Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Looking for used 4/awd wagon or small suv

I am looking for a 4wd or awd wagon or small suv that I can put another 100k miles on.
I was thinking about Subaru outback or Forrester. Other options might be Honda crv/element or Toyota Rav 4.
Looking for advice out input. Which are good models? Good years? Expected price points? Ya know, whatever.
The catch is I want it for less than $10k.

For $10k you should be able to get a mid-2000 CRV with under 100k miles and another 100k or more miles left in it. Those are pretty reliable. An Element or Rav4 is also a good choice.

I would avoid Subarus because (a) they are prone to head gasket problems and (b) the AWD system is more prone to being damaged by mismatched tires than the CRV, Element, or Rav4.

You can get estimated prices at Just pick the brand, model, and year then trim level and options. After a short while you will get the hang of it and looking up prices will be easy. That will tell you how new a vehicle you can afford for your $10,000. You might add the Subaru Impreza to the list. It should be less expensive than an outback or Forrester. A base 2007 Impreza wagon with manual trans, 75,000 miles and clean condition is about $8500 at a dealer. That is the last year of production for the wagon, but there is a newer hatchback.

The Impreza ‘wagon’ always looked more like a hatchback and didn’t have that much cargo space. If you need to carry a lot of stuff it may not do. The Subaru awd system is more complex than most. That makes it better in slippery conditions, but also means there are more parts to wear out or break and they aren’t cheap to repair. For most winter driving the simpler awd systems of competiors do the job well enough. As for which one, there are scads. The CR-V is very popular both new and used, so don’t expect great bargains. The Toyota badge on the RAV4 also keeps resale values high.

The Ford Escape was made for a decade with few changes until its redesign last year. It’s not an especially nice vehicle, but it works well enough and so many were sold you have a good chance of getting one at a reasonable price. The engine did change over the years, some better than others, so if you’re looking up reliability and values keep in mind that a difference of a year can be significant. The rest of the vehicle changed little, except for a mid-cycle refresh that mildly updated the front end and improved the interior. There is also a pretty decent hybrid using a drivetrain much like that of the Prius, though engineered by Ford.

The very nice Mazda CX5 that came out a couple of years ago is too expensive still, but it was preceded by the very handsome CX7. It’s similar in interior space, if a bit longer. The only real sore point is the engine. When introduced it only came with a turbo four that was laggy and thirsty. No one liked it much. In later years they sold it with an ordinary four that wasn’t as quick, but was preferred by many as it felt more natural. The interior is pleasant and comfortable. The Mazda Tribute was essentially identical to the Ford Escape. Mazda did the engineering and design work for both, as was common for smaller Fords during the years they controlled Mazda.

The older Nissan Rogue is a very plain crossover with acres of gray plastic inside, but it isn’t awful, just bland and no fun. The new Rogue recently introduced is far nicer, not that it helps you. The older Rogues were never very popular so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some cheap ones around. The Hyundai Santa Fe and smaller Tucson are very average in every way. Only buy if the price is great The Kia Sportage of the last five years or so is quite stylish, but older ones were not very good or attractive. I’d avoid them.

The older Nissan Pathfinder, the Nissan XTerra and the Toyota 4Runner are traditional truck-derived body-on-frame SUVs. If you need to tow or drive off-road (but not too far off) these can make sense, but they tend to be expensive and get worse gas mileage than the carlike crossovers. Various Jeeps also have better off-road ability, but overall the ones from a few years ago were unimpressive and unreliable. The little Compass and Patriot may look like tough little Jeeps, but it’s mostly looks as they’re based on the unimpressive Dodge Caliber. Recent Jeep models are much nicer, but there were some years where they had a very poor bunch of vehicles.