Best used automatic cars

Want to buy an automatic but don't have a lot of cash to spend? Worry not – there's a car out there for you, as our guide to the best used automatics for every budget will prove...

Best used automatic cars

Best used automatic cars

Plenty of buyers crave the ease of an automatic car – that's why they’re often in demand on the used market. The problem is that automatics are more mechanically complex than manuals, so they suffer from a reputation for poor reliability once they get beyond a certain age; and there are plenty of automatics out there that are simply unpleasant to use, even when they’re in top-notch condition.

So to help you to figure out which used automatic is the best buy for you, we’ve put together this guide to the best automatics for as little as £2000. Believe it or not, it’s possible to get a sensible, reliable automatic for as little as that – as this guide proves. Of course, if you’ve got more to spend, we’ve got you covered, too, with a selection of the best used automatic cars for every budget right up to £25,000.


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Best used automatics for £25,000

BMW M140i

3. BMW M140i

It's one of the most exciting hot hatches around, with rear-wheel drive, a terrific six-cylinder turbocharged engine and a lithe chassis that's beautifully balanced. What's more, the smooth-shifting automatic gearbox brings impressive efficiency, making the M140i a very usable car day to day, while also offering fast changes in manual mode when you want to press on a little.

We found 2017 M140i, 9000 miles, £24,151

Read the used BMW 1 Series review

Best used automatics for £25,000

BMW 1 Series interior

Inside, the M140i is smart and classy; more so than most other hot hatches, in fact. And while rear-seat space isn't quite as generous as in some rivals, it's more than adequate for most buyers. And, at this price, the M140i looks like impressive value, with year-old examples costing little more than a third of their original list price

Find a used BMW 1 Series in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

Best used automatics for £25,000

Skoda Kodiaq

2. Skoda Kodiaq

The Kodiaq is one of the best large SUVs out there and, as a used buy, it is starting to look very tempting. Automatic versions are relatively few and far between, but if you can find one you'll be in for a treat; most of them come in high-spec trims and there's a choice between the excellent 1.4-litre engine and our favourite 2.0-litre diesel.

We found 2018 2.0 TDI SE Technology 7-seat, 2900 miles, £24,995

Read the used Skoda Kodiaq review

Best used automatics for £25,000

Skoda Kodiaq interior

The Kodiaq gives you the option of either a five-seat format with an enormous boot or filling that boot with two extra seats to create a seven-seater. The latter is our favourite, simply because of the extra flexibility it offers, although the former is cheaper to buy. Either way, you get a smart, well-made interior with lots of clever touches.

Find a used Skoda Kodiaq in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

Best used automatics for £25,000

Mercedes-Benz CLS

1. Mercedes-Benz CLS

Mercedes is renowned for its strong, reliable automatic gearboxes – and, in the CLS, the smooth-shifting auto is matched to a stylish, luxurious four-door coupé. For this budget, you will get a good example of our favourite version, the CLS 350 Bluetec, which features a six-cylinder diesel engine that manages to be satisfyingly powerful and surprisingly efficient.

We found 2015 CLS 350 Bluetec, 26,000 miles, £24,340

Read the used Mercedes-Benz CLS review

Best used automatics for £25,000

Mercedes CLS interior

The big downside is that the CLS isn't the most spacious car around and it's strictly a four-seater. But if that's all you need, it's a fine way to travel, with swooping looks and a beautifully finished interior that makes the car feel far more valuable than it is.

Find a used Mercedes-Benz CLS in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

Best used automatics for £10,000

Mercedes E-Class

3. Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Even for £10,000, though, you can still get hold of a choice Mercedes automatic in the form of an E-Class – one of the most plutocratic luxury cars around. We like the smooth E350 CDI best, but any E-Class is a solid used buy and, with Mercedes’ dependable automatic gearboxes as standard, shouldn’t let you down.

We found 2009 E350 CDI, 39,000 miles, £9990

Read the used Mercedes-Benz E-Class review

Best used automatics for £10,000

Mercedes E-Class interior

The interior fittings aren't quite as solid as we’d like but, apart from that, the E-Class is a pleasing thing to drive and spend time in. It's spacious in both the front and rear, too, and has the added benefit of a capacious boot.

Find a used Mercedes-Benz E-Class in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

Best used automatics for £10,000

BMW 3 Series

2. BMW 3 Series

The 3 Series is popular for a reason; it’s great to drive, high-quality inside and spacious enough for all but the most luggage-intensive family-carrying duties. What’s more, automatic versions get a great six-speed torque converter gearbox that shifts smoothly and quickly and, with proper maintenance, has proven very reliable. And if you don’t fancy a diesel, there are some great petrol engines to choose from.

We found 2011 320i Exclusive, 34,000 miles, £9995

Read the used BMW 3 series review

Best used automatics for £10,000

BMW 3 Series interior

And while the 3 Series isn't quite as sturdy inside as its best rivals, it is very close and, for the most part, has smart materials and excellent build quality throughout. There's also a good amount of space in both the front and rear for everyone to travel in comfort.

Find a used BMW 3 Series in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

Best used automatics for £10,000

Ford Fiesta

1. Ford Fiesta

We think the Fiesta is one of the best used cars around (so much so that it won our 2018 Best Used Small Car award) and, for this money, you can get yourself into one of the excellent 1.0-litre turbo models equipped with Ford’s fast and dependable Powershift dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Many Fiesta automatics will have covered low mileages, too, and there are plenty around, so finding one shouldn’t be too much trouble.

