The best used cars to buy in 2021

23 Jul 2021 by Keith Adams

Best used cars (2021)

Looking for a used car? Demand for secondhand cars has never been stronger than it is now – with everything from sub-£1,000 runabouts to nearly-new luxury cars flying off the shelves as people clamour into cars and off public transport.

At Parkers, we have years of used car expertise, with unrivalled car valuation data since 1972, and a team that loves used cars, no matter what the budget is. Many drivers prefer to look for a used car, simply because they don't want to enter into a finance contract, and just want to 'own' the cars – others just love the flexibility and choice. 

Whatever your reason for choosing used rather than new, we have the best advice for you. First off, read on for our pick of the best used cars available now.

Read our guide to buying the best used cars at the bottom of the page
Buying a used car? - top tips from our 'man in the trade'

Scroll down to discover our pick of the best used cars in the UK - or click on your favourites below to jump down.

Best used cars 2021

1. Ford Fiesta
2. Skoda Yeti
3. Volkswagen Golf
4. Honda CR-V
5. BMW 1 Series
6. Range Rover Evoque
7. Vauxhall Insignia
8. BMW 3 Series
9. Kia Niro
10. Skoda Octavia Estate

1. Ford Fiesta (2008-2017)

Ford Fiesta

✅ Great to drive

Cheap to run

❌ Interior not the best quality

Early EcoBoost models can be troublesome

The Ford Fiesta has won the Parkers Best Used Car of The Year award for two years in a row. In previous-generation form, it is still one of the UK's most popular used cars, and with very good reason.

It's a great car to drive that's available in myriad versions, from the super-economical EcoBoost petrols and TDCi diesel-powered models to the fun-to-drive ST hot hatch. We love the fact that prices are competitive, servicing is cheap and as such, it's a reliable and safe car to invest your money in.

Used price: £1,035 - £11,100
Fuel economy: 35-60mpg
Road tax cost: £0 - £205
Insurance group: 3-31

Search Ford Fiesta cars for sale

2. Skoda Yeti

Skoda Yeti

✅ Chunky styling still looks modern

Two- and four-wheel drive options

❌ Finding a low-mileage one is getting more difficult

Petrol models are quite rare

The Skoda Yeti was the perfect family SUV long before they became as popular as they are today. It may have been off-sale now for some time now, but the continued popularity of these excellent ruggedised family cars proves that they were really on to something with this one.

Available from as little as £2,450, you can buy the Yeti in petrol or diesel form and with four-wheel drive, too. Based on simple Volkswagen technology, they're proving cheap and reliable to run and finding their way into lots of families – which is why we're big fans of Skoda's first SUV.

Used price: £2,450-£15,035
Fuel economy: 30-60mpg
Road tax cost: £30-£305
Insurance group: 9-24

Search Skoda Yeti cars for sale

3. Volkswagen Golf (2013-2020)

Volkswagen Golf

✅ Tough and rugged interior

Solid and timeless image

❌ More expensive than rivals

Not quite as reliable as you'd think

The Volkswagen Golf has evolved, great white shark-like into the most perfect small family car you can buy. It looks good, fits in anywhere and is available with just about any engine you care to think – right up to an all-electric e-Golf version. The new one isn't vastly different in terms of styling, either, so it still looks like a contemporary offering.

You can pick one up for just under £4,000 if you look hard enough, too. The diesels are the most numerous, and either the 1.6- or 2.0-litre TDI will serve you well if you're looking to lower your running costs, whereas our favourite GTI models will be great fun and re-sell well when the time comes to move it on.

Used price: £3,995-£30,950
Fuel economy: 32-141mpg
Road tax cost: £0-£265
Insurance group: 7-39

Search Volkswagen Golf cars for sale

4. Honda CR-V (2012-2018)

Honda CR-V

✅ Fabulous reliability and dealer network

Comfortable, easy to drive

❌ Not cheap to run as some

Relatively small numbers available

The Honda CR-V has been around since the mid-1990s, making it something of an SUV pioneer, which in its earliest days was very close in concept to the Land Rover Freelander. But it's the last-generation model that really saw it grow up into a fully-fledged large family car that can turn its hand to anything that's thrown at it.

It's roomy for passengers, has a huge boot, and is available with punchy reliable diesels or smooth, responsive petrol engines. Ride quality and refinement are brilliant, too. They're also packed with equipment, making the smooth, reliable CR-V an excellent used car buy right now.

Used price: £4,365-£19,565
Fuel economy: 28-48mpg
Road tax cost: £30-£265
Insurance group: 22-28

Search Honda CR-V cars for sale

5. BMW 1 Series (2011-2019)

BMW 1 Series

✅ Great handling and steering

Economical diesels

❌ Cramped in the rear

Hard ride in Sport models

The BMW 1 Series is now in its third generation, but that does not mean that the last one ceases to be a desirable car. In fact, to many enthusiasts, this 1 Series is the best of the breed, as it packs driver technology and safety kit, but retains the traditional rear-wheel drive layout that makes larger BMWs such a pleasure to drive.

It's well-made and reliable, and you're spoiled for choice with a range if super-economical diesels for those looking to keep the cost of driving down. It's a popular choice on Parkers and we can see why, having driven many examples over the years, and loved pretty much all of them.

