Top 25: Used buys for £2000 in 2019
Not all of us have lots to spend on a used car, so what can you find if you go shopping with a £2000 budget? Well there are plenty of options as it turns out, from urban runabouts to something more spacious that will be perfect for family duties and even some sporty or premium choices.
Here then is our pick of the best used cars on a budget.
We often get asked what the best budget car is to buy for reliability. And the answer always starts with Toyota. The brand has a well deserved reputation for longevity and we rarely get reports of problems with Toyota models. The RAV4 makes an ideal family car and there are plenty around for £2000 or less, many with well below average mileages.
The 2006 Honda Civic represented a huge step forward for what was previously a very drab hatchback (Type R excepted). The styling may not seem as radical as it once did, but in our opinion this is one of the best looking cars of recent times. It's not style over substance either as the Civic is great to drive, comfortable and has a huge boot. It's also fitted with Honda's clever 'magic seats', making it very practical.
If you want a convertible, you can't do any better than the evergreen MX-5. On a budget of £2000 you can get an (admittedly high mileage) 2005 example but these engines are proving very reliable so big mileages shouldn't put you off. This generation model has a much better interior but is as fun to drive as ever, with weight kept down by the manual folding fabric hood, which means no electrics to go wrong.
The MINI has always held its value well, mainly due to its desirability, particularly among younger buyers. We're now seeing early second generation models coming in at the £2000 mark - both Cooper and One models. The former is more fun but the One is cheaper to insure for younger drivers.
You may think £2000 won't get you much with a three-pointed star on the front, but the B-Class is surprisingly affordable and we've seen 10 year old examples with reasonable mileages that are within budget. If you're not covering big distances the B150 manual is your best bet. Avoid the Autotronic CVT as they can fail and are expensive to repair or replace.
If you want choice, the Ford Focus is the car to look at. It's regularly near the top of the sales charts, which means there are huge numbers on the used market. It also means prices are competitive. Avoid the Powershift automatic - it can cause big problems - instead stick to a manual. Zetec is the most popular trim but seek out a Titanium if you want more for your money.
MPVs may have fallen out of favour, but for practicality and family-friendliness, there's nothing that can quite match them. The Mazda 5 has always been one of our favourites, in no small part to its sliding side doors, solid build and neat handling. They're now very affordable and although most examples at this price have high mileages, the odd lower mileage model does crop up.
We think the original TT is a cast iron guarantee as a classic car in years to come and with prices so low, you can see this as an investment for the future. Yet the TT is still useable every day and remains very enjoyable to drive. True, it's no Porsche, but for less than £2000 you're getting a lot of quality coupe for the money.
Yes we know that Rover no longer makes cars and that the 75 has a bit of a grandad image, but bear with us here. Because the Rover 75 was a very good car when launched - excellent in fact. And it still has plenty of appeal now. The good news is that there are lots of low mileage examples for less than £2000 that have clearly been well loved over the years by the kind of people who won't scrimp on servicing and maintenance. Don't be surprised to see values of these going up in the not too distant future.
It may not be the most obvious of choices if you're after a small hatchback, but the i20 makes a good alternative to the Fiesta. Well built and proving reliable, £2000 will get you a low mileage 1.2 model and many we've seen have just one previous owner. Check the clutch as they tend to need replacing quite early, but that aside, we have had few problems reported to us.
It may not be the last word in refinement, but if you want a big solid 4x4 that's ideal for towing, the Sorento is a very strong choice. Favoured by caravanners, the Kia comes with a 2.5 CRDi diesel which although noisy, is strong nonethless and gives the Sorento strong pulling power.
It may not be the most engaging car to drive, but for comfort and ride quality, the Octavia gets you a lot of car for your money. There's a reason so many taxi drivers choose them. For our budget you can get a facelift model (pictured above) but it's likely to be a higher mileage model. You may even find the odd vRS model in the classifieds but be aware that these may have been driven hard.
