Traditional body-on-frame SUVs are a rarity among the least expensive new SUVs, so you’ll be looking at carlike crossover SUVs. By that classification, the Jeep Patriot is the least expensive on the market, starting at $15,995. The Patriot is equipped with front-wheel drive and a manual transmission in entry-level models.
The Suzuki SX4 crossover ($16,999) is a close second and includes all-wheel drive standard with a manual transmission. The SX4 is a Cars.com Best Bet for 2011, along with the Subaru Forester, Nissan Rogue and Kia Sorento.
Below is a list of SUVs under $21,000. Some of these options, including the SX4 and Honda Element, are more or less four-door hatchbacks with all-wheel drive (optional on the Element), while crossovers like the Patriot and Mazda Tribute look more like a traditional SUV. For a traditional truck-based SUV, you’ll have to look at the Jeep Wrangler for $22,045 or Nissan Xterra for $23,870. All prices do not include destination charges.
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