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Best second hand cars to own 2017

We reveal the best second hand cars on the market, as voted for by you in our annual Driver Power customer satisfaction survey

We’ve now moved the focus of our Driver Power survey to the second hand market by asking owners of models between three and six years old what they think of their current motor.  

In order to identify the country’s best second hand cars, we asked drivers to rate their vehicles in the same nine categories and 31 different areas as in the Driver Power new car survey.

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Best new cars to own: 2017 Driver Power results

The survey ranks everything from city cars to big SUVs, with each model’s strengths and weaknesses laid bare. We’ve highlighted it all from how reliable your next used buy is to whether it has enough space to carry the whole family and if it is cheap to run. We’ve also gone through the classified ads for each model and listed their starting prices to help those motorists tempted to take the plunge.

Below you’ll find out which is the best second hand buy for you as we reveal the top 10, while on page two we show you the best second hand cars to own in each market segment.

Driver Power 2017: Top 10 best second hand cars to own

1. Skoda Yeti – 91.63%

Key points: Strong scores across the board help SUV take Driver Power used car crown. 

You’d expect the top-rated used car in Driver Power to pick up high rankings in all areas, and the Skoda Yeti delivers.

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The boxy SUV achieves super scores for rear legroom, front seat comfort and interior styling, while owners hold cabin versatility and interior storage in high regard, too, thanks to a 416-litre boot and a variety of cubbies inside. On the road, the Yeti’s engine power, steering response and braking impress drivers enormously, plus the infotainment and controls come in for lots of praise.

A raft of safety features ensures a top-three placing in that category, and efficient engines – in particular the TDI diesels – mean running costs are only just outside the top 10. In spite of quite a high proportion of reported faults, owners rate reliability strongly, too. 

Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 19.4% 

Engine problems are a common complaint among the owners who reported issues with their Yeti.

Living with a Skoda Yeti

John Stephenson from Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, has owned his 2013 Yeti Laurin & Klement for two years. “I love everything about it,” he tells us.

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He covers 8,000 miles a year, mainly for social use. Surprisingly, the Yeti is his first car; John only passed his test after retiring. But he’s always taken an interest in motoring, and was struck by the Yeti’s simple design. He also rates the way it drives. “It’s entertaining, and handles well in corners,” he explains. “The ride is firm but not uncomfortable, and on motorways it’s stable.”

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With a 43mpg average, and 50mpg on motorways, John has no complaints about costs. Pulman Skoda in Durham does his servicing. “The fourth check is a big one, but it was only £269,” he says. And with a new foglamp bulb the only unexpected bill, it’s been reliable. 

Your view

“I have had the car for four years and 47,000 miles. Apart from a set of tyres, nothing has been required outside of normal servicing.” 

“Usually I change my car every three years, but I’ve had my Yeti for five years and can’t see any reason to change it.”

2. Lexus IS Mk3 – 91.05% 

Key points: Practicality aside, there isn’t much wrong with the Mk3 IS.

The IS Mk3 is ranked best in the engine and gearbox category, with drivers clearly impressed by the choice of petrol and petrol/electric hybrid drivetrains. Not only does the electric motor help with power, but owners also say the Lexus is the quietest car of all in the survey.

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The IS scores third place for ride and handling, with particular admiration for the steering and brakes, although ride quality and handling are nearly as good. The cramped rear seats and 450-litre boot mean the car loses marks for practicality. However, child-friendly features were rated well. The infotainment system and cabin controls are not as well admired as those found in the IS’s German rivals, and the car lost marks in particular for its tricky-to-use sat-nav system. Owners were most impressed with the effective heating and air-conditioning system and its ease of use.

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Satisfaction with reliability is sky high, though, and fewer than a tenth of drivers told us of problems. The 2.5-litre hybrid is seen to be very economical, while Lexus’ servicing fees aren’t too steep in owners’ eyes. 

Has it ever gone wrong? 

Yes: 9.4%

Less than a tenth of owners told us of problems. Electrical issues were highlighted by those who did. 

Your view

“I am very satisfied with the reliability of my Lexus. It’s great on fuel economy as well.” 

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“Superb handling, and the engine is silky smooth – the gearchanges are well timed.”

3. Jaguar XF Mk1 – 90.46% 

Key points: Super styling and great driving put the XF on the podium.

