Whether it’s time to replace your old clunker, upgrade to a larger SUV, or downsize into a more compact car, buying a vehicle shouldn’t force you to go broke or drain your kid's college savings. The best way to avoid breaking the bank is to buy a used car instead of new.

used car lot
The used car market is huge. Take advantage of the choices.

Buying used gets you more bang for your buck both in the short-term and long-term since you’re bypassing the depreciation that plagues new car buyers. If the latest and greatest features and updates aren’t must-haves on your list, these top-rated vehicles in the most popular segments are excellent options. With an average sale price under $20,000 and the highest ratings in their respective segments from Kelley Blue Book, these SUVs, pickups, and sedans will save you some serious dough.

Top 3 Used SUVs Under $20,000

1. 2013 Honda Pilot 

2013 Honda Pilot
Average used 2013 Honda Pilot price: $15,878 - $21,943 (image: Honda) 

While the latest generation of the Honda Pilot offers all the tech, safety features, and space a family needs, many car shoppers miss the boxy exterior of Pilot generations of old. In addition to scoring the retro styling, buying a used Pilot will save you money without many compromises. You'll fit 8 passengers and all their gear with 47.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seat.

A 3.5-liter V6 engine with Intelligent Variable Timing and Lift Control gives you 250 horsepower in addition to decent fuel efficiency. The 2013 Pilot has all the necessary tech to keep you connected including Bluetooth, USB integration, a high-resolution 8-inch intelligent Multi-Information Display, automatic climate controls, and a standard rearview camera. 

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2. 2010 Toyota Sequoia

2010 Toyota Sequoia
Average used 2010 Toyota Sequoia price: $14,858 - $21,020 (image: Toyota)

If going back nearly a decade for a used vehicle makes you think twice, consider the fact that the Toyota Sequoia has not had a full redesign since 2008. That means the latest 2019 model is in the same generation as 2010. The 2010 Sequoia comfortably seats 7-8 passengers with a total cargo volume of 120.8 cubic feet and 66.6 cubic feet behind the second row.

Engine options include a 5.7-liter V8 offering up a hefty 381 horsepower and a 4.6-liter V8 for 310 horsepower. The technology in this SUV is basic but functional with a single-CD player with eight speakers, USB connection, and Bluetooth in the SR5 trim. Upgrading to the Limited trim gets you a power liftgate, and a 440-watt audio system with 6-CD changer and 14 speakers, including a subwoofer. 

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3. 2011 Jeep Wrangler

2011 Jeep Wrangler
Average used 2011 Jeep Wrangler price: $14,349 - $21,370 (image: FCA)

A new-to-you 2011 Jeep Wrangler is an excellent choice if you're looking for a vehicle that can keep up with all of your adventures. The rugged, off-road ready SUV won't leave you wishing for much else once you take it to the trails. Going with the two-door 4WD Rubicon trim means you'll get cargo Volume of 61.2 cubic feet to the first row.

For connectivity, you'll score AM/FM radio, a CD player, satellite radio, an AUX input, and optional navigation and wireless cell phone hookup. A V6 engine puts out 202 horsepower and standard 4WD lets you conquer all kinds of terrain. 

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Top 3 Used Pickup Trucks Under $20,000

1. 2011 Toyota Tundra

2010 Toyota Tundra
Average used 2011 Toyota Tundra price: $12,218 - $24,393 (image: Toyota)

Sharing a platform with the Toyota Sequoia, the Tundra also hasn't seen a full redesign in over ten years making it a great vehicle to buy used. In 2011, this rugged truck got a refresh and a more powerful base engine in the form of a 4.0-liter V6 with 270 horsepower, up from 236. For the most power, you can choose a Tundra with a 5.7-liter, 381 horsepower V8.

Maximum towing capacity is 10,800 pounds and payload capacity tops out at 2,090 for hauling a trailer or all your cargo. Though you won't find a luxurious interior or many bells and whistles in the cabin, it has everything you need in a workhorse. Tundra-grade models come with a standard AM/FM/MP3/CD,  AUX input and six speakers, plus Bluetooth and optional navigation. 

