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One of many used SUVs for sale, a blue 2020 Ford Explorer, is shown driving near a building.

Some of the Top Pre-Owned SUV Options for Families on the Go

Families across America are foregoing the stereotypical minivan in favor of the more stylish three-row SUV. These vehicles provide the seating required for large families to travel comfortably with all their things and are often equipped with the latest safety and entertainment features. Growing families might find it prudent to get a three-row SUV during their “nesting” phase in preparation for more space. Whatever the reason, a used SUV is a cost-effective way to ensure you can get your whole family where they need to go for any family activity.

There are plenty of used SUVs for sale, but knowing where to start your search can seem daunting with so many great options. We’ll take a look at a few of the most popular used SUV models on the market to help narrow your search. You really can’t go wrong with any of these vehicles, but each has unique characteristics that you should weigh when making your decision. Happy shopping!

The Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is a classic three-row SUV. It was first introduced to the market for model year 1991 and is currently in its 6th generation. The 6th generation of the Explorer began in 2020, so you’ll find lots of gently used models out there for sale. These great family SUVs are characterized by their confident and contemporary driving experience that can take you from the woods on a camping trip to the office after dropping off the kids. High ground clearance and AWD assist with their adventuring capabilities.

Depending on the year, trim, and accessories you pick, you’ll get somewhere between 300 to 400 hp behind the wheel of a more recent model. This is substantial, considering the average 3-row SUV gets about 250 to 300 hp. The Explorer has a more robust lineup of engine options, though, with power at the forefront. It can even tow a significant load when properly equipped, between 5,000 to 5,600 lbs! That means you can bring your whole family with you and tow a trailer!

There are eight different trim levels out there on 6th-generation Explorers. They begin with the standard base Explorer, which offers all the power and capability with its equipped 2.3L EcoBoost Turbo I-4 without extra bells and whistles that drive the cost up. The final trim level, the Ford Explorer Platinum, is on the other end of the spectrum, decked out with the best interior appointments and the latest technology.

If you’re a budget-savvy family, you might be thinking about getting a hybrid to save a little money down the road at the pump. Luckily, more recent Explorer models offer a 3.3L V6 HEV engine that many used models are equipped with. Explorers with an HEV engine have a battery pack and electric motor inside, allowing this SUV to be partially powered by electricity! Depending on how and where exactly you’re driving, hybrid Explorers know to switch between gasoline and electricity automatically so that optimal fuel efficiency is achieved.

A red 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is shown parked near two people.

The Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot first entered the three-row SUV market in 2003 and is currently in its 3rd generation, which began in 2016. There have been several updates and redesigns during the third generation, so make sure you look for 2019 and older models if you want to get the latest technology. Features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto became available during that year.

This SUV is known for having a spacious and comfortable interior that seats up to eight passengers, more than the typical seven-seaters of its class. If you’re planning to predominantly use your used SUV for road driving and transporting your family, this might be the right choice for you! Pilots tend to get slightly better fuel economy than their more rugged counterparts, like the Explorer, which can save you money at the pump. For example, the 2022 Pilot can get up to 20 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway.

Newer Pilot models might very well be able to take you off the beaten path if you want that spacious interior and light off-roading capabilities. Just look for a Pilot with AWD, Hill Descent Control, and even a new feature called TrailWatch that gives you a live view of your surroundings via cameras mounted externally.

The Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlanders are tried and true three-row SUVs. Toyota’s reputation for exceptional reliability transfers over to the Highlander, and you’ll see these in pickup lines at schools across the country. They’re a favorite with busy parents who can’t risk any mechanical downtime and simply need a reliable form of transportation for their families. The Highlanders also retain their value exceptionally well, like most Toyota models. This can make them a solid resale value investment if you plan to upgrade in a few years.

The Highlander first came out in 2001 and is in its 4th generation, which started in 2020. Look for used models from the year 2020 to get advanced safety features like Lane Tracing Assist and Road Sign Assist. Also added for 2020 was an available Amazon Alexa integration, and of course, you can get Apple Carplay and Android Auto in newer used models to keep your family entertained on the road.

While quite as spacious as the Honda Pilot, you can comfortably fit seven to eight people in the Highlander, depending on the configuration you find. There are second-row bench seat configurations and second-row captain’s chair options. Like the Ford Explorer, 4th gen Highlanders can tow up to 5,000 lbs, adding additional versatility to your outdoor adventures. There is also a hybrid option on newer Toyota Highlanders. They come equipped with the same engine type as the hybrid Explorer, featuring a 2.5L I-4 HEV engine capable of creating an impressive 243 hp. Another engine option Toyota has offered this generation includes a fuel-efficient 3.5L V6, giving you 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque.

A black 2021 Kia Telluride is shown driving on a city street.

The Kia Telluride

Finally, let’s touch on the Kia Telluride, a three-row SUV with seating for up to eight people. This new entrant into the midsize SUV market hit dealerships for the 2020 model year. This means that just about any Telluride you find will have modern technology inside, which can make the process of shopping easier. These SUVs have a bold silhouette and exude a level of coolness that other three-row SUVs sometimes fail to achieve. You’ll find bold grilles, strong exterior lines, modern lighting, and other prominent features that all help the Telluride stand out in a crowd.

The Kia Telluride is notable for its spacious and luxurious interior. This typically means a higher price point, as Kia didn’t pull any punches when it came to making the Telluride look and feel high-end. There are plenty of driver assist and connectivity features as well, so you’ll feel in total command of your SUV when driving it down the street.

Choosing the Right Used SUV for Your Family

There are many options to choose from when shopping for used SUVs for sale. You might value better off-road performance like the Explorer, better on-road comfort like the Pilot, the reputation for reliability like the Highlander, or the eye-catching and luxurious design like the Telluride. No matter which used SUV you choose, remember to first weigh the advantages and unique capabilities of each. Does it provide enough power for your favorite activities? Can it seat the right number of people to accommodate your family? Will everyone be comfortable and connected on a long road trip? There are plenty of considerations to take into account. But all of these SUVs offer a blend of capability and style, so no matter which you bring home, you’re sure to delight your family!