficient SUV for your family, the 2009 Honda CRV is it.

2010 Subaru Forester

Although Subaru constantly blurs the line between SUVs and wagons, the Forrester got completely redesigned A blue 2010 Subaru Forresterin 2009 and has been keeping drivers happy for years.

The reliable and durable chassis is known for its on-road and off-road capabilities.

If utility is what you need from an SUV, then the Forester may be for you.

The 2010 Subaru Forester features ample cargo space and respectable towing limits.

All Foresters come with AWD as standard equipment.

Almost all Subaru’s hold their value extremely well, so be sure to make a move if you spot one for sale at a low price.

The Forrester also scores high for being a dependable SUV with plenty of affordable parts on the market. Subaru ensured that the Forester was ideal for trips, with nearly 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space.

The motor is responsive and allows the Forester to handle much like a sports sedan. If you choose to purchase the Forester Turbo, you will be required to use premium fuel.

A black 2009 RAV4

2009 Toyota RAV4

We all know the Toyota RAV4 by its distinguishable trunk-mounted spare tire.

This FWD midsize SUV has a reliable 4 cylinder engine that scored a fuel economy of 22 MPG city and 28 MPG highway.

Buyers could also take it to the next step by getting the optional V6 engine.

This cars reliability is legendary, as the engine and transmission in this car are nearly bulletproof.

Know that if you invest in a RAV4, you will have lots of driving miles available to you without any major issues.

This compact SUV also ranks highly with Consumer Reports in 2009, with many critics praising the RAV4’s generous cargo space and optional third-row seats.

If you are looking for a small-to-midsize sport utility vehicle that combines performance, handling, and fuel economy, the 2009 Toyota RAV4 is a an exceptional choice.

2009 Toyota Highlander

The Highlander was one of the first ever SUVs to offer a 4 cylinder engine.

That engine made it so A gray 2009 Highlanderthat the Highlander would receive nearly 27 MPG on the highway.

Although the Highlander was available with a V6, many buyers chose the more efficient 4-cylinder instead.

The Highlander is known for holding its value well, and you may have to compromise and settle for one with a few more miles.

However, you can be certain that Toyota’s legendary reliability is reflected in this vehicle.

JD Power gave the 2009 Highlander an award for its high-reliability rating.

You can find a 2009 Highlander with options such as navigation, Bluetooth, and leather heated seats. Many long-term Highlander owners reported that the only thing needing replacement was the car’s battery.

Finding the Right SUV

With so many SUV’s available for sale in America, it can be hard to narrow your search for the perfect one. If you are still unsure of what SUV you want, here are some questions to ask yourself.

What will the SUV be used for?

The use of your SUV should be an important factor to consider. For instance, are you looking to haul your family and a boat to the local lake every week?

If so, you may want to consider a SUV with a V8 motor and AWD.

If reliability is your main priority, try searching for a Japanese SUV with less than 75,000 miles. This will help to ensure that the vehicle has had low use and has plenty of parts available.

For basic family transportation around town, we recommend that you look at safety ratings and features.

The SUV’s listed above can be equipped with leather seating, navigation, and an infotainment system.

If you are in need of a higher towing capacity, you can see some of the best trucks to tow with under $10k here.

Determining Your Budget for a SUV

Those searching for the best SUVs under $10,000 will already have a budget in mind, but its vital to ensure that you will be capable of making payments if you decide to purchase your car though financing. 

SUV Ownership Expense

A large SUV will consume more fuel than a standard sedan. Insurance companies also add on extra charges for large SUVs, since the probability of filing a claim with a large vehicle tends to be higher.

Another additional costs to consider includes scheduled maintenance and repairs for your SUV.

Some SUV’s will have higher repair costs than others. Depending on what type of SUV you have purchased, a specialty mechanic may be required.

In order to keep your SUV in tip-top shape, we recommend following the maintenance and repair schedule included in your owners manual.

