Best cars to buy used

Hunting for a used car and want to make sure you choose wisely? Here are 10 of the best used cars from small hatchbacks to seven-seaters

James Wilson
Aug 7, 2019

If you're in the market for a used car, putting together a decent shortlist can seem a little daunting, with so many makes and models to choose from. Meanwhile, shopping for a new car - on paper at least - can appear as simple as picking your favourite one from a brochure. If you narrow down what you want, however, going used lets you take your pick from thousands of cars that are already in stock and ready to be delivered - without a lengthy wait for your new car to be built - and all for a far lower cost than going new.

With a virtually unlimited choice of make, model, specification and colour, plus age and mileage, there's sure to be a used car to suit your needs and budget. So let us take the strain out of choosing a used car with our roundup fo the best cars to buy used in the UK - desirable models that are available for affordable prices with strong reputations, up-to-date in-car tech and engaging drives, that give 90% of the new car experience for potentially just 50% of the cost.

From the best used small cars to the best second-hand car for manufacturer service and warranty – all is covered below.

What should I look for in a used car?

First and foremost, you need to be clear on what you are going to use the car for and find a car that suits that role. Take the best used family cars as an example; they aren’t always the most glamorous of chariots, but they are built to withstand years of abuse at the hands of small and large children - offering plenty of space and comfort. So cars with interiors that have materials that are resistant to wear and tear, and comfy seats that hide the dirt well will probably be at the top of the list.

When hunting for a good second-hand car, it's important to make sure you are buying a well looked after vehicle. Just because a car has a good reputation for reliability doesn’t mean the owner can skip a service or two and expect the vehicle to function fine. All cars on BuyaCar go through rigorous checks before arriving at your door, so if you want to leave behind the hassle and stress normally associated with buying a used car, the BuyaCar team is here to help.

 

Best cars to buy used

1. Ford Fiesta

Best used small car

Latest Ford Fiesta Deals from £4,900
Monthly finance from £95

The Ford Fiesta is the jack of all trades. If you were to line up every single car on sale in the UK and find the one that offers the best combination of practicality, affordability, reliability, economy, driving pleasure and everything else that a typical driver considers when buying a car, then the Fiesta would come out on top. Don’t just take our word for it, the Fiesta has been the best-selling car in the UK for many years.

The latest generation Fiesta was launched back in 2017, so the oldest models are around two years old now, meaning that thanks to depreciation there are some very good deals to be had. Entry-level Style models are best avoided as they're overly basic, while Zetec and ST-Line models represent sweet spots in the range. That said, if you can find high-specification Titanium X and Vignale models for a good price, these are well worth a look, too.

Ford Fiesta buyer's guide

2. Peugeot 5008

Best used large family car

Latest Peugeot 5008 deals from £7,832
Monthly finance from £141

Peugeot had become dangerously good at producing incredibly dreary cars until it launched its latest crop of SUVs. Leading the pack are the 5008 and closely related, albeit smaller, 3008. Out of the two, only the former is available as a seven-seater, which could come in handy no matter what size your immediate family currently is, as the interior is hugely practical - whether you need to transport people or large loads.

The interesting styling and distinctive interior help ensure the 5008 knocks some of its more mundane competition out of the park. A word of caution though, Peugeot’s cabin setup - where you look at the dials over the tiny steering wheel - isn’t to everyone’s taste, so it's worth making it sure it works for you before you buy.

When looking at a potential purchase, the 5008 is available as a petrol or diesel with either a manual or automatic gearbox, so you should be able to find a model to suit your driving preference.

Peugeot 5008 buyer's guide

3. Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

Best used family car

Latest Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport deals from £11,290
Monthly finance from £166

UK drivers may be getting more adventurous in their choice of car manufacturer - partly thanks to a wave of increasingly striking SUVs - but Vauxhall still has a reputation for producing boring cars. Sure, Vauxhall has made some truly bland cars in the past, but the Insignia Grand Sport is not one of them - especially in its sharply styled current incarnation.

For a family looking for a used car, the Insignia Grand Sport is almost perfect. It is cheap to run, very spacious, good value and dare we say it for a family car, good to drive. Many of these reasons make it a fantastic used purchase for a company car driver looking to purchase their own car, too.

The range of models on offer can be a little confusing as Vauxhall is known for creating separate trim levels for business buyers and private buyers. Either way, Design Nav and SRi Nav models are some of the best, with GSi variants bringing a touch of sportiness to the party.

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport buyer's guide

4. Volvo S90

Best used luxury car

Latest Volvo S90 deals from £16,990
Monthly finance from £227

Volvo has been hitting hole in one after hole in one recently with its cars, which are becoming ever more stylish, desirable and well-built. This is all backed up with traditional Volvo safety, making Volvos hot property. A problem with hot property though is it tends to be expensive. However, used and nearly new Volvo S90s are currently available with absolutely massive savings. We are talking barely 50% of the price new for some models after just a year.

While the biggest savings appear to be on D4 diesels (the entry-level diesel unit) these still come with substantial levels of standard kit – so simply opt for R-Design models if you want sporty looks as well. One drawback though, for some at least, is that all S90s come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox with no manual option.

Volvo S90 buyer's guide

5. Toyota Prius

Best used car for reliability

Latest Toyota Prius deals from £16,500
Monthly finance from £240

The Toyota Prius is the original hybrid, or at least the original hybrid people bought in decent numbers. Its combination of great fuel economy, roomy cabin and planet-saving credentials have ensured that sales continue to be strong.

