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What Used SUVs Should I Avoid?

Have you ever heard the phrase, “if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything?” Well, I never heard it either until I just wrote it. No, I’m here to let you know that when you head over to your used car dealer, there are some SUVs that you should definitely steer clear of if you know what’s good for you. What used SUVs should I avoid? In general, one clear rule of thumb is to try not to buy a used SUV from an automaker that no longer exists. As used cars age, they need more service and repairs. Good luck finding spare parts for an SUV that was manufactured by a company that went the way of the Roman Empire.

Similarly, if the automaker still exists, but it no longer makes that model of SUV, this might be a hint to avoid this one as well. There’s probably a good reason the model was discontinued, and it is not because it was good. Either the SUV was a lemon with plenty of issues, or the public avoided it like a polecat eating a big slice of Limburger cheese. Here are 15 used SUVs that fall into one or both of these categories and are probably not even going to attract that aforementioned cheese-eating skunk.

#1 – Dodge Journey

Dodge has made some really good SUVs in recent years. However, the Journey wasn’t one of them. This midsize SUV was discontinued following the 2019 model year, with its only claim to fame being its reputation as the cheapest three-row midsize SUV on the market. However, it also had one of the most cramped third rows, making that last row kind of pointless. Best to take a journey in a different SUV.

A green 2007 Jeep Patriot is shown from the side parked in the mountains.

#2 – Jeep Patriot

The Jeep Patriot shared the iconic front grille of the Jeep Wrangler but not much else. Its boxy design was fairly nondescript, and the continuously variable transmission was so clunky that it was eventually replaced with a more conventional 6-speed automatic transmission starting in 2014. The Patriot was eventually dropped after the 2017 model year.

#3 – Saturn Vue

Do you remember Saturn? That was the brand that was supposed to be the future of General Motors, with composite body panels. However, the public never really warmed up to the cars with plastic doors. The Vue was Saturn’s attempt to join the SUV market, and it bit the dust along with the rest of the brand in 2010. Like most discontinued models from discontinued brands, it is becoming harder to find spare parts for the used Saturn Vues that are still on the road.

#4 – Nissan Xterra

Nissan went through a rough spot a few years ago but has come through with the embrace of the Intelligent Technology approach. Many popular Nissan models like the Pathfinder and Altima survived the transition. The Xterra is not one of them. Although this rugged SUV got off to a good start, the second generation was kept in production long past its sell-by date. Rather than fix the problem, Nissan simply made the Xterra an ex-model after 2015.

#5 – GMC Envoy XUV

Sometimes, good companies make bad vehicles. The GMC Envoy XUV was an attempt to combine the best features of an SUV with a pickup truck but ended up with the worst aspects of both vehicle types. It has an incredibly long wheelbase like a full-size pickup with a long box payload bed, making it tough to handle. In addition, it has the towing and cargo carrying limitations of an SUV. As a result, the Envoy XUV was sent packing after only two model years.

#6 – Chrysler PT Cruiser

I’ll admit that when this first hit the road in 2000, I was truly smitten with the Chrysler PT Cruiser. This homage to those old roadsters from the ’40s and ’50s immediately had me humming a ZZ Top song. “Girls go crazy for a sharp-dressed SUV!” But, once you got past the cool looks and actually drove one, you found yourself with an underpowered vehicle with a cramped interior and an unreliable performance record. Sadly, the PT Cruiser is more like another ZZ Top song, “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide.”

#7 – Volvo XC70

At one time, Sweden’s Volvo was one of the most popular models with a very forward-looking design. Sadly, the XC70 crossover kept those looks that were cutting edge when Reagan was president, and everyone was saying, “Where’s the beef?” This station wagon lookalike remained the same with stodgy looks, mediocre fuel economy, and an overall design that just didn’t cut it in the age of Obama, which is why Volvo dropped it in 2015.

#8 – Land Rover LR2

Another SUV that didn’t survive the 2015 model year is the Land Rover LR2. For some reason, Land Rover suddenly became a desirable brand with affluent suburbanites in the early part of the century. But then these were the same folks who were shelling out serious cash to buy Uggs for their offspring, so there is no accounting for taste. The Land Rover LR2 was the effort of this automaker to build a more affordable SUV model. However, it suffered from issues with its finish and was rated below average for reliability. Sadly for drivers who bought an LR2, a mechanic was not included. You won’t get a free Land Rover technician either if you buy one used.

