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Best Subcompact SUVs for Under $10,000

Looking for a versatile and affordable ride in a miniature package? Take a look at the best subcompact SUVs you can find for under $10,000.

Affordable Subcompact SUVs

2021 Kia Seltos - kiamedia.com
2021 Kia Seltos - kiamedia.com

The development of sedans and hatchbacks is slowing down as of late. That class of affordable and functional vehicles is steadily being replaced by a newer concept, the subcompact crossover SUV. These subcompact SUVs are built off of the same chassis found in sedans and hatchbacks, but they’re slightly taller in both ride height and vehicle height. Now, nobody is buying these subcompact SUVs to look cool, go fast, or tow a trailer (at least I hope not).

This class of vehicle is made to be an easy commuter and be versatile when you need it to. The interior is spacious for front passengers, gas mileage is pretty great, and it can place itself just about in any tight space. Plus, the rear seating can fit two or three adults when needed, otherwise those seats can be flipped down to open up some extra room for moderately bulky items.

I happen to have some pretty good experience in this area, having had a couple examples of the body style, so I’m helping you join the club. I looked through a bunch of Carsforsale.com listings to find which subcompact SUVs are the right choice for under $10,000. All of the best subcompact SUV options in this price range will have obviously been used and be more than a couple years old. That means no recent models like the Volkswagen Taos, Kia Seltos, or Chevrolet Trailblazer.

Also, nobody wants to end up with a car that comes with a host of high-mileage problems. So, while these choices I found may be used, I made sure you could find these used subcompact SUVs around that 100,000-mile mark while shopping. Now, find out which models made the best subcompact SUVs for under $10,000 list!

Chevrolet Trax

2015 Chevrolet Trax - media.chevrolet.com
2015 Chevrolet Trax - media.chevrolet.com

Starting off the list is Chevrolet’s Subcompact SUV option, the Trax. This model has been around in the United States since 2015, making it easy to find an older one with under 100,000 miles for under $10,000. Shoppers will find a turbocharged 1.4L I4 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the front wheels or all four depending on configuration. Fuel economy is pretty good, with the front-wheel drive (FWD) models making anywhere from 27 to 29 mpg combined depending on year. Cargo space is alright with the 2015 models starting at 18.7 cu-ft behind the second row and can expand to 48.4 cu-ft when those rear seats are folded. The interior is bland and of lower quality, even in the refreshed models. However, an infotainment touchscreen with SiriusXM is standard and an optional sunroof can be found out there.

Buick Encore

2013 Buick Encore - netcarshow.com
2013 Buick Encore - netcarshow.com

Buick offers a badge swapped version of the Trax called the Encore featuring a little more refinement. It carries the same turbocharged 1.4L I4 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, the choice of either FWD or AWD, and similar fuel economy numbers. On the inside though, the design is slightly more appealing and real leather upholstery is available. Cargo space is nearly identical, as is the available infotainment system and sunroof. What this boils down to is whether you like the design of the Trax or Encore better at $10,000 and if real leather is something you want.

Nissan Juke

2013 Nissan Juke - netcarshow.com
2013 Nissan Juke - netcarshow.com

The Nissan Juke was an odd subcompact SUV that featured a bubbly, sporty exterior and bug-eye lighting. The exterior could steer potential buyers away, but this design may speak to some shoppers out there. Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.6L I4 paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or six-speed manual. There’s also the choice of FWD or AWD drivetrains, with FWD getting the best fuel economy at 29 mpg combined. Inside these used Jukes is an interior that tries to feel sporty and features lower quality materials. A CD player is standard entertainment equipment, but it isn’t hard to find a higher trim model for under $10,000 that features an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen. There’s a chance at finding the specially tuned NISMO trim too, but it isn’t going to be a sleeper by any means and is more about the cooler looking exterior package. Cargo space is limiting at 10.5 cu-ft behind the rear seats and a maximum of 35.9 cu-ft, so don’t expect to carry around too much in the Juke.