Despite the high-tech petrol-electric hybrid kit under the skin, the Prius is immensely reliable. Proving this, the current generation Toyota Prius topped the 2019 Auto Express Driver Power survey, showing just how satisfying it is to live with.

Add to this the fact the Prius is as refined as ever, comes with more bells and whistles than you probably need and offers economy close to that of popular diesel hatchbacks and you can see why the Prius is one of the best used cars on the market. If you are trying to narrow down which trim level to go for, Active models are a great option for blending a reasonable level of standard kit with strong value.

Toyota Prius buyer's guide

6. Kia Sportage

Best used car for servicing and warranty

Latest Kia Sportage deals from £8,695
Monthly finance from £121

Kia leads the industry when it comes to warranty and servicing - offering up to seven years' cover for both. Kia’s warranty (which is standard across the range) protects you from the vast majority of potential defects for seven years or 100,000 miles, although this is shorter for certain bits of kit such as the 12-volt battery. This means that opting for a four-year old Kia should be just as stress-free as buying a brand new car from one of the countless manufacturers that only offer a three-year warranty.

The servicing plans, meanwhile, come in a range of guises. Depending on the age of your car (service plans cannot be taken out once your vehicle is over five years old) you can get anywhere from two years' worth of services to seven years' worth of services bundled together for a set price.

Those wondering if the above is to merely hide the fact the Sportage is a terrible car need not worry, as it's a desirable, comfortable, well equipped and good value family SUV. The latest generation model also finished 13th in the Auto Express Driver Power survey of best cars to own, so it should be just as trouble-free to live with as that seven-year warranty suggests.

Part of this can be put down to the Sportage’s great media system and impressive levels of equipment for the money, plus the fact it is available as a petrol or diesel, with a manual or automatic gearbox in two- or four-wheel drive variants.

Kia Sportage buyer's guide

7. Porsche Cayman

Best used sports car

Latest Porsche Cayman deals from £33,500
Monthly finance from £457

What is the biggest problem with a new Porsche Cayman? Yes, it is too expensive to buy new. On the used market, however, the situation is much improved, even if it is still at the pricier end of this list. What makes it affordable is the fact those strong residual values reduce your monthly payments if you opt for PCP finance.

The latest generation launched towards the end of 2016, so if you are happy with a car pushing on for three years old you could grab a bargain. At launch, there was controversy when Porsche revealed the Cayman would - for the first time - be powered by a four-cylinder engine, rather than the smooth, dramatic-sounding six-cylinder engine it previously had, but for many, this won’t matter one bit.

When looking at available models, entry-level Caymans are arguably the pick of the bunch, but those after a more sporty look and feel should venture towards GTS or hardcore GT4 variants.

8. Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer

Best used seven-seater

Latest Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer deals from £8,495
Monthly finance from £136

Even though the motoring world appears to be going SUV crazy, a good old-fashioned people carrier is still the best way to get a lot of people and their belongings from A to B - all for an affordable cost. Best of the bunch is the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer - previously known as the Grand C4 Picasso.

Part of the reason the Grand C4 SpaceTourer is so good, is its range of abilities. It is versatile, comes with an impressive range of petrol and diesel engines and of course, has enough seats for seven.

Nearly new models can save you many thousands of pounds - even one-year old models can be bought for barely half of their original price - and for this age of car there should be barely any evidence that you didn't drive the car out of the showroom yourself. When it comes to trim levels, Flair is one of the best to go for, striking a good balance between equipment and price.

Whether or not you opt for a diesel will very much depend on how many miles a year you will be doing and where you will be doing the bulk of your driving. Choose diesel if you do lots of longer trips and motorway journeys, go for petrol if you cover fewer miles or mainly spend time in and around town.

Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer buyer's guide

9. Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet 

Best used convertible

Latest Mercedes C-Class Convertible deals from £22,450
Monthly finance from £329

The Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet is quite simply excellent. Aside from the bonkers AMG performance versions, the soft top Mercedes C-Class is comfortable to drive, well made and easy on the eyes.

What this adds up to is a car you wouldn’t expect to be available for great prices on the used car market, but luckily for you, that isn’t the case. Mercedes facelifted the C-Class in 2018 helping push prices down on the used market for pre-facelift versions. Likewise, there is a decent number of nearly new models with only a couple of thousand miles on the clock but huge savings on the new price, which represent great value, too.

Moving away from price, the C-Class has a lot to offer motorists, provided you can cope with just four seats. There is a good selection of petrol and diesel engines plus manual and automatic gearboxes to match. The tech on offer includes the likes of heated seats, heated neck vents (to keep your head warm when driving with the roof down) and LED headlights.

10. Lexus IS

Best used car for depreciation

Latest Lexus IS deals from £15,000
Monthly finance from £220

Lists of the least depreciating cars are often skewed by high-end low-volume performance vehicles. If you filter out all such unobtainable motors one of the best everyday cars for holding on to its value is the Lexus IS.

For those that are unfamiliar with the IS, it is a similar car to the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, albeit wrapped up in Lexus’s very different approach to the small saloon market. As an example of how it stands out, all IS models (aside from the performance versions) come with a hybrid petrol-electric format - Lexus pulled the plug on diesel well ahead of the curve.

The current IS has been on sale since 2013, with a round of updates in 2016. This means, depending on how old a car you are prepared to buy, prices can dip below the £12,000 mark. Inside there is a delectable array of high-quality materials and large helpings of kit – there has to be really, as Lexus pitches itself as a luxury brand. When it comes to the best model to buy in the range, opt for 300h F Sport models and you should be in good stead.

Lexus IS buyer's guide

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