We are 103,000+ car owners sharing real-world car information.

Join Us

Inexpensive suv for teen

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


Zip code is 48044.

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 150000
Maximum age: 12 years

Maximum price: US $ 6500

« Return to results

Sign in or join TrueDelta to post your own thoughts.

Sort responses by likes

Response from Member5683

3:14 pm August 13, 2018

Response from Sea-Dan

4:08 pm August 13, 2018

Are you looking for an SUV due to a need for AWD or is more of percieved size related safety factor?

Unfortunately in your price range you won't be able to get any of the newest safety features but instead want to focus on crash test scores. As far as braking is concerned also consider the tires. An $6,500 used car likely may have tires that are down to their last 1/2 or less of tread. A really great all around tire at very reasonable cost General's Atimax RT43; it is available on Tire Rack in most sizes for under $100.

Good options include Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4, Subuaru Forester or Imprezza. All are decent performers and reliable although none are perfect.

Here is an interesting list from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It is a little dated but I think instructive for your price range.

" Recommended used vehicles for teens starting under $20,000(new car price) Vehicles on this list earn good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. If rated by NHTSA, they earn 4 or 5 stars overall or 4 or 5 stars in the front and side tests under the old rating scheme. All come with standard ESC. Prices, rounded to the nearest $100, were taken fromKelley Blue Bookon July 1, 2014, for the lowest trim level and earliest applicable model year based on the following criteria: vehicle in good condition, typical mileage and private party purchase in Arlington, Va. "SMALL SUVs:
Honda CR-V 2012 and later $18,100
Kia Sportage 2011 and later $13,800
Hyundai Tucson 2010 and later $13,100
Subaru Forester 2009 and later $12,800 Mitsubishi Outlander 2011 and later $12,000
Volkswagen Tiguan 2009 and later $10,200 Honda Element 2007 and later $8,900. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/iihs-issues-recommendations-on-used-vehicles-for-teens-after-research-finds-many-arent-driving-the-safest-ones

The sleeper of the above bunch is the Mitsu Outlander. Even though they have pretty reliable cars, Mitsu has never successfully competed with Honda, Toyota, & Subaru. Because they never sold well it can be hard to find much info on them. CR give the 2014 a 4 out of 5 reliablity rating. If you can find a good used one it would probably be significantly less than the others & worth considering.

While pre-2010 Subarus have their fair share of head gasket & wheel bearing issues they tend to be pretty reliable beyond that. Older models seem to be everywhere here in W WA so they are not ending up in the junk yard, that's for sure! Idealy I'd try to find one that as had the wheel bearings & head gasket replaced within the past 30,000. Due to their popularity Subies tend command a premium price.

The Kia/Hyundia twins are also a good bet, fairly plentiful, reliable, and reasonably priced.

My son has a VW Tiaguan for 5 years, was a very good car. However VWs can get can be expensive to maintain as 5 yrs & 50K miles

Lots of options. Hopefully your teen will be grateful for any car and not veto a great find over style (of course having a good car that you hate can be factor of teen karma! Love to hear what you and up with


Link to this reponse

Mitsubishi Outlander
Kia Sportage
Subaru Forester

Response from AcuraT

6:25 pm August 13, 2018

Not a bad list above but some issues with some of the vehicles. Here are the things to be concerned about when buying these particular used car models recommended by danlisahall (Just listing known trouble spots for each according to Consumer Reports - not by me):

Rav 4 (missing from the price and year list offered by danlisahall)
87% of owners find it reliable. Brakes are an issue through 2013, otherwise pretty troublefree besides a slight issue with the dashboard interface controls in 2014. One of the most reliable cars in the list.

Honda CR-V2012 and later $18,100
83% of owners find it reliable. Only issue is problems with the climate system and it is a consistent issue on cars from 2008 to 2013. You are better off with 2014 or later to avoid that issue if you can afford it, otherwise be prepared to spend money to fix that one issue.

