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Can't Afford The New Ford Explorer? Here Are Seven Cheaper Alternatives

Smart Buy / 2 Comments

Your $32,765 has a lot more power on the used market.

Ford just pulled the wraps off the all-new 2020 Explorer, which features a new, rear-wheel-drive architecture and a range of turbocharged EcoBoost engine options. There will even be a sportier ST version and a hybrid. This is the most luxurious and technologically advanced Explorer ever and what's even more impressive, Ford was able to keep the base price just $400 higher than the outgoing model.

The most basic Explorer XLT will start at $32,765 and come powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder sending 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic. 300 hp is by no means a low figure, though we wondered what a $30,000 budget could pick up on the used market.

If you don't feel like dishing out over $30,000 to be just like everyone else on your Explore loving block, here are seven cheaper alternatives.

2006-2009 Chevrolet Trailblazer SS

The first car on our list is one of the Explorer's former rivals, the Chevy Trailblazer - but not just any Trailblazer. This mid-size SUV was built at a time when General Motors was plastering SS badges on almost everything, so of course, there was a TrailBlazer SS. It was introduced as a 2006 model and sold until 2009, marking the first time the Super Sports badge was used on an SUV. Under the hood sat a 6.0-liter LS2 V8 from a Corvette, pumping out 390 hp.

Chevy even stiffened and lowered the suspension and included a self-leveling air suspension in the rear. Like the new Explorer, the Trailblazer SS came in RWD and AWD configurations, both of which received power from a four-speed automatic. Prices currently range between $10,000 and $25,000 depending on mileage.

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2006-2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8

If you can survive without the third-row and live your life a quarter-mile at a time, perhaps you should shop for a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8. While the regular SRT-8 Grand Cherokee may have lost some of its luster because of the more powerful Trackhawk, the original is still pretty potent.

For around $25,000 to $30,000, you can score the second generation SRT-8 model, which is powered by a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 producing 470 hp. The Explorer ST should be a quick SUV, though we doubt it will offer up as much power as the SRT-8.

2007-2016 Cadillac Escalade

If size and practicality are more important than speed and quarter-mile times, the Cadillac Escalade is the largest SUV on this list. For less than $30,000, there is a huge selection of Cadillac Escalade models on the used market. Though it isn't a performance SUV, the Escalade is still powered by a potent 6.2-liter V8 producing 403 hp. It's also much larger than the new Explorer, making it easy to carry both people and cargo.

2007-2016 Mercedes-Benz GL

If you are in the market for an Explorer, you probably enjoy the idea of buying an American car to support the US economy. However, if you'd like to branch out into something a bit more exotic, perhaps you should check out a Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. While we couldn't find any GL 63 AMG models for under $30,000, we did find plenty of GL 450 and GL 550s.

The GL 450 is powered by a 4.7-liter V8 or a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 (after 2015) producing 362 hp. The more potent GL 550 uses a twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8 producing 429 hp.

2010-2015 Lexus GX 460

Most modern SUVs spend the majority of their time on the road, never traversing the countryside. Even though most SUV buyers will never take their SUV off-road, a small majority still care about how capable their vehicle can be when the road disappears. We will admit the second generation Lexus GX is not the prettiest SUV on this list, though it is the most off-road capable. The GX is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado platform and features a slew of off-roading features. $20,000 to $30,000 will easily score you one of the most capable SUVs ever built.

2011-2015 Porsche Cayenne

If pure driving pleasure is all you need from an SUV, the Porsche Cayenne should be at the top of your shopping list. For less than $30,000, you'll find no shortage of used Cayenne models in various trim levels, so you can pick one depending on your pain tolerance for maintenance. We recommend opting for a Cayenne S with the 4.8-liter V8 producing 400 hp. Astonishingly, we also found a few examples of the 500-hp Cayenne Turbo for under $30,000, though you better watch out for big repair bills if you do opt for one.

2013 Infiniti JX35

If you've read through this whole list and said, "power and performance are all well and good but I just want something affordable, reliable, and spacious," this last option may be for you. In 2013, Infiniti released a more luxurious version of the Nissan Pathfinder called the JX35. Like the Pathfinder, the JX uses a 3.5-liter V6 sending 265 hp to FWD or AWD. Since the JX was renamed the QX60 in 2014, used 2013 models are now incredibly cheap. We found examples starting as low as $13,500 (with under 100,000 miles) topping out at around $25,000.