Automatic cars

As a way to make your driving experience less stressful, automatic cars are great. Without the need to work the clutch to change gear, your left foot can relax. This makes automatic cars ideal if a lot of your driving is done in stop-start traffic such as busy city centres or motorway jams – as the gearbox does all the hard work for you.

Modern automatic cars don’t sacrifice fuel efficiency for convenience, either – which was once the case. In fact, some automatic transmission options are actually more fuel-efficient than a conventional manual gearbox.

Below you’ll find lists of the best automatic cars available for sale on carwow. This covers everything from the best automatic small cars to large SUVs, so you’ll be able to find an automatic car to perfectly match your motoring needs.

You can delve into the FAQ section below to find out more about the different types of automatic gearboxes and how they work.

It used to be the case that an automatic car wasn't as fuel efficient as a manual one, but that's not true with the best modern automatic cars. These days an automatic car can be as efficient as an equivalent with a traditional manual gearbox - if not more so.

So if you're looking for the best automatic cars for sale our experts have pulled together the best covering a range of needs, so you can have a car that fits your life perfectly.

It used to be the case that an automatic car wasn't as fuel efficient as a manual one, but that's not true with the best modern automatic cars. These days an automatic car can be as efficient if not more so than an equivalent with a traditional manual gearbox.

So if you're looking for the best automatic cars for sale our experts have pulled together the best covering a range of needs, so you can have a car that fits your life perfectly.

If you’re looking for a list of the best automatic cars you can buy you’re spoiled for choice, as there are literally hundreds of options. Below are a selection of some of the very best, from family hatchbacks and city cars to big SUVs and premium saloons.

1
BMW

The new BMW 3 Series is a practical, well-built family car that’s great to drive and it’s fair to say that it is better in every way than the car it replaces.

2
Skoda

The Skoda Kodiaq is a spacious SUV with plenty of space for four people and a huge boot. You can even have it with seven seats. It’s an easy, comfortable car to drive and its optional seven-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly and is available with a choice of engines.

3
Mercedes

The Mercedes A-Class is one of the most upmarket, high-tech small cars on sale and all its engines are available with a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

4
Ford

The Ford Focus is superb to drive, is now filled with an impressive level of tech and safety kit and offers good space for families. You can spec an eight-speed automatic gearbox with a range of engines.

5
Hyundai
i10

The Hyundai i10 has just space for four people and a small amount of luggage. Choose the 1.2-litre engine and you can have an automatic gearbox that is smoother shifting than the gearboxes you’ll find in other small cars.

Small cars are perfect for the busy streets, narrow gaps and tight parking spaces of city driving. And they’re even better if you specify them with an automatic gearbox, as you’ll save yourself the constant hassle of changing gear when you hit that inevitable stop-start traffic jam. Below you’ll find a shortlist of the best small automatic cars you can currently buy.

1
Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Polo is a small car that feels like a big car. It’s easy to drive, comfortable and its excellent range of engines including a 95hp 1.0-litre petrol that can be paired with a smooth-shifting automatic gearbox. The Polo’s interior is well-built, roomy and also comfortable. For all these reasons the Polo was named Little Legend at carwow’s 2018 Car of the Year Awards.

2
Hyundai
i10

The Hyundai i10 has just enough space for four people and a small amount of luggage. Choose the 87hp 1.2-litre model and you can have an automatic that is smoother shifting than the gearboxes you’ll find in other small cars – taking the stress out of stop-start traffic.

3
Ford

The Ford Fiesta’s pin-sharp steering and darty nature make it fun to drive – fit it with Ford’s six-speed automatic gearbox and peppy 100hp petrol engine and it becomes something of a go-kart. The Fiesta feels modern inside and has space for four adults and a little luggage.

4
SEAT

The SEAT Ibiza is a comfortable small car with a spacious cabin and a big boot and can come with a slick DSG automatic gearbox as an option.

5

The Mini 3-door is a highly personalisable small car that’s very stylish, great to drive and available with a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic gearbox. Its interior is classy but has a tight back seat and a boot that won’t hold much more than a few bags of shopping.

SUVs tend to be big and comfy, which makes them a perfect match for an automatic gearbox that does all the hard work of changing gear for you. So whether you’re negotiating a supermarket car park, a motorway traffic jam or a rutted farm track, there will be an automatic SUV to suit. Read on for a list of the best automatic SUVs.

1
BMW
X5

The BMW X5 manages to do a rare thing for a large SUV: be both comfortable and fun to drive. It's lovely inside, it has one of the best infotainment systems in any car and the automatic gearbox is very good too.

