The FJ Cruiser began life purely as a design concept. It’s retro lines — penned by then 25-year-old Jin Won Kim of Toyota’s Calty design studio in Newport Beach — recall many elements of Toyota’s iconic FJ40, the original Land Cruiser.
Even though Kim was born a quarter century after the original FJ rolled off the assembly line, he nailed the look. In fact, it wowed people so much at its 2003 debut at North American International Auto Show in Detroit that Toyota greenlit the FJ Cruiser for production.
Three years later, a new icon was born.
As serious car enthusiasts, even we here at Klipnik are sometimes surprised by the skyrocketing values of certain models. For years these cars and trucks remain affordable to non-wealthy enthusiasts, then, seemingly as if a switch is flipped, they become the flavor of the month, and their values go stratospheric. Case in point is BMW’s E30 M3, whose values headed for the moon a few years ago. Indeed, top examples of these have become valued up to $70,000 and more.
Granted, they are certainly desirable cars with their unique, racing-derived, and high-powered (for the time) inline four, firm sport suspension, serious sport seats, and radical body modifications. And they also have the added cachet of being a model built and sold to be homologated for racing. We know, we know — it’s all about supply and demand as well as what the market will bear.
Great cars, those early M3s, but there are much more affordable and better performing alternatives to be found right within the M3’s own family tree. We’re talking about, and presenting for your consideration here, the three generations that came after that first M3 which offer much better performance at a much more approachable purchase price.
Subaru has had many successful models over its 50+ years of selling cars in America, including two all-wheel drive icons: the Outback and the WRX. Our recent Outback Buyer’s Guide covers the brand’s wagon/crossover/SUV flagship, which is consistently one of its best selling models. But it’s the WRX that enthusiasts love.
The Toyota 4Runner is a legendary rig. One of the last SUVs still made with rugged body-on-frame construction, it pairs off-road prowess with Toyota reliability and longevity. Indeed, iSeeCars ranked it as the longest-lasting midsize SUV in a recent study. As a result, it remains not only a top seller at dealerships, but used 4Runners also command significant demand and thus tend to retain their values surprisingly well.
The popularity of used crossovers and SUVs is gaining steam. They’re not just the choice of families anymore. Young Americans are buying them in record numbers, too. Small crossovers are now extremely popular, while sales of midsize SUVs and those with three-rows of seating continue to climb.
To help you find the best used SUV for less than $20,000, we’ve created this list of six models. According to the data, these SUVs offer above-average reliability, and they’ve received exceptional safety ratings from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). They’re also fun to drive and fuel-efficient. Our list includes two compacts, a larger five-passenger model, and three with seating for seven, so there’s something here for everyone.