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New vehicles with untouched powertrains, mint interiors and intact warranties can be easy purchases. Used vehicles? It's a whole other process, one that's more confusing altogether, with variables of mileage, reliability, quality, and satisfaction all coming into play.
No matter what data they have in hand, or reviews they've read, many new-car buyers go with their gut and their emotions when they buy a used vehicle. Choices center heavily on price and vehicle type, maybe even more so than with a new-vehicle purchase.
We think there's other helpful information that should come into play when you're shopping for a used vehicle--and that's why we're putting together a series of guides to help you narrow down the field of used cars, trucks, crossovers and minivans to a smaller set of best-in-class bets.
We've arrived at these groups of vehicles by comparing three sets of data. To make our Best Used lists, a vehicle must score:
At least an 8.0 rating on The Car Connection's full reviews from three years ago--in this case, the 2011 model year At least four circles on J.D. Power's predicted-dependability rankings, or at least average reliability on Consumer ReportsAt least four stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
In this list, we've examined the field of sport-utility vehicles--including crossovers--and come up with 18 of the best used SUVs on the road today, with the bottom line from our 2011 review:
2011 Acura MDX
With a few notable flaws in styling and features, the 2011 Acura MDX still impresses us with its friendly handling and gutsy power.
2011 Audi Q5
The 2011 Audi Q5 is one of the best upscale picks in a compact crossover, thanks to its sleek lines, practical interior, responsive feel, and city-savvy size.
2011 Cadillac Escalade
The 2011 Cadillac Escalade delivers solid, luxurious, and spacious accommodations with an advanced feature set. If you can live with the thirst of non-Hybrid models, it's unbeatable.
2011 Cadillac SRX
The 2011 SRX has the comfort and refinement luxury crossovers expect—plus a little Cadillac attitude.
2011 Chevrolet Equinox
If you don’t need a third row, the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox is just right for small families; it’s refined, secure, and versatile, and gets very impressive fuel economy in four-cylinder form.
2011 Chevrolet Traverse
2011 Chevrolet TraverseThe 2011 Chevrolet Traverse isn’t fun to drive, but it’s one of the best large crossover wagons for transporting the family comfortably and safely.
2011 Dodge Durango
The 2011 Dodge Durango is the anti-crossover, especially with the HEMI and R/T trim, and if the world still sanctioned big SUVs for small families, the Durango would be elbowing its way to driveways everywhere.
2011 Ford Edge
Provided you don't need a third-row seat, the 2011 Ford Edge is at last, at the leading edge of mid-size crossovers, with one of the best driver interfaces in the business.
2011 GMC Terrain
The 2011 GMC Terrain looks bold and edgy on the outside, but it’s a softy inside, with a comfortable, refined cabin and excellent fuel economy.
2011 Hyundai Tucson
Much better than its predecessor, the 2011 Hyundai Tucson needs a touch more power and steering feel to top carlike utes like the Nissan Rogue.
2011 Kia Sportage
Kia hits game reset, and gives the 2011 Sportage an appealing new look and feel.
2011 Lincoln MKT
The swinging style sets an audacious mood—and the 2011 Lincoln MKT backs it up with turbo V-6 thrust.
2011 Lincoln MKX
You won't need any excuses to say you've chosen the 2011 Lincoln MKX; it delivers on the promise of the brand: top-notch American luxury, with some of the best luxury and tech features wrapped in.
2011 Mazda CX-9
The 2011 Mazda CX-9 can carry seven in comfort, but it loves curves more than almost any other roomy crossover.
2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class has the rugged look U.S. shoppers want, in a sensibly sized package. We only wish it were a little more fuel-efficient.
2011 Subaru Forester
The roomy, versatile 2011 Subaru Forester handles better than just about any other small crossover, though the need for a more modern transmission and a little more cabin refinement keep it from greatness.
2011 Toyota 4Runner
If off-road capability is a top requirement, the brawny 2011 Toyota 4Runner is a good choice—with surprisingly good road manners to boot.
2011 Volvo XC60
The 2011 Volvo XC60 offers top in-car tech and luxury features, in a secure package that's big enough for small families.