When shopping on a budget like £2,000, there are far more options than you might initially expect. However, at this price point you really need to think about the limitations and what you might be getting from a car at this area.

For instance, you can find plenty of high-end, luxurious cars for £2,000 – they’re often prone to the heaviest depreciation – but fixing them will be costly. So bear this in mind if you’re tempted by something lavish.

At this price it’s more important than ever to do your homework on a car. Make sure you do a background check on any model you’re looking at while we’d suggest thoroughly inspecting things like the tyres and brakes. At £2,000, you might have to make some extra allowances for a car you’re looking at – car park dings and interior scrapes, for example, will be more common.

The Best Second-Hand Cars Under £2,000

As we’ve touched on, there’s plenty of variety in the second-hand car market – particularly when it comes to models under £2,000 – so we’ve picked out some of the best that will also prove inexpensive to run.

1. Volkswagen Touran - (2003-2015)

The Volkswagen Touran finessed the classic MPV formula. In classic Volkswagen fashion, this is a well-built car which zeroed in on its target audience – families – with a spacious and cleverly packaged interior which made getting in and out as easily as possible.

It’s available with a good choice of engines and has a pretty decent reputation for reliability, too. With space for seven, it’s got room on its side and while those rearmost seats may only be roomy enough for smaller kids, it’s good to have the option there when you need it.

The middle row has got good levels of space to offer while the Touran’s solid build quality means that it remains an ideal family workhorse and there are plenty of examples available for our £2,000 budget.

Best Features

  • Practical and spacious.
  • Great build quality will stand up to family life.
  • Flexible range of engines make the Touran cheap to run.

Things to consider

  • There aren’t too many exciting colour choices available.
  • Rearmost seats are quite tight.
  • Facelift in 2006 brought a sharper design but will add a premium.

2. DS 3 - (2009-2016)

DS took the approach of using plain Citroen models as a basis and infusing them with some extra style and its first product of this was the DS 3. Essentially, it’s the same as the Citroen C3 underneath but looks and feels far more special than the more traditional French hatch on which it is based.

If you want to stand out for your £2,000 budget then the DS 3 is a great way to do it, but it’s also practical and great for driving in town thanks to its compact size.

You’ve got plenty of engine options – we like 1.6-litre turbocharged units for their flexibility and performance – while a diesel version is a great choice for long-distance drivers who want a frugal option.

Best Features

  • Stylish exterior
  • Interior has lots of features and comfy front seats
  • Good variety of engines to choose from

Things to consider

  • Rear seats are quite cramped
  • Some interior plastics feel a bit poor
  • Diesel engines can sound quite clattery

3. Honda Civic (2006-2011)

Reliability has always been at the heart of Honda’s ethos and nowhere is that more present in its ever-popular Civic. It’s because of the Civic’s long-lasting popularity and reliability which means that there are loads to choose from for our £2,000 budget.

We like the generation made from 2006 as it’s got a more modern exterior design and a well-made interior. It won’t blow out the budget, however, and this eighth-generation Civic will prove cheap to run and won’t cause too many headaches when it comes to mechanical issues.

Though our budget won’t stretch to the sporty Type R, all Civics of this generation are good to drive, being both fun in the twisty sections while refined and quiet on the motorway.

Best Features

  • Eighth-generation Civic won’t go wrong if looked after properly
  • Diesel engines are both powerful and efficient
  • Plenty of choice at this price point

Things to consider

  • Visibility isn’t the best
  • No rear wiper means that the back screen can often get quite dirty
  • Futuristic dashboard can sometimes be hard to read in direct light

4. Volvo V70 - (2001-2007)

Think of Volvo and we reckon you’re already imagining a big, comfortable estate car – and that’s exactly what the V70 is. One of the last large and boxy estates to come from the Swedish company, the V70 is a must-pick for drivers who want a spacious option that can swallow up plenty of luggage.

It’s super-comfortable, too, and feels like it was built to travel long distances. You’ll find that even on high-mileage examples have cabins which remain solid and very usable while the diesel engines available with the V70 have a good blend of efficiency and performance.

Though petrol engines are there to choose from, they bring heavy running costs for little advantage over the diesels. The front seats are. almost armchair-like in their comfort and padding, ensuring those miles fly by in the V70.

Best Features

  • Boot space is hard to beat
  • The V70 is great for long motorway cruises
  • Diesel engines are refined yet efficient

Things to consider

  • Lots of V70s have seriously high miles
  • Handling was a little bit roly-poly
  • Not all that exciting from the outside

5. Daihatsu Terios - (2006-2010)

A somewhat quirky option, the Terios is a compact SUV which brings a surprising amount of off-road ability for the money. If you live in more rural areas or frequently tackle snow and ice during the winter, then the Terios could prove a real lifeline.