Kia Sportage2011 and later $13,800
52% find it reliable. Average to below average reliablity through 2013, you probably want to avoid this one in your price range. Climate system, suspension, brakes, paint and trim, in car electronics, and power equipment are all below average to some degree until 2014 when it gets better.

Hyundai Tucson2010 and later $13,100
22% find it reliable. 2012 to 2015 are fairly reliable, terrible after that. So you are probably okay on those specific years. Some issues with the brakes in 2010 and 2011, 2010 and 11 has severe transmission issues, and 2011 has some body integrity issues - that is it. If you can get 2012 or later you are better off.

Subaru Forester2009 and later $12,800
81% find it reliable. Unfortunately, this is one of Subaru's worst models with oil consumption issues. Consumer Reports reports severe engine problems on the 2008-2012 Subaru Forresters (all either one arrow down or two, two down is the worst rating). In 2013 and 2014 the engines go to slightly above average on severe engine problems, and 2015 on they are fine. Danlisahall and I respect each other but disagree very much on this issue. You can monitor the oil level and drive the car just fine, but the issue is real on this Subaru in particular. I own a 2013 Legacy, and I put oil in every 2000 miles but besides that it has been troublefree and is good in the snow. Brake and body integrity issues also exist on these models as they age. 81% find it reliable probably because 19% probably have the oil consumption issue (my guess honestly). I am one of the few with oil consumption who still think it is reliable, because I watch my oil level in all my cars (a good habit to have, but most don't do it).

Mitsubishi Outlander2011 and later $12,000
61% find it reliable. I agree, 2011 or later as the earlier models are just terrible. Pain and trim and body integrity issues (rattles) are concerns but nothing really to worry about. It is actually a fairly solid car (maybe not the best to drive, but it will run a long time).

Volkswagen Tiguan2009 and later $10,200
No overall % on those finding it reliable. Avoid at all costs - worse in reliablity than the Vue you looked at. Worst below average rating all the way through 2015. Major issues with the engine, engine cooling, rough shifting problems, fuel system concerns, brake issues, body integrity problems, and electronic concerns.

Honda Element2007 and later $8,900.
92% found it reliable. 2007 through 2011 (last year of production) are solid cars. 2007 have some transmission problems. and through 2008 they have drive system issues. 2009 have paint/trim concerns. 2010 and 2011 are your best bet for reliable trouble free models.

To add two more cars:

The Nissan Rouge as 62% found it to be reliable. A pretty good car from 2010 to 2013 if you avoid the year before and after that. Only 2012 has any issues to mention - Minor Transmission, brakes, climate system, trim and paint. That is it. The other years all systems are average or better. You probabaly can get this in your price range as well.

One last car - which may surprise some on this board as some hate this brand but I am trying to be unbiased is the Chevy Equinox from 2013 on. Those cars in Consumer Reports survey are above average in every catagory from that year on except in car electronics some years which rate average. They are not exciting or the best driving, but they are durable and reliable. They are cheap too because the depreciate fairly quickly. However, avoid anything earlier as they have many quality lapses.

Best of luck.


Link to this reponse

Response from Sea-Dan

7:40 pm August 13, 2018

Good job Norm on showing the IIHT crash ratings for each vehicle!

I didn't intentially omit the RAV4 from list, rather it wasn't on IIHT's list - to my surprise.

While it is helpful to point out the flaws / potential trouble areas of each model, perhaps the biggest challenge our OP is going run into is finding any of the above in decent shape in his year / mileage / price range.

You and I, who perhaps are willing or able to spend more, can thumb our noses at those models which may use some oil or have body integrity issues (rattles). But for a parent with a fixed amount to spend for their teen, all the cars that meet the stated parameters are likely to have some concerns. Let's keep in mind the OP's original were "Powertrain performance / Safety & braking / Exterior styling".While I hope to be wrong, I think they are going to be looking at something south of 2012 - perhaps way south.

