10 American SUVs that will bankrupt you with maintenance and repairs

For the past two decades, one platform has dominated the automotive landscape; the SUV. From small kei cars to huge troop carriers, the SUV reigns supreme.

Things are changing however, more and more families are downsizing which means a small Japanese crossover has since become the default choice. Pickups have become exponentially more refined and offer more versatility, and of course for the more environmentally conscious, small electric vehicles have also become more affordable.

Ultimately, an SUV is a large vehicle and is expensive to run, especially as it ages and requires more maintenance. These American SUVs will likely cost more to keep on the road than a monthly payment on that new crossover.

Related: 2022 Ford Maverick Review: The Truck That Saves Us From The Boring Crossover

10/10 jeep grand cherokee

1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 5-Door SUV
Via: BringaTrailer

In the 90s, Jeep were making money on those Grand Cherokees. They looked good, offered plenty of features, and came with a pretty decent V8.

1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited SUV 2-Door in Black
Via: BringaTrailer

Unfortunately, they have proven to be unreliable. Same in the early 2000s, there were several recalls on those and the massive volume they sold ended up being a bit of a double-edged sword. Today they are well known for transmission failures, cooling issues and a propensity to roll over quite easily.

9/10 Hummer H2

via mecum.com

The 2000s were not a great decade for GM. Their build quality fell off a cliff and most of the vehicles that were developed during this era were under-engineered.


Costs were cut, mistakes were made. The Hummer H2 was a pretty big rolling mess of SUV, not only does it cost a fortune to run, it will crumble on you and sometimes catch fire too.

8/10 Jeep Wrangler

2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Off Road
Via: Stellantis

Although still relatively new, FCA, now Stellantishave had their fair share of issues with this particular small SUV.

via YouTube – Mike Butler

It’s one of those fan favorites that has a huge secondary market and fanbase, and therefore commands a premium on the used market. Unfortunately, its price isn’t exactly justifiable given that it has several wiring issues and is susceptible to the now infamous death wobble.

Related: Here’s Why The Jeep Wrangler’s Reliability Score Is So Low

7/10 Ford Explorer

through the car exchange

The first thing most people think of when the subject of the Explorer comes up is a certain tire fiasco that ended in a class action lawsuit.

consumer guide

It was the first generation. The second generation, if any, was actually a step backwards. It was still susceptible to tipping if you didn’t pay close attention to your tire pressure, and to make matters worse, it was even less reliable.

6/10 Lincoln Navigator


The Navigator hit the market with a bang in the ’90s with pent-up demand for another luxury SUV. Today, these once-featured SUVs are a maintenance nightmare.

via topspeed.com

Based on the Expedition, they got a host of upgrades, mostly electronic, some of them capable of starting fires. They also got air suspension, which as it ages deteriorates and turns into a high cost issue.

5/10 Jeep Cherokee XJ

Jeep Cherokee XJ looks desirable in red
By: Jeep

Just like the Grand Cherokee of the same era, those XJ jeeps were prone to transmission failures. They are commonplace in junkyards today, primarily because of this problem.

jeep cherokee xj in red hd wallpaper
By: Jeep

Although they are one of the most successful off-road vehicles with an incredibly enthusiastic following, they have only served to frustrate owners. By the way, getting one with a manual transmission pretty much solves everything.

4/10 Cadillac Escalade

2003 Cadillac Escalade
via City Cars Warehouse

Much like the aforementioned H2, climbing was developed at a time when all was not well with GM. Although it was supposed to be a luxury offering, it was more classy than luxurious.

by Flickr

When it comes to “bling,” nothing beats a Caddy, but the weather hasn’t been kind to the 22-inch chrome rims, and the oversized rims haven’t been kind to the suspension components of lower quality.

Related: 2022 Cadillac Escalade: Costs, Facts and Figures

3/10 Chevy Blazer

source: Chevy

One thing to note with the blazer is the fact that it competed with the worst generation of the Explorer and was still hammered into the sales charts.

source: Chevy

It’s also for good reason, as the build quality of these was awful, while the handling was vague and uninspiring. The V6 was reliable but underpowered, and therefore as thirsty as any V8.

2/10 Jeep Compass


The first year model and by extension the first generation of any vehicle will always be susceptible to problems, it is how manufacturers react to these problems that defines a model.

White 2008 Jeep Compass
via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, they started with a Dodge Caliber platform. It was their first mistake. Then they added weight and gave it a CVT transmission. To say the least, they’re no fun, and they won’t do anything a Jeep should do.

1/10 Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X Plaid Front
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You might think that buying an electric vehicle will save you a lot of money on maintenance and repairs, but unfortunately, as an automaker, Tesla still has a lot to learn.

Tesla Model X Blanket
You’re here

As a result, their build quality is dismal and things that shouldn’t break are breaking at an alarming rate, dragging their reliability rating down. Thanks to their weight, tire wear is excessive and be prepared for a shock when it’s time to replace that battery.

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