Cheap automatic cars 2024

Tired of changing gear manually? Take a look at 10 cheap automatic cars you can buy right now

By Gavin Braithwaite-Smith March 19, 2024

Gone are the days when driving an automatic car meant putting up with poor acceleration and a drop in fuel economy, because today’s autos are more than a match for their manual counterparts. In fact, some automatic gearboxes, especially quick-shifting dual-clutch units, are arguably better.

They’re certainly more relaxing. Simply select ‘drive’ and let the car do all the hard work. Today’s automatic gearboxes will select the right gear for any situation, giving you a burst of acceleration when it’s required and maximising fuel economy when it’s not. When you want to go in the opposite direction, simply select reverse gear.


Automatic cars tend to be more expensive than those with a manual gearbox, so you can expect to pay a £500 to £2,000 premium on a newer car, but the gap narrows if you’re buying a used car. We’ve got around 6,000 automatic cars to choose from, with prices starting from just £6,250.

It’s also worth noting that automatic cars come in all shapes and sizes, from chic city cars to desirable large SUVs with space for you and your family.


Best cheap automatic car for value for money
Our pick: MG HS PHEV Exclusive
Read our full MG HS review

The MG HS is one of the most affordable small SUVs you can buy, but it doesn’t feel like a budget option. It offers exceptional value for money with the backing of a fully transferable seven-year/80,000-mile warranty. That alone should be enough to add the model to your shortlist.

The standard 1.5-litre petrol version is the most affordable version, but the MG HS plug-in hybrid is the one to choose for the lowest running costs. With a fully charged battery, it offers an impressive 32 miles of electric range, which is likely to be enough for the school run or your daily commute.

Because the MG HS is so affordable when new, most buyers opted for the high-spec Exclusive model (later renamed Trophy). Highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system.


Citroen C4

Best cheap automatic car for ride comfort
Our pick: Citroen C4 PureTech 130 Shine
Read our full Citroen C4 review

The Citroen C4 is a quirky and comfortable alternative to family hatchbacks such as the Volkswagen Golf and ever-popular Vauxhall Astra. And we do mean comfortable, because one of the French car’s key strengths is the way it tackles Britain’s pockmarked roads.

It’s thanks to what Citroen calls Advanced Comfort seats and Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension, which combine to smooth out all but the worst road surfaces. It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s as comfortable as a luxury saloon costing ten times the price.

There’s a choice of petrol and diesel engines, along with the electric Citroen e-C4, which offers up to 260 miles of range from a fully charged battery.


Vauxhall Grandland X

Best cheap automatic car for affordability
Our pick: Vauxhall Grandland X 1.2 Turbo 130 Design Line
Read our full Vauxhall Grandland X review

The Vauxhall Grandland X was on sale from 2018 until 2021, but such was its popularity, there’s still a reasonable selection of automatic models to choose from. If you fancy something newer, you could always opt for its replacement, the new Vauxhall Grandland.

You won’t spot it by looking at it, but the Vauxhall Grandland X shares a lot in common with the Peugeot 3008, including the engines and gearboxes. And that’s a good thing, because the Peugeot 3008 is one of the best family SUVs you can buy.

The punchy petrol engines are ideal if you spend most of your time in the city, while the diesel is an excellent choice for long journeys and towing duties. There’s even a plug-in hybrid version which offers around 30 miles of electric range.


Ford Focus

Best cheap automatic car for all-round capability
Our pick: Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium
Read our full Ford Focus review

Newer versions of the Ford Focus are available with an excellent seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which costs around £1,500 more than the six-speed manual when you’re buying new. It’s worth the expense, because the PowerShift automatic transmission is both smooth and quick shifting.

All versions of the Ford Focus come with a Quickclear heated windscreen, which will come in handy on cold and frosty mornings, with the list of standard features also including alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and a touchscreen infotainment system. 

The Ford Focus is offered as a five-door hatchback or spacious estate, both of which are available as a sporty Ford Focus ST or a rugged Ford Focus Active X, the latter being a good alternative to a family SUV.


Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Best cheap automatic car for low running costs
Our pick: Toyota Yaris 1.5 Icon Tech
Read our full Toyota Yaris review

You don’t get a lot of choice when buying a Toyota Yaris Hybrid. It comes with five doors, a 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid engine and a CVT (continuously variable transmission), which is essentially a single-speed automatic gearbox. And that’s fine, because it all adds up to a neat and fuel-efficient package.

