Best cars for motorway driving

Spend your life zooming up and down the motorway? From economical hatchbacks to luxury saloons, these cars are terrific for high-speed trips

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Mar 18, 2020

If you feel like you spend half of your life pounding up and down the motorways of Britain, you’re going to want a car that’s fit for purpose. Comfortable seats, an economical engine and a smooth ride are likely to be high on your list of priorities.

But that’s only the start, because you’ll probably want a few nice-to-have features, such as cruise control, a decent sound system, somewhere to charge your smartphone and a pair of heated seats. Together this desirable kit can take the stress out of long drives and make each 50-mile drive feel like a 20-mile one.

So if you're after a low-cost, stress-free and high-mileage machine, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve selected eight cars that are perfect for motorway driving, from economical hatchbacks to luxury saloons. There’s a good cross-section of options with prices to suit all budgets, so you should be able to find something that fits your need.

If you're still not sure, check out our list of cars that are best suited to long commutes – there are some great alternatives on offer that could fit the bill. Don’t forget, all of the cars available on the BuyaCar website come with a 14-day guarantee and will be delivered to your door to take the stress out of purchasing a new car.

Best cars for motorway driving

1. Hyundai i30

Our pick Hyundai i30 SE 1.6 CRDi
Used deals from £5,495
Monthly finance from £111

We’re not going to pretend that the Hyundai i30 diesel is an exciting car, because it isn’t. But the i30 is a great budget option if you spend the majority of your week driving on Britain’s motorways. Driven carefully, the 1.6-litre diesel engine should deliver around 65mpg in the real world - meaning that visits to the top up the tank should be few and far between.

The previous-generation i30 is also known for its long-legged comfort and practicality, while SE, SE Nav and Premium models offer enough equipment to shrink down those long motorway jaunts.

Better still, Hyundai’s excellent five-year warranty means that even if you go for a low-cost three- or four-year old i30, you should still have plenty of warranty left, giving you great peace of mind. However, Hyundai's good reputation for reliability means that you shouldn't have many issues if you want to pick up an even more affordable older version.

HYUNDAI I30 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Citroen DS3

Our pick Citroen DS3 DStyle 1.6 e-HDi
Used deals from £4,995
Monthly finance from £100

If the Hyundai i30 is a little too night-in-with-a-cup-of-tea for your tastes, the Citroen DS3 is more Friday-night-out-with-the-girls. It’s one of Citroen’s best all-rounders of recent years, offering an appealing blend of chic styling, a smart interior and low running costs.

A decade on from its launch, the DS3 looks as good as ever. It’s the little black dress of the supermini world – perfect for any occasion. Think of it as a French Mini, with similar driving characteristics and the same fun-to-drive feel. It’s also great on the motorway, with little in the way of wind and road noise, along with a pair of comfortable front seats.

With very low prices for five- or six-year old models, a Citroen DS3 with a diesel engine makes a great budget-oriented compact mile-muncher. Opt for PCP finance and you can take advantage of rock-bottom monthly payments, too.

CITROEN DS3 BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Volvo S60

Our pick Volvo S60 D3 SE
Used deals from £8,400
Monthly finance from £160

There are a number of reasons why you’d choose a used Volvo S60 over one of its German rivals. Firstly, the Volvo loses value more quickly than rivals, making it fantastic value as a used buy, so you can pick up a practically new S60 for thousands less than the list price. Secondly, it offers the comfiest seats in its class. Thirdly, it’s about as safe as you can get, short of staying at home.

All of the diesel engines are economical, especially the 1.6-litre in the D2. However, we’d opt for the 2.0-litre D3, as this offers the best blend of performance, economy and running costs.

Cruise control and climate control air-conditioning are fitted as standard, so you’ll be nice and relaxed as you pile on the miles between the motorway junctions. Even 2016 cars are available for less than £10,000, so this stylish Swede could be delivered to your home for less than you think.

VOLVO S60 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Ford Mondeo

Our pick Ford Mondeo 1.5 TDCi Titanium
Used deals from £7,480
Monthly finance from £146

Your parents probably drove a Ford Mondeo at some stage. If they didn’t, you almost certainly knew someone who did. It came to represent hard-working Britain, to the extent that the concept of ‘Mondeo Man’ was born in the late 1990s.

