If you’re in the market for a new car, you’re probably well aware how much prices have swelled in recent years. It’s enough to send some shoppers to the used-car market to get a better deal.
Related: 9 Fine Choices for Used-Car Shoppers
If you’re in this camp and wondering where to start your used-car search, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our take below on seven compact and mid-size SUVs that are a good fit for small families. Listed in alphabetical order, each SUV took top honors in one of Cars.com’s past multicar comparison tests. To ensure there’s an SUV for every budget, we’ve highlighted SUVs from the 2012 to 2018 model years.
As with all used cars, vehicle mileage and condition can vary greatly between otherwise similar models, so be sure to do your homework once you’ve found an SUV you like.
2017 Ford Escape
Ford’s long-running Escape compact SUV got a makeover for the 2017 model year with updated exterior styling and new engine options. Editors praised the Escape’s available Sync 3 multimedia system for its ease of use and smartphone connectivity, and they also appreciated the SUV’s smooth power delivery, impressive driving dynamics and refined ride. In addition, the Escape also has a lot of front storage space that’s good for keeping smaller items organized. Our test vehicle was a front-wheel-drive SE trim level with the available 179-horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
2012 Honda CR-V
Honda redesigned the CR-V for the 2012 model year, and the compact SUV impressed our editors with easy-to-use tech features, smart storage solutions including a huge center console box, and a comfortable ride. Cabin ergonomics were another highlight, and the CR-V was well-equipped with features including a backup camera and power moonroof. Our tester was a front-wheel-drive EX model with a 185-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed automatic.
2015 Honda CR-V
Honda updated the CR-V for the 2015 model year, and the compact SUV again took home a win in our comparison test. Changes included new front and rear styling and a more efficient drivetrain featuring a continuously variable automatic transmission and a direct-injection four-cylinder engine. Our editors liked the CVT’s behavior, and they were also impressed with the SUV’s spacious interior and versatility, particularly its elegant backseat-folding operation. Our test model was an all-wheel-drive EX trim level.
2016 Nissan Murano
The Murano has carved out a niche in the mid-size SUV class with distinctive design and an upscale interior, but those aren’t the only reasons for its appeal. For one, it’s quick: The 2016 Murano is powered by a standard 260-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 that drives a continuously variable automatic transmission, and editors liked the combination for its easy highway merging and passing. Seating comfort also impressed, as did the Murano’s optional convenience features like power-operated rear seats and a 360-degree camera system. Our tester was a high-end Platinum trim level with all-wheel drive.
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2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek
Subaru applied its successful Outback formula to its Impreza hatchback to create the XV Crosstrek, a rugged-looking, higher-riding vehicle that beat out six other subcompact SUVs in our testing thanks to a winning combination of value, passenger and cargo space, visibility and ride comfort. A sluggish drivetrain was the XV Crosstrek’s main downside, so pay special attention to that on a test drive. Our test vehicle was a 2.0i Premium trim with all-wheel drive, a 148-hp, 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder and a continuously variable automatic transmission.
2018 Subaru Crosstrek
Redesigned for the 2018 model year, the Subaru Crosstrek kept its crown as subcompact SUV champ when we compared the class again. We tested a 2.0i Premium trim level with a 152-hp, 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable automatic, and editors applauded its excellent visibility, interior quality, and a roomy backseat that’s comfortable for adults and big enough for child-safety seats. They also liked the Crosstrek’s ride and handling balance. Helping the Crosstrek’s case was its optional EyeSight system with automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist, among other active safety features.
2018 Volvo XC60
If your used-SUV budget is a little larger, you may want to consider the Volvo XC60 compact luxury SUV. Redesigned for the 2018 model year, the XC60 delivers a luxurious interior, advanced active safety features and a high-tech multimedia system. It also excels on a practical level with good visibility and a spacious backseat. Volvo has been known more for safety than luxury, but the XC60 and other recent models from the Swedish brand have firmly established it in the luxury class. We tested an all-wheel-drive T5 Momentum trim with a 250-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmission.
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