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The most popular used car reviews of 2021

More than a million readers per month look at our used reviews for guidance on their next purchase, but which is the most popular? We’re counting down our top 10.....


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by
Mark Pearson

Most popular used car reviews

2021 has been a challenging time for the new car market, with the latest figures from the SMMT suggesting that registrations will be down even on last year's inevitably disappointing figures. 

The current performance figures reflect the challenging supply constraints, with the industry battling against global semiconductor chip shortages and increasingly strong economic headwinds as inflation rises, taxes increase, and consumer confidence weakens.

The used car market has proved much more promising, however, with price rises for second-hand cars having risen by as much as 25% among the most popular models, with people switching from new to used cars to overcome long waiting lists. How much of an effect has that had on the types of reviews our readers have been looking at?

We've compiled a list of the most popular used reviews on What Car? for some guidance. Our list presents an interesting mix of traditional used best sellers, premium SUVs and even one or two examples of models that have long since disappeared from their respective manufacturers’ price lists.     

Below, you can find out which have been the most popular used reviews on What Car? this year – and remember to check out the used pages to see all our new and updated used reviews

10

Nissan Qashqai

The Nissan Qashqai was a trendsetter when it arrived and this first-generation version continues to be a very popular choice. It's spacious, comfortable and practical. One mark against it is that some of its rivals are better to drive. The other problem is its poor reliability, according to the latest What Car? Reliability survey

Pros

  • Economical diesel engines
  • Raised driving position
  • Comfortable ride with the right wheels
  • Reliable
  • Good selection available on the used market

Cons

  • Not that spacious in the rear
  • Potential diesel particulate filter issues issues
  • More stylish alloy wheels detract from comfort
9

Ford Kuga

This generation of Kuga is a good-looking and surprisingly competent car. Where it really scores is in its ride and handling, both of which are accomplished to the level where it feels more like a hatchback than an SUV of old, with good body control and agility and neat absorption of bigger bumps and road irregularities.

Pros

  • Agile for an SUV
  • Diesels are economical
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Cheap-feeling interior
  • Rivals are more spacious
  • Shortage of standard safety tech
8

Volvo V40

Think of the Volvo V40 as the stylish, sophisticated Swedish alternative to the Ford Focus because, essentially, that's what it is underneath. The good news is that this makes the V40 a nice car to drive, but it has a far smarter-looking interior that disguises its Ford roots almost entirely. Find one with City Safe and you'll get all sorts of additional safety tech.

Pros

  • Smart, high-quality interior
  • Lots of equipment
  • Great safety standards

Cons

  • Fiddly infotainment
  • Notchy gearshift
  • Too much road noise
7

Jaguar XF

The XF is handsome, exciting to drive and, as a used buy, decent value too. Luxury cars like this have to be smooth and relaxing to drive and, on this count, the XF certainly scores well. And the good news is this comfort doesn’t come at the expense of handling. For such a large car, the way the XF can move through corners is little short of astonishing. 

Pros

  • Fabulous handling
  • Well equipped
  • Smooth ride

Cons

  • High running costs
  • Sluggish infotainment
  • Flimsy switchgear
6

Audi A3

Our former Used Car of the Year-winning Audi A3 is a terrific car. It was replaced last year with a new model, so pricing for these will have taken a small hit. And when you consider that the latest car doesn't have an interior as plush as this and most of the engines are carried over, saving money on a nearly new example might be quite a smart move. No wonder the review is so popular. The infotainment is a little compact, but that's a small price to pay. 

Pros

  • Strong engines
  • Beautifully finished interior
  • Great to drive

Cons

  • Not as spacious as the VW Golf in the back
  • Firm low-speed ride
  • Lower trims sparsely equipped
5

Volkswagen Polo

The Volkswagen Polo costs more to buy than many of its rivals, even in this generation, but you do feel like you're getting much more and that's why it's still immensely popular it seems. It's comfortable, has a supple ride and a nicely finished interior that mimics the larger contemporary Golf. The small, turbocharged petrol engines are the best picks as they tend to be smoother and quieter than the diesels.

Pros

  • Classy image
  • Comfortable ride
  • Economical engines

Cons

  • Comparatively expensive
  • Not as fun to drive as rivals
  • Underpowered entry-level engine
4

Nissan Juke

One of the very first small SUVs, the first-generation Nissan Juke remains high up on our list of used reviews. When it was launched in 2010, it in effect created the segment for small SUVs, in much the same way the Nissan Qashqai did for family SUVs. Its unconventional styling and raised driving position won it many admirers, while its keen pricing and competitive finance deals won it many sales.

Pros

  • Funky styling
  • Easy to drive
  • Decently equipped

Cons

  • Not very roomy
  • CVT gearbox unreliable
  • Thirsty petrol engines
3

BMW 3 Series

The Nissan Qashqai topped the list in 2019 and this car, the previous-generation BMW 3 Series, did last year in 2020. Stick with a post-facelift version from 2015 onwards for the revised 320d diesel engine to avoid costly timing chain issues, and you won't go far wrong. As with the 1 Series, which is just above it here, look for a car with the Professional Media pack for an upgraded infotainment system.

Pros

  • Great to drive
  • Classy interior
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Hard ride on M Sport suspension
  • Offset pedals in manual version
  • 2015 onwards have an improved diesel engine
2

BMW 1 Series

Ignoring the huge engines in the M135i and M140i models, the regular second-generation 1 Series is a highly sensible and affordable to run family hatch. Interior accommodation and boot space have never been its forte, but it's still decent enough for most needs. It's rear-wheel drive, too, so plenty of fun to drive. Look out for examples with a Professional Media pack for an upgraded infotainment and sat-nav system. 

Pros

  • Strong performance
  • Economy in diesel versions
  • Class-leading infotainment system

Cons

  • Rear room a little tight
  • Not as well equipped as some
  • Relatively high prices
1

Range Rover Evoque

This year's most popular car, according to the traffic to our used reviews, is actually one of the least reliable family SUVs according to our latest What Car? Reliability survey. However, it seems readers can't get enough of the Range Rover Evoque. To be fair, it looks great, you get a lot of standard equipment and the interior is pretty plush for what is supposed to be the 'baby' Range Rover, so it's understandable why it's so in demand. Just make sure you take out an extended warranty if you plan on buying one.

Pros

  • Stylish inside and out
  • Slow depreciation
  • Good off-road

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Choppy town ride
  • Question mark over reliability