BMW 3 Series
While there are plenty of 3 Series in the classifieds, it's fair to say you need to tread carefully, otherwise you could end up with a car that will cost more to repair than you paid for it. For starters, avoid anything that has been 'modified' and while we always say age is more important than mileage when buying used, we'd give anything with more than 150,000 miles a miss. Watch out for timing chain failures on diesel models.
We know this is the second Honda in this list, but the Jazz is such a practical and easy to own small car that we couldn't not include it. It's also one of the cars we find ourselves repeatedly recommending to people looking for a good quality and reliable used hatch. We'd avoid the unreliable i-Shift auto and stick to a manual or look for a CVT.
It's not the most exciting of cars but the Insignia is a lot of car for just £2000. We've seen good looking nine and 10 year old examples with below average mileages in SRi trim. The 2.0 CDTi engine isn't the quietest but it provides plenty of power and is economical. We'd also recommend the estate which offers a huge boot.
Undoubtedly the best car for anyone who has just passed their test, the Fiesta may be on every street corner but there's a good reason it's so popular - it's a brilliant small hatchback. Avoid the diesel unless you're planning on doing big mileages, instead stick to the 1.25-litre petrol which is reliable and cheap to insure.
If you're looking for a capable and affordable budget 4x4, the little Jimny could be just the ticket. Its 1.3-litre engine might only manage 85PS but allied to a rugged four-wheel drive system it’s surprisingly capable in the rough stuff and will manage muddy or icy roads with ease. Yes it's not great on road but it's a car that's full of character.
It's not the most practical of MPVs, but the Altea is cheap to run, good to drive and comes with some strong engines including the 2.0 TDI - more refined than the older 1.9 TDI. You can even get a sporty(ish) FR trim model while if you need extra space, there's the Altea XL. All versions come with a decent level of standard kit but the Reference is the most basic model.
In many ways, the Audi A2 was ahead of its time. A small yet spacious car from Audi that was cheap to run, economical and ideal for town, we think it's destined to become a future classic in many ways. The good news is that it still makes for an excellent small family car and it's very cheap and £2000 should get you a very tidy low mileage example.
We're now seeing plenty of Mk5 Golf models dropping to £2000 and under and even at £2000, this doesn't necessarily mean having to settle for a high mileage model. We've seen 12 year old examples with less than 80,000 miles fitted with the 1.6 FSI engine. It's no ball of fire but is cheap to insure and to run.
It may not be the most obvious choice for a used car on a £2000 budget but we think the X-Type is a bit of a hidden gem. Less common than a 3 Series or an A4, in our opinion the Jaguar is ageing well and you can get a very tidy, well cared for low mileage example for this money. The 2.0d is the one for economy but the 2.5 V6 would be our choice. Stringback driving gloves optional...
When it was first launched in 1992, the 'bubble' Micra created huge interest and helped put the Micra on the map as a favourite among UK buyers wanting a small hatchback. The third generation model was even better and now represents excellent value for money with plenty of well cared for, low mileage models around.
While Lexus may not always be on a par with its German rivals for driving dynamics, one thing it does possess is reliability. Like parent company Toyota, it is well regarded for building well engineered cars that rarely go wrong. The IS has its flaws but the smooth IS 250 is probably the most reliable used car you can buy.
If you're after a cheap runabout that you can fit into the smallest of parking spots, the 107 is ideal. The sister car to the Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo, it may have a Peugeot badge on the bonnet, but it's a Toyota underneath - which means it's reliable and durable. The Urban trim is the basic model while the Verve comes with more kit as do the special edition models which are worth seeking out.
For maximum carrying capacity you can’t beat a Volvo estate and our budget is enough to secure a well looked after 12 year old V70 with the reliable D5 engine. True, most have pretty big mileages, but the Volvo is well built so as long as it has been properly maintained, there should be few issues. Avoid the Geartronic though - it's prone to faults - instead look for a manual.