With the advances in automotive technology over the last 20 years or so, it’s never been easier to buy a used car that’s incredibly affordable yet also offers advanced safety features for the price tag.
You’re able to go back over a decade and find a car that was manufactured pre-2010 that’s still in great condition with plenty of mod cons despite having a higher mileage. Given the wealth of options on the used car market, many people are opting to buy secondhand rather than shell out for a new model or enter into a deal with a hefty finance fee.
With a simple vehicle check, you’re quickly and easily able to determine a vehicle’s health and history and pick yourself up a potential bargain both online and from dealerships. To help you get a head start, we’ve put together some of the best used cars to buy in 2020, with models spanning the hatchback, saloon and SUV categories.
Hatchbacks are among the most popular cars on the market today, offering adequate interior space, a fairly roomy boot and generally good handling – all within a relatively small package.
This makes hatchbacks the perfect option for city-dwelling families that need a car which can carry people as well as their shopping, all while being able to squeeze into those hard-to-find parking spots.
Here are our top picks:
It’s Britain’s best-selling car in 2019, and so it makes sense that there’ll be plenty of Fiestas in a prime condition available on the used car market.
The Fiesta is famously great to drive, with snappy handling and plenty of power for its size, making it great at zipping in and out of traffic and tight street corners as well as manoeuvring around those tricky, crowded parking spaces.
The Fiesta comes in a whole host of engine size options (we’re big fans of the sparky 1.0 litre EcoBoost) as well as sporty-looking ST models, so prices here will vary on which size you opt for.
The A3 is considered a more “up-market” offering than the Fiesta, and this family hatchback certainly ticks all of the boxes when it comes to practicality and comfort.
Audi has packed a lot into the A3, particularly the Sportback model which has won plenty of plaudits from experts and reviewers everywhere. You’ll get a roomy, stylish interior, a reliable, comfortable drive and it’s a pleasure to drive as well as being incredibly practical.
Again, there’s a wealth of engine options available with the A3; the 1.5 TFSI petrol engine is the one we’d recommend, with plenty of models out there on the market for a fraction of the original price tag.
Though many car owners will opt for larger companies such as Ford and Vauxhall, you arguably get a nicer looking car for much less of a price tag with the often-overlooked Spanish manufacturers, SEAT.
The Leon has been around for years now, since 1999 in fact, and it’s since been a mainstay in family hatchback cars that offer a lot for the money. With the SEAT Leon, you’ll enjoy more eye-catching stylings that the likes of a Focus or Astra, while there’s plenty of interior space to enjoy as well.
With plenty of sporty models out there at decent prices, you’re able to get your hands on a comfortable, roomy hatchback that also performs well on the road; we’d recommend keeping an eye out for the 1.4-litre EcoTSI for equal parts economy and power.
Saloons & executive cars
Though not as popular as they once were, saloon cars still command a decent portion of the market.
You’ll find that many ex-company cars make their way onto there, and so you’ll find plenty of deals to be had on reliable, comfortable cars that bridge the gap between work and family.
Here are three of our favourites:
Another category and another reliable Audi, the A4 proves to be excellent value for money when purchased secondhand. It stacks up well against pricier models from its German cousins, BMW and Mercedes, offering a luxuriously spacious interior and plenty of punchy engine choices too.
The A4 very recently underwent a facelift in 2019, which means that the price of older generations is only going to get cheaper – the perfect time to pick up an executive saloon at a bargain price tag.
Such is the way with many executive cars, there are plenty of trim choices and upgrades to sift through, so whittle down what options you want and what you can do without and find the perfect model for you.
If it’s space you’re after, then look no further than the super roomy Skoda Superb. Not many saloons even come close to the dimensions on offer in this budget-friendly exec motor, and there’s plenty of deals to be found on the used market too.
Even brand new, price tags of popular executive saloons such as the aforementioned Audis and BMWs dwarf the cost of a Skoda, with the Czech manufacturer quashing old reputations of dodgy build quality to cement a family of cars that are solid, reliable and comfortable.
Search the market and it won’t take you too long to find a Superb that’s in excellent condition and offers a lot of car for the money. There’s a variety of engine options available, while even entry models of the Superb come kitted out with air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio and a 6.5” touchscreen console.
That’s right, in the interest of being budget-friendly, we’re not featuring a single BMW or Mercedes in our executive saloon category… Why you may ask? Because the Lexus IS offers all of the bells and whistles and a fraction of the cost.
With a whole host of consumer awards and a deserved reputation for quality, Japanese manufacturers Lexus have become popular outsiders in the exec car market. With the IS, you’re treated to eye-catching styling that stands out from much of the European competition as well as incredibly low running costs, a comfortable ride and outstandingly silent engines, ideal for those many hours on the motorway.
Though the Lexus IS lacks a diesel option, there are plenty of petrol variations out there as well as an exceptionally good hybrid. Do your homework, and you could pick up a top-tier executive car for around half the price of one of the German equivalents.
We round off our list of top used cars with one of the most popular and adaptable options out there; the SUV. Short for ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’, this classification was originally aimed at active families who were searching for an adaptable car that combined elements of an off-roader with a safe, comfortable family vehicle.
As it turns out, the SUV is just a fantastic all-round family vehicle, offering loads of room for the kids and ample boot space for your weekly shop, so which make the list of our best used SUVs to buy?
Romanian manufacturers Dacia have built up a reputation for building extremely reliable cars that command a lowly price tag, and though that sometimes meant that creature comforts and styling were overlooked in the past, models such as the Dacia Duster prove that in the past is where this reputation belongs.
The Duster is quite simply a great car; it boasts a superb build quality, a functional, unfussy interior and a super comfortable ride that soaks up potholes during city driving just as well as it does bumpy country roads.
With a design that beats many of its European cousins for practicality and space as well as an incredibly slow depreciation, picking up a secondhand Dacia Duster is a smart decision that won’t break the bank.
Renault is the master of manipulating space, something that made models such as the Scenic so popular, and the same design ethos carries over into their new era of car design with the Captur.
The Renault Captur combines aesthetically pleasing styling with a versatile interior, and because it’s on the smaller side of the SUV market, you also get a very good driving experience to boot. Sliding seats mean that you can instantaneously switch between more legroom for those in the back or more generous boot space, while there’s also a long list of interior trims and engine sizes to pick from.
Decide exactly what you want out of your secondhand SUV and there’s most certainly a cost-effective Renault Captur out there for you.
Last but by no means least on our list comes the Sorento from Kia, the South Korean manufacturers who offer unparalleled quality and long warranties for their very low price tags.
The Sorento is Kia’s midsize SUV entry, putting up against big European market leaders such as the excellent Audi Q5, Volkswagen Tiguan and Volvo XC60. The difference? The Kia Sorento offers much of the same for much less.
For around half the price of its European competitors on the secondhand market, you get styling that’s easy on the eye, bags of interior space and a refined ride that’s incredibly easy to drive. What’s more, pick up a Sorento that’s two years old or younger and you’ll still get to enjoy Kia’s very generous seven-year warranty.
If you’re looking for a mid to large-sized SUV that gives you plenty of goodies, oodles of space as well as a great driving experience, the Sorento stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of value.
Remember, when purchasing any used car, always run a vehicle check before you sign on the dotted line to make sure that everything checks out. For more motoring advice and information on all things used cars, browse our blog page.