The UK’s Safest Used Cars for Different Budgets


When you buy a used car there are sacrifices to be made – whether it’s style, colour, mileage, age or condition.

However, you’ll scoop a huge saving when compared to the cost of buying new.

That said, there’s one thing that shouldn’t be sacrificed under any circumstances: safety.

The number of road traffic related deaths has dropped 2% compared to 2017, but 1,732 deaths were still reported by the Department for Transport in 2018.

What about safety on a budget?

Well, a used car is a sensible purchase to make whether your budget is small or large or you’re after a family car or supercar.

Thanks to the booming automotive market, there are plenty of great cars available. Of these, you should aim to select a model that is likely to be reliable and safe.

The used cars to avoid at all costs

It’s all to easy to be tempted by a bargain buy. However, there are a numbers of cars you’d be well advised to avoid should really avoid in the interest of safety.

Predominantly intended for the US market, but still available in the UK, The following examples all have a mere 1/5 or 1.5/5 star NCAP safety rating.

  • Isuzu D-Max – 2008 model.
  • Chevrolet Aveo – 2006 model.
  • Chrysler Voyager – 2007 model.
  • Cars that achieved a 2/5 NCAP safety rating.
  • Renault Trafic 2.0dCi Passenger ‘Expression’ – 2012 model.
  • Jeep Compass 2.2 Diesel – 2011 model.
  • Ford Ranger Pick Up – 2008 model.

Bargain safety: Between £1,000-£5,000

Even if your budget is incredibly tight, there’s no reason to compromise on safety.

The proof of that statement comes in the form of the following used cars, all of which come with good safety ratings and can be picked up on tight budgets.

1. Honda Jazz – Best Family Car

Image Credit: Auto Express

The Honda Jazz boasts a stupidly high scoring in a whole host of reliability surveys that are dotted across the internet and is commonly recommended by car magazine as great all-round family car.

It’s easy to see why when you consider its spacious interiors and great running costs.

Even models dating back to 2004 have a 4/5 star NCAP rating and can be picked up for just £1000.

Meanwhile, older models can be picked up for £4,500-£5000 for the 2009 version, which also gets you a whopping 5/5 star rating.

2. Volkswagen Golf – Best hatchback

Image Credit: MotorTrend

If you’re after a family motor that has a boot load of street cred, then it’s worth noting that Volkswagen is renowned for reliable engineering.

The 2008 Golf holds a 5/5 star NCAP rating, boasts spacious interior and a range of good engines. £5,000 or less will buy you a 2008 or 2009 plate example with around 80,000 miles under its belt.

3. Mazda 3 – The sportier option

Image Credit: The Car Guide

Want a family car that doesn’t look like you’re average family car? Something that oozes style?

The Mazda3 is an attractive option, not just on price and safety, but also aesthetics. It has a plethora of eye-friendly curves and lines to it, and for £5,000 you’ll quite literally be spoiled for choice with a vast and seemingly never ending range of five door models you can get your hands on with around 50,000 on the clock.

Aim for models built in 2009 and above and you’ll be rewarded with full 5/5 star NCAP ratings.

Safety in style: £5,000-10,000

If you’ve got £10,000 to put on a car, you’re most likely going to end up with a 2012/13 model, which will likely mean higher NCAP ratings.
However, if you’re dead set on sticking to your budget and want to get something newer whilst still packing in safety, these are the cars that hit the 5 star rating but are friendlier on your wallet.

1. Ford Focus – Britain’s Favourite Family hatchback

Image Credit: MotorTrend

This is the bestselling family hatchback in Britain, and for good reason. The Focus is a spacious car that has incredible hi-tech and robust safety features fitted as standard, including electronic stability control and brake assistance.

If you pick up a 2011 model you’ll achieve a 5 star NCAP rating, but at this price point your options are wide and varied, with everything from a 1.6 petrol with top spec Zetec and titanium trims up to economical 2012 and 2013 TDCi diesel engines.

2. Vauxhall Astra – Affordable at all budgets

Image Credit: AutoExpress

Surprisingly, even 2004 Vauxhall Astra’s have reached 5 star NCAP ratings and can be bought on fairly minuscule budgets.

However, if you’re spending a bit more and want a full range of features then Vauxhall might be your best choice.

At around £8,000-9,000, you’ll get a 2015 reg model with cruise control and parking sensors.

To put it simply, this is a safe family car you can tailor to any budget.

3. Ford Fiesta – The bestselling used car in Britain

Image Credit: Stone Acre

Not only is the Ford Fiesta UK’s favourite used car, it’s also a particularly ideal option for smaller families who live in more congested areas thanks to a range of small, economical engines and a whole plethora of optional extras such as front windscreen heaters, which are great in winter and emergency brake assist, which adds an extra level of safety.

For this kind of budget you’ll be able to get your hands on anything from a fairly standard 2012 1.2 Zetec model for around £5,000 or a 2015 EcoBoost for around £10,000. Either way, all the models are 5 star safety rating holders.

As you’d probably expect, there are tons of cars that boast a full 5 star NCAP rating – but deciding what you’ll go for when it comes to affordability and safety can be a rather tricky task.

Take the aforementioned suggestions on board, but make sure you test-drive and thoroughly scrutinise any vehicle before you buy.

After all, you are best placed to determine what you need from a car.


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