For example, on Seattle's Craigslist, I went back as far as 2009 and still couldn't find an Equinox less than $6,500. Had to go as far as 2004 for a Forester. CRV 2005 & 177K, RAV4 2008 & 133K. I did find an 2011 Outlander with 135K for $6400. You get the idea. Hopefully the OP is in a cheaper market or can throw a bit more money at their teen's ride

The other issue is that reliablity ratings can be all over the place. The seem to be based on how the sampling is done, on owner perceptions and on the alignment of the stars. For example, here on True D the 2010-2012 Sante Fe has a rating of 98% vs the 2010-2011 (no data on 2012) Equinox with a worse 148% or 50% worse than the SF. The 2012-2017 Equinox has a 79% rating vs a 98% for the same years of SF - not a huge difference. Yet CR, which probably a larger base to draw from, has pretty signicantly different results. For reliablity I certainly will look at CR, TD's data, but I also look at actual owner reviews on sites such as Edmonds & Car.com. That takes a while but is worthwhile IMO. Last but not least, I pay a lot of attention to what the personal experiences are of actual owners I & how they car for their cars. For example, my daughter bought a used drove a late 90's Jetta to my dismay. She drove it for 6 years and over 200K, never had any issues! Go figure!

I've helped select older, used cars for dozens of family and friends. My main criteria are the car's general reputation, experience of those I know, & most importantly, a reliable history. I always look for car that has the same owner for at least 2 years & ask for maintenance records. With some providence I often can find someone who has all the records & has already replaced the items that commonly go bad. They are just ready for a new ride. I'll drive 100 miles for that car!

Buying used for a car over 5 yrs or 60K is an educated guess, a knowledgable mechanic's opinion, and lots of luck; and that is what I wish the OP.


Link to this reponse

Response from AcuraT

8:42 pm August 13, 2018

You are right it is going to be a lot of luck and mechanic's knowledge. I agree with all of your points in finding a used car. I do have my list of questions that I use for that situation but as you saw when I posted it before, it does not post well to this list so I won't do that again. Like I said, you picked well and I "liked" your presentation.

The Nissan Rogue is in her price range and is a good bet to meet all her conditions. Here is one in my area for $6995 and is a 2013 with reasonable mileage:

You are right, I should have paid attention to pricing - the Equinox did not lose value as fast as I thought it would. Probably has something to do with it being one of the good cars that GM sells (like I said, quality is up and down around GM, but that is one of the good designs - shared with the Buick Envision). Sorry I did not see that.

The thing I do like about CR is that if they don't get at least 50 cars, they don't list a rating. Here on TrueDelta I use the reliablity but I also understand that it has a lower qualifying number so a small number of people (is it 25?) can influence a reliablity. I do use it as well when buying a car but give it less value as a result. Different owners always rank cars differently but with 50 one owner does not influence it all that much. Only when the numbers grow to about 10 owners complaining about a problem does it severely impact their rating on Consumer Reports.

Best bet I agree is the Mitsubishi Outlander as far as pricing goes. It is the cheapest for the lowest cost. But, they are not as cheap as I would have hoped. Near me, the cheapest one is $8500.

It is just hard to find a car for that price in decent shape. It is going to be a crapshoot to get one.


Link to this reponse

Response from Sea-Dan

9:43 pm August 13, 2018

NormT, appreciate your humble response.

"It is going to be a crapshoot to get one." My thought exactly. Anthony's goal of an inexpensive (< $6500) SUV for his teen) is laudable, it just may not be attainable - unless they are willing to accept a real beater and / or have some extra coin for repairs sooner or later. If he can up the ante to $7-10K, he has a fighting chance for an OK SUV.

"It is just hard to find a car for that price in decent shape."
Actually I think getting a fairly good car for $6500 (or less) is doable, just not an SUV as they are simply too popular at this time. That is the reason I asked Anthony why he wanted an SUV.

