Toyota Verso, 09-reg to 59-reg
Why it's a great used buy
The Verso is good to drive and very easy to use, though it's not as big as most rivals, with legroom at a premium with seven on board. One of its big appeals is Toyota's excellent reliability record and five-year warranty, which means even an 09-reg car is still under warranty until at least March 2014. What's more, it won't cost you more than £10,000 to get the latest-generation Verso (albeit before its facelift in the summer of 2013, which also made it a bit quieter and smoother, but there's not much in it).
What it's like to drive and use
The Verso has always been good to drive. Its steering is generally accurate and responsive, and while it can be a bit jiggly on poorer road surfaces, its body stays well composed on bends – which should be a big help to kids who suffer from car sickness. Only the 1.6-litre petrol struggles with the car's weight (the automatics, with their slow gear-changes, should also be avoided).
Although it's relatively compact, the Verso has three full-size seats across the middle-row so many models of child seat can be fitted here three abreast – the fact that the seats are very flat, with minimal side bolsters, also helps child seats to fit well. Each of the middle-row seats also slides and reclines individually to help occupants get comfortable or to adjust the bias of space between the middle-row occupants and the boot – or those sitting in the pair of seats that pop up from underneath it. Rear legroom is a bit limited and the rearmost seats are set particularly low-down so they're definitely best reserved for children. Still, the Verso wins plenty of points for the ease and speed with which its seats fold completely flat, quickly creating a big boot for five and a huge loadbay with all the rear seats down. Seven-up, there's still room for a slim-folding buggy and a couple of shopping bags.
2.0 D-4D TR 7-seat
Typical price £9924 for 10/59 with 48,000 miles
The 2.0-litre diesel engine provides plenty of oomph with just a small squeeze of the accelerator, so it can easily cope with a fully laden Verso; it can do up to 51.4mpg, too. There are plenty of TR-spec cars on the market as this trim-level was very good value, including alloys, electric windows in the front and back, air-con, Bluetooth, a CD player and front fog lights. A five-seat version of the Verso was also offered from late 2009, so ensure any model you're interested in has the number of seats you want.
1.8 V-matic TR 7-seat
Typical price £8317 for 10/59 with 48000 miles
This 1.8 is the only petrol engine on offer in Versos of this age. It doesn't have the clout of the diesel but it'll offer enough power for everyday urban journeys, with an overall average economy of 40.4mpg. TR-trim cars are well equipped, including alloys, four electric windows, Bluetooth and leather details. Make sure you're looking at a seven-seat Verso if you want the most versatile interior for your money; a five-seat model was also offered from late 2009.
Safety info on these models
Euro NCAP rating Five stars, with 89% for adults and 75% for children
Rear airbags? Yes, for both rows of rear seats
Isofix? On outer middle-row seats only
Front passenger airbag deactivation? Standard
Note: Since Toyota has only tested its cars using selected types of child seats, it puts the onus on the car owner to check with their child seat's manufacturer that it can be safely used in the chosen position in the Verso.
Problems to watch out for
Toyota has always featured near the top of surveys on customer satisfaction and vehicle reliability, and the Verso has scored high marks, too, so there is nothing specific to look for, other than the usual used car checks.
about 3 years