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2. 2012 Toyota Tacoma

2012 Toyota Tacoma
Average Used 2012 Toyota Tacoma price: $10,591 - $20,757 (image: Toyota)

If a compact pickup fits your needs better than the full-sized Tundra, the Toyota Tacoma is a capable work truck that also proves to be great off-road. For 2012, the Tacoma got a redesigned front end with a new hood, grille, and headlights. Inside, the Tacoma gets a larger, high-resolution display for the available back-up camera, a new temperature gauge, an available rear-view mirror with compass, and an additional overhead storage compartment.

You'll find two engine options for the used 2012 Tacoma including a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder for 159 horsepower and a 4.0-liter V6 engine to bump horsepower to 236. If your Tacoma is equipped with the optional V6 Tow Prep package, you'll get a towing capacity of up to 6,500 pounds. 

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3. 2012 Honda Ridgeline

2012 Honda Ridgeline
Average used 2012 Honda Ridgeline price: $15,638 - $19,979 (image: Honda)

The Honda Ridgeline has gotten a fantastic response from drivers looking for a versatile truck that can handle everyday driving and jobs like hauling gardening supplies or towing a boat on a weekend getaway. With a one-of-a-kind unibody design, the 2012 Ridgeline drives like a car but gives you the convenience of a pickup truck when you need it thanks to its 1546-pound payload capacity and a 5000-pound towing capacity.

For the 2012 model year, Honda refreshed the grille and improved both aerodynamics, and fuel efficiency. The Sport trim was also introduced in 2012 and comes equipped with 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, an exclusive honeycomb grille, and upscale interior materials. No matter which trim you choose, under the hood you'll find a 3.5-liter V6 engine giving you 250 horsepower. 

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Top 3 Used Sedans Under $20,000

1. 2016 Honda Accord

2016 Honda Accord
Average used 2016 Honda Accord price: $15,819 - $23,938 (image: Honda)

The Honda Accord gives you a healthy combination of style, tech, and fuel efficiency. Several key improvements make the 2016 model year a top choice for buying used. A new sporty exterior highlighted by a structured and creased front fascia and a contoured aluminum hood results in a more aggressive first impression.

To improve performance, Honda increased the Accord's body rigidity, added new high-performance dampers, and brought back electric power steering. The addition of the Honda Sensing package for 2016 means you can get Honda's suite of safety tech. It can be found standard in the Touring trim and optional in other trims. Depending on trim, your engine options are a 185 horsepower In-line 4-cylinder or a 278 horsepower V6.

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2. 2017 Toyota Camry

2015 Toyota Camry
Average used 2017 Toyota Camry price: $15,905 - $21,711 (image: Toyota)

By going back two model years to find a used 2017 Toyota Camry, you'll be making a budget-friendly choice without sacrificing performance or convenience. The 7th generation Camry got a  serious tech upgrade for 2017 including standard Entune Audio Plus multimedia system with Connected Navigation App &  Audio in the XLE and XSE grades. The XLE, XSE four-cylinder, and XLE Hybrid also come standard with Qi Wireless Smartphone Charging.

Inside the cabin, you'll find high-quality, luxurious materials in all trims. The engines options for the 2017 Camry include a 178-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and a Hybrid model which nets 200 horsepower. 

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3. 2017 Subaru Legacy

2017 Subaru Legacy
Average 2017 Subaru Legacy price: $17,807 - $24,568 (image: Subaru)

Standard All-Wheel Drive is hard to come by in mid-size sedans. Usually, you have to go with a higher trim level or pay extra for the AWD system. That's not the case for the 2017 Subaru Legacy. Both the 2.5i and 3.6T Limited models of the 6th generation Legacy are equipt with Subaru's Active Torque Split AWD. For 2017, Subaru added a 2.5i Sport trim with exclusive features like 18-inch sport-styled wheels, dark gray front grille, and a two-tone sporty interior.

Safety features added for 2017 models include EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, Blind Spot Detection, and Reverse Automatic Braking. The 2.5i  model gets you a 4-cylinder BOXER engine for 175 horsepower, and upgrading to the Limited means you'll score a 6-cylinder BOXER for a respectable 256 horsepower.

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