Why settle for 125 horsepower when you could have twice as much?
We recently had the opportunity to drive the new 2018 Nissan Kicks, a CUV that is aimed square at young millennial buyers. With loads of safety technology, and a base price of under $19,000, the Kicks will likely appeal for first time car buyers who want something cheap, economical, and safe. But what about people who want something fast, cool, and comfortable? The Kicks packs a 1.6-liter four-cylinder good for a measly 125 horsepower. We have found seven used SUVs for less than the price of a new Kicks, all with more than twice the power.
The Nissan Kicks has reasonable space inside for all occupants, as well as a nicely sized trunk. However, it wouldn't cut it for larger families who need more seats and more storage. For less than $19,000, you can easily go out and buy a used Cadillac Escalade with around 50,000 to 80,000 miles on the odometer. Most examples in this price range are around 10-years old and come with a 6.2-liter V8 producing 403 hp. Why settle for a Kicks, when you could have an Escalade for the same money?
Most of the people who buy a Kicks will do so because of its stylish looks, and the promise of a sporty driving experience. The Kicks delivers on looks, but falls short on being sporty. If what you want is an interesting looking crossover, why not buy an Infiniti FX50? The Infiniti FX was a fantastic looking crossover that was built on the RWD platform of the G37. It is also the only Nissan/Infiniti product to offer a unique 5.0-liter V8 producing 390 hp. The engine was derived from LMP3 racing, and is bespoke to the FX50.
We typically prefer wagons and hatchbacks to their SUV counterparts, but we do enjoy a small SUV that feels like a car. The first generation BMW X1, known internally as the E84, was sold from 2009 to 2015 before being replaced with a new FWD-based model. The old E84 was RWD-based, and could be ordered in xDrive35i trim with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six producing 300 hp. This quick little CUV could hit 60 in just 5.2 seconds (around twice as fast as the Kicks).
Back in 2006, Jeep shocked the world by attaching an SRT badge to the popular Grand Cherokee. By today's standards, the 6.1-liter 420 hp V8 in the original Grand Cherokee SRT-8 doesn't seem insane, but it can still rocket the 4,700 pound SUV up to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. The interior of may looks a bit cheap compared to other cars on this list, but it's worth it to enjoy all of the lovely V8 power.
Back in the early 2000's, Chevrolet went crazy putting an SS badge on almost every model. Even the Trailblazer received an SS variant, which was powered by a 6.0-liter LS2 engine from a C6 Corvette. The V8 produced 390 hp, and the SS had a number of handling upgrades including a self-leveling air suspension.
If you don't care about maintenance costs, there are some insane values on the used market. Case in point, you can now buy a first generation Porsche Cayenne Turbo S for less than the price of a new Nissan Kicks. While the Kicks makes due with 125 hp, the Cayenne Turbo S produces 520 hp from a twin-turbo V8. Sure it will cost a small fortune to maintain, but isn't happiness worth it?
If you are willing to pay to be unique, why not opt for one of the most unique SUVs ever sold in the United States: the Volkswagen Touareg. Specifically, we found used Touareg models with the 5.0-liter twin-turbo V10 diesel engine. This massive powerplant produces 310 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque with enough pulling power to tow almost 8,000 pounds.