Cheapest big cars

Looking to get more car for less money? How about one of these supersized but super-affordable machines?

James Wilson
Jan 5, 2021

Big doesn't have mean expensive when it comes to cars. Being that big cars are often a necessity rather than a desire, that's a good thing. It makes sense that many motorists don’t want to be bled dry funding something that may prioritise practicality over pleasure.

What’s more, there are all kinds of weird and wonderful reasons to need an affordable large car, for example, getting a humongous instrument to band practice, getting the band to band practice or taking the band’s speakers to their next gig. Or your might have two rapidly growing teenagers who need all the space they can get or a serious flat-pack habit. 

Thankfully, countless manufacturers produce cars which range from the big to the frankly ginormous. Some, such as the Skoda Octavia go quietly about their spacious business, while others are as obvious as a brick - such as the van-based Ford Tourneo Custom. Regardless, there are people carriers, SUVs, hatchbacks, estates and even super-practical van-derived options out there. Also, as the shortlist below shows, going large on a budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice standard equipment or a sense of luxury.

All of the cars below are at least 4.6 metres in length - although many are considerably longer - but more importantly, every model makes the most of its size. While the cars are big, they also have something of a USP - a benefit from their sheer size compared to rivals - for example, extra spacious rear seats. There was also the small matter of value, with only the cheapest (for their age, vehicle type and specification) making the grade.

Cheapest big cars

1. Vauxhall Combo Life XL

Cheapest big car for passenger space

Our pick Vauxhall Combo Life Energy XL (pre-facelift)
Used deals Limited stock
Number of seats five/seven
Boot space (seats up) 806 litres

Vauxhall’s Combo Life is much like the Ford Tourneo Custom in that it is a van-based people carrier. What this means is that car manufacturers take the same underpinnings they use to make their vans - which typically offer greater interior room than similarly sized ordinary cars - and combine them with an interior better suited to carrying humans rather than ladders, power tools and screwdrivers. As a result, the Combo Life is incredibly practical in standard guise let alone longer ‘XL’ form.

XL models are available with petrol and diesel engines, along with the option of manual and automatic gearboxes. Thanks to the fact it's now part of the same parent company as Peugeot and Citroen, newer Vauxhall models (such as the Combo Life) benefit from some of the most frugal engines on the market, meaning that while the Combo Life is big, your fuel bills needn't be.

As for specifications, even entry-level models come with a touchscreen media system, cruise control, automatic headlights and front and rear parking sensors. The latter helps take the stress out of manoeuvring a car which is over 4.7 metres long.

VAUXHALL COMBO LIFE BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Kia Optima

Cheapest big car for good fuel economy

Our pick Kia Optima PHEV
Used deals Limited stock
Number of seats five
Boot space (seats up) 307 litres

When launched, the Kia Optima PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) had a lot going for it. There was Kia’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, the ability to travel on electric power alone - provided you remember to charge the car first - a comfortable ride and decent build quality. Why, then, isn’t everyone driving around in an Optima PHEV? Price. When new the Kia was rather pricey in plug-in hybrid form but second-hand models are much more appealing, as the Optima loses value quickly, making it far more affordable used.

All models use a 2.0-litre petrol engine along with an electric motor and an automatic gearbox. Rather simply, all PHEV Optimas come in the same specification, which keeps things simple. Furthermore, PHEV Optimas claim an electric range of around 33 miles on a fully charged battery.

In the real world, the range will be slightly less - we'd expect an everyday range of around 25 miles - and drivers do need to charge their cars as much as possible to get the most from the electric motor. Fail to do this and the petrol engine will burn more fuel, as it has to carry the weight of the electric motor, but with little assistance from it.

KIA OPTIMA BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Ford Tourneo Custom

Cheapest big car for eight or nine seats

Our pick Ford Tourneo Custom Titanium
Used deals Limited stock
Number of seats eight/nine
Boot space (seats up) 1,180 litres

There aren’t masses of options for those needing eight or even nine seats. Fortunately, Ford’s Tourneo Custom meets this brief rather well, plus, it is mighty affordable, too. The Tourneo Custom was updated in 2018 in a bid to make it more upmarket and tempt people away from the popular Volkswagen Transporter.

These changes also brought in more in-car technology such as an increased number of USB ports (for charging phones, tablets and other electrical devices), better air-conditioning, and an improved sound system as standard. As a result, 2018-on models are well worth hunting down if you want something that feels a little more upmarket and car-like.

Ford again improved its Tourneo Custom in 2019 with the biggest changes being a new mild hybrid diesel engine. ‘Mild hybrid’ means there is a small electric motor which assists a car’s engine in certain situations to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, though this motor is smaller than in a standard hybrid and assists the engine rather than being able to power the car by itself.

Also added in 2019 was a powerful 185hp non-hybrid diesel engine, which is a good option if you're likely to make use of all the Tourneo Custom's space and weight-carrying capacity, filling it with people and luggage. If maximum power isn’t essential, there are 130hp and 165hp units which are well suited to both motorway and town driving. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available, too.

4. Fiat Fullback

Cheapest big car for towing heavy loads

Our pick Fiat Fullback LX
Used deals from £14,833
Monthly finance from £350*
Number of seats five
Maximum towing capacity 3,100kg
Maximum weight in the load bed 990kg

Pick-ups are designed to be rugged go-anywhere vehicles that can haul a lot of equipment and transport up to five people in double cab form. Fiat’s pick-up is called the Fullback. Truth be told it is a little bit of an imposter as behind the badges it is basically a Mitsubishi L200. This is no bad thing, though, as the L200 is arguably one of the most successful pick-ups of all time. Happily, though, it's worth tracking down one of the Fiat versions as these are more affordable than the equivalent Mitsubishi.