If he is willing to settle for a 6-10 yr old sedan or hatchback, then I think a good car, reasonably safe car is attainable for $6,500 or less. I suggest he take a look at the post just before his by Sforsyth ("diesel, 4 door, vw, safe") for some good options.


Link to this reponse

Response from Sea-Dan

11:56 pm August 13, 2018

Oh - the Nissan Rogue: CR rates the 2013 very highly for reliablity, very low for customer satisfaction (not sure why). Other years not so reliable

No Rogues in my area for < $9999 & no 2013s at all. Humm, are they rare cause of their reliablity or were there not many sold in PNW?

The one NormT found in CT has the right equipment (including highly desirable optional back up camera) and seems to have an exceptionally good price -- even has some sort of warranty. Could be the low priced SUV deal of the month.

However, this dealer's reviews are wildly erratic:
3.5 stars on BBB site:https://www.bbb.org/us/ct/naugatuck/profile/used-car-dealers/a-better-way-wholesale-autos-inc-0111-87003094
1 star on Yelp:https://www.yelp.com/biz/a-better-way-wholesale-autos-naugatuck YIKES!

Tip # 23, check out the dealer's rep and read the fine print before signing dotted line!


Link to this reponse

Response from AcuraT

9:19 am August 14, 2018

By the way I am not Norm.... and I did not list the crash ratings for each vehicle as you stated.

And picking out one dealer's bad review does not make it a bad SUV that model year. You may not like that Nissan suggestion, but the few I know people own they like them except that the older ones I mentioned are the ones not going to the shop (newer ones not that good at all).


Link to this reponse

Response from Sea-Dan

2:30 pm August 14, 2018

My apologies are due to AcuraT for several inaccuracies:
1. I sorry that I referred to you my refering as NormT.
2. Sorry for my failure to realize that it was not AcuraT nor NormT but rather myself who provide the links to IIHT crash ratings -- sheesh!Obviously I shouldn't be posting so late at night!

I agree that a bunch of bad dealer reviews (96 Yelp reviews with cumulative average of 1 star) doesn't make a particular car bad. I think your suggestion was great. It is just a heads up to be aware that A Better Way Wholesale in Naugatuck CT may not be the most scrupulous or easy dealer to work with.


Link to this reponse

Response from AcuraT

3:37 pm August 14, 2018

Danlisahall, thanks for the correction, much appreciated.

You are right, the dealer is probably not a great one (and that also maybe why I could find such a good one for a low price).

In any case, as I stated before, your list is a good one (and the Mazda suggestion above you is not bad either - but probably out of this price range).


Link to this reponse

Response from LectroFuel

1:59 am August 15, 2018

What is your zip code? We can look for good cars for you. With a low budget, it is better to look for cars that could be reliable because you don't have much of a selection and many old cars don't hold up. Everyone has given good responses so far. Your teen needs Electronic Stability Control, ABS, and Traction Control. ESC has been shown to reduce the fatality rate on the road by 50%. Advanced safety systems such as Automatic Emergency Braking are out of budget. Backup cameras are super helpful and could save them from some parking lot accidents. I suggest not getting an SUV for a first car, too. Expensive (inflated prices), not as good on gas, and they are harder to control for a new driver. To get a good deal on a car, be willing to drive 200 miles out of your way to get it. This is what you should set your search radius to.

CR-V: 2007-2008 had door lock failures and premature tire wear. Something with how the wheel was shaped was causing the tire to wear I assume. 2009-2011 were better. 2002-2006 will probably be the best car if you want to stay under $6500. The only problem is the A/C compressor can go out. There are still many on the road, so that is also a good sign. The CR-V was never subject to the Honda transmission problems like many of their other cars.

RAV4: This one is iffy. 2006-2008 burned oil. No signs of problems yet, but will lead to engine damage later on. 2009-2018 have been perfect, probably your best bet but probably over budget. 2004-2005 were also great. 2001-2003 had a very bad transmission and should be avoided.

