Consumers in the market for inexpensive, best cheap SUVs have many great choices available. While the Japanese imports have held top spot in recent years in terms of reliability, that’s all changing with the slew of great products available from domestic and other foreign automakers. The key is to do your research and buy the most SUV you can get for the least possible price.

Our choices for Best Cheap SUVs include one foreign and two domestic, but there are easily other good possibilities. We’ve taken a look at the lowest-priced vehicles, using Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) pricing as a guide, as well as surveyed what the automotive experts have to say. These three choices also appear on the top 10 lists for cheap SUVs from AOL Autos and Autrotropolis – but we’ve selected them because they’re cheap, and offer a lot of value for the money. See what you think.

  • Jeep PatriotAccording to U.S. News and World Report, the Jeep Patriot compact crossover SUV “is the most affordable off-road SUV on the market…excellent fuel economy.” Consumer Guide says Patriot lacks Jeep_Patriot_2009“on-road polish and cabin refinement of other vehicles in this class… but as a daily driver ready for the occasional off-road foray, a properly equipped Patriot makes some sense.” Edmunds lists pros such as “low base price, Jeep-lite styling, decent off-road ability” and cons such as “CVT saps power…lackluster interior materials, meager cargo capacity. But it’s cheap – as in Edmunds TMV ranging from starting prices of $10,812 for a 2007 model to $15,705 for a 2009.
  • Kia SportageConsumer Guide calls the compact crossover SUV Kia Sportage, and its design cousin Hyundai Tucson (both share the same unibody platform), kia_sportage_2009“pleasant light-duty people movers with modest off-road capabilities” offering “lots of standard equipment, decent road manners, good cargo versatility and generous warranties.” U.S. News and World Report comments that Sportage is “a great value in its class.” Edmunds hails Sportage’s “generous equipment list and an affordable price,” saying further that “buyers on a tight budget should give it a look.” Edmunds editors (and others) say performance and fuel economy trail competitors. Edmunds TMV starting prices range from $9,156 for a 2006 Sportage to $15,810 for a 2009 model.
  • Ford EscapeRedesigned in 2008, the Ford Escape compact crossover SUV is a Consumer Guide Recommended Pick for “its strengths, including an excellent 6-speed automatic transmission, comfortable passenger accommodations, and the availability of a frugal gas/electric hybrid model.” Automobile says Escape “remains a great value… for small SUV buyers looking for a little more bang for the fuel-pump buck.” ford_escape_2009Of the 2009 model, Edmunds says “there’s more power underhood and a tweaked suspension for improved handling and ride dynamics,” although braking is “lackluster compared to rivals.” Edmunds TMV starting prices for Escape are $10,584 (2006) to $18,431 (2009).

Other Best Cheap SUVs include Honda Element, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Mazda Tribute, Nissan Rogue and Suzuki Grand Vitara.

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