2
Skoda

As a large, practical SUV, the Skoda Kodiaq impresses. It offers plenty of space inside - even for five adults and their luggage - and the option of seven seats, albeit with the third row only good for children. It also looks and feels well put together inside. Combine those qualities with a smooth and responsive seven-speed auto and the Kodiaq is a tempting proposition.

3
BMW
X1

The BMW X1 is a small SUV that offers an impressive amount of space - especially in the boot - a high-quality feel to the interior and plenty of high-tech equipment. It's great to drive, too, especially when fitted with the smooth and responsive eight-speed automatic gearbox.

4
Volkswagen

Space-efficient. That’s perhaps the best way to describe the VW T-Cross. It’s a small SUV on the outside, but it’s so well packaged that it doesn’t compromise on interior space. In automatic form, with its seven-speed DSG gearbox, it’s really easy and pleasant to drive, too. If its styling stood out from the crowd a bit more, it would be close to perfect.

5
Volvo

Comfortable, spacious and funky-looking, the Volvo XC40 offers a cool and interesting alternative to other premium small SUVs. The relaxed and responsive automatic gearbox suits the XC40’s chilled-out nature, too, especially if you go for one of the more powerful diesel options.

The most economical automatics are likely to be electric vehicles these days - especially when a full charge costs buttons compared with the cost of a tank of petrol or diesel. Here are some of the best.

1
Toyota

There are two hybrid cars in the Toyota Corolla range that come with an automatic CVT gearbox as standard. CVTs are a bit noisy when you accelerate hard but the pay off is low emissions and high fuel economy in a smart-looking car.

2
Kia

The all-electric Kia e-Niro offers an impressive 282 miles of battery-powered range on a single charge, combined with stylish SUV looks and a big boot. Kia’s impressive seven-year/100,000-mile range brings you mechanical peace of mind, too.

3
Toyota

The Toyota Prius comes with an automatic gearbox as standard and can return excellent fuel economy of 94.2mpg. It’s a relaxing car to drive with a quiet cabin and light controls. Its space-age looks hide a spacious interior that has room for four adults and a few suitcases.

4
Hyundai

Adding a bigger battery pack and the option to charge the car from the mains gives the Ioniq Plug-in the opportunity to travel up to 30 miles on battery power alone, making this compact family car impressively cheap to run. Particularly if you do a lot of city driving.

5
Nissan

The Nissan Leaf is an electric that costs buttons to run. It comes with an automatic gearbox and has Nissan’s E-Pedal, which means the car brakes itself when you stop accelerating. That scooped it our Innovation Award at the carwow Car of the Year Awards. It feels like a normal car in every other way though and is practical enough for a family.

Family cars are natural all-rounders, but fitting an automatic gearbox makes them even better in town and traffic. Keep reading for our list of the best automatic family cars.

1
Ford

The Ford Focus has a neat interior that’s crammed full of technology and spacious enough to handle everything that a family can throw at it – no surprises then that it won the Family Award at the 2018 carwow Car of the Year Awards. The Focus available with a good choice of petrol and diesel engines, most of which can be combined with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

2
Skoda

The Skoda Kodiaq is a big, very practical family SUV but despite its size, it isn't a difficult car to drive, thanks to the light steering, high-seating position and its DSG automatic gearbox.

3
Mercedes

The Mercedes A-Class is one of the most upmarket, high-tech small cars on sale. There’s nothing tricky about driving it and all its engines are available with a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

4
Skoda

The Skoda Superb is a comfortable and spacious long-distance family cruiser. Spec it with a DSG automatic gearbox and it's even more relaxing to drive.

5
Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf offers a solid interior, great space and an comfortable yet engaging drive. The automatic gearbox is one of the best in the business and barely affects fuel economy or emissions.

There’s plenty of choice out there if you want a medium-sized automatic car. From spacious hatchbacks to chunky SUVs and stylish sporty saloons, there’s sure to be something to suit you, whatever your budget and taste – here’s a guide to the best.

1
BMW

If you’re looking for a medium sized automatic car that you can enjoy owning – the BMW 3 Series saloon is the one to beat.

2
Skoda

The Skoda Karoq SUV is a great family SUV that’s available with a seven-speed automatic gearbox across the range. The Skoda’s dashboard is neatly designed and there’s plenty of space for four people and their luggage. It’s not the flashiest of cars, but if you’re after a no-frills family SUV with a very practical cabin and a range of sensible, economical engines there’s little out there that’s better.

