Crossovers are big business in Canada – on both the new and used sides of the marketplace. As some of the bestselling vehicles amongst us Canucks, there’s a solid chance that if you’re looking for a new-to-your ride, it’s going to be a crossover SUV.
Below, we’ll highlight five of the most popular crossovers on the used market based on sales volumes, and a few key checks you should make on each one before buying used.
It’s all because we care about you, and want to help you wind up with a first-class copy of the second-hand crossover of your choice. The crossover models listed below represent units that are one complete generation old – and for information on other used crossover models, or other generations of the crossover models listed here, visit our massive archive of used vehicle reviews.
Note that you should use our tips below in conjunction with a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) at the appropriate dealer or service centre of your choice, for maximum peace of mind.
2007 to 2011 Honda CR-V
Why You Want One
Honda’s reputation for safety, strong residual values, fuel efficiency and overall reliability adds appeal to the CR-V as a used crossover buy, and the model has had a strong showing as a top-selling, Canadian-built favourite for years. Ride and handling balance are highly rated, and many owners rave about a more spacious than expected interior, plenty of storage and flexibility, and good fuel efficiency. Numerous trim grades, as well as front- or all-wheel-drive models, are available. Power output was rated between 166 and 180 hp, depending on the year. The CR-V is a sensible and well-rounded choice in a used crossover with many strengths and few weaknesses.
Have the used CR-V checked by a technician for proper brake system health, as numerous owners have reported premature wear of brake system components. Reports of oil consumption are not uncommon either – and though this didn’t affect most owners, the problem is well documented. Shoppers should check the oil level and condition, before purchase, of any model they’re considering, and continue to monitor it religiously afterwards. Buying a used CR-V with full service records, indicating that it’s had quality oil changes performed regularly is ideal for long-term peace of mind. Only fill the CR-V’s engine with the type and viscosity of oil recommended in its owner’s manual.
Finally, note that a light, metallic rattle coming from beneath the vehicle is often caused by a rusty or loose catalytic converter heat shield, which isn’t any cause for alarm, and that a “whining” noise experienced during low-speed steering may be evidence of a worn-out or leaky power steering pump.
2006 to 2011 Toyota RAV4
Why You Want One
Another Canadian-built bestseller, the Toyota RAV4 helped initiate the crossover marketplace back in the nineties, and has remained a popular staple on the scene ever since. The last complete generation of Toyota’s bread-and-butter crossover spanned model years 2006 to 2011, where it offered up a potent V6 engine option, strong safety ratings, and a sizeable cabin. Look for locking AWD, available heated leather, premium audio, and plenty more. Front- or all-wheel-drive (AWD) units could be specified, too, and, like the CR-V, the Toyota RAV4 enjoys some of the highest resale values and ownership satisfaction ratings in the business. A facelift revised looks and feature content offerings from 2010 and on. Go with a used V6-powered RAV4 Sport, and you’ll experience a sporty sense of victory over the elements.
Start on board, confirming that the windows, motorized power seat adjusters, locks, the sunroof, and climate control system all work as expected. Note that soggy carpeting at the outer, front corners of the front footwells could be caused by a leaky sunroof drain tube.
Check for a fairly common problem with the 2006 and 2007 RAV4’s steering system, caused by a bad steering shaft. If this issue is present, you’ll hear a clunking or knocking sound when turning the wheel sharply left and right, at lower speeds. If you detect this issue, call it into pricing negotiations, and arrange to have a dealer technician address it as soon as possible.
Having the rear suspension and tires inspected for signs of bad alignment is also advised, as is a check for excessive rust on the rear suspension, which could cause issues. Finally, note that earlier copies of a RAV4 with the V6 engine may suffer from leaky external oil lines, which could, in somewhat rare cases, burst and spray oil throughout the engine compartment. A technician can check for this issue quickly, and replace the oil lines with revised components if required.
2008 to 2012 Ford Escape
Why You Want One
Escape appealed with selection, styling, and plenty of capability. Ground clearance and distinctive looks helped set this one apart, as did exclusive features like Ford Sync. Higher-grade models got a CD-changer audio system, heated leather, a sunroof, premium stereo provisions, and more. Both four-cylinder and V6 power were available, and Escape’s blocky body helped contribute to decent outward visibility and on-board space. Escape was one of the only crossover models in this generation available as a hybrid, but we’ll focus on the far more popular mainstream models for this story. Owners commonly praise Escape’s sporty but comfortable ride, and a commanding driving position.