We found 2015 1.0 Zetec, 13,000 miles, £9981

Read the used Ford Fiesta review

Best used automatics for £10,000

Ford Fiesta

While the Fiesta's interior is a little cheap and cheerful (and not the easiest to find your way around if you're not familiar with it), it is at least attractive to look at, plus there's enough room to fit most buyers' needs. The Fiesta is also terrific to drive, with sharp handling and a remarkably comfortable ride.

Find a used Ford Fiesta in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

Best used automatics for £5000

Kia Cee'd

3. Kia Cee’d

The first-generation Cee’d isn’t the kind of car you’re going to dream about at night but, for £5000, an automatic version delivers sensible, cost-effective family motoring, as well as a smooth ride and neat handling. And while the torque converter automatic gearbox in the Cee’d isn’t the fastest, it is at least smooth; what’s more, it’s available with a variety of models, both petrol and diesel, and has a good reputation for reliability. The Cee’d is great value, too, adding to its overall appeal.

We found 2010 1.6 CRDi 3, 68,000 miles, £5000

Read the used Kia Cee’d review

Best used automatics for £5000

Kia Cee'd interior

Inside, the Cee'd matches up to its exterior – unremarkable but inoffensive. What is impressive, though, is how much equipment you get for your money and the way the whole thing feels well screwed together. Kia also has an excellent reliability record, so even a Cee'd of this age should prove dependable.

Find a used Kia Cee’d in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

Best used automatics for £5000

Jaguar S-Type

2. Jaguar S-Type

Okay, so the S-Type isn't going to win any prizes for modernity in the looks department. But it is at least ageing gracefully, with familiarity having dulled the shock of its slightly beaky nose. And, under the skin, the later S-Types that this budget will afford you are genuinely great cars, with a choice of excellent petrol and diesel engines all attached to smooth, swift-changing automatic gearboxes.

We found 2007 2.7 D SE, 42,000 miles, £4995

Read the used Jaguar S-Type review

Best used automatics for £5000

Jaguar S-Type interior

What's more, few cars feel this opulent inside for the cash. The interior is dominated by slabs of real wood surrounded by great swathes of leather, while all S-Types of this era are laden with toys, making driving one a truly luxurious experience. Later S-Types are terrific to drive, too, with well-controlled handling and smooth suspension.

Find a used Jaguar S-Type in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

Best used automatics for £5000

BMW 5 Series

1. BMW 5 Series

The 5 Series has always been one of our favourite luxury cars. Not only does it deliver the involving handling for which BMWs have become well-known, but it also offers a classy interior and, in the right specification, a comfortable ride. Diesel engines are efficient, while petrol-powered alternatives are smooth, powerful and widely available.

We found 2006 525d SE, 73,000 miles, £4995

Read the used BMW 5 Series review

Best used automatics for £5000

BMW 5 Series interior

Moreover, the torque converter automatic gearbox in this generation of the 5 Series has held up well reliability-wise. While the rest of the car is expensive to fix if it does go wrong, a well-maintained example shouldn't do so.

Find a used BMW 5 Series in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

Best used automatics for £2000

Lexus IS200

3. Lexus IS 200

With the IS 200, Lexus wanted to take the fight to the BMW 3 Series. Sadly, the IS 200 wasn't quite as rounded a proposition, but these days it makes a great automatic used buy, thanks to a reputation for excellent reliability that's rather better than most. What's more, an automatic model is easy to find. And with a creamy six-cylinder powerplant and smooth automatic gearbox, it's a satisfying thing to drive, too.

We found 2003 SE, 67,000 miles, £1990

Read the used Lexus IS review

Best used automatics for £2000

Lexus IS200 interior

Inside, you'll find an interior that's a little dated but rather interesting, particularly the chronometer-inspired dials and two-tone steering wheel. What's more, as with any Lexus, it should still feel as tightly screwed together as the day it was made.

Find a used Lexus IS in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

Best used automatics for £2000

Toyota Yaris

2. Toyota Yaris

The first-generation Yaris was a huge hit for Toyota, blending cute styling with robust mechanicals to create a deeply appealing small car. The widely chosen torque converter automatic gearbox has proven reliable and is smoother than that in most small cars on the road. Beware, though; the 1.0-litre automatic introduced later in the Yaris’s life uses an automated manual gearbox that was far more jerky, so stick with the 1.3-litre option.

We found 2005 1.3 VVTi T-Spirit, 48,000 miles, £1800

Read the used Toyota Yaris review

Best used automatics for £2000

Toyota Yaris interior

Inside any Yaris, you'll find an interior that's rather more interesting than those in most small cars of its era, with a centrally mounted digital speedometer and tonnes of cubbyholes for odds and ends. The boot's a little on the small side, albeit perfectly usable, but you do get a good amount of room for passengers in the back seats.

Find a used Toyota Yaris in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

Best used automatics for £2000

Honda Accord

1. Honda Accord

The Accord is one of the few examples of used cars of which the torque-converter automatic form is more reliable than the manual version. So whether you go for a petrol or diesel example, you can rest in the knowledge that a well-maintained Accord should go on forever.

We found 2003 2.0 i-VTEC Executive, 97,000 miles, £1995

Read the used Honda Accord review

Best used automatics for £2000

Honda Accord interior

It’s robustly built inside, too, and most Accords came with lots of toys, especially in Executive form, meaning they look like great value for money now. And the Accord is also a pleasant thing to drive; while hardly the last word in handling, it's comfortable and responsive, and both petrol and diesel engines are efficient. All of which makes the Accord a terrific automatic used buy and one of our favourites.

Find a used Honda Accord in the What Car? Classifieds

Want to know more about different types of automatic gearbox? Click here for our guide

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