Used price: £2,345-£25,680
Fuel economy: 32-53mpg
Road tax cost: £0-£475
Insurance group: 12-41

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6. Range Rover Evoque (2011-2019)

Range Rover Evoque

✅ Classy outside and in

Great to drive

❌ Later diesels are less reliable than early ones

Quite cramped in the rear

The Range Rover Evoque is proving to be one of the hottest used-car tickets in town right now, with the earliest models being snapped up as soon as they go on sale. That's because it has a rock-solid image, commands strong used prices, looks great and makes you feel good when driving it.

A l driving position, decent performance and modest running costs simply add to its appeal. Although the oldest examples are getting on a bit now, they still look fresh and interesting. Reliability isn't the best by any means (although earlier models seem the best), but buyers genuinely don't seem to mind as long as the dealers continue to look after them.

Used price: £8,885-£37,590
Fuel economy: 22-48mpg
Road tax cost: £30-£475
Insurance group: 28-43

Search Range Rover Evoque cars for sale

7. Vauxhall Insignia (2017-2021)

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

✅ Excellent ride and handling

Reliable and economical engines

❌ Boring-looking interior

Lack of badge kudos compared with rivals

We like the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport a lot. It might not be the most exciting large family car for your money, but no one can criticise it for its roominess and efficiency. It's also a brilliant car in which to cover long distances in with the least amount of fuss.

If you don't want diesel, the petrol models are rarer to find, but are still very economical, making them worth seeking out. As they're considerably cheaper to buy used than a comparable Volkswagen Passat, we think these are underrated bargains for those looking for a large family car and who don't mind not having a premium badge nailed to the bonnet.

Used price: £6,725-£25,590
Fuel economy: 30-61mpg
Road tax cost: £150-£475
Insurance group: 13-30

Search Vauxhall Insignia cars for sale

8. BMW 3 Series (2012-2019)

BMW 3 Series

✅ Great to drive, brilliant engines
✅ Petrol and diesel engines are all excellent

Rear seat space isn't the best
Servicing and maintenance are costly

For many, the BMW 3 Series is all the used car you'll ever need. There's enough room for most families but offers all the driving pleasure you'd expect from a BMW in a package that's right sized for most UK garages.

For those looking to eke out the most mpg, the 318d and 320d models deliver fantastic fuel consumption if not excitement. The most economical is the 187hp 320d, which averages 61.4mpg (Combined) and puts out 122g/km, meaning low road tax. Not bad for a car that starts at less than £5,000.

Used price: £4,810-£28,510
Fuel economy: 31-53mpg
Road tax cost: £20-£475
Insurance group: 18-43  

Search BMW 3 Series cars for sale

9. Kia Niro

Kia Niro

✅ Spacious and practical

Smooth and comfortable

❌ A bit dull to look at

It's not the sharpest-driving SUV

The Kia Niro has been around since 2016, but even the oldest cars will still have two years' worth of warranty left on them. That seven-year package is reason enough for many drivers to feel comfortable laying out their hard earned on one of these roomy and comfortable family SUVs.

The Niro is good news for buyers looking to go green, too, as there are both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions to go for. This, allied with the excellent fuel consumption and low running costs, make the Niro a very sensible and satidsfying used car choice.

Used price: £8,545-£25,030
Fuel economy: 53-201mpg
Road tax cost: £0-£140
Insurance group: 11-15

Search Kia Niro cars for sale

10. Skoda Octavia

Skoda Octavia

✅ Talented all-rounder and a great bargain
✅ Interior space particularly impressive

Doesn't feel particularly special
Difficult finding a low-mileage one

If you're looking for one of the most reliable, practical family cars, look no further. The Octavia hatch and estate both have huge space for both people and luggage, as well as low running costs, great reliability and very competitive pricing. 

There is a choice two petrol and two diesel engines, plus ultra-frugal GreenLine versions of the diesels, which can return a claimed Combined fuel consumption figure of 83mpg – although in reality, its 60mpg plus is nothing to be sneezed at. It's green, too, with a CO2 emissions figure that dips to 87g/km, meaning certain models are free to tax.

Used price: £3,350-£20,410  
Fuel economy: 40-80mpg
Road tax cost: £0-£155
Insurance group: 12-29

Search Skoda Octavia cars for sale

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More help finding the best used cars to buy

Parkers is dedicated to helping you find the best cars at the best prices, no matter how old they are. We're obsessed with finding the best deals on used cars - and our Parkers Best Used Cars articles and reviews are designed to highlight the most suitable cars in each class.

Parkers is here to provide you with all the help and advice you need if you're selling your car. Follow our hints and tips to make your vehicle sale easy and hassle-free.

Selling a car can feel stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Read on to learn how to ensure your car sells and you're paid securely, how to avoid time-wasters and how to get a fair price when trading in.

Don't fancy advertising privately or negotiating with dealers? You can easily compare offers from direct car buying services with Motorway, the UK's leading price comparison website for selling your car, though Parkers.

From £1,000 superminis to people carriers, we cover all mainstream corners of the used car market.

How to find the best cars

Don't forget to check out these sections if you need more help:

How to win at used car buying – your seven used car checks