Best used cars under £20,000: Top 10 picks from Carplus

Roman Danaev

Best cars01 February 2023

Brand-new cars depreciate significantly once their wheels roll out of the dealership. Because of it, nearly new or used cars are offered at appealing prices while maintaining all of their perks.

Some of you may still be wondering how much you should spend on your car. Well, let’s settle on 20k for now. 20k for a used car will probably get you a higher-quality car than you’d get on the new market.

If you’re not sure where to find the best cars, check out Carplus. We’ll help you find great deals from reliable UK dealerships and get approved for car finance. Get your quote and become the owner!

Find car finance deals with the best rates!

Get a quote

1. Kia Sportage

Market price on a used car starts from£6,000
Body typeSUV
Gearbox typeManual, automatic
Door5
Seats5
FuelPetrol, diesel, hybrid, electric

The Kia Sportage is one of the best cars in terms of safety, practicality, and level of interior equipment. It's a solid used buy, top-rated among family car buyers.

The model comes in a variety of engines to suit different driving styles. If you're looking for a practical SUV, 113-hp and 134-hp engines will do the job perfectly. The 226-hp Sportage will be the quickest in the line if you're looking for a punchy drive.

Inside, the car is spacious in all directions, offering leg, head, and elbow room for the driver and passengers (front and back). The boot space is small but can hold luggage for the entire family.

One of the most exciting tech features is drive assist technology - collision avoidance, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane assist, driver attention, warning, and rear occupant alert.

2. Ford Puma

Market price on a used car starts from£16,000
Body typeSUV
Gearbox typeManual, automatic
Door5
Seats5
FuelPetrol, diesel, hybrid

The Puma was once a small coupe, which is now converted into a small SUV. Although marketed as a family car, it features sporty looks and impressive performance. But what's particularly important for this article is that a used Puma is just as good as a brand-new car.

The engine responds in the blink of an eye and drives quicker than most competitors of the same class. Bear in mind that the car doesn't offer the highest ride comfort because of the stiffer suspension.

As a supermini-sized SUV, the model could be more generous in space. But if you compare it to other body styles, the passenger space is more decent.

The standard operating and infotainment systems are modern-looking and well-equipped. If you want tech with a full five-star rating, an upgrade further will provide that.

3. Ford Focus

Market price on a used car starts from£4,300
Body typeHatchback
Gearbox typeManual, automatic
Door4, 5
Seats5
FuelPetrol, diesel, hybrid, electric

The Ford Focus has been a force to reckon with in the British car market, not to mention the used car market. It offers a composed and comfortable ride on city roads and well-kept country roads.

The range of motors covers everything from a small, more efficient 123-hp version to the full-on performance version - the 153-hp 1.0 Ecoboost hybrid.

While the Focus can't surpass SUVs in terms of size and room, it can do so with fuel economy. The cheap running costs and an attractive price for a used model make for a great combination. Besides, the interior space is decent for a hatchback.

Older models will have a modest set of features. But as you go higher in the spec category, you'll enjoy broader functionality, including advanced speech recognition, connected navigation, and Ford Secure subscriptions.

4. Ford Fiesta ST

Market price on a used car starts from£7,500
Body typeHatchback
Gearbox typeManual, automatic
Door3, 5
Seats5
FuelPetrol, diesel

The Fiesta ST is a small, reasonably economical hatch. The price for a new model has risen considerably, so the value could be better. That is why it's becoming more popular on the used market.

Performance-wise, the Fiesta ST offers decent flexibility in everyday driving. Both petrol engines and diesel models pack 150-197 hp and come in Normal, Sport, and Track modes. The suspension setup makes drivers feel connected with the road and ensures a comfortable journey, especially around town.

As you go inside, you'll feel no difference between the Fiesta and other cars in the class. Most of the space is given to the driver, and the passenger space in the back is a lot snugger. The boot has a good size, which puts it above many older hatchbacks.

Fiesta's tech features are lavish, especially in the comfort and convenience sector.

You may also want to read - Hatchback vs Saloon

5. BMW 5 Series

Market price on a used car starts from£5,900
Body typeSaloon
Gearbox typeManual, automatic
Door4
Seats5
FuelPetrol, diesel, hybrid

The BMW 5 Series are beautifully built premium estate cars. These cars look incredible and have consistently been some of the most complete and accomplished vehicles in their price range. When shopping for used cars, the 5 Series becomes even more enticing.

The engine line-up features are built for the motorway. As for real-world driveability, the 5 Series is decent, but outright acceleration makes it less flexible than competitors. The ride is smooth, there's little noise in the cabin, and the steering is nicely weighted and accurate.

The car has an advantage over immediate rivals in terms of cabin and boot space. But you wouldn't expect anything less roomy and comfortable from an executive saloon anyway.

Some of the standout tech features are gesture control, remote parking, and intuitive iDrive.