Hard shifts, surging, or slippage during gear changes could be indications of potentially serious transmission trouble, and are more likely on 2009 and newer models which ran a new six-speed automatic. A dull vibration, felt through the Escape’s floor and body, may also indicate transmission trouble. If you note any issues like these, be sure to have a technician assess the vehicle’s transmission before agreeing to purchase. In some cases, a reprogramming of the transmission’s computer controller system fixes the problem. Finding a used Escape from this generation with service records proving that all transmission fluid changes are up to date is ideal for maximum confidence, too. The owner’s community reports a sharp decrease in transmission-related issues from 2011 and on.
The used Escape should also be checked for fluid leaks from axle seals, and the transmission cooler and associated plumbing. On models with the automatic four-wheel-drive system, the transfer case and rear differential should be checked for leaks, too.
Note that rough idling, stalling or lumpy low-rpm power delivery could be caused by a bad throttle body or sensor, and warrants a full diagnostic scan by a technician before your purchase. Note that sometimes, issues like this cause a check engine light to illuminate, and that sometimes, they don’t.
2007 to 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe
Why You Want One
Santa Fe shoppers from this generation identified strong value, good feature-content bang-for-the-buck, and overall affordability as key factors in their purchase. In this era, Santa Fe offered up available seven-passenger seating, available AWD, and four- or six-cylinder power. Automatic climate control, heated leather, a sunroof, and even an electric windshield de-icer were all on offer. In total, this generation of Santa Fe offered up four engines, with the more powerful and efficient units available in 2010 and newer models. Engine performance from most power plants, as well as interior design and styling, are highly rated within the owner’s community. A healthy used Santa Fe from this generation will turn in strong overall value.
Start by scrutinizing the condition of the used Santa Fe’s paint and body, being on the lookout for excessive rust, peeling or fading. Some owners have reported less-than-stellar durability from the Santa Fe’s finish, though this is largely subject to maintenance and care habits, as well as locale.
Note that wetness in the carpeting front driver and passenger-side footwells, or evidence of mold or mildew, may be evidence of an improperly installed windshield, which allows a water leak into the cabin, which should be addressed.
Be sure to zone in on the shift quality of the automatic gearbox, especially on newer units, noting that hard shifting, clumsiness or hesitation may be the result of a faulty computer control system, or a bad solenoid inside of the gearbox.
Finally, keep your eye on the vehicle’s fuel gauge, as many owners have reported issues. If the gauge seems stuck, or fails to read properly, possibly accompanied by a check engine light, the vehicle will need some attention from a technician. In many cases, owners have replaced sending unit(s) and seals. Corrosion, possibly compromising a grounding point in the fuel system’s electronics, may also be a culprit. Your local Hyundai dealer will likely be familiar with the issue and able to address it quickly – but be sure to call it into your pricing negotiations.
2008 to 2013 Nissan Rogue
Why You Want One
Rogue is Nissan’s popular crossover model, and one of the brand’s bestselling models in Canada. With above-average fun-to-drive factor, decent performance, and nicely balanced ride and handling, Rogue also boasted unique looks and plenty of on-board technology – including navigation, parking radar, Bluetooth, and a voice memo recorder. Plenty of at-hand storage and flexibility helped round out the package. Rogue’s safety story was a strong one, adding further appeal to family-minded shoppers. Look for a 2.5L four-cylinder on all models and an available AWD system with locking function for low-traction conditions. If you’re after a top-line model, shop a Rogue SL. In a break from the norm in crossover owner reviews, most Rogue owners say that fuel economy is a major plus. A healthy used Rogue won’t disappoint the shopper after a crossover that’s unique, confident, and sporty.
First and foremost, note that clicking, grinding, grumbling or popping sounds from the transmission, especially at lower speeds, are not normal – and have been reported by several owners ahead of transmission replacement. Though transmission failure in the Nissan Rogue isn’t common against the total number of units sold, be sure to have transmission fluid changes completed on time, at a Nissan dealer, using the proper fluid fill. For maximum peace of mind, be sure the former owner(s) all did the same.
If you can’t prove that transmission fluid changes are up to date, budget to have one performed. Also, note that in some cases, a reprogramming of the transmission’s computer system can fix unwanted issues, but shoppers are advised to have the vehicle checked by a Nissan technician if they note any concerns. By and large, if the Rogue you’re considering is up-to-date on transmission fluid changes, and if those fluid changes were carried out on time by a dealer, you’ve got little to worry about.
Other unwanted noises from beneath the Rogue could be caused by a loose exhaust hanger, or a worn-out engine or transmission mount, which should be easy to diagnose. Excessive noise also warrants a full suspension check.
Have the vehicle subjected to a diagnostic scan, too, to reveal potential issues – whether a check engine light is illuminated or not. A P0444 code revealed by the diagnostic scan may be evidence of a broken wire that feeds an emissions system solenoid, causing issues. This is a fairly simple issue to fix. Other checks should include the air-conditioner system, the suspension, and the CV joints.