Volkswagen Passat is Used Car of the Year image

What Car? has crowned the Volkswagen Passat the Used Car of the Year for 2009. Just £7000 buys you a three-year-old Passat 1.9 TDI S, which was praised by the judges for its classy image, drivability and reliability at a hugely tempting price.

Used car buyers looking for the best green option should track down the celebs’ favourite, the Toyota Prius, which took What Car?’s used green car accolade. With an official average of 65.7mpg and road tax bills of just £35 a year, it’s the best bet for motorists who want to help save the planet and save money on fuel.

Another hybrid won the title of best SUV: the Lexus RX400h is a 4×4 that runs on both petrol and electric power to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. A 2005 model can be yours for around £18,000, less than half the price of what it cost when new.

The Volkswagen Golf GTI 5dr was voted the best used sports car, while Vauxhall took away two trophies: best used estate car for the Vectra, and best used MPV for the Zafira – a winner for the third year on the trot.

What Car?’s used car editor, Matt Sanger, said: ‘It’s a strange time in the used car market, with prices still on the increase – in some cases up 30% year-on-year. Higher prices and limited availability of some cars had a huge effect on our judging, but our winners are all cars that are readily available and still represent great value.’

This year, it’s expected that six million used cars will be sold in the UK, roughly three times the number of new cars. The average used car costs a little more than £6000, is 39 months old and has covered more than 50,000 miles.

The eight-strong What Car? Used Car of the Year judging panel were from all areas of the motor industry, including car dealerships, British Car Auctions, Warranty Direct and experts from What Car?. As well as selecting the overall Used Car of The Year, the judges also picked winners and runners-up in eight categories, looking at running costs, reliability, drivability, quality, longevity and desirability.

Category Vehicle Year/Plate Av cost
Supermini Nissan Note 1.4 SE ’06/06 £5000
Small family car Ford Focus 1.6 (113) Zetec Climate 5dr ’06/06 £6400
Family car Volkswagen Passat 1.9 TDI S ’06/06 £7000
MPV Vauxhall Zafira 1.6 Club (A/C) ’06/06 £6000
Estate Vauxhall Vectra 1.8 Life ’08/08 £8400
SUV Lexus RX400h SE ’05/55 £18,000
Executive BMW 520d SE ’06/06 £15,000
Sports car Volkswagen Golf GTI 5dr ’05/55 £10,000
Green car Toyota Prius 1.5 T3 ’04/53 £7500
Overall winner Volkswagen Passat 1.9 TDI S ’06/06 £7000