Rogue: Just avoid all of them. The transmission failures are too common. They just aren't great to drive either. I'm renting a 2017 Nissan Pathfinder in Seattle with 30k miles right now. The CVT makes a grinding sound when accelerating at low speeds below 1200 RPM when uphill. Not a good sign of what is to come. The CVT issues apply to pretty much every Nissan with a CVT. I've never been a fan of Nissans, but I have nothing against them. When you buy a Nissan, you have to make sure it wasn't trashed during its possible life of being a rental car. Nissan went downhill ever since they partnered with Renault (or when they started using CVTs).

Equinox: 2007-2009 was pretty good with a few issues. GM quality control wasn't up to par yet so only buy these if they are really good deals. 2010-2013 had a lot of timing chain failures, which is very bad. Avoid these. 2014 and newer have been very good. MPGs are lower in this one, but it is one of the heavier ones so it may hold up better in an accident. GMC Terrains are the same thing.

Tucson/Sportage: Pretty much every year has been good until 2016. These can be found for cheap so I would take a look at these. The Kia Sportage has the same problems, although it has been good almost every year.

CX-5: Every year has been reliable since it came out in 2013. All are over your budget. Good and stylish car if you can afford it.

Forester: Wouldn't be my first choice because of oil consumption issues, but the other TrueDelta users can fill you in on what is good and bad with Subaru. Otherwise, it's a good car.

CX-7: Not a reliable SUV. The timing chain is known to stretch and fall apart. I guess since this is a VVT engine, the entire engine needs to be replaced for $9k. The A/C compressor clutch also is known to jam and break the compressor. The turbo on the turbo models fails early because the turbo oil tends to run dry. $3k fix. Probably Mazda's worst car ever made.

DON'T buy a Jeep, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, or VW Tiguan (repair costs and repair frequency). I know Jeeps are popular with teens but they are some of the worst first cars.


Link to this reponse

Toyota RAV4
Honda CR-V

Response from LectroFuel

10:18 pm August 15, 2018

Response from Sea-Dan

12:35 am August 16, 2018

Nice list Lectrofuel

If it were my teen I'd be calling the private owner with the Kia & teaching my teen how to drive a manual - good for character development!

Decent car. CR liked it when it was new & gave the 2009 model very high reliablity rating (no rating on 2010 - probably not large enough numbers but it was the last year of that generation so it is likely to be similar to the 2009s. https://www.consumerreports.org/cars/kia/sportage/2010/overview/

Owners on Edmunds love their 2010 Sportages & report that they are very reliable - worst report is 4* which is fairly phenomenal it:https://www.edmunds.com/kia/sportage/2010/consumer-reviews/pg-1/?sorting=REVERSE_OVERALL_RATINGS

It is reasonably well equipped including ABS, traction / stability control, acceptable crash test results, AWD (could come in handy in MI) lowest amount of miles & years, sounds reasonably well maintained (how many years has owner had it & what has he replaced - if anything?). It has a timing chain so you won't need to worry about changing a timing belt. AND its $500 under your budget so you got some reserve for repairs if needed.

Primary downside is that it has a 4 cylinder which means it will be pooky to merge onto highway, especially if loaded.

Owners on Edmunds love it:https://www.edmunds.com/kia/sportage/2010/consumer-reviews/pg-1/?sorting=REVERSE_OVERALL_RATINGS

With some good negotiating skills you may be able to get another $500 off. I ask a few questions, get a car fax to make sure it hasn't had any bad accidents if got satsifactory answers to those, my last question would be how long have you had it for sale? If it has been at least a week I'd offer $5,500 with good mechanical inspection - ideally at a Kia dealer if there is one near by (costs $100-$150).



Link to this reponse

Sign in or join TrueDelta to post your own thoughts.

Return to top