The most comfortable cars for £25,000
Want a new car but don't know where to start? Just send us your criteria and we'll give our new and used car choices, and tell you how much we can save you.......
Dear What Car?,
We currently have a 2016 Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 diesel VTR automatic. We chose this over other MPVs primarily because of its overall package, in particular its boot space, fuel economy, decent automatic gearbox and interior space versus reasonably compact size on the road.
The reason we want to replace it is purely because of the poor ride it has, especially at low speeds over the country roads and main roads we drive on.
So, what we are looking for, in summary, is a smooth, forgiving ride, a boot that's as close to the Citroën’s as possible in size, reasonable fuel economy, a good automatic gearbox and a high driving position. We’re also considering four-wheel drive, because we live in a rural area.
We do about 8000 miles per year and would consider an appropriate MPV, SUV or estate car. Our budget is around £25,000.
Terry needs something that has a high-set driving position, is comfortable and cheap to run and has an automatic gearbox, plus four-wheel drive if possible.
Right, that's quite a list for £25,000, but we can definitely help.
Our recommended choice: Suzuki Vitara 1.4 Boosterjet SZ5 Allgrip auto
List price: £25,654
Target Price: £24,533
Four-wheel drive? Check. Automatic gearbox? Check. Peppy petrol engine? You bet. Here's the Suzuki Vitara: the perfect car for Terry to choose.
It gets him the raised driving position he's searching for, meaning excellent visibility, plus the added benefit of four-wheel drive if he decides to venture off-road. And there's a very reasonable boot for his luggage, too.
Suzuki Vitara 1.4 Boosterjet SZ5 Allgrip auto - interior
This SZ5 model is loaded down with extra goodies, too, including adaptive cruise control, 17in alloy wheels and all-round parking sensors. And on the safety front, there's automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and even blindspot monitoring.
The 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine adds an extra bit of oomph over the smaller 1.0-litre unit that's available, so you should have no trouble on longer trips.
The Vitara's ride is also comfortable, so no matter what condition your local roads are in, your drinks should remain stirred rather than shaken. Suzuki also ranked very well in our latest Reliability Survey, so you shouldn't experience any major issues.
Skoda Octavia Estate 1.5 TSI SE DSG
List price: £23,390
Target Price: £21,473
If space is Terry's top priority, the Skoda Octavia Estate should surely be on his shortlist, because it's one of the most spacious cars we've ever tested.
Skoda Octavia Estate 1.5 TSI SE DSG List price: - interior
This version gets him a smooth 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine, too, and a dual-clutch automatic gearbox. There's no four-wheel drive, but the Octavia Estate is surefooted enough to handle most situations.
Citroën Berlingo 1.5 BlueHDI 130 Feel M EAT8
List price: £22,700
Target Price: £20,201
Why move away from Citroën at all? The Berlingo is our reigning champion in the MPV market, because it's wonderfully practical and spacious inside, good to drive and excellent value for money.
Citroën Berlingo 1.5 BlueHDI 130 Feel M EAT8 - interior
This 1.5-litre diesel version might not seem an obvious choice, but it gets you an eight-speed automatic gearbox that's pretty smooth.
Our recommended choice: 2018 Peugeot 5008 1.6 BlueHDi Allure auto
Since Terry has expressed an interest in potentially going for an SUV instead of an MPV, he might want to try out the Peugeot 5008.
It has been an award-winning large SUV for a few years now at the What Car? Awards, and now that used examples are trickling onto dealer forecourts, you can find some tasty bargains.
We found a barely used 2018 example with less than 400 miles on it for £7000 less than its new list price.
2018 Peugeot 5008 1.6 BlueHDi Allure auto - interior
Just like Terry's current Citroën Grand C4 Picasso, the 5008 has seven seats and a high driving position. The door sills are nice and shallow, too, so access is just as good as it is in an MPV.
Unlike an MPV, however, you get a very stylish interior with the very latest in digital dashboard displays. The 5008's ride and handling are pretty decent, even at low speeds, making this a very agreeable family vehicle.
2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 auto
If Terry is prepared to go for something with a few more miles on it, he should consider the Volvo V90 Cross Country.
It drives in a very similar fashion to the normal V90 estate, but it has an extra few inches of ground clearance for tackling tricky farm tracks and some light off-roading, along with the benefit of four-wheel drive.
2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 auto - interior
Safety is a big plus point, especially if you can find one with the Intellisafe Pro pack, which adds blindspot monitoring, cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and rear collision warning.
Also, being a Volvo, the V90 Cross Country has some of the most comfortable seats available in any car.
2018 Volkswagen Touran 1.6 TDI SE Family auto
If the other two aren't quite to Terry's liking and he'd like to stick with a more traditional MPV, there's always the Volkswagen Touran. It won't set your pulse racing, but it was never intended to do so.
2018 Volkswagen Touran 1.6 TDI SE Family auto - interior
What it does do is provide comfortable motoring with excellent practicality and lots of equipment for not an awful lot of money.
In fact, the Touran is the least expensive used car choice here, with plenty of examples available for less than £22,000.
Our recommendation: buy used
Both our new and used car choices this week would suit Terry down to the ground. On the one hand, the Suzuki Vitara is a comfortable and sprightly small SUV that's well equipped and gets Terry the four-wheel drive security he was looking for, but on the other, there's no escaping the brilliance of the Peugeot 5008.
The big Peugeot is a truly terrific large SUV: it's spacious, with seating for seven people and a boot for all their luggage, it's comfortable for long-distance drives, it's well equipped in Allure form and it has an automatic gearbox.
All of these things and more help to make it our reigning champion in the large SUV market – and considering the strength of its competition, that's quite an achievement. The fact that you can pick one up with such low mileage yet a saving of £7000 over its new list price only sweetens the deal.
Our recommendation this time, then, is to buy used.