Buying Advice

Ranked: Best used SUVs under $15,000

The Toyota Highlander is just one of the vehicles on this list.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

It's not just new cars that people are after. The used car market is full of good cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans that are available at prices far lower than a brand new car.

iSeeCars, a car search engine, analyzed over 6.1 million cars from model years 2011 and newer to determine the used cars that demonstrated long-term reliability and have an average safety rating of at least 4 stars out of 5 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Shoppers with a budget of $15,000 can purchase the following reliable SUVs that are less than 10 years old.

2013 Honda CR-V

2013 Honda CR-V

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Average Used Price: $13,469
Honda redesigned the CR-V for the 2014 model year. The fourth-gen model got fresh styling, improved fuel economy, and a long list of standard and available features. It was named an IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK and earned a NHTSA 5-star Overall Vehicle Score.

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Average Used Price: $13,925
Honda refreshed the Pilot for the 2012 model year. It got a new face, a redesigned center stack, simplified climate control layout, and new available infotainment technology. The 2012 Pilot is also more fuel efficient than the 2011 model.

2012 Ford Expedition

2012 Ford Expedition

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Average Used Price: $14,232
The 2012 Ford Expedition is powered by a standard 5.4-liter V8 that achieves 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. It can tow up to 9,200 pounds when properly equipped. A voice-activated SYNC infotainment and navigation system and automatic 4x4 drive mode was available when new.

2012 Dodge Durango

2012 Dodge Durango

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Average Used Price: $14,528
The Dodge Durango was redesigned for the 2011 model year and it's mostly a carryover for 2012. It's powered by either a 290-horsepower V6 or 360-horsepower V8. The Durango came standard with a front-passenger fold-flat seat, steering wheel audio controls, a tilting/telescoping wheel, SiriusXM satellite radio, an audio jack, six-speaker sound system, and trailer sway control.

2012 Acura MDX

20212 Acura MDX

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Average Used Price: $14,662
The 2012 Acura MDX was mostly carried over from the 2011 edition, bringing with it a strong powertrain and sleek (for its time) looks. It has a flat load floor with its seats stowed, making it easy to carry cargo, and a list of high tech features that includes Bluetooth, tri-zone climate control with humidity control, navigation with voice recognition, a 10-speaker premium audio system, and a rear entertainment system.

2011 Toyota Highlander

2011 Toyota Highlander

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Average Used Price: $14,900
Toyota upgraded the Highlander for the 2011 model year, giving it revised front and rear fascia, hood, and fenders. It also now came standard with three rows of seating and rear climate controls. When new, the Highlander was offered with either a four-cylinder or V6 powertrain. It also got tech upgrades for 2011 including a standard USB port, SiriusXM radio capability, and Bluetooth connectivity.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

A sufficient amount of torque can help get your trusty steed off the line with ease.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

For many, a pickup truck is as much a daily drivable vehicle as it is a tool for getting the job done. How much horsepower and torque a powertrain puts out is a big part of that. Most want enough to get the job done while keeping an eye toward fuel economy.

What's the difference between horsepower and torque? In simple terms, torque is the pull of the powertrain that gets you off the line from a full stop. Horsepower is what gets you going the speed you want and keeps you there.

Diesel engines tend to have more torque than gasoline-powered engines but have less horsepower. There's no perfect torque to horsepower ratio. It's all about which combination works best for you.

The engines on this list have the highest amount of torque and are available in 2021 model year pickup trucks in the U.S. To see the most powerful pickup trucks ranked by horsepower click here. See the 2020 horsepower champs by clicking here and the 2020 torque winners by clicking here.

No. 5 - 2021 Ford F-150: PowerBoost hybrid powertrain

2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

570 pound-feet of torque

Not surprisingly, Ford's new hybrid F-150 powertrain (a 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine paired with a 35-kilowatt electric motor) delivers more torque than almost any other light-duty truck. It's rated at 570 pound-feet, which matches up well with the engine's 430 horsepower to provide up to 12,400 pounds of towing capacity in certain configurations.

