Best three-year old cars

Three-year old cars used to mean rust and unreliability. In the 2020s, many feel practically new and have up to four years' warranty left

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
May 17, 2021

Fancy buying a new car but don't think you can afford it? New car prices are rising, so more and more of us are having to find new ways to secure one - namely a finance deal of some kind. In any case, buying a brand new car is hardly a great investment because they lose value so quickly. So you're paying more - whether you opt for car finance or pay cash - but as soon as you drive your shiny new car for the first time it could easily have lost 30% to 40% of its purchase price. It's a bit like throwing money down the drain.

But let’s look at it in another - more positive - way. Someone else splashing out £30,000 on a new car and then trading it in three years later - and potentially getting back just £10,000 - is great news for you if you want to buy that same car, with huge savings to be made by picking up a three-year old model.

Here, we’ve selected eight three-year old cars that offer terrific value for money second-hand and should serve you well for many years to come - whether you're after a sensible SUV or an attention-grabbing sports car. Not only do these three-year old models now have much lower cash prices than when they were new, they are also far more affordable on PCP finance - as the amount you're financing is much lower.

How much value a car loses is a very individual trait - some cars lose value quickly in the first three years, making them great second-hand purchases - especially for drivers paying in cash - while others are extremely desirable second-hand and so come with higher used prices. Keep reading for eight of the best value three-year old cars that should feel barely any different from what they were when they were brand new, but come with drastically lower cash prices and finance costs on BuyaCar.

Best 3-year old cars

1. Hyundai Tucson

2018 Hyundai Tucson deals from £14,495
Monthly finance from £232*

When it was new, the Hyundai Tucson was locked in a fierce popularity contest with the Nissan Qashqai. Although the Nissan beats the Hyundai in terms of sales, there’s one very good reason why you should choose a three-year old Tucson over the Qashqai: a very handy five-year warranty.

Even a three-year old Tucson will be covered by Hyundai’s excellent five-year/unlimited mileage warranty, providing you peace of mind for another two years. But there’s more to the Tucson than a long guarantee.

It offers a high driving position, a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and a boot that’s larger than most of its rivals. The diesel engines offer excellent fuel economy, while all but the most basic Tucson offer a long list of standard equipment. You shouldn't be overlooking Hyundai anymore.


2. Kia Optima Sportswagon

2018 Kia Optima Sportswagon deals from £14,500
Monthly finance from £247*

Buying a three-year old Kia Optima Sportswagon is like booking a standard double room at a hotel and getting a free upgrade to the penthouse suite. As a new car, the stylish estate costs between £23,500 and £33,500, but because it loses value very quickly, it makes a brilliant used car buy with far lower costs.

The 1.7-litre diesel engine offers a strong blend of performance and economy, while even the entry-level ‘2’ model packs the kind of equipment that would be optional on so-called upmarket estate cars.

There’s a cavernous boot that should be large enough for even the most demanding summer holiday, along with a smooth and comfortable ride, if you avoid the largest alloy wheels. Thanks to Kia’s seven-year warranty there's no worries about buying a three-year old model, you'll still be protected by a longer warranty than some brand new cars offers. Amazingly, there are used examples available for less than you’ll pay for some brand new city cars.


3. Fiat Tipo

2018 Fiat Tipo deals from £9,371
Monthly finance from £163*

Honestly, the Fiat Tipo doesn’t make a great deal of sense as a new car. Although it undercuts rivals like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, it also sheds its value spectacularly quickly, which leads to some surprisingly expensive finance costs, but could also leave you out of pocket if you were to sell to sell on a Tipo you had bought with cash.

This is great news if you’re after a nearly new bargain, though. You can buy a three-year old Fiat Tipo for less than the cost of the a brand new Dacia Sandero - the UK's cheapest new car. The Tipo is a spacious and practical family hatchback or estate, so you’ll be getting much more car for your money.

It’s worth finding the top-spec Lounge trim, as this adds climate control, sat-nav and a rear-view camera to an already impressive package of standard kit. The Tipo doesn’t offer the last word in excitement, but there’s no doubting its practicality. Pick one up as this type of price, however, and it's a great car for the money.


