Buying a used or nearly new car can be a good way to keep your motoring costs to a minimum. To help you pick the best second-hand bargain, we’ve come up with a list of the best used cars that are all less than two years old to suit a range of budgets and usages.
If you don’t see your favourite car here, read our top 10 lists of the best family cars and the best SUVs on sale for a selection of other models. And, if you’ve already picked the perfect car, click ‘login’ in the top-right-hand corner to sign up and browse our extensive selection of pre-reg, ex-demo, new, nearly new and used cars.
[2018 update: The sporty BMW 3 Series takes the top spot on our list, just ahead of the practical and futuristic-looking Toyota RAV4. If you’re looking for something a little smaller, check out the Ford Focus and Renault Clio in third and seventh places respectively, or for something more luxurious, take a look at the BMW X5 and Mercedes SLC in ninth and tenth.]
Here are the 10 best used cars available:
- BMW 3 Series
- Toyota RAV4
- Ford Focus
- Audi A6 Avant
- Honda CR-V
- Audi Q3
- Renault Clio
- Audi A1
- BMW X5
- Mercedes SLC
1. BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 Series is a sporty saloon car with a well-built interior and an intuitive infotainment system. You can get it with a range of engines, including a frugal three-cylinder hybrid and a variety of high-performance turbocharged petrol and diesels. It’s more fun to drive than most mid-size saloon cars, too – thanks to the precise steering, responsive engines and agile handling.
It’s not quite as spacious as some alternatives, and its sporty suspension means it’s not the most relaxing saloon to drive for long distances, but you can pick up a two-year-old 3 Series for as little as £12,000. That’s less than half the price of a brand-new model.
2. Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 is a spacious family SUV with eye-catching looks and a practical cabin. There’s enough space in all five seats for adults to get comfortable and there’s plenty of room in the boot for all their luggage, too. It’s reasonably comfortable on the move, and it comes with lots of safety kit as standard, including automatic emergency braking.
Unfortunately, you only get a small number of engines to choose from, and the optional automatic gearbox causes the 2.0-litre petrol engine (2.5-litres in hybrid models) to rev noisily when you accelerate hard. Still, pick a second-hand manual model that’s less than two years old and it could cost you from as little as £15,500.
3. Ford Focus
The Ford Focus is one of the most popular cars in the UK, and for good reason. It looks smart, is easy to drive and the back seats are roomy enough to carry three kids on the school run. The Ford’s more fun to drive than most small family cars too, and its efficient engines will help you keep running costs to a minimum.
Sadly, the fiddly touchscreen isn’t as easy to use as the infotainment systems you get in alternatives and the Focus’ boot is relatively small – even for a car of this size. Despite this, it still makes a great family runabout and a two year-old one could set you back from less than £9,000 on the second-hand market.
4. Audi A6 Avant
The Audi A6 Avant makes a great second-hand choice if you’re looking for something stylish, relaxing to drive and very spacious. The superbly well-built cabin is big enough to carry three adults side-by-side in the back and a boatload of luggage behind them in the boot. There’s a wide range of engines to choose from, too, including frugal four-cylinder petrols and silky smooth V6 diesels.
Sadly, the A6’s infotainment system feels quite dated compared with what you get in alternatives from BMW and it isn’t quite as comfortable over rough roads as the likes of a Mercedes E-Class Estate. Still, you could park a two year-old A6 Avant on your driveway for less than £17,000.
5. Honda CR-V
The Honda CR-V is a tall family car that combines SUV styling with MPV practicality. There’s enough room in all the Honda’s five seats for adults to get comfortable and its boot has no trouble swallowing a weekly shop or lugging old furniture to the tip. It’s a doddle to drive, too, and softens the blow of bumps and potholes better than many large family cars.
Unfortunately, the CR-V’s slightly rattly diesel engine doesn’t make it particularly relaxing to drive for long distances and its infotainment system is fairly frustrating to use at the best of times. If you can look past these flaws, however, it makes a hugely practical second-hand family car. You can get your hands on one that’s less than two years old from just £14,000.
6. Audi Q3
The Audi Q3 is a small SUV that makes a more stylish alternative to a conventional family hatchback. Its tall body certainly looks smart, and it means you get more headroom in the back seats than in the likes of the smaller A3. You get plenty of soft materials inside, which help make it feel posh, and the frugal diesel models help keep running costs down, too.
Other small SUVs are more fun to drive, however, and the Q3’s rather dated infotainment system can’t hold a candle to what you get in a BMW X1. Thankfully, it’s still relatively easy to use and comes with sat-nav as standard. Fancy parking a second-hand model on your driveway? You’ll have to set aside at least £17,000 for one that’s less than two years old.
7. Renault Clio
The Renault Clio is a small city car that comes with funky styling, a range of cheap-to-run engines and a relatively intuitive infotainment system. It’s more fun to drive than most small cars, too, and its light controls make it easy to manoeuvre through congested city streets or into tight parking spaces.
Other small family cars come with more spacious back seats and bigger boots, however, and the Clio’s cabin doesn’t exactly feel particularly upmarket. It still makes a great small runabout, though – especially when you consider you can pick up a two year-old second-hand model from less than £6,000.
8. Audi A1
The Audi A1 is an upmarket little car that’s more at home nipping between fashionable boutiques than fighting for parking spaces on the school run. It might be small, but it feels very well made and comes with an easy-to-use infotainment system and a range of frugal petrol engines that are ideal for pottering around town.
It isn’t quite as comfortable as some other small cars on rough roads, however, and adults will struggle to get comfortable in the back seats – even in the roomier five-door Sportback models. It’s a bit more expensive than alternatives, too, but you can still pick up a second-hand example that’s no more than a couple of years old for around £11,000.
9. BMW X5
The high-riding BMW X5 is a luxurious family SUV with a plush, practical interior and more than enough space for five adults to stretch out inside. You can even get it with seven seats if you regularly carry lots of passengers. The punchy petrol and diesel engines have no trouble pulling a fully laden X5 along comfortably at motorway speeds, either.
Even with just five seats in place, the X5 doesn’t have quite as big a boot as some other, more practical SUVs, and you’ll hear a little more wind and tyre noise at speed than in some alternatives, too. If you fancy getting hold of a second-hand X5, expect to hand over from around £35,000 for one that’s no more than two years old.
10. Mercedes SLC
If you’re looking for a posh convertible, the Mercedes SLC is well worth a look. It looks great, inside and out, and its smart cabin feels very well built. Having a folding metal roof (instead of a conventional fabric item) means it’s quieter and more relaxing to drive on the motorway than most convertibles and there’s a wide range of engines to choose from, including a frugal diesel and a high-performance turbocharged V6 petrol.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel as agile as the likes of a Porsche 718 Boxster – even in range-topping AMG 43 guise – and isn’t as much fun to drive as a result. The pretty compact boot means it isn’t particularly practical, but it’s no harder to live with than any small sports car. A two year-old second-hand model could set you back from just £23,000.
Save money on your next car
If you’ve decided which is the perfect used car for you, click ‘login’ in the top-right-hand corner to sign up and browse our extensive selection of pre-reg, ex-demo, new, nearly new and used cars. Still not sure what to buy? Read our list of the cheapest new cars currently on sale for a selection of alternatives.