Best used automatic cars to buy
Tuesday, 26 July 2022
If you’re looking for an automatic on the used car market, this guide is to help you make a considered choice. Automatic vehicles are often considered more convenient and easier to handle, as you only need to change gears for parking or reversing, plus can allow for more focus on driving as you have less to think about.
Remember prices will vary depending on many factors, so do as much research as you can before you buy.
The best automatic cars to buy
Click on a model to jump to more information.
- Honda Accord
- Skoda Kodiaq
- Mercedes-Benz CLS
- Toyota Yaris
- Ford Fiesta
- Kia Ceed
- Jaguar S-Type
- BMW 5 Series
- Lexus IS 200
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Looking for one of these cars? Check our salvage auction for automatic vehicles.
Our criteria for the list
The used car market can sometimes seem daunting with the sheer amount of choice available. We know there’s more to your decision than price and availability, which is why you’ll find a carefully chosen selection of vehicles here, each judged by:
- Running costs
- Safety features
- Ride comfort
- Overall practicality (under various driving conditions)
Whether you choose petrol or diesel, an automatic Accord is nearly always more reliable than a manual version. Robust and with an excellent range of additional features, especially if you buy an Executive model, the Accord is also good value for money. Many describe the driving experience as ‘comfortable’, especially important if this is a car you’ll use for longer journeys. Supporting those longer journeys is the engine efficiency, once again a feature for both petrol and diesel models.
Automatic versions of this SUV are not as common as manual in the second-hand market, but the ones you do find often have high-spec interiors. You can get a five-seat version with an enormous boot that could be converted into an additional two seats, meaning the ultimate flexibility for families. Many people choose the Kodiaq for its power (especially the diesel versions) and enjoy the features that comes as standard on most models, including rear parking sensors and leather steering wheel.
In the CLS you will find a smooth ride thanks to its strong and reliable automatic gearbox. However, this isn’t the most spacious car, so if you’re looking to pack the boot or fit more than four people inside, it’s not for you. The space it does have however is more than comfortable. Should you be looking at the petrol edition of this car, the CLS 400, it comes with an electric sunroof, reversing camera and keyless entry.
A very popular small car, the Yaris still manages to have plenty of room in the boot and back seat for most people’s purposes. The first-generation Yaris came with a reliable and smooth torque converter automatic gearbox and inside any Yaris, you’ll find a modern interior with a centrally mounted digital speedometer. It’s a great choice for urban living as it’s compact, but also has great fuel economy for those long-weekend trips.
The Fiesta has won numerous ‘best car’ awards, thanks to its reliability, simple yet effective interior, and affordability. Its 1.0-litre turbo models come with Ford’s Powershift dual-clutch automatic gearbox and second-hand Fiestas are quite easy to find, often with lower mileage than expected too. The Fiesta is nearly always described as excellent to drive, with sharp handling and comfortable seats.
Kias have an excellent reputation for being dependable and the Ceed is no exception. Automatic versions are cost-effective and a good choice for families thanks to a good amount of space and a smooth ride. The torque converter automatic gearbox is available with a variety of models, both petrol and diesel, and has a good reputation for reliability too.
Okay, so the S-Type isn’t going to win any prizes for modernity in the looks department. But it is at least ageing gracefully, with familiarity having dulled the shock of its slightly beaky nose. And, under the skin, the later S-Types that this budget will afford you are genuinely great cars, with a choice of excellent petrol and diesel engines all attached to smooth, swift-changing automatic gearboxes. What’s more, few cars feel this opulent inside for the cash. The interior is dominated by slabs of real wood surrounded by great swathes of leather, while all S-Types of this era are laden with toys, making driving one a truly luxurious experience. Later S-Types are terrific to drive, too, with well-controlled handling and smooth suspension.
BMW 5 Series
The 5 Series has always been one of our favourite luxury cars. Not only does it deliver the involving handling for which BMWs have become well-known, but it also offers a classy interior and, in the right specification, a comfortable ride. Diesel engines are efficient, while petrol-powered alternatives are smooth, powerful and widely available. Moreover, the torque converter automatic gearbox in this generation of the 5 Series has held up well reliability-wise. While the rest of the car is expensive to fix if it does go wrong, a well-maintained example shouldn’t do so.
Lexus IS 200
With the IS 200, Lexus wanted to take the fight to the BMW 3 Series. Sadly, the IS 200 wasn’t quite as rounded a proposition, but these days it makes a great automatic used buy, thanks to a reputation for excellent reliability that’s rather better than most. What’s more, an automatic model is easy to find. And with a creamy six-cylinder powerplant and smooth automatic gearbox, it’s a satisfying thing to drive, too. Inside, you’ll find an interior that’s a little dated but rather interesting, particularly the chronometer-inspired dials and two-tone steering wheel. What’s more, as with any Lexus, it should still feel as tightly screwed together as the day it was made.
Even for less than five figures, you can still get hold of a choice Mercedes automatic in the form of an E-Class – one of the most plutocratic luxury cars around. We like the smooth E350 CDI best, but any E-Class is a solid used buy and, with Mercedes’ dependable automatic gearboxes as standard, shouldn’t let you down. The interior fittings aren’t quite as solid as we’d like but, apart from that, the E-Class is a pleasing thing to drive and spend time in. It’s spacious in both the front and rear, too, and has the added benefit of a capacious boot.
ASM can help you find the best used automatic car
Are you already on the hunt for your next car? ASM Auto Recycling has consistently healthy stock of repairable vehicles, offering regular online auctions supported by our site in Thame, Oxfordshire. For help buying used cars at online auctions, read our full guide.
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