Best used cars: our 2022 Best Used Car Award winners
These are the winners of Carbuyer Best Used Car Awards 2022
The winners of the Carbuyer Best Used Car Awards have been announced. Our expanded awards now feature a total of 16 used car categories, covering everything from regular family hatchbacks to sports cars, including electric and hybrid models. As part of the Carbuyer Best Car Awards 2022, all the contenders for our Best Used Car awards were evaluated on their performance in key areas by our team of experts, with all of the winners representing the very best used cars on the market today.
When looking for your next car, it can be difficult to decide between buying new or used. While buying a brand new car is tempting, there are some great savings to be had on used cars simply because they’re not fresh out of the showroom. Another good reason to buy used is depreciation, with used cars having already incurred a hit in value on their original list price.
Depreciation - the rate at which a used car loses its value – can vary enormously between models and it's not always easy to predict. While that’s bad news for the people who bought those cars brand new, it can work out well for subsequent owners who can make big savings.
It means that buying used can be a very cost-effective method of car ownership and you don’t necessarily need to make any sacrifices in terms of age or mileage. Cars tend to be upgraded midway through their lifecycle, meaning it shouldn’t prove too difficult to find a low-mileage car with some of the latest technology fitted for a very reasonable price .
As with new cars, there are plenty of affordable finance options available on used cars. These include Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) and Hire Purchase (HP), meaning there’s a huge amount of choice for almost any budget. Read our guide to the best way to finance a used car and questions to ask when buying a used car to give you an edge during negotiation.
Used-car buyers have never had more choice, thanks to a huge variety of hybrid and electric cars now popping up on the used car market, and there’s now a vast range of places where you can buy a used car with confidence. Check out online sellers such as our sister site BuyaCar.co.uk for some great deals and more used car reviews.
Read on for the full reveal of all the category winners.
Best Used Car of the Year 2022 and Best Used Small Car: Ford Fiesta
The brilliant Ford Fiesta has taken both Best Used Car and the Best Used Small Car titles for 2022. When the Fiesta was launched, its talents earned it our Car of the Year Award in both 2018 and 2019 - the only car to have taken the award for two consecutive years. In 2020, we named the Fiesta as our Carbuyer Car of the Decade.
With plenty of second-hand models available, the Fiesta’s award-winning qualities shine through. We like the comfortable and smartly designed interior that contains plenty of ‘big car’ features, and the excellent range of punchy engines and well-specced trim levels to pick from, including the fun to drive ST Line, rugged Active model, plush Titanium and the sporty ST hot hatchback.
Carbuyer editor Richard Ingram said: “The Ford Fiesta won our overall new Car of the Year title in both 2018 and 2019 – the only car to have taken top honours two years in a row. The blend of comfort, refinement, practicality and technology, as well as class-leading dynamics, make it impossible to beat. Sheer choice ensures the Ford Fiesta is a fantastic second-hand small car.”
Best Used Small Family Car: Kia Ceed
The Kia Ceed – a practical, well-equipped family car when new – comes into its own on the used market. Where rival models offer the potential for big bills, Kia customers can buy with confidence thanks to the brand’s industry-leading seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, finding comfort in the knowledge they’re covered for three, four, five years or more, depending on the exact age of the car.
The best news? Kia’s comprehensive warranty is fully transferable on the used market, so you can buy the later cars with long-term peace of mind. Look out for cars in the ‘3’ trim level, which get touchscreen sat nav, dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels and climate control. The turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel engines are worth tracking down, depending on whether you’ll use the car around town or for higher-mileage driving.
Best Used Family Car: Vauxhall Insignia
Cars like the Vauxhall Insignia may have fallen slightly out of favour in recent years, with buyers opting for SUV models instead. Despite this fall in popularity, the Insignia remains a hugely talented car. As a used buy, it’s certainly competitively priced, and is available with an excellent range of petrol and diesel engines, with all being affordable to run while offering decent performance.
It’s very practical, being similar in size to the BMW 5 Series; a car that sits in the class above. This means there’s room inside for a family of five and you get a vast boot. The Insignia’s standard equipment list is also very generous across the trim levels, with every model getting air-conditioning, cruise control, DAB radio and Bluetooth phone connection. There’s also a wide range of trim levels to choose from, ranging from the basic SE spec, the sporty SRi model and the luxury focused Ultimate trim.
Best Used Large Family Car: Skoda Kodiaq
If you want a car to swallow an entire family and everything that goes with it, the Skoda Kodiaq is a brilliant all-rounder. With loads of space, simple-to-use tech and a decent driving experience, a car that represents cracking value new is an absolute steal second-hand.
The Kodiaq is powered by a selection of the VW Group's tried-and-tested engines, including a 1.5-litre petrol, a more potent 2.0-litre petrol and the 2.0-litre diesel, with the latter being our pick thanks to its decent blend of performance and affordable running costs. Four-wheel drive is standard on all but the base model and every version is well appointed, with a touchscreen infotainment system, LED running lights, rear parking sensors and cruise control all coming as standard.
Best Used Estate Car: Skoda Octavia Estate (2012-2020)
It says a lot that the Skoda Octavia Estate is one of our top picks whether you're buying the latest model or the outgoing one. The previous-generation car was at the top of its game right up to the point it was replaced, making it impossible to argue with as a sound second-hand buy.
The Octavia Estate offers loads of headroom and legroom with a vast 610-litre boot; a figure that eclipses nearly all of its closest rivals. The petrol and diesel engines are economical, and the modern interior is comfortable and well laid out. All trims are well equipped too, with standard equipment including an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, DAB radio, air conditioning and alloy wheels.
