Best estate cars 2024
If you’re after carrying capacity without the height of an SUV, an estate could be the answer. Here’s our pick of the 10 best estate cars that you can buy today.
The market for large SUVs might be growing by the day, but the traditional estate car is still highly desirable. Spacious, functional and often quite classy, station wagons double up as eminently capable family cars as well as practical workhorses.
They’re often sharper and better to drive than taller models as well, thank to their lower centre of gravity, while they tend to come in at more affordable prices, too.
An estate car with folding rear seats can accommodate more luggage than a compact SUV, and often their lighter weight means fuel economy can be better than too.
If a large boot is high on your agenda and you aren’t interested in an SUV, then an estate is the perfect choice. There are plenty of new models available, plus used cars across a range of price points. Below is our list of the best estate cars you can buy right now.
Best estate cars 2024
Best estate car for large loads
Our pick: Volvo V90 T6 PHEV R-Design
Read our full Volvo V90 review
If you need to carry substantial loads but value style, sophistication and luxury, the Volvo V90 is a tough package to beat. It’s clinically styled inside and out, with a neat, high-tech cabin, advanced infotainment and class-leading safety features.
It’s a luxurious, premium estate car from the all-time masters of the art – the Swedish brand has a fine history of making great estate cars, and the Volvo V90 is true to that tradition. There are three 2.0-litre engine options – a diesel, a turbocharged petrol and a plug-in hybrid – each of which is punchy, refined and relaxing to drive. The plug-in is the most desirable, but it comes at a price.
The Volvo V90 has a maximum boot capacity of 1526 litres, which will swallow massive loads such as flat-pack furniture or all of the luggage needed for an action-packed family holiday.
Best estate car for striking styling
Our pick: Peugeot 508 SW Allure Premium 1.5 Blue HDi
Read our full Peugeot 508 review
With its impactful front-end styling and stunning six-lamp rear end, the Peugeot 508 SW is one of the best-looking estate cars ever made, as well as one of the most striking new cars you can buy right now.
It’s practical, too. With the rear seats folded away, it has an impressive 1780 litres of luggage capacity, while with the seats in place the boot space is still generous and the rear still comfortable, with plenty of shoulder and legroom. The swooping roof may be an irritation for taller rear seat passengers, though.
There’s a wide model range including plug-in hybrid and hybrid models, but for value for money and all-round usability the 1.5-litre Blue HDi diesel is hard to beat. Diesel may not be fashionable these days, but 65mpg and 700 miles between fill-ups are hard to ignore.
Best estate car for electric power
Our pick: MG5 Trophy Long Range
Read our full MG5 review
Introduced in 2021 and revised in 2023, the MG5 is an anomaly in the electric car market and has carved itself an impressive niche as a result, proving popular with couriers and private hire companies. There’s no other electric estate car to rival it in terms of space, value for money or outright practicality.
In Long Range form, it’ll do 254 miles on a full charge, and it’s also one of the most affordable electric cars on the market, with new models starting at well under £30,000. Equipment levels are impressive, especially on the higher specification Trophy models, but there are areas where interior quality could be better. Then again, it’s not an expensive car.
The facelifted version from 2023 onwards is much more appealing visually than the original, which looked quite staid in its appearance. But if that’s not a major concern, the earlier cars are incredible value on the used market.
Best estate car for hybrid appeal
Our pick: Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid Design
Read our full Toyota Corolla review
The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports might not be the most exciting car on the market, but look beyond that and it has an awful lot going for it.
It offers a decently large boot and all models come with petrol-electric hybrid power – using Toyota’s proven and dependable Hybrid Synergy Drive. This means it will be economical around town and also comply with all low-emission and congestion charging zones. In addition, it should prove to be fairly cheap to run if Toyota’s excellent reputation for reliability is anything to go by.
The Japanese brand also offers an industry-leading warranty that runs for up to 10 years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first), providing the car is serviced at a Toyota garage for the first three years of its life.
Best estate car for styling panache
Our pick: Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Dynamic P250 SE
Read our full Jaguar XF review
Estate cars don’t need to be utilitarian in their appearance, and the Jaguar XF Sportbrake is the proof. It’s one of the most handsome cars money can buy.