3
BMW
X1

The BMW X1 is a practical car that can come with an excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox. This makes it comfortable to drive and comes with a useful 'creep' mode that helps make smooth low-speed manoeuvres.

4
Ford

There are few family hatchbacks that are as entertaining to drive as the Ford Focus. In fact, it’s even more fun than many supposedly more sporty cars. And for those looking for an automatic gearbox option, the eight-speed version in the focus is impressive. And the rotary selector you control it with is a novel touch.

5
Mercedes

The Mercedes A-Class is an upmarket small hatchback that’s brimming with innovative technology. And while some alternatives are better to drive, this is a slick and spacious car that suits its optional seven-speed DCT automatic gearbox to a tee.

FAQs

The basic definition of an automatic car is on whose gearbox changes gears without your input – unlike in a conventional manual car where you need to operate both the clutch and gear lever to change gears. This is useful in busy urban traffic as you don’t have to constantly deal with the clutch and gearstick. Out on the motorway, the fact that they often have more ratios and a long cruising gear can also make them more efficient on long-distance runs. They do tend to cost a little more than a manual car, so you might need to budget a little more if you’re after an auto model.
In many ways, automatic cars are simpler to drive than ones with manual transmissions. Generally, you’ll need to put the car’s gear lever into ‘P’ or ‘park’ mode and have your foot on the brake to start an automatic car. Next, while keeping your foot on the brake, you can move the gearstick to its ‘D’ or ‘Drive’ position. All you need to do then is to release the foot brake and depress the accelerator. Some automatics have a ‘creep’ function, which means the car will roll along the road at a low speed without you needing to push the accelerator pedal. Others, notably double-clutch gearboxes, do not have this function. Many automatic gearboxes also have a manual override function that allow you to change gears yourself should you wish (though you still won’t have to work the clutch!).
The DSG or Direct-Shift Gearbox was developed by Volkswagen to give you the best bits of a manual and an automatic gearbox – other manufacturers have since launched their own versions, though. DSG gearboxes have two clutches – so they can preselect the next gear (if you were in second it would preselect third) – which cuts shift times, making the car accelerate faster than one with a conventional manual or automatic gearbox. For example, a Volkswagen Golf R with a DSG gearbox accelerates from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds – two-tenths of a second quicker than a Golf R with a manual gearbox. Enthusiasts tend to prefer DSG gearboxes (over conventional autos) because their quick changes make them feel more responsive and rewarding to drive and because gears can usually be manually selected using Formula 1 style paddles behind the steering wheel. DSG gearbox do have some disadvantages, though. The biggest is that they cost more than a manual gearbox, but they also tend to be more complex and heavier. DSG gearboxes can also be a little jerky at low speeds – making parking tricky – and they don’t usually have the ‘crawl’ function you’ll get with a conventional automatic.
Most automatic cars come with an ‘S’ mode, which stands for ‘Sport’. Select Sport with the gear selector and the gearbox will hold onto gears for longer than usual – making the car feel quicker because it doesn’t need to change down a gear when you accelerate. The downside of using Sport mode is that you’ll burn more fuel.
The most common type of automatic gearbox uses what’s called a torque converter system. This is a fluid coupling that, basically, takes the power from the engine and transmits it to the car’s drive wheels by using hydraulic fluid that spins at high speed. This makes torque converter autos smooth, and also creates the ‘creep’ function – which is the way this type of automatic will gently roll forward whenever it is in ‘drive’ unless you keep your foot on the brake. It’s also why torque converter gearboxes tend to be less efficient than conventional manuals, as it’s always trying to move the car forward. Another popular type of automatic transmission is a dual-clutch or twin-clutch gearbox. These sorts of automatic gearbox, as the name suggests, use two clutches. This means they can pre-select the next gear for you, reducing the time it takes to change gears, and so improving both fuel efficiency and acceleration. Twin-clutch gearboxes can feel less smooth than torque converter autos, though, and they can be jerky at parking speeds, as you can’t balance the clutch as you might with a conventional manual. They can also be more complex, and therefore heavier, than conventional manual gearboxes. Another type of auto gearbox is the robotised manual. This is essentially a conventional manual gearbox with an automatically operated clutch. It’s not as smooth as most other forms of automatic and can take a little while to get used to. CVTs – or continuously variable transmissions – are a type of auto gearbox that don’t have traditional ‘ratios’. This means that the engine revs sit at a constant level and the gearbox itself adjusts. This can be a bit disconcerting initially but is theoretically fuel-efficient. Hybrid cars often use CVT transmissions.