Best medium cars for 2019
By Daljinder Nagra
Article 5 of 16
Medium cars are the most popular type in the UK. Thanks to our rigorous tests, we can reveal the best new and used medium cars - as well as the worst
The medium-car market is dominated by popular hatchbacks, including the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, along with more premium models, such as the VW Golf and Audi A3.
But while they may all be around the same size, not all medium cars are worth your money. The best medium cars are reliable, practical, safe and reasonably cheap to run. Yet the worst are much more likely to break down, or be uncomfortable or poorly designed.
Below are the very best medium cars we've tested - models that ran the gauntlet of our lab and road tests, and scored highly enough to be Which? Best Buys. Our testing has also highlighted three medium cars you should avoid at all costs.
Best new medium cars
The greatest compliment we can pay this zero-emissions, all-electric model is that it's very much like the regular combustion model to drive (aside from a lack of noise). It doesn't sacrifice much space to fit in the new tech, either - it's a well-deserved Best Buy.
Hybrid cars are increasingly commonplace, but this was the first upmarket medium sized model available with the technology. Aside from sipping fuel and being effortless to drive, it is built to the same exemplary standard as the brand’s larger executive cars.
High performance cars and cleaner motoring needn’t be mutually exclusive concepts, as this model proves. Not only does it have hot-hatch pace, its plug-in hybrid system ensures low official CO2 emissions and the potential for very small running costs. It’s also got the same high-quality cabin as the regular petrol version.
Rear seat space may be at a premium, but this saloon ticks the boxes in almost every other respect. Including a fantastic selection of engines and the option of a slick twin-clutch gearbox. However, it misses out on Best Buy status due to emissions issues.
The best used medium cars
Buying used in a great way to get an exceptional car for a lower cost - just make sure you select a great model to avoid making a costly mistake. Our experts select the very best models to choose.
Best used medium cars
A battery electric car that doesn't compromise on luxury. It may be the frumpy hatchback in its maker’s range, but it's got most of the luxury trappings of more expensive models. The silent electric drivetrain only improves the tranquillity. It's a deserved Which? Best Buy.
This premium model is now something of a bargain on the used market. It offers a unique and engaging driving experience. It’s also available with a wide selection of engines with decent performance and economy. Cramped rear seat passengers won’t like it as much as you will, though.
Not found the car for you? Go straight to all our medium car reviews.
And the three medium cars to avoid
Medium cars need to be jacks of all trades: great family cars, with space for a pushchair and a fortnight's luggage, but compact enough to park easily in town. They should be easy to drive, comfortable and smooth - all while being cheap to run. Our testing has found medium cars that are master of one or more of these desirable traits, while some don't manage any.
By their very nature, medium cars should be more spacious than small ones. While most models have plenty of room in the front, some are cramped in the rear, while headroom and legroom can leave a lot to be desired. We use human-sized dummies to measure exactly how much room there is in every seat in a car.
People's high expectations of medium cars extend to how cheap they are to run. A manufacturer's claimed mpg is usually high, and almost always too good to be true. We conduct our own fuel-economy tests, so you get an accurate figure, and will know exactly how much the cars on your shortlist will cost you to run.
Here are the models you should steer clear of, to avoid disappointment when buying a new or used medium car.
Medium cars to avoid
This model is a common sight on the roads, but don’t let that lull you into thinking it’s a good car. It feels large on the road, despite not being exceptionally roomy inside. Petrol models are somewhat unrefined and diesels didn’t match fuel economy claims in our tests. Furthermore, over-the-shoulder visibility is compromised by thick window pillars.
It's easy to be seduced by this car’s styling and sporty petrol engines. However, its talents really are just skin deep. It's not particularly refined or spacious in the back, and its latest Euro NCAP assessment saw it awarded just three stars out of five for safety. You'd be better off with a newer Best Buy medium car instead.
We test cars more thoroughly than anyone else
Our tests go further than those carried out by other organisations. And because Which? is independent and doesn't accept advertising or freebies, you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about every car we test.
Each car we review is subjected to more than 100 individual tests in a lab, on a test track, and on real roads – and we really clock up the miles, driving around 500 miles in every car we test.
Testing in controlled lab conditions means the results we collect are directly comparable between different cars, helping us determine exactly which models are better and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs
To tell you which cars are likely to prove reliable for years to come, we also gather feedback from thousands of UK car owners through the Which? Car Survey, using it to generate detailed reliability ratings for the cars we test.
To take the guesswork out of choosing your next car, join Which? and you'll receive access to all our expert reviews and advice.