All models come as ‘double cabs’ which mean that they have front and rear seats plus doors to access both rows. All models come with a diesel engine producing either 150hp or 180hp while most come with a manual gearbox. For those wanting an automatic Fullback, the only engine available is the high-power diesel. Standard equipment levels are good, with big hitters such as air-conditioning, cruise control and a digital radio all included.

FIAT FULLBACK BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Skoda Superb

Cheapest big estate car for boot space

Our pick Skoda Superb SE
Used deals from £9,999
Monthly finance from £195*
Number of seats five
Boot space (seats up/seats down) 625 litres/1,760 litres

Ferrari may be known for making supercars and Tesla high-tech electric cars but Skoda has a reputation for creating cars that blow the competition away by being exceedingly practical and well equipped for the money. One of the Czech car maker’s best models is the Superb - available as both a big-booted hatchback and an enormous estate form. But what really makes the Superb stand out is its comfortable driving experience, great range of engines and good build quality.

There are a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, manual and automatic gearboxes and two- and four-wheel drive formats to choose from and all are pretty good. Standard equipment isn’t too shabby, either, with air-conditioning, cruise control, alloy wheels and a touchscreen media system included across the range.

Moving up the trim levels means that you get technical delights such as adaptive cruise control, which automatically maintains a safe distance behind the car in front for you, slowing you down if the car ahead brakes and speeding back up for you afterwards. You also get a more luxurious feel to the cabin or a sportier look and feel if that's what you're after.

SKODA SUPERB BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Skoda Octavia

Cheapest big car for family drivers

Our pick Skoda Octavia S
Used deals Limited stock
Number of seats five
Boot space (seats up/seats down) 590 litres (610 litres in estate models)/1,580 litres (1,740 litres in estate models)

If you're reading this and thinking ‘the Skoda Superb looks great but is perhaps a bit too expensive’ or simply too large for you, there is no need to worry as Skoda still has you covered. The excellent previous-generation Octavia could well be the answer. Being the Superb’s little brother it is naturally slightly smaller - though still very spacious on the inside -but it again promises good build quality, great engines and class-leading practicality.

There is ample choice of models, too, with estates and hatchback body styles, along with two- and four-wheel drive variants. Entry-level ‘S’ Octavias are surprisingly well-equipped with a digital radio, Bluetooth and alloy wheels all being standard.

Skoda updated this version of the Octavia in 2017 before bringing out a new model in 2020. The updates weren’t huge (subtle styling tweaks and the odd change to the engines and equipment) so pre-facelift models are definitely worth considering if you're after the most affordable option.

SKODA OCTAVIA BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Kia Stinger

Cheapest big car with an upmarket feel and long warranty

Our pick Kia Stinger GT-Line
Used deals Limited stock
Number of seats five
Boot space (seats up/seats down) 406 litres/1,114 litres

Fancy a car that looks sporty but still has four passenger doors and a useful hatchback? Kia's take on this recipe is the rare Stinger, which is large but sleek and sends power to the rear wheels for a more sporty feel from behind the wheel.

One of the best parts, though, is that the Stinger was great value new and it is even better value second-hand. There is only a modest range of engines - one diesel and two petrols - and all come with an automatic gearbox. The diesel produces around 200hp, while the smaller petrol pumps out 245hp and the larger 365hp (which is quite a lot). This means that all versions feel reasonably speedy, with the range-topping 365hp model being pretty rapid.

In the affordability stakes, it is the diesel that comes out on top, though its official economy and emission figures trail some key rivals such as the BMW 420d Gran Coupe. Still, for those who don't cover very high mileages, where the fuel savings make the BMW more appealing, the Stinger’s interior is a great place to be and should cater for many miles of comfortable driving, while proving pleasingly agile around corners, too.

Last but not least for the Kia, standard equipment includes heated front seats, adaptive cruise control and sat-nav - and more importantly for those picking up a used model, all Kias have a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty from new. That means that even if you go for a four-year old model, you'll get the same amount of warranty cover as someone buying a new BMW 4 Series Coupe.

KIA STINGER BUYERS' GUIDE

8. BMW 7 Series

Cheapest big car for relaxing long journeys

Our pick BMW 730d
Used deals from £16,600
Monthly finance from £367*
Number of seats five
Boot space (seats up) 515 litres

How can a super-upmarket luxury limo like the BMW 7 Series possibly be listed on a countdown of the cheapest big cars? Very easily, as not only is it longer than a Range Rover but four-year-old models can be scooped up for the same price as a new, well equipped Volkswagen Golf. That makes it pretty cheap for such a luxurious machine.

In the company of BMW’s 7 Series, though, a high-specification Golf doesn’t quite cut the mustard, as all 7 Series models come with four-zone climate control - so there's no problem if you and three passengers all want to set different temperatures - heated front and rear seats and a supremely smooth and quiet ride.

The good news doesn’t end there, either. Opt for a 730d, with the ‘d’ meaning ‘diesel’ and fuel consumption is strong, plus, performance is swift indeed. The 730d can accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds whereas a 2.0-litre diesel Golf GTD - the fastest diesel Golf - takes an extra second to hit 62mph. Sure, parts and labour costs for maintenance might be higher with the BMW, but you only need to service it every two years or 18,000 miles, so you shouldn't have to book it in for a service often.

BMW 7 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

Monthly payments over 48 months: £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage allowance: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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