Its small size and low weight means that it can go far further off the beaten track than you might expect and can give four-wheel-drives three times its size a run for their money.

This second-generation Terios has ample seating for four people and while some of the plastics inside might be on the hard side, they’re hard-wearing as a result.

You’ve only got compact petrol engines to choose from – there are no diesels available with the Terios – but the ones which are there provide decent enough performance though, despite its four wheel-drive, it isn’t really gutsy enough for towing duties.

Best Features

  • Loads of capability off-road
  • Compact size means it’s easier to park than many rival four-wheel-drives
  • Interior is hard-wearing

Things to consider

  • Might be a bit agricultural if you don’t spend lots of time off-road
  • No diesel engine options
  • Interior can feel a bit low-rent in places

6. Ford Focus (2011-2018)

It feels like we couldn’t complete this list without the Ford Focus, could we? As one of the UK’s most popular cars, the Focus is a car you’ll find plenty of in the used market and there are loads available for our budget.

It’s a true all-rounder, the Focus, with a spacious and well-made interior combined with a solid driving experience to create a car which feels suitable for all motoring scenarios.

All versions get plenty of equipment, too, and though we’ll be looking at higher-mileage examples at this price point, a well-serviced example will keep running for many years to come. There’s a good choice of engines available, making this third-generation model a good fit for a whole lot of drivers. Families will like its easy-to-access interior, too.

Best Features

  • Popularity means there are plenty of used examples to look at
  • Good range of engines to suit all drivers
  • Practical and well-made cabin

Things to consider

  • Use as family cars mean that the Focus can sometimes feel a little tired inside
  • Focus models are often run on a budget, so look out for worn tyres and substandard brakes
  • Look out for car park dings and scrapes

7. Volkswagen Polo - (2002-2009)

Volkswagen’s stylish Polo is the kind of hatchback which doesn’t feel too small. Refined and easy to drive, it covers a superb number of use cases and as a result, it’s a good fit for lots of motorists.

This fourth-generation Polo comes within our £2,000 budget, but brings some solid build quality alongside looks which still look current today. It’s a very comfortable car and drives like a much larger model. It’s particularly good on the motorway – somewhere you don’t expect small cars to be all that accomplished

If you want super-low running costs then look out for efficient BlueMotion models which sip their fuel to deliver excellent efficiency. Because of its build quality and desirability, used Polo prices have remained strong, which is why you need a slightly older version in order to meet the £2,000 budget.

Best Features

  • Strong build quality means that Polos feel solid
  • Compact size makes the Polo very easy to live with and park
  • Efficient engines will ensure the Polo doesn’t cost much to run

Things to consider

  • Popularity as a ‘first car’ means that older examples are prone to damaged bumpers and alloys
  • Prices remain strong for even high-mileage examples
  • Not quite as good to drive as some rivals

Things to consider when buying a car for under £2,000

Though there are plenty of options within the sub-£2,000 market, you do need to be cautious of certain factors. This area of the used car market is where a lot of car scams occur. The old adage ‘if something looks too good to be true, it probably is’ immediately springs to mind. Never hand over any cash before you’ve seen a car and we’d try to avoid paying any kind of ‘holding’ deposit for a used car at this price point, particularly when it comes to private sales.

History check

Even if you’re on a strict budget we’d recommend getting a background check done on any car you’re looking at, as this will flag any outstanding finance and whether or not it has been crashed and repaired previously. Used cars under £2,000 listed on MOTORS are all history checked so you have at least some idea of the car’s background.

Service history

Servicing becomes even more important at this price point too. Within this budget you’ll be looking at older, more high-mileage models and, with these types of cars, making sure that they’ve been well looked after is paramount.

MOT history

You can also head online and use the DVLA’s free MOT checker to see the car’s previous MOT history and whether or not the seller is being truthful. Even if it has passed recently, you’ll be able to see the advisories which could highlight some potential problems in the future.

Tips for finding and buying a car for under £2,000

Buying a car for £2,000 is all about managing expectations. At this price point, you’ll be looking at a relatively high-mileage model which won’t be all that new. However, that doesn’t mean that the process of finding it has to be dull, which is why we’d advise doing as much research as you can to make sure you find the right car for you.

That could involve checking out some of the reviews and guides we have here at MOTORS, as well as going around and viewing as many cars as possible. Remember, at this age, most cars will have a bit of wear and tear, but there’s a big difference between age-related marks and mistreatment.

We’d always advise test-driving any car before purchasing and, if you have any mechanical concerns but don’t feel equipped to deal with them yourself, make sure you have an inspection carried out by an authorised third party mechanic.

Frequently asked questions