What car should I buy for life in the Netherlands?

Time to hit the road! 🚗

Living in the Netherlands and tired of rainy bike rides and delayed trains? It might be time for you to buy a car.

The only problem? There are too many choices. Between fancy Mercedes, compact MINIs, and family-friendly minivans, what’s the best car to get in the Netherlands? 

Let’s get into it. 👇

What are the most popular cars in the Netherlands?

The easiest way to figure out the most suitable car for life in the Netherlands is to look at the buying trends of the Dutch themselves. 

After all, if the locals decide a car is fit for the roads, it must be good enough for us internationals as well.

READ MORE | Why driving in the Netherlands is stressful: My experience of living in the Netherlands

In 2023, 369,791 new passenger cars were registered in the Netherlands, with the top-selling car being the Tesla Y model — a fully electric, mid-size SUV.

Tesla-y-most-sold-car-in-the-netherlands
Looking snazzy! Image: Depositphotos

But although the most-sold car in the Netherlands is an electric model, not everyone is ready to make the jump to a fully electric car. 

In fact, most new cars in the Netherlands are hybrid (37.1%), while 30.8% are fully electric, and 30.4% run on petrol. Only 1.1% of new cars have a diesel engine.

These are the 10 most frequently sold car models in the Netherlands in 2023: 

  1. Tesla Y
  2. Kia Picanto
  3. Peugeot 208
  4. Volvo XC40
  5. Kia Niro
  6. Volkswagen Polo
  7. Opel Corsa
  8. Lynk & Co 01
  9. Toyota Yaris Cross
  10. Toyota Aygo

Second-hand versus new cars in the Netherlands

Over the past decades, Dutchies have been spending more and more when it comes to their autos, spending an average of € 45,993 on a new car. 

But, natuurlijk, the Dutch would never pass up a good deal, and second-hand cars are also a very popular option for many people.

READ MORE | Buying and driving a second-hand car in the Netherlands: costs you need to know

The most sold second-hand car in the Netherlands is a grey Volkswagen Polo, and Dutchies budget around €20,000 for buying a second-hand car — less than half of what they spend on new vehicles.

Thanks to the Dutch’s love for cycling and public transport, cars are gently used and often in good condition when resold.

That’s why second-hand cars in the Netherlands are widely available across dealerships and online car-resale platforms — but more on that later. 

The best cars for life in the Netherlands

Now for the most important question: what car is best suited to life in the Netherlands?

There are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Dutch streets are narrow, 
  • Parking spaces are small and limited, 
  • Most homes don’t have their own garage or driveway. 
Cars-parked-on-the-street-next-to-a-canal-in-delft
Small cars come in clutch when you have to park in an extremely narrow spot next to the water. Image: Freepik

So, to all our American friends: helaas (unfortunately), your big ol’ Ford truck probably isn’t the best choice for Dutch streets.

READ MORE | How to get a Dutch driver’s licence: the ultimate guide

Getting around the Netherlands with a smaller, more compact car, like a VW Polo, a MINI, or a Kia Picanto, is much easier.

Big SUVs are not that popular in the Netherlands

It doesn’t come as a surprise that big SUVs like the Toyota Sequoia are not that popular in Holland.

Although half of the top 10 cars listed earlier are SUVs, they have one thing in common: they’re compact. 

These types of cars are very popular with Dutch families, who need the extra space for the occasional weekend trip to Oma’s house while ensuring the car can be parked on the narrow street outside their house.

If you do need some extra space, you may want to check out one of the following Dutch favourites:

  • Tesla Y (new from €42,990)
  • Volvo XC40 (new from €42,550)
  • Kia Niro (new from €33,950)
  • Lynk & Co 01 (new from €44,900)
  • Toyota Yaris Cross (new from €27,985)

What about electric cars?

When I first moved to the Netherlands, I was surprised at how many Teslas I saw driving around Dutch streets. 

Indeed, it’s true: sustainable Dutchies loooove a good electric car — as their most-bought car, the Tesla Y, proves.

READ MORE | Owning a second-hand hybrid or electric vehicle in the Netherlands: everything you need to know

According to the Dutch Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the number of electric vehicles in the Netherlands has nearly tripled in the last four years, jumping from almost 43,000 in 2019 to 128,000 in 2023.

Why is that, you ask? Because it’s convenient!

Since the Dutch government made it a priority to promote the use of electric cars, the Netherlands now has a dense network of charging points for electric vehicles.

Woman-charging-her-electric-car-in-the-netherlands
Your nearest charging point is probably closer than you’d expect. Image: Freepik

To reach its target of making sure all new cars are emission-free by 2030, the Dutch government also introduced a subsidy scheme for electric vehicles in 2020, which had a dramatic effect on the market.

Anyone who buys a new electric car in 2024 receives a subsidy of a whopping €2,950, while those who opt for a second-hand electric car in the Netherlands are given €2,000.

Where to buy a car in the Netherlands?

Ready to get your very own Dutch car? Hoera, you can choose between going to a car dealership or finding a private seller. 

You can use RDW’s locator tool to find dealerships in your area. Alternatively, you can find a second-hand car online and buy it from a private seller. 

Some of the Netherlands’ most popular websites for second-hand cars are Autotrack.nl and Gaspedaal.nl.


While we can’t tell you exactly which car is best suited to your lifestyle, there are some aspects of driving in the Netherlands that may be different from your home country. 

We recommend keeping an eye out on your local dealerships’ website, as well as second-hand car websites — your dream car may just be a few clicks away!

Which car do you think is most suitable for life in the Netherlands? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Lyna Meyrer 🇱🇺
Lyna Meyrer 🇱🇺
Say 'hoi' to Lyna, our Senior Writer at DutchReview! Fueled by a love for writing, social media, and all things Dutch, she joined the DR family in 2022. Since making the Netherlands her home in 2018, she has collected a BA in English Literature & Society (Hons.) and an RMA in Arts, Literature and Media (Hons.). Even though she grew up just a few hours away from the Netherlands, Lyna remains captivated by the guttural language, quirky culture, and questionable foods that make the Netherlands so wonderfully Dutch.

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