Best cars for motorway driving

Spend most of your week on the motorway? Ranging from economical hatchbacks to luxury saloons, these cars are terrific for high-speed trips

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Dec 1, 2021

If you find yourself constantly driving long distances on the UK’s motorways, you’re going to want a car that’s fit for purpose. Comfortable seats, fuel economy and a smooth ride are likely to be high on your list of priorities.

While these are important, adding in extra features such as cruise control, a decent sound system, somewhere to charge your smartphone and a pair of heated seats can really take the stress and boredom out of long drives and make a 50-mile drive feel like a 20-mile one.

If you're after a low-cost car that will carry you thousands of miles in great comfort, 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 needs.

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 also fit the bill, including electric cars that can do more than 300 miles from a full charge.

Best cars for motorway driving

1. Skoda Octavia

Our pick Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI SE L
Used deals Limited stock

The Skoda Octavia has long been a firm favourite amongst private hire taxi drivers, largely thanks to its comfort over long periods of time, affordability and mechanical hardiness when it comes to covering high-mileages. So this should go some way towards proving its suitability for the long-distance commute.

The latest Octavia is based on the Volkswagen Golf, but provides more space for both passengers and luggage - the boot is over 600-litres in size. The interior in the latest generation car has also undergone a significant upgrade with the gauges and most physical buttons being replaced with screens, touch-sensitive controls and improved voice recognition.

There are a number of options available in regards to trim and engines. We’d recommend going for the 2.0 TDI diesel in SE L spec. This engine should return over 55mpg and has plenty of low-down power for overtaking where needed. All Octavias are well equipped with a 10-inch infotainment screen, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, dual-zone climate control and cruise control. Upgrading to the SE L, however, adds tinted glass, 'Microsuede' upholstery, heated front seats, front parking sensors and adaptive cruise control - all very useful in taking the stress out of motorway runs.


2. Volvo S60

Our pick Volvo S60 B5 R Design
Used deals Limited stock

There are a number of reasons why you’d choose a used Volvo S60 over one of its German rivals like BMW, Mercedes and Audi. Firstly, the Volvo loses value more quickly than rivals, making it fantastic value as a used buy. 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, as is typical with a Volvo, it's one of the safest cars on sale.

All of the engines are economical, especially T6 and T8 plug-in hybrid options. If you're covering long distances, we'd stick for a lighter petrol model like the T5, or the mild hybrid petrol-powered B5 which replaced it.

Cruise control and climate control are fitted as standard, so you’ll be nice and relaxed as you pile on the miles between the motorway junctions.


3. Ford Mondeo

Our pick Ford Mondeo 1.5 TDCi Titanium
Used deals Limited stock

It’s likely that you’ve known someone who has driven a Mondeo at some point in their life. 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 person. 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 that it isn't the best car to buy brand new, 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 either.


4. Audi A4

Our pick Audi A4 2.0 TDI SE
Used deals from £17,000
Monthly finance from £0*

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 of 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.


5. BMW 5 Series

Our pick BMW 520d SE
Used deals from £20,500
Monthly finance from £0*

The BMW 5 Series is a byword for everyday practicality, driving enjoyment and comfort being combined in a near-perfect package. Many people in middle and upper management tend to favour the 5-Series as a company car thanks to this reputation.

As a used buy it makes even more sense. Depreciation makes the 5-Series a seriously good value option. 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.


6. Jaguar XF

Our pick Jaguar XF 2.0 Prestige
Used deals Limited stock

If there’s one car that can rival the BMW 5 Series for comfort, sophistication and driving pleasure, it’s the Jaguar XF. As the new XF enters the market, the outgoing model, first introduced in 2015, is now a hugely tempting used buy.

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.


7. Volkswagen Arteon

Our pick Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 TDI R Line
Used deals from £23,500
Monthly finance from £0*

The Volkswagen Passat is one of the most popular motorway cars in Europe. But if that’s a bit too simplistic, 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, while 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.


8. Citroen C3

Our pick Citroen C2 1.2 PureTech Shine
Used deals Limited stock

If you desire comfort on your motorway cruise, you needn’t fork out too much money on a big, executive-style saloon. Instead, the Citroen C3 is a small hatchback that may just surprise you with its refined ride and impressive fuel economy.

Citroen took a different approach than several competitors by making the C3 a comfort-focused hatchback as opposed to optimising the sportiness or handling. As a result, it performs well on longer journeys with its softer suspension and sofa-style seats.

Inside, a choice of ‘Ambiances’ gives each car a unique feel, and all C3s are fitted with a seven-inch touchscreen, digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Opt for at least the ‘Shine’ trim and this will add automatic headlights and wipers and rear parking sensors. Although a diesel version is available, it is particularly uncommon, so we’d recommend searching for the higher-powered 110hp 1.2-litre petrol.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 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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