No. 4 - 2021 Ram 1500 TRX: Supercharged 6.2-liter V8

2021 Ram 1500 TRX Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

650 pound-feet of torque

The Ram 1500 TRX isn't just the fastest and most powerful light-duty truck on the market, it's also got the most torque. Rated at 650 pound-feet of torque, the supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 also produces a staggering 702 horsepower. That's good enough for a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds and an 8,100-pound towing capacity.

No. 3 (tie) - 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD: 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

910 pound-feet of torque

General Motors' trucks have attracted attention in recent years for their innovative trailering and tailgate technologies, but both Chevrolet and GMC Heavy Duty trucks are offered with a truly attention-grabbing powertrain. The 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8 produces a massive 910 pound-feet of torque, which is in addition to a respectable 445-horsepower output. That gives the trucks a maximum conventional-trailer towing capacity of over 14,000 pounds in some configurations.

No. 3 (tie) - 2021 GMC Sierra 2500 HD: 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8

2021 GMC Sierra 2500 HD\u200b Photo courtesy of GMC

910 pound-feet of torque

Under the hood of the GMC Sierra 2500 HD is a 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8 that produces 910 pound-feet of torque and 445-horsepower, just like the Silverado 2500 above. The truck has a maximum conventional-trailer towing capacity of over 14,000 pounds in some configurations.

No. 2 - 2021 Ram 3500HD: 6.7-liter Cummins diesel V8

2021 Ram 3500HD

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

1,000 pound-feet of torque

Here, we enter the realm of outlandish torque numbers. The 2021 Ram Heavy Duty lineup is available with a 6.7-liter C
Cummins diesel V8 that produces 1,000 pound-feet of torque. It's offered in a "normal" output version that makes 850 pound-feet, but the four-digit torque number available in the high-output version is truly headline worthy. Ram says that the 3500 can pull up to 35,100 pounds with this engine on board.

No. 1 - 2021 Ford F-Series Super Duty: 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8

2021 Ford F-Series Super Duty

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

1,050 pound-feet of torque

Ford's 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 is the top of the torque hill for 2021. It makes 1,050 pound-feet of the stuff, which is in addition to a solid 475 horsepower. The F-450 truck equipped with the engine can tow up to 37,000 pounds, which is both insane and far above the weight limits for a standard Class A driver's license.

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The Ford Motor Company will recall about 3 million vehicles as part of the Takata airbag recall.

Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Following the denial of a 2017 petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Ford Motor Company has announced a recall of 3 million vehicles, a move that will cost the company an estimated $610 million, according to internal estimates.

The petition is part of the larger Takata airbag recall and specifically involves the defect of phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate in the driver-side air bag inflators that Takata manufactured with a calcium sulfate desiccant. Ford wasn't the only recipient of the defective inflators. Mazda also utilized the parts.

The list of impacted Ford vehicles ranges from the 2006 to 2012 model years. They include Ford Ranger (2007-2011), Fusion (2006-2012), Edge (2007-2010), Lincoln MKZ/Zephyr (2006-2012), MKX (2007-2010), and Mercury Milan (2006-2011). Approximately 2.7 million of those vehicles are in the U.S. and 300,000 are in Canada.

Mazda is also part of the recall, with 5,848 vehicles effected by the inflator issue. Those models are 2007-2009 B-Series pickup trucks, which were built on the same platform using the same air bag inflators as the 2007-2011 Ford Ranger.

Late last year, the NHTSA ordered General Motors to recall 7 million trucks and SUVs after a four-year back-and-forth battle over whether or not the Takata air bag recall was absolutely necessary for GM products. The models recalled as part of this action are "GMT900" models that contain "SPI YP" and "PSPI-L YD" inflator variants. The GMT900 is a General Motors-specific platform that underpins a number of light- and heavy-duty pickup trucks and SUVs including: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500, GMC Sierra 2500/3500, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Avalanche, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade, Cadillac Escalade ESV, and Cadillac Escalade EXT. The petition involves approximately 5.9 million model year 2007–2014 vehicles.

2014 Chevrolet Suburban The 2014 Chevrolet Suburban is one of the models NHTSA recently ruled needed to be recalled. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

In early 2020, 10 million vehicles were recalled after having their original equipment replaced with new versions of the same thing with the same design and chemistry rather than newly designed parts.

The Takata airbag recalls are part of the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. It involves more than 67 million vehicles to date.

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