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport - netcarshow.com
2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport - netcarshow.com

Mitsubishi introduced the subcompact little brother to the Outlander back in 2011. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport comes with a 2.0L I4 mated with a five-speed manual transmission or CVT that sends power to the front wheels or all four. You can expect 28 mpg combined at most in FWD form. Inside is a decently spacious cabin (this is still a subcompact SUV) with 21.7 cu-ft of cargo space behind the rear seats that can expand to 49.5 cu-ft. The interior is a bit lack luster and some early models only carry a radio with a CD player, but if you’re just looking for a basic daily, you can’t go wrong with a used Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

Jeep Renegade

2015 Jeep Renegade - netcarshow.com
2015 Jeep Renegade - netcarshow.com

The Jeep Renegade is probably the least Jeep inspired vehicle from the off-road focused company. While that may be true, it is possibly the best off-road ready option in this segment. Since the 2015 model, the Jeep Renegade has offered the choice of a turbocharged 1.4L I4 or naturally aspirated 2.4L I4, a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic transmission, and either FWD or a 4WD drivetrain. The common trims you find under $10,000 are the Sport (base model) and the Latitude. These are pretty spartan inside, with a five-inch infotainment system running the entertainment duties and cloth seating. Cargo space is 18.5 cu-ft behind the second row, but folding those seats down opens up the Renegade for 50.8 cu-ft of room.

Fiat 500X

2015 Fiat 500X - netcarshow.com
2015 Fiat 500X - netcarshow.com

The Renegade actually inspired a European cousin, namely the Fiat 500X. Fiat is a more popular brand in Europe, but the 500X is a decent bargain in the used subcompact SUV space here in America. It provides a nice interior with comfortable seating and either a five- or six-and-a-half-inch infotainment touchscreen. However, cargo space is kind of tight at 14.1 cu-ft with the rear seats up and 39.8 cu-ft with the seats down. Under the 500X hood is the same turbocharged 1.4L I4 or naturally aspirated 2.4L I4 paired with the same transmissions as the Renegade. The 500X isn’t as rugged as the Renegade though, featuring FWD or AWD and possessing a lower ride height. The handling is a lot snappier than the Renegade, but that doesn’t mean it’s a sports car alternative.

MINI Cooper Countryman

2011 MINI Countryman - netcarshow.com
2011 MINI Countryman - netcarshow.com

Another European based subcompact SUV you can find is the MINI Cooper Countryman. In what is essentially a moderately larger MINI Cooper, the Countryman offers sporty handling and the same powertrain options. There is either a naturally aspirated 1.6L I4 or a turbocharged version of the same engine found in the S and John Cooper Works trims. Shoppers can also find either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission and either standard FWD or the ALL4 AWD system. Inside is a unique retro-modern design that only MINI can pull off and a good amount of room for passengers given the segment. The MINI Cooper Countryman has 16.5 cu-ft of cargo room in the back that can expand to 41.3 cu-ft with the seats down. If you want something that feels cool while being somewhat practical, the Countryman may be your best choice.

Kia Soul

2010 Kia Soul - netcarshow.com
2010 Kia Soul - netcarshow.com

Ending the best subcompact SUVs for under $10,000 is essentially the king of the segment, the Kia Soul. While this boxy vehicle is a point of online contention, it is a great value for under $10,000. The Soul gets admirable fuel numbers of about 26 or 27 mpg combined depending on the year. The only drivetrain available is FWD, so no off-roading for this option. Under the hood of these used Soul models is either a 1.6L I4 or 2.0L I4 paired with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The car handles nicely and has a quirky design that appeals to some. Inside there is a great amount of room for a subcompact SUV option, plenty of headroom for taller passengers, and 24.2 cu-ft behind the rear seats that can open up to 61.3 cu-ft with those seats down. For entertainment tech, a standard digital radio or different size infotainment systems can be found depending on the year. This subcompact SUV isn’t wowing anyone with performance and I’ll admit that the hamster gimmick surrounding it is cringy, but a used Kia Soul should be on your list when shopping for this body style.

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Jesse McGraw

Jesse McGraw brings his life-long car obsession into his writing. A fun childhood that involved growing up around race tracks, working on a rusty ‘99 Dodge Dakota held together by zip ties, and collecting Hot Wheels developed into a strong appreciation for automotive history. If there is an old, obscure, or rare car, he wants to know about it. With a bachelor's degree in Web Development & Design from Dakota State University, Jesse can talk shop about car or computer specs, focusing on classic cars, imports, and car culture.

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