4. Peugeot 308 SW

2018 Peugeot 308 SW deals from £11,570
Monthly finance from £212*

The Peugeot 308 SW is another excellent used car buy. Its prices drop faster than those at a Boxing Day sofa sale, which means second-hand buyers get more for their money. Quite literally, because the 308 SW features a boot that’s almost large enough to fit in a double-discounted three-seater sofa.

It’s also good looking, powered by a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, and comes with a pleasant cabin, although if you want to have the slickest media system one of the other models in our roundup is a wiser choice. Best of all, an update in 2017 added a new eight-speed automatic transmission, a 1.5-litre diesel engine and changes that made it better to drive.

Hunt down one of these and you get a strong value, pleasant to drive, comfortable and economical estate car that should work equally well whether you need to lug around children and buggies, surfboards or sofas.


5. Alfa Romeo Giulia

2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia deals from £21,600
Monthly finance from £312*

Some cars come with hefty prices in the showroom that put off many drivers and persuade them to buy something else. Throw in the fact that many new cars lose 50% of their value or potentially even more over their first three years, and you'd have to have a serious disregard for your wallet to actually go ahead and pay full price.

Take the Alfa Romeo Giulia. When new, it’s a stylish alternative to rivals such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But because it sheds its value faster than the alternatives, it’s not an entirely sensible purchase. It's a great second-hand buy, however.

Those low used prices mean that you could get a much better used Alfa Romeo for your money than going for an equivalent Mercedes. Opt for the 2.2-litre diesel engine and you’ll get the fuel economy to go with the fun-to-drive rear-wheel-drive feel.


6. Toyota Avensis

2018 Toyota Avensis deals Limited stock

Seriously sensible people drive seriously sensible cars like the Toyota Avensis. They may not be fussed about image, styling or driving excitement, but like the feeling of owning a car that will almost certainly never let them down.

There are three good reasons why the Avensis is a good three-year old car: warranty, safety and low second-hand prices. You’ll get the remainder of Toyota’s five-year warranty and a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. What’s more, since new versions lose their value so quickly, three-year old models are a genuine bargain.

Opt for the 2.0-litre diesel for a blend of strong performance and economy. Business Edition models are worth hunting down for their long list of standard equipment. They were too expensive when new to make sense then, but that’s not an issue on models of this age.


7. Ford Mustang

2018 Ford Mustang deals from £34,695
Monthly finance from £386*

If you think life’s too short to drive an Avensis, the Ford Mustang could be your ideal used car. Pound-for-pound, the Mustang offers more theatre and street presence than any other new car, with prices starting from just under £40,000 for the 2.3-litre turbocharged model. Meanwhile, the 5.0-litre V8 – which is the Mustang you really want, as it sounds like a true all-American muscle car – costs around £44,000.

Quite frankly, it’s a bit of a bargain, but it’s even better value when buying used. The driving position is superb, the straight-line speed is explosive and the soundtrack is intoxicating. The feel-good factor is high with this chunk of Americana.

Armed with a £25,000 budget, you have a choice of three-year old Mustangs. On the one hand you could have a 2.3-litre EcoBoost with less than 10,000 miles on the clock. Alternatively, the same price gets you a 5.0 V8 with 40,000 miles under its belt. We know which one we’d rather have.


8. Jaguar XJ

2018 Jaguar XJ deals from £27,295
Monthly finance from £456*

How do you fancy owning a slice of British luxury for less than £25,000? Say hello to the Jaguar XJ. Unlike other luxury saloons, the XJ is as good to drive as it is to lord it up in the back seat. Power comes from a 3.0-litre diesel engine, which is smooth, powerful and, for a car of this size, reasonably efficient.

It handles corners like a car half its size, while the interior is luxurious and packed with equipment. The only problem is that you could be roped in to provide transport for prom nights and hen dos. Still, just think of the luxury.

We can't say that a big, luxury car is a particularly sensible choice, but given the fact the Jaguar XJ costs upwards of £62,000 when new, it just goes to prove how much money you could save by choosing a used car via BuyaCar.


*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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