It offers up to an official 70.6mpg, making it one of the most frugal small cars you can buy. There’s more, because in cities and at low speeds, the Toyota Yaris will spend a lot of time in electric mode, so it’s quiet and smooth. What’s not to like?

It’s not the cheapest small car you can buy, but the price is offset by the low running costs and generous kit, even on the entry-level version. The icing on the cake is the styling, which looks especially good in Toyota Yaris GR Sport trim.


Dacia Sandero Stepway

Best cheap automatic car for getting more for your money
Our pick: Dacia Sandero Stepway 1.0 Expression
Read our full Dacia Sandero Stepway review

The Dacia Sandero Stepway isn’t Britain’s cheapest new car. That would be the standard version of the Dacia Sandero. Both represent exceptional value for money, offering family hatchback motoring for the price of a city car.

The Dacia Sandero Stepway rides a little higher than the standard car and comes with an SUV-inspired makeover and a more generous level of standard kit. The 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine offers a terrific blend of performance and economy.

A CVT automatic gearbox is available, and although it puts a small dent in the fuel economy, it’s more relaxing to drive.


Renault Zoe

Best cheap automatic car for zero-emission driving
Our pick: Renault Zoe 52kWh Iconic
Read our full Renault Zoe review

With a couple of exceptions at the top end of the market, all electric cars come with a single-speed transmission, so they’re essentially automatic cars. There’s one forward gear and a reverse, so you can add relaxation to the list of reasons why driving an electric car is so satisfying.

The Renault Zoe has evolved since its launch in 2013, with the French firm introducing upgrades to the battery pack and electric motor, improving the specification and making subtle changes to the styling. You can expect to see an official 239 miles of range if you’re buying a newer model with a 52kWh battery, which makes it perfect for urban drivers with short commutes.

Until 2019, Renault Zoe buyers were offered the opportunity to either buy the car outright or pay less upfront plus a monthly battery leasing fee. If you’re buying a newer Renault Zoe, the batteries are likely to be included.


Skoda Karoq

Best cheap automatic car for generous equipment
Our pick: Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI DSG SE L
Read our full Skoda Karoq review

The Skoda Karoq is one of the best affordable family SUVs you can buy. The model has been on sale since 2018, but the combination of keen pricing, the Czech firm’s generous approach to specification and its strong performance in customer reliability surveys means it has lost none of its appeal.

Most versions come with the option of an ultra-smooth DSG seven-speed automatic transmission, which is almost as economical as the six-speed manual gearbox. The DSG, which stands for Direct Shift Gearbox, adapts to your driving style and changes gear accordingly. Alternatively, you can take control via the shift lever or paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.

Even the entry-level version features alloy wheels, a pair of eight-inch digital displays, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors.


Hyundai Tucson

Best cheap automatic car for a long warranty
Our pick: Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDi Hybrid Premium
Read our full Hyundai Tucson review

Some manufacturers offer longer warranties, but Hyundai’s five-year package catches the eye because it doesn’t come with a mileage cap. This means you’re free to do as many school runs, visits to the drive-thru and trips to the seaside as you like. 

In its current guise, the Hyundai Tucson has ditched its previously frumpy clothing in favour of a new sharper suit. But it’s not all style and no substance, because the SUV is packed with technology and offers a choice of petrol, mild hybrid, hybrid and plug-in hybrid options.

Our pick would be the self-charging hybrid, which features a 1.6-litre petrol engine, electric motor and six-speed automatic gearbox to deliver an official 50.4mpg in daily driving. It’s also significantly cheaper than the plug-in hybrid and does its best to switch to electric mode whenever it can.


Kia Sorento

Best cheap automatic car for seven seats
Our pick: Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid
Read our full Kia Sorento review

The Kia Sorento isn’t the cheapest automatic car on our list, but it is one of the most affordable seven-seaters you can buy. It also comes with a seven-year warranty, so even a Kia Sorento registered in 2020 will be covered by the brand’s original guarantee. Not that you’re likely to need it, because the large SUV is proving to be a supremely reliable family car.

There are three engines available: 1.6-litre petrol-electric hybrid, 1.6-litre plug-in hybrid and 2.2-litre diesel. The latter is excellent if you spend a lot of time travelling on motorways or with seven people and their luggage. If not, the hybrid offers diesel-like fuel economy, while the plug-in hybrid can achieve 35 miles of range from a fully charged battery.

An automatic gearbox is standard on all models, with the diesel featuring an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and the others a standard six-speed auto.