 At launch, the XF was a radical step forward over the S-Type it replaced, and it won some key classes here to earn a podium place in our survey. Swoopy exterior styling hits the spot for owners as they awarded it first place in the exterior poll, and they’re almost equally impressed with the Jag’s ride and handling.

It’s rated the second most pleasurable car to drive, the diesel and petrol engines are said to be good on power and the ZF eight-speed auto is smooth. Engine refinement could be better, as owners note some noise entering the cabin. Running costs are another area that drivers marked down. A closer look at the figures revealed many are happy about economy, insurance and tax, but servicing costs hold the XF back.

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Despite the high share of reported faults, feedback on reliability is very good – suggesting that many of these problems aren’t major breakdowns, but rather smaller issues. Practicality is well rated and rear legroom inside is praised by owners. Better child features would have helped, though. 

Has it ever gone wrong? 

Yes: 31.7% 

Nearly a third of XF owners have reported problems, with electrical glitches common. 

Your view 

“The ride is second to none. I find my XF is very quiet and smooth to drive at all times.” 

“You just don’t want to get out. It’s comfortable, smooth and a pleasure to drive.” 

4. Skoda Superb Mk2 – 90.36% 

Key points: Spacious Superb impresses with its comfort and safety. 

Skoda’s Mk2 Superb offered tremendous value when new. It scores on space, reliability and affordability, and all those characteristics continue to impress on the used market. In fact, owners rate it best in the survey for practicality and comfort, thanks to lots of clever interior storage options and a large 595-litre boot.

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Rear legroom receives the best praise in the whole survey, making it an ideal car for families with older children. The Superb also ranks an impressive third for its safety features, thanks in part to an excellent Euro NCAP showing, while top 10 ratings for reliability, infotainment and running costs cement its position. Owners are less impressed with the car’s looks, though, scoring it 24th for both style and fit and finish.

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While drivers say the engines are powerful and gearboxes smooth, the ride leaves a bit to be desired. The car was rated well for steering feel and brakes, but the fun factor is missing and comments suggested that some owners wanted smoother suspension.

Has it ever gone wrong? 

Yes: 24.0%

Close to a quarter of Superb owners told us of issues, with electrical complaints common. 

Your view 

“After a long journey you can get out of the car and still feel as fresh as you did when you started.” 

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“I’ve had no problems or breakdowns in 80,000 miles; not something I could say of my previous cars.”

5. Mercedes E-Class Mk4 – 90.32%

Key points: Great features and comfort, but running costs peg exec back. 

The previous Mercedes E-Class is a big, handsome car, and owners are certainly pleased with the way it looks, ranking it third in the exterior category. They’re also very impressed with the car’s technical features, scoring high marks – and a second place overall – for the infotainment system.

Even better is the first place for safety features; Mercedes’ Pre-Safe autonomous emergency braking system was introduced on this model, after all. A full five-star Euro NCAP result helps, too. Add a collection of top 10 scores across many categories, and it’s only the perceived running costs preventing the E-Class from challenging for the podium. Economy, tax and insurance rankings are all reasonable, but owners find servicing costs on the expensive side.

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The 540-litre boot is highly rated, and there are good storage options across the cabin. Passengers are rarely said to complain of rear seat space, but owners would have liked Mercedes to include more child-friendly features in its big saloon. 

Has it ever gone wrong? 

Yes: 15.1% 

Engine faults were common among the owners who highlighted problems to us.

Your view

“COMAND system is far better to use on the move than any touchscreen (and safer as a result).”

“Nothing rattles, everything fits and it has all continued to work for over 80,000 miles.”

6. Lexus RX Mk3 – 90.15% 

Key points: Luxurious hybrid-only SUV earns lots of praise for its powertrain and comfort.

 A combination of a 3.5-litre petrol V6 and electric motor makes the RX unique, and the drivetrain is lauded for its refinement and acceleration. However, fuel economy could be better. Superb front seats help the RX finish third best for interior and comfort. Owners like the steering and brakes, but the ride quality isn’t quite so admired. Great reliability scores are backed by the fewest share of reported problems. Drivers think the interior controls and infotainment are good, although they tell us that the sat-nav isn’t as impressive as the audio system. 

Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 5.0%

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RX owners had the least number of issues, although most of these highlighted suspension problems.

Your view

“I have driven automatics for many years, but the one in the RX has to be one of the smoothest so far.”

