With the average new vehicle costing in excess of $38,000 these days, it comes as no surprise that a growing number of consumers are turning to the used car market to save money. For cash-strapped buyers, there is no other option.

Unfortunately, buying a used vehicle can be a far more perilous decision to make than buying new, particularly with regard to a vehicle’s mechanical condition. This is an especially critical consideration if you’re buying an older model with a higher number of miles on its odometer.  Picking a vehicle that subsequently spends a great deal of time in the repair shop can quickly siphon away any savings realized from buying a used car in the first place. 

That’s why when we started compiling the above list of what we feel are the best used SUVs that would sell for $10,000 or less, we consulted the extensive reliability ratings from Consumer Reports (subscription required). Their ratings are based largely on surveys submitted by the organization’s print and online subscribers. Owners are asked to report any significant car trouble they’ve experienced during the previous 12 months in any of 17 potential trouble spots.

We chose 15 SUVs – all are car-based crossovers – that CR says enjoy higher than average long-term reliability; they all performed well when new, and can generally be purchased for less than ten grand. Actual prices will depend on a given model’s condition, equipment, and mileage, and tend to vary by region due to local supply and demand. We’re quoting estimated average retail prices for base models. You’ll find all but one of the SUVs on our list available in both front- and all-wheel-drive models.

Since buying a used SUV is a crapshoot as is, we restricted our picks to vehicles that are 10 years old or newer to eliminate excessive-mileage “beater” models. We’re noting the specific model years recommended for each chosen vehicle, along with average retail prices for each culled from the Internet and rounded off. We’re presenting them in alphabetical order.

A few words of advice: Always take a test drive before signing a bill of sale to see if the vehicle is to your liking in the first place, to ensure all accessories are in working order, and to note any obvious anomolies in the way it drives. Even better, have any used SUV you’re considering checked out by a trusted mechanic (if possible) to ensure that it’s in top operating condition.

Always check the market values of any used cars you’re looking at from an online pricing source with your Zip Code entered to ensure you’re getting a good deal. Motor1.com partners with TrueCar for just this sort of thing. Click here, selected Used Cars, and enter the make and model you're searching for along with your zip code. 

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