6. Audi S3

Market price on a used car starts from£13,600
Body typeHatchback
Gearbox typeManual, automatic
Door3, 5
Seats5
FuelPetrol, diesel, hybrid

Unlike most traditional hatchbacks, the Audi S3 is not about cheap thrills. The price tag unsurprisingly went higher thanks to a mightier engine and sharper handling. Going used makes the car friendlier to the budget.

The 306-hp engine brings in a lot of power, ensuring the car picks up speed quickly. If you're a fan of revving the engine, you'll enjoy the augmented sounds of the engine in the stereo speakers. The soft and supple ride on city roads is another plus.

Moving on to storage, the Audi S3 is slightly limited. There is a good amount of space in the front, but the rear seats feel more crowded. The boot can swallow a few suitcases but nothing too bulky.

The infotainment and connectivity category packs top-of-the-line tech for a seamless experience.

7. Jeep Grand Cherokee

Market price on a used car starts from£11,000
Body typeSUV
Gearbox typeAutomatic
Door5
Seats5
FuelPetrol, diesel, hybrid

If you're looking for used cars with off-road excellence, consider the Jeep Grand Cherokee. With a good value on the showroom floor, the car becomes even more cost-efficient as a second-hand buy.

Big SUVs like the Cherokee are built for harsh terrains. Potential buyers planning to drive the car around town should know that the light power steering helps in manoeuvring. But even with a tight turning circle, a big car around a small town can be a hassle.

A chunky styling on the exterior makes the car wider than many rivals. You might be slightly disappointed if you were expecting loads of space. Don't get us wrong - a car this size can't be cramped. The front and rear seat passengers can stretch out comfortably, but the headroom could be way higher.

You may also want to read - Crossover vs SUV

8. Mitsubishi L200

Market price on a used car starts from£8,000
Body typePick-up
Gearbox typeManual, automatic
Door4
Seats5
FuelDiesel

The Mitsubishi L200 is another unusual feature on our list. These versatile pick-up trucks are not the best family cars. At least, it's not for any family - in the UK, such trucks are mostly sold to adventurous off-road families. For what it offers - heavy-duty, tow-almost-anything, go-anywhere ability - the L200 is competitively priced as a new car and even more so as a used car.

The L200 has one engine in the product line - a 2.3-litre diesel unit producing 148 hp. However, you might come across the older limited edition Challenger with a 2.4-litre diesel engine generating 178 hp. And as you can guess, the car's reliability in difficult driving conditions is practically unmatched.

The fuel economy for such a massive car is not spectacular. The weight-saving design features are helpful, but the advantages of the car lie elsewhere.

9. Toyota Auris

Market price on a used car starts from£5,800
Body typeHatchback
Gearbox typeManual, automatic
Door3, 5
Seats5
FuelPetrol, diesel, hybrid

The Toyota Auris appeals to the most rational buyers. This family hatchback offers anonymity, and a solid build, has low running costs, and packs some heat under the bonnet. If headroom is not your biggest priority, the Auris is fantastic for day-to-day ownership.

The engine options will not make you feel limited. Even though the range was stripped back in recent years, you'll find anything you need in used examples. You can also choose from different trims with varying equipment levels - Active, Icon, Business Edition, Design, and Excel models.

You won't see anything outstanding in the cabin interior and boot size. Also, adults will have to squeeze in the back of the three-door version. But the amount of space available is good enough for the class.

The Auris received a mid-life facelift in 2015, which you can go after - improved ride comfort, better materials, and, most importantly, a turbocharged engine.

10. Mazda 3

Market price on a used car starts from£5,000
Body typeSaloon, hatchback
Gearbox typeManual, automatic
Door3-5
Seats5
FuelPetrol, diesel, hybrid, electric

Mazda delivers desirable, full-package cars that hold up well as used cars. This particular model is easy to recommend because it is a frugal car with eye-catching looks and a substantial amount of standard equipment. The fact the Mazda 3 is a joy to drive also helps.

The newer version is the most ambitious vehicle of the automaker (e-Skyactiv X), but you don't have to go for higher specs to reap the benefits. The older engines can keep up with traffic and are very flexible in the mid-speed range.

The passenger and boot space handles people and luggage with ease. Because the seats are placed reasonably low, there is a good amount of headroom - to supplement the fantastic amount of leg and shoulder room.

There are intelligent brake sup­port, hill launch ass­ist, and e-call with GPS to give you a few examples of impressive tech.

You may also want to read - Saloon vs Coupe

Conclusion

As you've just seen, a budget of 20K is enough to put you behind the wheel of some genuinely desirable cars. Used cars from the best automakers are just as great as the new ones!

Honourable mentions that didn't make it to the top 12 best used cars under £20,000:

  • Volkswagen Golf GTI
  • Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport
  • TVR Cerbera
  • Mercedes-Benz CLS
  • Land Rover Range Rover Sport
  • BMW X5
  • Bentley Arnage

Finally, we recommend the car finance calculator by Carplus. You'll get instant finance quotes with no damage to your credit score. Also, let us know if you need help or advice!

Your monthly payment
£327.74
Total charge of credit£3,731.35
Total amount payable£15,731.35
Apply now for your personalised, no-obligation quote