Best used cars under £20,000 for 2023
Got £20,000 to spend on a car? You can get some seriously desirable used cars for that kind of price, these are 10 of the best
In need of a new car? We question whether buying something brand-new is a good investment. Brand-new cars lose a chunk of their value as soon as they’ve been driven off the forecourt, so buying a nearly-new or used car avoids that initial period of ‘depreciation’. You could also get something much better for your money, especially if your budget is in the region of £20,000.
If you were to decide to go for a used car deal, it's not inconceivable that you could be climbing into the driving seat of some truly desirable cars built by the most esteemed brands in the business - the likes of Audi, BMW and Jaguar. While your options if you were to plump for a brand new car might be an entry-level Ford Focus or a Hyundai Kona - perfectly good cars we might add, the Focus is on this list too, albeit in a much more desirable form, but there's the possibility of so much more if you opt for a used car.
To keep within this budget, the used cars on this list don't even need to be particularly used at all - models that are less than two years old with some very reasonable mileage figures are on offer. If you're after a used car and you've got a bit of money spare, we're pretty sure you'll be able to find a car that tickles your fancy.
If you're ready to kick-start your search for your next car, this list of eight great options you could pick up for less than £20,000 is a good place to begin.
Best used cars for under £20,000
Ford launched a new and much-improved Focus in 2018 and by all accounts, it's a great family hatchback. In fact, you could be a family of one and it would still make a great car, as it suits anyone simply looking for a practical hatchback. A budget of £20,000 will get you a very low-mileage model from the last year or so without too much trouble at all. With many buyers heading for the Kuga and Puma crossovers instead, there’s a really wide range of Focus models available right now - from the SUV-inspired Active to luxurious Vignale and sporty ST-Line trims.
Ford’s range of turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engines has received much praise in the automotive world, and for good reason. These small engines offer the power of a larger engine with the economy of a smaller one. The mild hybrid model should see a further improvement in economy.
Seek out Titanium Edition spec cars, which are rammed with tech like cruise control, a heated windscreen, a touchscreen media system (which will run Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), air-conditioning and automatic headlights.
Better still, £20,000 will get you a sporty GT-Line S model (sat-nav, cruise control and a reversing camera are all included) that is under a year old with barely any miles on the clock - which should make it feel practically new. This means that it will still have six years' warranty too.
If you need to tow, a diesel model might suit better, however a diesel model might cost you upwards of £20,000. There are plenty of equally desirable GT-Line options to choose from.
A budget of £20,000 can now buy you the latest generation of the BMW 5 Series, which is often said to be the very best executive saloon. You’ll be looking at early versions from 2017-2018 (pictured above) for this price and, while the 5 Series was updated in late 2020, it also costs around twice as much for a brand-new model.
And the fact it's now a few years old doesn't matter an awful lot. Being an executive saloon, all 5 Series models come well equipped, with Bluetooth, cruise control and climate control standard throughout the range. Nearly all are 520d diesels, but that’s no bad thing as this engine is economical, refined and powerful. Those wanting a sportier 5 Series can go for an M Sport version, although these do come in slightly more expensive than the SE models, and slightly firmer suspension, so it's worth deciding whether you want a more relaxed, comfier drive or sportier looks and feel behind the wheel. Either way, they're all here within your budget.
Our pick Volkswagen Golf GTI
Used deals Limited stock
While some performance hatchbacks wear their sporty credentials on their sleeve – see Honda Civic Type R – the Volkswagen Golf GTI is much more subtle. Many people will simply assume it is a regular Golf, but look closely and the sporty front end and big wheels will show that it’s something a little more special.
The GTI isn’t the most powerful hot hatchback, but it’s still plenty fast enough for British speed limits. Volkswagen has instead concentrated on the chassis, so that the Golf GTI is a lot of fun through the corners, and the GTI is easy to live with too. Unlike some hot hatches, it can settle down when you’re just cruising on the motorway. GTIs are available with a manual gearbox, or an excellent automatic gearbox that makes performance effortless. Inside you can expect the decent level of quality and refinement commonplace with the VW range too.
Something to bear in mind is that some GTIs come with a Performance Pack. This adds a little extra power, a limited-slip differential (providing more grip to make the car even faster in the corners) and the crisp digital dial cluster. The pack doesn’t transform the car but does improve it a little - so it’s up to you to decide whether it’s a must-have or something you don’t mind not being included.
Unlike some rivals, such as the Vauxhall Corsa-e, the latest-generation Nissan Leaf is a purpose-built electric car. This means its packaging is better, as the car was designed around its battery pack, rather than having to squeeze electronics into the space left by a missing engine.
As with most electric cars, it's smooth, quiet and nippy when you put your foot down. Short motorway journeys are no problem, but you will notice your range drops faster compared to driving on an A-road or in urban areas. This budget gets you a Leaf with the standard 40kWh battery, meaning a range of up to 168 miles between charges - plus the ability to fast-charge back to 80% range in an hour.
Spec-wise, all Leafs are well-equipped. Acenta may be the entry-level model, but it includes a reversing camera, alloy wheels and a full complement of high-tech safety features.
You hear Mini and you think fun – it can’t be helped. The Mini Convertible is no exception. It was updated in 2018, and that's the model we're looking at here. The most obvious addition that the update introduced was standard fit Union Jack rear lights, along with various other tweaks both inside and out. The good news for you is that your £20,000 budget will more than stretch to a facelifted model with only a few thousand miles on the clock.
Cooper models are a great option unless you want more power, in which case the speedy Cooper S or the even hotter John Cooper Works versions will be the way to go - there are limited JCW models available in this price range though. The JCW is very hard over typical British tarmac, too, never really settling down and becoming comfortable.
Mini is known for its personalisation options, so it can be hard to recommend a specific trim level as you could well find a better value bargain where the owner went crazy with the options list. ‘Chilli’ or ‘Pepper’ packs are good to look out for, as they come with important features such as air-conditioning and Bluetooth.
The Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer replaced the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso – although not much actually changed other than the badges.
Both cars are more than up to the challenges a family can throw at them: they seat seven, have boot space for all your luggage, and feature child boredom-minimising tech such as Bluetooth.
For £20,000 you will be able to choose from the very latest petrol and diesel models, with automatic and manual gearboxes also on the cards. The BlueHDi 120 Flair model is a great option for most, but automatics are less common, so you may have to act fast when you find a good one.
The Mercedes C-Class Estate is a strong alternative to other premium estate cars like the BMW 3 Series Touring and Audi A4 Avant. It’s up there with the best in terms of interior quality, while the C-Class Estate is very practical for family holidays and extra-large tip runs.
At this budget, there are economy-focused diesels, more powerful options and even plug-in hybrids. The C220d offers both efficiency and decent performance, and the mid-range Sport trim seems to be the most readily available. Even the entry-level SE trim comes well equipped with heated front seats, a reversing camera, auto headlights and wipers and a touchscreen media display with navigation and both Apple and Android smartphone integration.
*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:
48 monthly payments of £192
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
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.