What’s the best second-hand automatic car to buy?

A few decades ago, automatic transmissions were clunky, inefficient, and prone to premature failures. But nowadays automatic transmissions are a standard, and manuals are slowly but surely being forgotten. Only a handful of car enthusiasts still prefer manuals, but that’s only the case for dedicated sports cars.

Given the current situation, there are loads of great automatic cars to choose from. Some manufacturers like Mercedes have discontinued manuals for quite some time now, and it seems like many other mainstream manufacturers are soon to follow.

If you want a smaller car, the automatic version of the nippy Ford Fiesta is always a great option. The Fiesta is reliable, cheap to buy and run, and it also offers a contemporary driving experience with a few fairly powerful EcoBoost engine options.

If you want a sedan, there are loads of different Mercedes Benz E-Class generations to chose from, and all of them are automatic and fairly reliable. If you prefer SUVs, you can’t go wrong with a Volvo XC90 as this sleek SUV is extremely reliable and efficient, and is only offered with an automatic.

Automatic transmission benefits

Before getting into the best used automatic car options out there, a couple of reasons why you should opt for an automatic. Firstly, automatics are easy, they take the strain out of daily driving and they make the whole driving process less engaging and thus more enjoyable.

Of course, some might argue the ‘’enjoyableness’’, but it is true that the majority of supercar enthusiasts also prefer automatics, that’s partly the reason why you can’t even buy a manual Ferrari, Lamborghini, or a McLaren anymore.

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Secondly, automatics are now as efficient or even more efficient compared to manuals. They also react faster and enable you faster 0-60mph speeds and the ability to put more focus into the driving itself and less on shifting. Furthermore, automatics are also more powerful and robust these days

Best small used automatic car

The fact that automatics have completely taken over is rather obvious in the compact car segment. Only a few years or so ago have compact cars made the transition towards automatics, and it seems like the tide is shifting in favor of automatics as time goes on.

And you really can’t go wrong with buying a Ford Fiesta, as this small yet desirable hatchback is one of the most popular cars on the planet. Powertrain-wise, the Fiesta offers punchy EcoBoost engines and smooth and sophisticated transmission.

If you prefer European cars, a VW Golf was and always will be a great option no matter the transmission in question. But the DSG automatics found in newer Golf models have proven to be more reliable than they once were.

If you want a more luxurious option, the previous generation Audi A3 is a great option as it offers pretty much the same powertrain found in the Golf, but it also offers a more polished driving experience, better materials, increased comfort, and a lot more style.

 Best used automatic sedans

Sedans were the first car segment to benefit from state-of-the-art automatic transmissions as these usually larger cars tend to be even clunkier compared to smaller cars. Mercedes has ditched manuals for the US market back in 2011, and it seems like that decision had no negative effects on sales.

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And the Mercedes Benz E-Class was almost always optioned with an automatic transmission ever since the introduction of the auto box in the Mercedes lineup. Some 2016 models have now depreciated quite substantially, but they still offer 99% of ‘’Mercedesness’’.

If you want a more affordable sedan, a Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord have both been hailed as indestructible for years now. You can get both of these with solid automatic transmissions, but they are not even close to an E-Class or any other German executive sedan.

That being said, the fairly new Audi A6 is probably the best sedan on the market right now as it offers an identical interior and features list as in the Audi A8 flagship.

Best used automatic SUVs

SUVs have become the default car of the 2020s, and it seems like manufacturers now are keen to develop newer SUVs. With that being said, there are loads of amazing SUVs to choose from no matter the size or price category.

And the best used smaller SUV to buy right now is the VW Tiguan as the price to what you get ratio is extremely high, pair that with a fast and smooth shifting double-clutch DSG gearbox, you are looking at a great used car option.

If you love larger SUVs, the Toyota 4Runner also seems like a great used option thanks to its stellar reliability. If you want a more premium SUV, the Volvo XC90 is slowly depreciating for a couple of years now, and now it seems like a great buy thanks to its contemporary exterior and still futuristic-looking interior design.

As far as full-size SUVs are considered, if you can find a used Kia Telluride, go ahead and buy it as it is the best full-size SUV value option right now.

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FAQ Section

Are manuals at the brink of extinction?

It’s hard to tell, but it’s unlikely that manuals will ever completely go out of production. As long as internal combustion engines are developed, manuals are likely to live.

Manuals are really popular with a bunch of Porsche enthusiasts, and many other brands such as BMW and Aston Martin are also keen to develop newer manual cars.

 What are the benefits of a manual?

People love manuals because they make you feel more engaged. By driving a manual you are doing more and the relationship between the car and the driver is not as distant as it is when you are driving an automatic.

Manuals are cheaper in most cases and they are also sometimes a more reliable option. In rare cases, a manual is considerably more valuable on the second-hand market thanks to exclusivity.

Which cars benefit from automatics the most?

Sedans, SUVs, estate cars, and track-focused performance cars. Luxury sedans are made for ease of driving and comfort, and an automatic is better at all those things compared to a manual. SUVs are big, heavy and they need more power and general toughness.

And a well-built auto box is always going to make your SUV that bit nippier and more robust. As far as track-focused cars are concerned, well you want the fastest lap times. And you can’t get those with a manual in 99% of situations.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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