“The interior is beautifully finished and well put together, with high-quality materials and engineering.”

7. Lexus CT – 89.84%

Key points: The CT earns great responses for reliability and build quality, but practicality trails.

It’s the lowest-ranked Lexus in the top 10, but the CT is the highest-rated model overall for reliability. Owners like the way the hatch looks and its low running costs, but servicing is pricey. The petrol-electric drive is smooth and refined, although drivers would like a bit more power from the hybrid system. The car would score more highly on the road if the ride quality and fun factor could be ramped up to match the steering and brakes. Connectivity and sat-nav let the side down a little, while rear seat legroom and boot space hamper the practicality and comfort scores.

Has it ever gone wrong? 

Yes: 10.1%

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Just over a tenth of owners told us of problems, but they’re likely to be minor for our reliability champ. 

Your view

“It’s quiet for city driving, and it’s hard to tell when in electric or petrol mode.”

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“Absolutely amazing Mark Levinson stereo system has really good sound quality and punchy bass.” 

8. Honda CR-V Mk4 – 89.38%

Key points: A great infotainment set-up and impressive safety kit are key to the CR-V’s placing.

The CR-V is a popular SUV, but its strong performance in the Driver Power survey can be largely put down to its great infotainment and safety packages. The car is ranked first for infotainment, thanks to a standard set-up that is highly rated by owners for easy phone connectivity, and includes a five-inch display and dual-zone climate control. Drivers are also very impressed with reliability and build quality, ranking it fifth overall. Interior comfort is highly rated as well. Plus, owners tell us they appreciate the CR-V’s spacious boot and impressive rear legroom.

Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 14.0%

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Engine and interior problems have been common among the owners who told us of issues. 

Your view

“I drive around 650 miles per week and the CR-V has the most comfortable seats ever. I never have back pain or twinges.”

“The Honda CR-V is very spacious and practical. I never have any issues fitting everything in.”

9. BMW 5 Series Mk6 – 89.32%

Key points: Poor running costs blot an otherwise impressive scorecard for executive model. 

Where the sixth-generation 5 Series excels is as a comfortable executive cruiser, which is partly due to a great range of engines. It looks the part, with good feedback on exterior design, while comfort ratings are lifted by the quality of fit, finish and materials. A big boot is the practicality highlight, plus cabin ergonomics and storage are typically impressive – and feedback on the sat-nav is inside the top 10 in the infotainment category. Fuel economy seems to be rated acceptably, but owners clearly have a distaste for BMW service costs.

Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 19.7%

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Out of the drivers who told us of faults, many reported electrical issues and suspension woes.

Your view

“Great acceleration for a large car with a 2.0-litre diesel, thanks to selectable driving set-up on the auto gearbox.”

“I often take the longer route across country to enjoy the superb handling characteristics of this car.” 

10. SEAT Leon – 89.28%

Key points: Great infotainment and running costs help the Leon make the top 10. 

It’s based on VW Group technology and shares its platform with the Volkswagen Golf, but the Leon’s used appeal has been boosted by sportier suspension settings and more affordable pricing. Owners admire its road manners above all, awarding great scores for steering, brakes and handling – and as a result for driving pleasure, too. Drivers also rate the user-friendly cabin layout. Interior and comfort scores are let down a little by the quality of fit and finish, but owners can’t fault the running costs, with economy and servicing both ranking strongly. 

Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 24.6%

Electrical issues were common among the quarter of owners who highlighted faults with their Leon. 

Your view 

“A nice, nimble ride. I especially like the Adaptive Cruise Control feature in my Leon.” 

“Good in nearly every respect. It’s reliable, excellent value, has a good ride and solid build quality.” 

Best second hand cars to own: places 11 to 20… 

You’ve seen the best second cars to own, but these are the models that just missed out on a place in the top 10…. 

11. Toyota Prius Mk3 – 89.22%12. Mercedes C-Class Mk3 – 88.50%13. Toyota RAV4 Mk4 – 88.43%14. Skoda Octavia Mk2 – 88.17%15. Honda Jazz Mk2 – 88.07%16. Toyota GT86 – 87.90%17. Alfa Romeo Giulietta – 87.89%18. BMW 1 Series Mk2 – 87.77%19. Lad Rover Freelander Mk2 – 87.75%20. Kia Cee’d Mk2 – 87.63% 

Click through to page 2 to see the list of second hand winners by class…

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