It’s also brilliant to drive, with its tightly honed rear-wheel-drive chassis offering amazing balance and terrific handling. Jaguar offers a good engine range – petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid – but it’s the petrol engines that get our vote. They’re reasonably efficient but more than that, they really suit the Jaguar’s sporting character.
There’s also a feelgood aura to the cabin, from the rotary gear selector through to the premium materials and sumptuous leather upholstery. The Jaguar XF is a car that appeals very much to an enthusiast market, but if you love driving and love Jaguars, you won’t be disappointed.
Best estate car for space and capacity
Our pick: Skoda Superb SE Technology 2.0 TDI 150
Read our full Skoda Superb Estate review
The Skoda Superb Estate is great value – it combines class-leading interior space with a high-quality finish and materials at a price that rivals struggle to match.
That spacious cabin – there’s plenty of room for five – is very clearly laid out. The dashboard touchscreen makes it simple and straightforward to control the radio, music and sat-nav, although it can be distracting on the move. The car also has an extremely good record in customer satisfaction surveys, and it scored the maximum five stars when independently crash tested by Euro NCAP.
Even the entry-level Skoda Superb is well equipped, with alloy wheels, body-coloured mirrors and door handles, LED rear lights, front foglights, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a digital radio.
Best estate car for all-round excellence
Our pick: BMW 520d SE Touring Auto
Read our full BMW 5 Series Touring review
The current BMW 5 Series Estate, launched in 2017, offers a prestige badge, sporting drive and a spacious and practical interior. There’s plenty of room for five people, and the 570-litre boot should swallow all their luggage with the seats up. It rises to 1,700 litres with the seats down.
The interior fit and finish is superb, and there are some neat touches, such as a handy underfloor storage space and split-opening tailgate, so you can just open the back window rather than the whole boot if you only have small things to put in. The tailgate is powered, too – convenient if your hands are full.
It’s only 35kg heavier than the BMW 5 Series saloon, so it still feels nimble to drive. The Mercedes E-Class Estate may have more capacity, but the BMW 5 Series Touring manages to combine impressive load-lugging abilities and a better driving experience.
Best estate car for interior quality
Our pick: Audi A6 Avant 40TDI
Read our full Audi A6 Avant review
The Audi A6 Avant makes a compelling case for itself if you want something brimming with technology and space.
Up front, the entertainment system features dual screens, and Audi’s advanced Virtual Cockpit. This 12.3-inch digital display replaces the traditional instrument binnacle and can be programmed to show different information, while an even bigger central touchscreen operates most functions.
In the rear, boot space is more than adequate. It has 565 litres with the seats up and 1680 litres with the seats down, although it is beaten by the Mercedes E-Class Estate for overall luggage space. The Audi A6 Avant is arguably a classier car in which to sit, however.
Best estate car for comfort, space and luxury
Our pick: Mercedes E220d SE Estate
Read our full Mercedes E-Class Estate review
With its understated design, grand image and enormous boot, the Mercedes E-Class Estate is the vehicle of choice for well-to-do families who don’t want to shout about their success.
The high-tech dashboard, made up of two widescreen displays, is optional, but even entry-level Mercedes E-Class Estates are luxurious. It’s a car that prioritises comfort over sportiness, with self-levelling suspension that keeps it level and stable when loaded. A powered bootlid and remote release for the split-fold rear seats help you to load the car when you have your hands full.
Luggage space is vast – 1,820 litres of space with the seats down make it the best estate for overall capacity. It’s an upmarket car with a huge amount going for it.
Best estate car for driving enjoyment
Our pick: Mazda 6 Tourer 2.2d
Read our full Mazda 6 Tourer review
Not only is the Mazda 6 another sleek and good-looking estate car, but it’s also a very enjoyable to drive. The first thing you notice when you sit inside is how comfortable and adaptable the driving position is. It gives you a sense of confidence from behind the wheel before you even set off.
Then, once you do get under way, the steering is direct and responsive, and there’s a decent amount of power on offer, whichever engine you choose. The best choices for most drivers are likely to be the 2.2-litre diesels with their balance of power and efficiency, although the more characterful and lively 2.0-litre petrol motors have their own appeal.
The Mazda 6 Tourer is also lighter than many of its rivals, which makes it feel more agile around corners to the point where you can very quickly forget that you’re behind the wheel of a big estate car. If you’re looking for a practical car with no sacrifice in driving fun, the Mazda 6 Tourer is about as good as it gets.