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    Best Used Cars and SUVs for $15,000 to $20,000

    If low new-car inventory has upended your purchase plans, consider these reliable models that performed well in our tests

    2016 Toyota Rav4
    2014 Toyota RAV4
    Photo: Toyota

    Buying a pre-owned car is more than just a great way to save money. It could get you into a model that has safety and luxury features you couldn’t afford in a new car.

    That is, if you can find a new car or SUV. While the new-car shortage may be slowing somewhat, there’s still the problem of high prices and limited availability of some trims or types of vehicles. This means new-car dealers are charging a premium, taking advantage of the shortages.

    In order to focus your search better, we dug through years of test data and hundreds of thousands of survey responses to find the best used cars that cost $15,000 to $20,000.

    The models below (listed alphabetically by segment) are the ones we’d recommend to our friends and family. Each has standard electronic stability control, an important safety feature. Many are also available with active safety features such as forward collision warning (FCW), automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind spot warning (BSW), and/or rear cross traffic warning (RCTW) as optional or standard equipment.

    These vehicles performed well in our tests when new and consistently demonstrated multiple years of much better-than-average reliability in our Annual Auto Surveys for the 2013 to 2022 model years.


    Of course, there can be outliers even for the used cars we recommend. Maybe a former owner didn’t care much for car maintenance, or there was a problem at the factory the week the car rolled off the line. Before you buy, make sure to pay for a thorough inspection by a certified mechanic so that there are no surprises down the road.

    Some of these models also have our new Green Choice designation, which highlights the vehicles with the cleanest emissions.

    If you’re a CR member, this article and the list below are already available to you. But if you haven’t signed up, click below and become a member to access the list and all of our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Joining also gives you full access to exclusive ratings for the other products our experts evaluate in several categories, including electronics and home appliances.

    CR members can search our Used Car Marketplace for vehicles for sale in their area, sorting by the factors that matter most. The listings include CR reliability and owner satisfaction ratings, and most vehicles include a free Carfax report.

    Sign up for CR’s Cars email newsletter to be notified when we post our latest road tests.

    Become a member to read the full article and get access to digital ratings.

    We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.