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Looking for a used SUV that will hold value


I’m driving a 1996 Honda Accord which is paid for and has served me well. I’ve upgraded my income and am ready to upgrade my vehicle. I’m looking for a used SUV or wagon that will hold its value.

My priorities are: 1) To be in a larger automobile for hauling my dogs and bicycle for adventures in & out of town. 2) To be in something used, as I park on the street in Baltimore city, and would rather not stress at the immediate appearance of scratches on my new vehicle 3) To be in something reliable, as I’ve been spoiled by my ultra reliable Accord.

Oh wise Car Talk listeners, can you help me with suggestions? I’d like to spend $33K or less.

Continue to be spoiled…Honda CRV and save the other $13K.

How about the Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander. Either should be big enough for large dogs and bicycles. Each should be quite reliable (the early V6 Highlanders had a sludge problem though). And since they are Hondas and Toyotas they should hold their value better than most.

I agree, Pilot or Highlander.

How about the Honda Element? Being a Honda, it will be reliable and durable. As to resale value, I have to say that I don’t know anything specifically, but I suspect that its quirky looks might cause it to hold its value less well than its mechanically identical sibling, the CR-V.

The Element is very roomy, as a result of its very boxy shape, and if the OP is interested in something that is less prone to losing its appearance as a result of living in an urban environment, all 4 fenders on the older Elements are flat black and should be less prone to scratches than vehicles with the usual glossy paint finish on their fenders. The newer Elements have conventional glossy paint on their fenders, but I am not sure exactly when Honda changed from black fenders to the current design.

My son has a Honda Element that was one of early models. Lots of miles now and no real problem. It has a sturdy utilitarian style interior that would be tough for the dogs to harm, good option. Bigger than your Accord, but not too big and easy to park if spaces in the city are difficult to find.

I just bought an '01 Toyota Sequoia to haul trailers. At 92,000 miles it is still as solid as a rock and I paid just over $10,000 for it. Both of these vehicle hold value well and should be reliable with a repair bill now and then. The Sequoia is BIG, really big and may be tougher to park in the city.

I’d recommend buying something for about $15,000 and figure to spend $2,000 on the brakes, tires, and timing belt if needed. People trade these cars because they need to replace stuff that are just wear items. My Sequoia had new tires, and a recent brake job when I bought it. It needs the timing belt done and I’m good for a bunch of years.

When looking for a used vehicle, my advise would be to find something that does not hold its value. The first couple years are when the greatest depreciation occurs, let the originall owner take the hit and pocket the money for the next time you want to upgrade.

I would also look at a station wagon or base 2wd suv rather than any 4wd/AWD vehicle if you are not going into the backwoods.

Vehicles I like: Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix, 2wd Nissan Xterra, 2wd pickups of any make/model, 2wd Jeep Liberty (this last one really suprised me, one of my friend’s little sister bought one and has had 0 problems with it and plenty of fun).

Many SUVs and 4wd/AWD vehicles have problems with the extra stuff that comes along with having the 2 additional wheels powered. Unless you really need it, I typically steer people away from it.

Spending $33k just for used would put you into BMW or Mercedes territory.
No matter what you get, have it checked out by a mechanic BEFORE you buy it

“Many SUVs and 4wd/AWD vehicles have problems with the extra stuff that comes along with having the 2 additional wheels powered. Unless you really need it, I typically steer people away from it.”

True with some makes…absolutely not with Honda CRV and other models. It’s AWD drive system is less effective than Rav’s and Subaru’s but very simple and ultra reliable. Honda CRVs can be had in 2wd which, if you don’t need awd, is cheaper and a little easier on gas. Lot’s of room for size, and my preference used. CRV’s AWD are one of legit fwd only til needed on earlier models.
Personally know several people who buy them at 100K miles cheap and ride’m til over 200k with minimal problems. Local post office picks up used ones for rural mail delivery…they have to beat them to death with a stick; driving won’t do it.

Dodge/Mercedes/Freightliner Sprinter. They are all the same Mercedes van with different badges. Basic Mercedes diesel engine. Popular as a city delivery vehicle, so it won’t stand out if you get a cargo version. Window/passenger versions are available. Been around a few years, so some used should be around, but for $33K you could be getting a new one without a lot of options.

Talk to your insurer and find out what gets stolen in Charm City and what doesn’t. Not only will you keep your SUV, your insurance rates will be lower. You might have a short list so that the conversation does not go on forever. Maybe you could ask what the 5 to 10 lest popular SUVs for thieves are.

Older vehicles will retain their value better, but all cars and trucks depreciate. Unless you plan on selling it in the next 5 years, I wouldn’t worry too much about depreciation. You’ve got a 13 year old car now. If you drive the new one just as long, depreciation is not much of an issue.

Maybe keep what you have and rent a SUV when you want to go on an adventure.

“SUV” and “hold value” should not be used in the same sentence.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. We are still looking, but wll take a more serious peek at the models you’ve mentioned. I love a honda, and the CRV and Element will certainly get a closer look.

Have you looked into the Jeep Commander? Used “top of the line” models are way below your budget and they have a good 4wd system. They’re built along the same lines as the Jeep Grand Cherokee-just more room! The seats fold down and create a large cargo area for pups & bikes & stuff. Gas mileage is tolerable (the Hemi gets the best mileage but at premium fuel prices!) and the lesser engines can be “tinkered” with to add a few miles per gallon.

 Think I'm talking trash?  My current vehicle (when my Mustang isn't behaving) is a 2001 Jeep Cherokee 4x4 6 cyl.  She gets between 20 & 23 mpg. CITY!  Aftermarket  air inlet systems & spark plugs have done this (along with sensible driving habits).  Highway mpg hasn't been tested since the mods but was 26 mpg prior to the changes.

 Since they don't make the Cherokee any more, I've looked into what to replace her with if catastrophe strikes and the Commander is at the top of the list!


PS. I have NO “Brand Loyalty” I research and purchase what meets my needs.

I’ve read that the Commander isn’t particualrly impressive. With anything other than the Hemi it’s underpowered. Fuel economy is shockingly bad, even for it’s segmet. And since it has unibody construction even minor off-roading damage will be expensive to fix.

Your Cherokee is rated at 14 city and 18 highway. I have a real hard time believing that you had a 60% gain in city mileaga and 70% gain in highway mileage with just a cold air intake and new spark plugs.

We have a 2003 Toyota 4Runner that, according to the books, is worth at least half of what we paid for it new. The 4Runner has been very reliable. The mileage is 22-24 on the highway and about 15-17 around town. I won’t sell you ours–my wife would have a fit–it’s her baby. If you can find a good used 4Runner from 2003 or later, particularly one with the V-6, I thinkyou would be satisfied.

For $33K you can buy a brand new Scion xB and have room for the dogs and bikes and tons of cash left over.