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Top 10 used family cars for less than £10,000 (and the one to avoid)

Have you got £10,000 to spend on a used family car? You might be surprised to find out what you can afford...


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by
Mark Pearson

Looking for a family car? Got £10,000 to spend? You’re in luck – that budget is still enough to buy yourself a decent used example, with all the mod cons you’ve always wanted.

What’s more, most modern family cars have plenty going for them: impressive safety, lots of technology and a choice of efficient and punchy petrol and diesel engines. So whether you want a family hatchback that’s smart and sophisticated, practical and functional, or simply great value for money, there’s something here for you.

But which one do we rate as the best you can buy for this budget? Read on for the answer...

10

Honda Civic

Used Honda Civic Hatchback 12-17

The ninth-generation Honda Civic is a solid used car choice that's also rather reliable, and extremely practical. This is due in no small part to the big boot, and the versatility of the 'magic' seats that can be made to fold up like cinema chairs to allow you to transport a bike across the back of the car. It may not be the best to drive on this list, but it is safe and has plenty of grip, plus post-2014 cars got automatic emergency braking technology as standard.

We found: 2017 Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC S Nav, 27,541 miles, £9980

Read used car review

Pros

  • Very reliable
  • 1.6 diesel is free to tax
  • Big boot

Cons

  • Limited rear headroom
  • Fussy dashboard
  • Expensive to buy
9

Vauxhall Astra

Used Vauxhall Astra 2015 - present

The latest Vauxhall Astra's best facet as a used buy is its value; that you can buy such a new Astra for this sort of money makes it hard to resist. The Astra isn't just cheap, though; it's a great car, with neat handling, a comfortable ride and some great engines in the range. True, it doesn't quite have the high-quality feel of some of its best rivals, but it still feels more solid than most - and when you consider how cheap it is, its minor flaws are very forgivable. 

We found: 2019 Vauxhall Astra 1.0 Turbo ecoTEC Design, 19,000 miles, £9999

Read used car review

Pros

  • Good to drive
  • Relatively cheap to buy
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Vague steering
  • Diesels can be noisy
  • Low-speed ride can be fidgety
8

Kia Cee’d

Used Kia Cee’d 12-present

The Kia Cee’d's trump card is its enormous warranty – you get seven years’ worth, although it’s limited to 100,000 miles in the last four of those. Granted, it's blighted by a range of slightly underwhelming engines and it's not that much fun to drive. But if you're not that fussed about those flaws, the Cee’d is a comfortable, spacious and well-built family car that offers you plenty of peace of mind.

We found: 2018 Kia Cee'd 1.6 CRDi 1, 37,000 miles, £9999

Read used car review

Pros

  • Spacious
  • Some newer models could have up to seven years of warranty cover
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Rivals are better to drive
  • Lifeless steering
  • Others are more economical
7

Hyundai i30

Used Hyundai i30 Hatchback (17-present)

The Hyundai i30's five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty isn't quite as long as the one from Kia, but it's slightly cheaper to buy, making it terrific value. With an example this new, you’ll still have the majority of that left, giving you peace of mind for longer than you’ll find with most rivals. The i30’s a good family car, too, with a spacious, robustly built interior, a comfortable ride and plenty of standard equipment. 

We found: 2018 Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi SE Nav, 19,000 miles, £9950

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Pros

  • Long warranty
  • Low prices
  • Useful boot

Cons

  • Sluggish performance
  • Bland to drive
  • Tight rear seat space
6

BMW 1 Series

Used BMW 1 Series 2011 - present

Low, sleek, and blessed with an upmarket interior, the BMW 1 Series has been the hatchback of choice for aspiring family buyers for years now. They don’t mind the fact that it isn’t quite as spacious as its more functional rivals; instead, they appreciate the car's entertaining handling, punchy engines and fantastic infotainment system. And despite its sporty looks, the 1 Series is actually surprisingly comfortable – as long as you avoid models in the stiffly sprung M Sport specification. Our money buys an older 2016 car, which is why you don't see the 1 Series finishing higher up this chart.

We found: 2016 BMW 1 Series 116d Sport, 40,000 miles, £9995

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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
5

Ford Focus

Ford Focus Hatchback 11 - present

The Ford Focus is the most popular family car in the UK, and with good reason. It’s scintillating to drive, decent value to buy and cheap to maintain and repair when things go wrong. What’s more, with so many around, you’ll have your pick of engines and specifications when the time comes to buy. Downsides? Well, its interior design is a bit fussy and features some cheap plastics, and the boot’s on the small side. But if you can live with those flaws, you’ll have one of the most entertaining family hatchbacks going.

We found: 2018 Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost 125 Zetec Edition, 26,667 miles, £9998

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Pros

  • Class-leading handling
  • Lots to choose from
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Small boot
  • Automatic gearbox reliability
  • Button-heavy interior
4

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf

We’re huge fans of the Golf, but it is expensive, and as a result, for this price, you’ll probably have to put up with a slightly older car than some of its best rivals here. Nevertheless, if you can live with that age, you do get some great benefits: a classy interior, a comfortable ride, involving handling, a spacious interior and impressive safety standards. It's a great car.

We found: 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 5dr Match, 35,820 miles, £9895

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Pros

  • Smooth ride
  • Enjoyable to drive
  • Upmarket interior

Cons

  • Not as cheap as some rivals
  • Could be more spacious
  • Question marks over reliability
3

Seat Leon

Used Seat Leon 13 - present

The Leon is a little way off the Golf in terms of the quality of its interior, but that still puts it ahead of most other rivals on this list. You still get the same great choice of engines as the Golf and even the more premium Audi A3, too. Plus, the Leon is great fun to drive, all of which makes it look like a better value alternative to the Golf – not to mention, one wearing an arguably slightly sharper suit. 

We found: 2017 Seat Leon 1.2 TSI SE Dynamic Technology, 18,661 miles, £9965

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Pros

  • Good to drive
  • Well equipped
  • Cheap to buy and run

Cons

  • Firm ride
  • Not as refined as some rivals
  • Bland interior
2

Audi A3

Used Audi A3 Hatchback 2013-present

The Audi A3 is one of the finest family cars around. For starters, it's the classiest car in the class (even more so than a similarly aged Mercedes A-Class), with a beautifully designed and built interior, decent amounts of equipment and smart styling. But it's also comfortable, practical, great to drive, and every engine in the range is impressively efficient. It compares well for interior room with immediate rivals, even though it may not be quite as spacious inside as a Skoda Octavia, but then few others are. 

We found: 2016 1.6 TDI SE Technik, 55,012 miles, £9450

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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
1

Skoda Octavia

Used Skoda Octavia Hatchback 13-present

Better value than the Golf, and more spacious than the Leon, the Skoda Octavia is the most practical car here. Its interior isn’t as classy as the Volkswagen’s, and its a car a little less involving to drive than the Seat, but you’ll soon forget about those downsides when you realise how much more space you’ve got to play with. Also helping make the Octavia’s case is the fact that it gets plenty of standard equipment, and that it’s delightfully smooth at high speeds, making it a splendid long-distance cruiser. It's one of our favourite family cars.

We found: 2017 Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI SE, 20,974 miles, £9998

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Pros

  • Smart, spacious and practical interior
  • Cheap to buy and run
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Not as comfortable as a Golf
  • Pricier models best avoided
  • Entry-level S trim is a bit basic

Lexus CT
Used Lexus CT 11-present

The CT's hybrid drivetrain makes it cheap to run, but it’s very expensive to buy used, and has terrible ride quality and loads of engine noise. You can get a decent example for £10k, but we wouldn't bother with it.  Read our review

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