#9 – Pontiac Torrent

A torrent is defined as a strong and fast-moving stream of water, like a heavy downpour in a rainstorm. Pontiac is one of the brands that got caught up in the GM bankruptcy and was given the axe in order to keep the rest of the company afloat. One of the few fortunate things to come out of the demise of the Pontiac brand was the end of the line for the Torrent SUV. This model was plagued by issues with the fuel system, drivetrain, and power equipment during its short, sad life. If you see one on the used car lot, give it a hug, but don’t take it home with you.

#10 – Mitsubishi Endeavor

I endeavored to say something nice about the Mitsubishi Endeavor when I began writing this paragraph. The Endeavor was the first three-row SUV in Mitsubishi’s lineup. However, it never really found a market after its introduction in 2003 and was eventually discontinued in 2011. It lacked the aerodynamic shape most other SUVs in its class had long since adapted, going for a boxy style that would have worked in 1995, not 2005.

#11 – Kia Borrego

Do you remember the Kia Borrego? It was a three-row, full-size SUV that signaled Korean automakers Kia’s desire to move into direct competition with Detroit’s Big Three and their larger passenger vehicles. However, Kia’s lack of experience in building heavier vehicles showed with the Borrego, as it both lacked decent fuel economy and was seriously underpowered. In any event, the Borrego lasted only two model years, getting discontinued in 2010. Just like a bad one-night stand, Kia is probably hoping you forget the Borrego ever happened.

A red 2011 Mazda CX-7 is shown from the front driving on an open road.

#12 – Mazda CX-7

Every automaker comes out with a vehicle that, in retrospect, didn’t turn out to be such a great idea. In 2007, Mazda was part of Ford Motor Company, and the decision was made to make a 5-seat crossover SUV built on the same platform as the popular Ford Escape. The resulting Mazda CX-7 was really too big for a 5-seater, sharing a wheelbase more akin to three-row midsize SUVs. So, you ended up with the fuel economy of a larger model without any advantages. Mazda decided to discontinue the CX-7 in 2012, replacing it with the smaller and sportier CX-5.

#13 – Mercury Mountaineer

Mercury was the little sibling of the solid Ford and sexy Lincoln brands that everyone else ignored. The Mountaineer was an effort by Ford to generate interest in the Mercury brand by offering a less expensive SUV built on the same platform as the more famous Ford Explorer. However, like everything else with Mercury, the public largely ignored the Mountaineer, ending up on the scrap heap of automotive history when Ford pulled the plug on Mercury in 2010.

#14 – Subaru Tribeca

Tribeca is a really cool neighborhood in lower Manhattan, famous for being the home of actor Robert De Niro. As for the Subaru Tribeca, it was the first three-row SUV sold by the Japanese automaker with a niche market of very enthusiastic drivers. However, the Tribeca was kind of foisted on Subaru by General Motors when it couldn’t find a home for what was going to be a Saab model before phasing out the Swedish brand. At the time, General Motors held a stake in Subaru and used that connection with respect to the Tribeca. This orphaned SUV never really found a home after its introduction in 2008, and it was given its final curtain call in 2014.

#15 – Chrysler Aspen

Chrysler wanted to add a full-size SUV to its lineup, but when one wasn’t ready in the design stream, it turned to its fellow company Dodge and simply rebranded the Durango as the Aspen, adding a little more chrome trim to brighten things up. It even chose the name Aspen to give it an upscale appeal by alluding to the famous ski resort named for a local evergreen tree. However, this didn’t do much to create a market for Aspen, and even a late effort to add a hybrid model couldn’t boost sales. The Aspen was eventually chopped down in 2009.

Finding a Great Used SUV

As you can see, it pays to do your homework when buying a used SUV. You are going to want to find one that comes from a company that still exists and is continuing to make the model in question. If the model was discontinued or the brand went out of business, it may be because the used SUV you are considering is just not that great. When buying a used SUV, always use caution and don’t give in to the temptation of a seemingly cheap price for a vehicle.