Obtaining Financing

Most dealerships will offer external loans or in-house financing for buyers. However, it can be a challenge to find affordable financing when you have bad credit.

If you are planning on financing your next SUV purchase, ensure you check your credit score and report beforehand.

Checking your credit report will allow you to catch any mistakes that could alter the loan offer you receive.

Having a healthy credit score is the best way to ensure you are receiving a competitive rate.

If you plan to shop around for your auto loan, check rates with your local bank or credit union first.  If you have bad credit, CrediReady can help you obtain financing as well.

Applying for a number of auto loans can trigger multiple hard inquiries on your credit score.

The three major credit bureaus recognize this and allow multiple hard inquires for the same loan type to count as just one hard inquiry, if all the loans are applied for in a 14-day period.

If you know you need financing, we highly recommend that you get pre-approved by a lender first. This can make the headache of searching for an SUV within your budget much easier.

Getting pre-approved for an auto loan makes it harder for a used car salesman to pressure you to spend more money on a SUV.

Searching for a SUV Under $10,000

Depending on where you live, it might be harder than you think to find an SUV that meets your exact criteria.

First and foremost, check online listing websites such as Craigslist and AutoTrader.com.

These websites tend to have the most cars listed for sale by private party sellers.

There are also various dealers on these sites who may be able to arrange financing for you, regardless of credit. If you know you need financing, ensure you get pre-approved first.

Inspecting a SUV

Once you’ve browsed though various auto listings for SUVs that fit your budget call the sellers. Be sure to have questions prepared to ask them regarding the car.

Some common questions to ask when purchasing an SUV can include

  • How long have you owned the vehicle?
  • Do you have any receipts for repair or maintenance work?
  • Does the SUV require any repairs or work?
  • Does the car make any smoke or noises while running?
  • Do you have a clean title and a SMOG certificate in hand (if applicable)?

Once you’ve asked the SUV’s seller some basic background information, you can schedule a time to see the car in person.

Ideally, you should choose a public location with room to inspect the car, such as the parking lot of a mall or park.

It is also common for SUV sellers to ask prospective buyers to come see the car at their residence.

Once you meet the seller, look over the SUV and ensure that everything functions as it should. Ensure that you test items such as the windows, locks, lights, heater, and air conditioning.

Take the car for a test drive and ensure that the car moves through all gears smoothly. Examine the underside of the car for any oil or coolant leaks.

Once way to ensure the vehicle you are buying is in good shape is to bring it to a trusted mechanic for inspection.

A pre-purchase inspection can help catch any mechanical or electrical issues that could cost you down the road.

Although most pre-purchase inspections will cost around $100, its well worth it for most buyers.

If the mechanic brings up any issues, you can either pass on the car, or use it as a negotiation point.

It can be hard for most people to catch any mechanical issues themselves, which is why it is recommended to obtain a pre-purchase inspection.

Even if you purchase the car from a dealership, they should be more than happy to allow a pre-purchase inspection.

Once you’ve had the car inspected, its time to negotiate a selling price. For this hypothetical example, let us assume the seller is asking $10,000 flat for their SUV. If you notice any issues, bring them up in the negotiation.

Another tool to have access to is KBB.com, the leading valuation site for used cars, SUVs, and trucks. Check to make sure that the car’s price is fair given its condition and mileage.

If you know the car needs $500 worth of additional repairs, offer the seller $9,000. If the seller comes back with a counter offer, bring up any other blemishes or issues you can find.

Once you and the seller have agreed on the price, all you need to do is fill out the vehicles title and a bill of sale. You can download and print a bill of sale on your state’s DMV website.

Final Note

All in all, shopping for an SUV can be a fun an exciting time. However, if you are in need of an auto loan and have bad credit, CrediReady can help.

Our nationwide network of trusted dealers and verified lenders work with buyers in all credit situations around the country. Take a moment to fill out our free no obligation form today to see how much you can save!

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