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10 Cheap SUVs Everyone Regrets Buying

Jul 19, 2023Jul 19, 2023

A cheap SUV is not always a reliable ride; sometimes, it can cost you dearly in maintenance and repairs.

You can find many cheap yet reliable SUVs on the used car market. On the other hand, there are also many cheap SUVs you should run from. Some of these worst SUVs are not only cheap but have some of the highest repair costs. Repair costs like replacing an engine could eat a serious hole in the pocket. Over time, these repair costs soon become significantly more than the cost of the actual car.

Some of these cheap SUVs are plagued by one problem. For example, the 2012 Nissan Rogue received numerous complaints about its transmission. On the other hand, some of these cheap SUVs are littered with several problems. For example, complaints about the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan include issues with the engine and with the cooling system. These cheap SUVs will bankrupt you with maintenance bills and repairs. Let's check out some of the cheap SUVs everyone regrets buying.

RELATED: Here's The Average Yearly Repair Costs For The Volkswagen Tiguan

The Jeep really let their customers down with the Patriot. The 2008 Jeep Patriot is one example of this. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine power this SUV, delivering 172 horsepower and 165 lb-ft of torque. It offered independent suspension. The 54.2 cu ft of cargo capacity is available with folded rear seats. However, the maximum cargo space is 62.7 cu ft. with everything folded down.

The 2008 Jeep Patriot received many complaints from owners. Car Complaints identify a leaking sunroof, transmission failure, and water leaks as the worst problems. Only one recall was made. However, NHTSA recorded 442 complaints for the 2008 Jeep Patriot. 87 of those complaints related to the fuel system, while 88 related to the structure. Consumer Reports gives a score of 2/5 for acceleration, fuel economy, and emergency handling, 3/5 for braking, yet 5/5 for the transmission. You may want to consider some of the better Jeeps that combine performance with reliability.

The 2005 Nissan Pathfinder is a five-door, seven-seater SUV, powered by a 270-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 engine. However, owners seemed to voice numerous complaints. NHTSA recorded 1,046 complaints for the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder. 584 of those complaints related to the powertrain.

Car Complaints cites a significant number of complaints for the transmission. Coolant leaking into the transmission, transmission failure, and the transmission causing the vehicle to shake are cited as the worst problems for the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder. To fix the shaking alone is estimated to cost about $6,380, according to Car Complaints.

RELATED: Here's Why You Should Avoid A Fourth-Gen Nissan Pathfinder SUV

The 2009 model year is one of those Volkswagen Tiguans you should avoid buying used. A 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine delivering 200 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque powers this SUV. However, this Tiguan's engine is the reason that many owners complain about this model year.

Car Complaints showed the number of complaints about this Tiguan's engine surpassed other complaints. The worst problems included issues with the timing chain tensioner, water pump failure, and plastic intake manifold failure. The average cost for fixing the timing chain tensioner is about $3,240, according to Car Complaints. NHTSA recorded 164 complaints for the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan. 79 of those complaints were related to the engine.

There are some cheap Saturns you can get for next to nothing, while others just aren't worth it. The 2003 Saturn Vue is one such car. The 2003 Saturn Vue was powered by numerous engine options, including the 143-horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder and the 181-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine. This five-seater drew numerous complaints from owners.

Car Complaints cites a significant number of complaints about this Saturn Vue's transmission, not to mention its engine problems. This website suggests that the worst problems for this SUV are transmission failure, engine cutting out while driving, and wheel bearing failure. NHTSA recorded 627 complaints. 318 of these complaints referred to the power train.

RELATED: 5 Horrible Cars That Killed Pontiac (5 That Killed Saturn)

The 2004 Ford Explorer is powered by a 210--horsepower 4.0-liter V6 engine. Otherwise, there is the V8 option. However, the 2004 Ford Explorer seems to be a polarizing vehicle. Some may love the 2004 Ford Explorer. On the other hand, many owners have complained about this very SUV.

Car Complaints records numerous problems with the body and paint job, especially with a cracked panel. The website cites numerous transmission problems, including transmission slipping, transmission failure, no reverse, and vibrating while driving. NHTSA recorded 1,404 complaints for the 2004 Ford Explorer. 477 of those complaints were about the power train.

This Jeep offers a 290-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine. Otherwise, there is the 5.7-liter V8 option. However, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of those money pits to avoid when choosing a used Jeep.

Car Complaints records numerous complaints about electrical problems and engine problems with the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. This website cites TIPM problems and engine stalling among the worst problems. Repairing the stalling engine could cost $1,710, while fixing the TIPM issues may cost $1,170, according to Car Complaints. NHTSA recorded 1,573 complaints. 747 of those complaints related to the electrical system, while 323 related to the engine. Six recalls were made. Four of those related to the electrical system.

The 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara is a four-door compact SUV with a 185-horsepower 2.7-liter V6 engine. However, this Grand Vitara is not the most popular SUV among Suzuki owners.

NHTSA recorded 160 complaints. Six recalls were made. Car Complaints cites problematic front seating, grinding brakes, and lack of control as among the worst problems. Consumer Reports suggests that the average retail price for a 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara starts from $3,425.

When you check out the Nissan Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition package, you may be enamored. However, the same may not be said about the 2012 Nissan Rogue. This five-seater SUV is powered by a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. However, one problem overshadowed this vehicle.

Consumer Reports give a score of 1/5 for reliability for the 2012 Nissan Rogue, along with 1/5 for its transmission. In fact, Car Complaints cites transmission problems as the major complaint. This website suggests that loss of acceleration, transmission failure, and overheated CVT are the worst problems for this vehicle. Over time, the cost of maintenance and repairs for these problems may cost you more than the car. For example, Car Complaints suggests that the cost of fixing the problem of loss of acceleration is about $4,750. It may be worth considering another SUV option.

You may not want to overlook the Nissan Juke Nismo RS. However, many people still dislike the Nissan Duke. The 2013 Nissan Juke may not do this model any favors. This five-door SUV is powered by a 188-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. However, the issue with its engine is a source of angst for many owners.

Car Complaints cites engine problems as the main area of complaint. According to this website, the worst problems are transmission failure, the turbocharger not working, and the dealership suggesting a new engine was needed, which costs about $8,170 to repair. NHTSA recorded 87 complaints. 35 of those were for the engine.

The 2001 Land Rover Discovery 2 was powered by a 182-horsepower 4.0-liter V8 engine. Some of the problems associated with the Land Rover Discovery 2 include head gasket issues, cracked block, and oil pump failure. Specifically, the 2001 Land Rover Discovery 2 was recalled six times. Issues included the possibility of the fluid from the pump joint igniting. NHTSA recorded 31 complaints for the 2001 Land Rover Discovery 2.

Not all cheap SUVs are the same. Some cheap SUVs have very reliable engines. On the other hand, there are some cheap SUVs we should stay away from. Maintenance and repair costs could ultimately break the bank.

Joshua Irvine is a writer, researcher, and historian. He holds a Bachelor of Social Science degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.

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