Best estate cars 2023
Need to carry flat-pack furniture or giant suitcases? These are the best estate cars with fold flat seats that are perfect for the job
If you're looking for a capable family car with plenty of space inside and a boot capable of carrying everything you own (well, almost), while still offering exciting and close to the road driving, you haven't really got a better alternative than a good old estate car.
Sales of tall SUVs and crossovers may be surging, but estate cars are a properly practical alternative to those larger vehicles, and they tend to come in at a lower price. An estate car with folding rear seats can accommodate a huge amount of luggage, much more than your standard crossover (which is essentially a small hatchback on stilts), and often their lighter weight means fuel economy can be better than an SUV, too.
If a large boot is high on your agenda, and you aren't interested in floating around in an SUV, then an estate car is the perfect choice for you. With used models available across a range of price points, with boot space aplenty, enjoyable driving characteristics, and room for the family, it's hard to go wrong really.
Best estate cars
Best estate car for space and capacity
The Skoda Superb Estate is great value – it combines class-leading interior space with high-quality finish and materials at a price that rivals struggle to match.
That spacious interior – 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 has an extremely good record when iin customer satisfaction surveys. And it scored the maximum five stars when it was independently crash tested by Euro NCAP.
Even the entry level Superb is very well equipped, with alloy-wheels, body-coloured mirrors and door handles, LED rear lights, front foglights, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a digital radio. Previous-generation cars, sold until 2015, start from £15,499 on BuyaCar.
Best estate car for all-round excellence
Our pick BMW 520d SE Touring Auto
Used deals Limited stockBoot space 570 litres seats up/1,700 litres seats down
The current BMW 5 Series Estate launched in 2017 offers a prestige badge, a sporty feel and a very spacious and practical interior. There’s plenty of room for five people, and the 570 litre boot should swallow all the luggage they need.
The interior fit and finish is superb. There are some neat touches, too, such as a handy underfloor storage space and split-opening tailgate, so you can just open the back window rather than the whole bootlid if you only have small things to put in. The main bootlid is powered, too – convenient if you’re hands are full.
It’s only 35kg heavier than the BMW 5 Series saloon, which is one reason why it feels nimble to drive. The Mercedes E-Class may have more room but the 5 Series manages to combine impressive load-lugging abilities and a better driving experience in one. For a cheaper option, look at the previous-generation BMW 5 Series estate which costs from on BuyaCar.
Best estate car for interior quality
Our pick Audi A6 Avant 40TDI
Used deals Limited stockBoot space 565 litres seats up/1,680 litres seats down
The latest Audi A6 makes a compelling case for your hard-earned cash if you want something brimming with technology and space.
Up front, the entertainment system features dual screens, and Audi’s virtual cockpit. This 12.3-inch digital display replaces the traditional instrument binnacle and can be programmed to show different information.
In the rear, boot space is more than ample. It has 565 litres with the seats up, although it is bested by the Mercedes E-Class Estate. The older A6 Avant costs from £13,895 on BuyaCar.
Best estate car for high quality without a premium price
The Volkswagen Passat’s boot is enormous. This is combined with a high-quality interior and competitive price that rivals struggle to match.
The Passat is also one of the most practical estates on sale. Thanks to its very square shape, the boot’s cavernous load space can take even awkwardly shaped loads. And if you find yourself often carrying very heavy luggage, VW offers self-levelling suspension to keep the car on an even keel.
Even basic cars come well equipped, while those made after January 2018 come with improved smartphone connectivity, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for easy control of apps via the touchscreen or voice commands.
Best estate car for comfort and luxury
Our pick Mercedes E220d SE Estate
Used deals Limited stockBoot space 640 litres seats up/1,820 litres seats down
With its understated design, grand image and enormous boot, the Mercedes E-Class Estate is the family car of choice for well-to-do families who don’t want to shout about their success.
