So you want a relatively high-tech used car but don’t want to pay top dollar—and you don’t want one of the under-$15,000 sedans we already showed you? Well, you’re in luck, because there are a handful of affordable used crossovers that let you get a bit farther off the beaten path while keeping all of the high-tech convenience features you want in a modern vehicle.
Some of the best features to have in a car these days, especially if you’re going to spend time doing long-haul highway driving or medium-speed freeway commuting are technologies that help you drive more safely—even if your attention isn’t at its best, as can often be the case in an early morning commute, at the end of a long day, or four hours into a seven-hour road trip.
Tops on this convenience list is adaptive cruise control. Until you’ve driven a car with it, you don’t know what you’re missing—and once you have, you’ll never want to go back to stone-age “dumb” cruise control. Using radar or camera sensors, adaptive cruise control keeps pace behind the traffic ahead, slowing down and speeding up (to your maximum pre-set cruise speed), taking much of the burden off of the driver’s attention span. Lane-departure warning or lane-keeping assist and blind-spot detection are great companion features to active cruise, further reducing the chances you’ll make a dumb mistake simply because you’re not completely on top of your mental game—and let’s face it, we all have our moments.
Other great convenience features you’ll want in any car you have to spend a few hours a week in are Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, navigation, USB input and charging, and even smartphone app abilities. Of course you can do a lot of this with aftermarket solutions as we’ve pointed out in the past, but it’s nice to have it all built in—especially if you’re not among the technically inclined.
There are a surprising number of options out there—and the list grows every year as these features work their way down the price ladder of all major car brands—but these are a few of the best you’ll find for under $20,000.
Look for a 2014 model and you should be able to squeeze under the $20,000 mark. You may even be able to get near $15,000 if you look hard enough and you’re in the right part of the country. Whatever the price, you’ll want to make sure your Cherokee has the Technology Package, which includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning, as well as forward collision warning, parking sensors, and a Park Assist feature that self-parks in parallel or perpendicular parking spots. Navigation, Bluetooth, and Uconnect multimedia with smartphone apps are also available in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
Again, you’re looking for a 2014 model for the sweet spot on price and equipment, and you’ll want to be sure the EyeSight package is specified, as it brings with it adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision alert with automatic braking, and more. Plus, the Outback comes standard with Bluetooth, and has an available navigation system, though many find the Subaru infotainment system and navigation to be a bit clunky to use—still, you’re getting a lot of all-weather and all-road capability with a high degree of safety tech for a bargain price—and plenty of space for friends, dogs, and gear.
Some other models to include in your searches are the Buick Encore, Lincoln MKX, Volvo XC60—the latter two especially if you’d like to add a touch of luxury to your daily drive. Where can you find great deals on all of these crossovers and more? Just fire up the Instamotor app and search near you!
automotive freelance journalist