Best used executive cars 2024

If you need a fast, comfortable and stylish set of wheels, these are the best used executive cars that the market has to offer

If you want to enjoy the daily commute, impress your colleagues in the car park and even have enough space for the family, you needn’t spend a fortune. Opting for one of our best used executive cars on sale will see you bag a modern, stylish car that’ll also provide plenty of performance and comfort, but at a much more reasonable price than a brand new alternative. 

Executive cars tend to offer a wider breadth of talent than most other kinds of car, and that’s why it’s so important to know the strengths and weaknesses of a used executive car before spending your money on one.

The choice is equally broad, though, so we’re here to help. Our team of expert road testers have driven and reviewed every executive car that you can buy in the UK, and they’ve rounded up the very best used full-size and compact executive cars on sale right now. Read on to find these listed below.

The best used executive cars 

  1. Volvo S90
  2. BMW 3 Series
  3. BMW 5 Series
  4. Tesla Model 3
  5. Lexus GS 450h 
  6. Saab 9-3
  7. Audi A4
  8. Jaguar XE

1. Volvo S90 (Mk2)

  • Our pick: D4 Momentum Euro 6 (2016/66, 45k miles, £16,250)

Few things are certain in the used car market, but the Volvo S90 proving to be a top second-hand saloon car buy is one of them. For the fourth year in a row, the sophisticated Swedish machine carries off our Best Used Executive Car trophy. And it’s not hard to see why, with its blend of style, safety, comfort and exceptional value making it ideal for captains of industry with an eye on the bottom line.

Just how much car do you get for your cash with the S90? Well, we found a 66-plate Momentum D4 with just 45,000 miles on its odometer and a fully stamped service history for £16,250. Search out a BMW 520d of a similar age, mileage and service record and you can expect to pay around £20,000.

However, you certainly won’t feel like you’re cutting corners if you take the plunge with the Volvo. For starters, the interior effortlessly mixes a modern, minimalist look with traditional materials such as wood and leather. The list of standard kit stretches as far as the vast rear legroom, and includes the brand’s portrait-style touchscreen infotainment system. And you know you’ll always be sitting comfortably with the S90’s famously supportive seats.

This impression continues on the move, where the soft ride and hushed refinement ensure you’ll always arrive at your next meeting relaxed and refreshed. And while it’s not as engaging through a series of corners as some, the Volvo handles precisely and has plenty of grip. It’s also packed with the brand’s latest advanced driver aids for peace of mind.

There’s a choice of four-cylinder engines, including punchy petrols and penny-pinching diesels. However, for those that like to mix business and pleasure, the plug-in T8 combines a thumping 385bhp with an EV range of around 30 miles and claimed economy of more than 140mpg, as long as you keep it charged.

Whichever way you look at it, this classy and capable Volvo is the key to executive success.

2. BMW 3 Series (Mk6/F30)

  • Our pick: 320d M Sport Euro 6 (2016/16, 59k miles, £12,595)

New or used, the 3 Series remains the king of the corporate car park. Dripping in premium appeal, brilliant to drive and with decent practicality, this BMW has very few chinks in its armour. Plus, with the earliest examples of the F30 model costing as little as £3,000, the sports saloon has never been more affordable.

At the heart of the BMW’s appeal is the way it drives. Its accurate steering, strong grip and engaging handling always encourage you to take the long way to and from the office. Yet that agility and entertainment don’t come at the expense of comfort and refinement; the 3 Series is equally adept at effortless motorway marathons. And if you regularly face tricky weather conditions, then you always have the option of xDrive four-wheel drive.

There’s also a huge choice of engines, from eager four-cylinder units through to silky straight-sixes and a fire-breathing 425bhp M3. There’s even the 330e PHEV for those wanting some electrification. However, the punchy, frugal 320d is the best all-rounder, particularly if you can stretch to a ULEZ-compliant Euro 6 example.

The Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class feel a little more upper-crust inside, but you’ll hardly be slumming it in the BMW. High-grade materials are used throughout, while the low-slung driving position and supportive seats offer exceptional comfort. And although the 3 Series trails the best for space, there’s decent head and legroom in the back and a handy 480-litre boot.

Massive popularity with company car users as a new car means you’ll also be spoiled for choice when picking a pre-owned example. The racy M Sport models are particularly in demand, but the SE, Sport and Luxury versions are equally desirable. And while the tech isn’t quite at the cutting edge, the iDrive entertainment is packed with features and remains a doddle to use.

You’ll need to make sure any potential purchase has been looked after, and a full service history is essential, but take the plunge and you’ll be rewarded with a compact exec that likes to work as hard as it plays.

3. BMW 5 Series (Mk7/G30)

When it comes to blasting down back roads and impressing colleagues in the boardroom, few executive saloons can match the 5 Series. Strong residual values mean it costs more to buy than rivals when used, but thanks to the luxuriously appointed interior and top-notch quality, you won’t begrudge the extra outlay.

4. Tesla Model 3 (Mk1)

One of the best-selling new EVs, the Tesla Model 3 is also an excellent used buy. Prices have fallen below £20,000, making this spacious saloon more affordable than ever. Strong performance and composed handling make it good to drive, and the interior is full of tech. Access to Tesla’s Supercharger network is the icing on the cake.

5. Lexus GS 450h (Mk3)

Self-charging hybrid executive saloons are all the rage these days, but it was Lexus that started the bandwagon rolling in 2006 with its original GS 450h. The more eye-catching second-generation version arrived in 2012. Bombproof reliability comes as standard, while prices start at around £10,000.

6. Saab 9-3 (Mk2)

Saab closed in 2011, but it retains a loyal following – and the 9-3 is a cheap and cheerful choice. Its turbocharged petrols are muscular and reliable, while the seats are some of the best in the business. A car of this age will lack the latest tech, but with prices from less than £1,000, you’ll cut a dash for not much cash. 

7. Audi A4 (Mk5)

You only need to spend as little as £7,000 to bag a decent example of the classy and capable Audi A4. At this price you’ll be looking at models with more than 100,000 miles on the clock, but the A4’s beautiful build quality means it’ll look and feel like it’s done half that.

In terms of engines, the punchy and fuel-efficient 2.0-litre diesel is still hard to beat, combining 189bhp with an easy 50mpg. But there’s also an array of refined petrol engines on offer, plus V6 diesels and up to 345bhp available in the high-performance S4 range-topper. Pre-facelift S4s had a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine, which was dropped in 2019.

However, the real highlight of the A4 is its interior, which oozes premium appeal and is dripping with cutting-edge tech. Its slick infotainment is packed with features, while the latest driver aids bring added confidence. Those sitting in the rear get more space than in rivals, while the 480-litre boot swallows everything from golf clubs to camping gear.

8. Jaguar XE (Mk1)

The Jaguar XE's blend of balanced rear-drive handling, a cosseting ride and good looks is a highlight, while the car’s 2.0-litre diesel engine is punchy and fuel-efficient. Early examples don’t have the best infotainment, and the interior isn’t as upmarket as the A4’s, but for keen drivers the sharp-steering Jag is a top choice.

An update in 2019 saw the XE’s engine line-up cut to three options: there’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel with 178bhp, and a pair of four-cylinder petrol units that produce 247bhp and 296bhp respectively. Unsurprisingly the former is the best for fuel economy, while the latter is daddy when it comes to speed.

While the pre-facelift model isn’t quite up to the level of its rivals (the boot is disappointingly small at 455 litres, and rear legroom is a little cramped), it isn’t far off.

Now find out more about the best used cars you can buy...

Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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