Now it’s your turn to be a Mondeo man or woman. The Ford Mondeo was designed with company car drivers in mind, so you can be sure that it will cruise happily on the motorway without breaking a sweat. Indeed, this is where the Mondeo feels most at home, proving smooth and comfortable.

As the Mondeo loses its value rather quickly this means it isn't the best new car buy, but makes a lot more sense as a used purchase, as you can pick up a relatively new model for a surprisingly low price. Furthermore, the Mondeo offers a degree of exclusivity and, dare we say, style. Titanium models offer all the toys you could wish for, while the Vignale is positively luxurious. Buy a Mondeo 1.5-litre diesel registered before April 2017 and you won’t pay any road tax ether.

FORD MONDEO BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Audi A4


Our pick Audi A4 2.0 TDI SE
Used deals from £8,850
Monthly finance from £156

Few cars offer greater motorway comfort than the Audi A4. Its adaptive cruise control system is one of the best in the business, helping to remove the stresses and strains of life on the motorway, by maintaining a safe distance behind the car in front for you.

You’ll also find a host of standard features, such as smartphone integration, climate control and a multifunction steering wheel. Other nice-to-have features, such as wireless phone charging, a head-up display and ‘virtual cockpit‘ digital dials, which turns the dashboard into a configurable display, cost extra when new, though you may want to track down an A4 with some of these fitted, as they shouldn't add much to the price.

There are many engines to choose from, including an excellent 3.0-litre V6 diesel, which is smooth and ultra quiet on the motorway. But for the optimum blend of performance and efficiency, we’d recommend one of the 2.0-litre diesels.

AUDI A4 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. BMW 5 Series

Our pick BMW 520d SE
Used deals from £10,800
Monthly finance from £174

“It’s no longer on sale, but this version of the BMW 5 Series remains one of the finest cars you can buy at any price.” The first line from the BuyaCar review says it all: the 5 Series sold between 2010 and 2017 should absolutely be on your motorway car shortlist.

As a used buy it makes even more sense. Depreciation has taken a huge chunk out of its price, making it good value, while some of the options that would have cost a packet when will add little or nothing to the price you pay today.

Much of the technology remains relevant today, it’s relaxed and comfortable on the motorway, and it’s just as fun when you hit a back road. The 520d is the 5 Series you want, as it delivers smooth acceleration and real-world fuel economy of 50mpg. SE trim offers everything you need, but look out for some tasty options that may have been added by the original owner.

BMW 5 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Jaguar XF

Our pick Jaguar XF 2.0 Prestige
Used deals from £12,524
Monthly finance from £204

If there’s one car that can rival for the BMW 5 Series for comfort, sophistication and driving pleasure, it’s the Jaguar XF. The current generation XF arrived in 2015 and is one of our favourite large saloon cars.

Even the entry-level Prestige models come preloaded with the likes of leather seats, a touchscreen media system, dual-zone climate control and cruise control, so it’s the perfect chariot for a long journey on the motorway.

The 2.0-litre diesel is available in three power outputs, with the mid-range 180hp offering the optimum blend of performance and economy. Because the XF is popular with company car drivers, there’s a ready supply of used cars to choose from.

JAGUAR XF BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Volkswagen Arteon

Our pick Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 TDI R Line
Used deals from £17,686
Monthly finance from £258

The Volkswagen Passat is one of the most popular motorway cars in Europe. But to borrow a line from Chris Tarrant, we don’t want to give you that. Instead, take a look at the Volkswagen Arteon for the same refinement but with a more distinctive look.

Although Volkswagen won’t thank us for saying this, the Arteon is essentially a Passat in a posh frock. It’s Cinderella in a party dress – but it won’t turn into a pumpkin after midnight. You’ll be the belle of the motorway services in an Arteon.

We wouldn’t recommend buying one new. Although it’s good at carrying five adults in comfort, it’s less good at holding its value. But because it’s a flagship model, the Arteon is loaded with kit, which makes it a great used buy for a far lower cost than you might expect.

VOLKSWAGEN ARTEON BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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