The car’s high-tech dashboard, made up of two widescreen displays, is optional, but even entry-level cars are luxurious. It’s a car that prioritises comfort over sportiness, with self-levelling suspension that keeps the car level and stable when loaded. A powered bootlid and remote release for the split-fold rear seats helps you to load the car when you have your hands full.
However, the current E-Class Estate, which went on sale in 2016, has a boot that, when the seats are down, is 130 litres smaller than the model it replaced. For more space and a cheaper price, it’s worth looking at the previous-generation Mercedes E-Class, prices start from £14,300 on BuyaCar.
Best estate car for style without the cost
Our pick Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer Design Nav 1.6 Turbo D ecoTEC
Used deals Limited stockBoot space 560 litres seats up/1,665 litres seats down
You’d be forgiven for mistaking the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer for an Audi, which isn’t something that can be said for many Vauxhalls.
it’s practical too, with an impressive 1,665 litres of seats-down load space, which is easily accessible thanks to electrically-folding rear seats. Leave them up and there’s 560 litres back there, easily enough for a pushchair and the weekly shop.
On the road, the Vauxhall even imitates Audi in driving style: the Insignia is superbly comfortable and stable on British roads, but doesn’t feel particularly sharp when changing direction. Prices for the previous-generation Insignia, sold until 2016, start at just on BuyaCar, but you'll have to live with its uninspiring design.
Best estate car for small parking spaces
The Skoda Fabia estate is one of the very few small cars available with an estate option, which makes it an practical and cheap alternative to a larger car.
In fact, you can get more in its boot, when all seats are in use, than the Ford Mondeo, which is a lot bigger on the outside and getting on for twice the price.
Best estate car for the lowest price
Our pick Dacia Logan Ambiance 1.2 MCV
Used deals Limited stockBoot space 573 litres seats up/1,518 litres seats down
This one is all about the money – the Dacia Logan is about the same size as a Ford Focus, but costs considerably less than a tiny Citroen C1 city car. Seats up, the luggage capacity isn’t that far off a VW Golf, and with them folded flat, there’s a useful 1,518 litres of volume.
Dacia makes its cars so cheap by using mechanical parts from Renault, so they have been tested in use by hundreds of thousands of owners. One thing to bear in mind is that the Dacia only scored three out of five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
Best estate car for the largest loadspace in class
Our pick Peugeot 308 SW 1.2 Puretech 130 Allure
Used deals Limited stockBoot space 660 litres seats up/1,775 litres seats down
For sheer load space, the Peugeot 308 SW is above all of its small family car rivals, including the VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra. There’s no less than 660 litres of space with the seats up and 1,775 litres with them down.
That’s not been achieved through wizardry, but by stealing some legroom from rear passengers, so space in the back is on the tight side. It means that adults don’t have as much space to stretch out in the back, so if legroom is more important than boot size, the 308 is not the car for you.
An update at the end of 2017 added a more efficient 1.5-litre diesel engine and improved the graphics on the dashboard touchscreen, but earlier models offer better value. The 1.2-litre petrol engine is an excellent option if you don’t need diesel efficiency over long distances.
Best estate car for driving enjoyment
Our pick Mazda 6 Tourer 2.2d
Used deals Limited stockBoot space 522 litres seats up/1,664 litres seats down
Not only is the Mazda 6 another sleek and good looking estate car, it's also a very enjoyable and engaging car to drive. The first thing you notice when you sit inside is how comfortable and adaptable the driving position is - you can fine tune this to your own tastes with reach and height adjustments on the steering wheel. It gives you a sense of confidence from behind the wheel before you even set off.
Then, once you do get underway the steering is direct and responsive, and the six-speed manual gearbox is smooth and very easy to handle. There's also a decent amount of power on offer from the various engines available with the 6 Tourer. The best options for most drivers are likely to be the 2.2-litre diesels with their mix of power and efficiency, although there is still something to be said for the more characterful and lively 2.0-litre petrol motors.
Considering the 6 Tourer is a relatively large estate car with a good amount of boot space and plenty of passenger space in the rear seats, its more lightweight 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. 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.
*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:
48 monthly payments of £192
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
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