Best Used Sports Car: Mazda MX-5
For years our favourite new sports car, the current Mazda MX-5 makes even more sense as a used buy. Few cars are as fun as this, with agile, precise handling for budget-friendly wind-in-the-hair thrills.
As well as driver engagement, the MX-5 is also usable thanks to a forgiving ride quality and hugging sports seats. It won’t cost the earth to run either, with both the 1.5 and 2.0-litre petrol engines capable of returning around 40mpg. While the 130-litre boot may limit its appeal, it does come with plenty of standard kit including cruise control, heated seats, climate control, sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Best Used Convertible: MINI Convertible
Our favourite convertible year after year, the MINI is both frugal and fun. The MINI Convertible is as good to drive as its fixed-roof sibling, and comes in a variety of trim levels and specifications ranging from the entry-level Classic to the performance-focused John Cooper Works model; meaning there’s a version to suit most budgets.
Higher spec models come with all the equipment you’d expect for a small premium convertible, with climate control, leather seats, sat nav and a premium stereo system. The MINI Convertible also has a bigger boot than you might expect, with 215 litres on offer, and all of the petrol engines can officially return 40mpg or more.
Best Used Hot Hatchback: Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013-2020)
A sound purchase new, the Mk7.5 Volkswagen Golf GTI blows its rivals out of the water when buying one second-hand. Everything we loved about the hot hatchback at launch still rings true today; strong performance, excellent everyday usability and a high-quality interior - all for a fraction of the price.
Power comes from a 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 227bhp in early cars, increasing to 242bhp in models equipped with the optional Performance Pack. A limited-run TCR version boosted power further still to 286bhp. The sprint from 0-62mph in the Performance Pack car takes only 6.4 seconds, while the TCR manages it in 5.6 seconds. Practicality is good, with seating for five and a 380-litre boot. It also gets iconic GTI interior touches like tartan seat trim and a golf-ball gear shifter.
Best Used Hot SUV: Porsche Macan
Even after all this time, the Porsche Macan sets the benchmark all other fast SUVs must meet. It redefined what we thought was possible from a high-riding family car, spawning a whole new segment that now sees challengers from all areas of the market. As a used buy, the Macan is better value than ever.
Despite its sporting origins, the Macan is very practical, with a 488-litre boot and a towing capacity of up to 2,000kg. The engine range caters for most budgets, with the early diesel cars being the cheapest to run. The GTS version is the sporty pick of the range with handling that’s a close match for some sports cars.
Best Used Pickup: Toyota Hilux
The Toyota Hilux has a well-deserved reputation as a virtually unbreakable workhorse, which makes it an extremely attractive pickup truck on the used market and our winner of the Best Used Pickup award for 2022. If it does ever happen to go wrong, it’s very likely buyers will have a good chunk of the impressive 10-year manufacturer warranty to rely on too.
Trim levels are Active, Icon and Invincible X and we’d recommend the Icon as the model to pick. It gets a long long list of standard equipment including cruise control and a reversing camera. Both of the diesel engine options offer strong pulling power, with the manual equipped models capable of around 35mpg.
Best Used Small Electric Car: BMW i3
The innovative BMW i3 turned the world of electric cars on its head when it launched and still feels cutting-edge now. Incremental improvements have seen boosts to range and in-cabin technology but even early examples feel fresh and fun to drive.
Part of the appeal of the i3 is its futuristic design, which includes ‘suicide’ rear-hinged doors, and a spacious enviromentally friendly interior. Regular models boast a range figure of up to 190 miles, and there’s even a sporty i3s, which gets more power and a variety of upgraded parts.
Best Used Family Electric Car: Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf is the car that kickstarted the electric revolution. And yet it’s the advanced second-generation model that takes our Best Used Family Electric Car title for 2022. With a spacious cabin and a usable range, the Leaf has the ability to dramatically reduce your running costs without the high purchase prices often associated with new electric vehicles.
It’s a clever EV with an impressive range of between 174 miles and 239 miles, depending on specification. It won’t take forever to charge either, with a rapid top up to 80% taking around 40 minutes.
Best Used Large Family Electric Car: Tesla Model S
In the near-decade since it was launched, the Tesla Model S has become the benchmark for the large fully electric saloon car. All versions offer an impressive battery range, a spacious interior and top notch technology with over-the-air-updates.
Through the various iterations, the Model S has boasted a wide variety of models including several long range versions capable of over 400 miles between charges, and models with ‘Ludicrous Mode’ can sprint from 0-60mph in only 2.3 seconds - a time that beats most supercars.
Best Used Hybrid Car: Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius is yet another case study in the solid build quality and enduring reliability of Toyota’s cars. There’s plenty of choice on the used market, so buyers can easily get their hands on what is a very efficient hybrid car for a relatively small outlay.
The fact that the Prius is surprisingly practical, with wide opening back doors and a 457-litre boot, only adds to its appeal and helped it clinch victory in our Best Used Hybrid category for 2022.
Best Used Plug-in Hybrid Car: Kia Niro PHEV
The Kia Niro sets itself apart from its rivals thanks to a trio of electrified powertrains. But if you’re not ready to make the jump to fully electric, the plug-in hybrid version makes a lot of sense; it has the ability to complete short journeys on battery power for a range of up to 30 miles and has a petrol engine to fall back on for longer trips.
The potential for rock-bottom running costs is impossible to ignore, with an official fuel economy figure of over 200mpg making it an easy choice for family drivers or commuters. The 324-litre boot has a wide tailgate opening and the car is spacious inside, with enough room to comfortably sit four adults.
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