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Before the surging popularity towards SUVs, estate cars were the go-to vehicles for families, for their high-levels of practicality, comfortable interiors, and generous boot space. Whilst SUVs remain as popular as ever, the humble estate is certainly making a comeback, particularly in the used car market where there are some excellent models on offer at affordable prices.
Looking for a spacious car, but torn between a roomy estate and the high-riding position of an SUV? Then you might want to consider these pros and cons. Typically, SUVs are great for:
Whilst SUVs do tend to offer more space, often with options for seven seats, estates are only marginally behind in that department, usually offering a practical 550+ litres of boot space. Compared to SUVs, estate cars typically offer:
Whether you opt for an SUV or an estate, there’s no denying the latter’s appeal. And if you’re still unsure, perhaps our list of the top 10 best estate cars will convince you to at least give one a test drive. Read on to discover our top picks.
Superb in name and superb in design, this estate car ticks all the right boxes and it does so at an affordable price too. It is massively practical (with a 660-litre boot) and the car is spacious enough inside for an adult in each of the tremendously comfortable seats. It has lots of neat touches as well, like umbrella holders and bag hooks, and, importantly, it’s enjoyable to drive. The Superb just gets everything right. It is outstanding value for money, cheap to run, and yet, it still manages to have an excellent luxury finish that is comparable to other estates by the likes of Audi and Mercedes. At home on short day-to-day journeys and excelling as a long distance runner on the motorway, the Skoda Superb is a great and very practical all-round estate car. And that’s why it’s at number one.
USED PRICES FROM £750
Narrowly missing out on the top spot, the BMW 5 Series estate is a bench-setting car for its high-levels of comfort and truly enjoyable ride experience. It’s very practical too, and works extremely well as a family car, particularly with a 570-litre boot, which has a really useful hands-free feature to open it. Inside, the interior is just as spacious in the rear as it is the front. And as you’d expect from the German manufacturer, it has excellent build quality and a level of luxury typical of the prestigious mark. The 5 Series estate has a fantastic range of engines to choose from too, allowing you to get the right performance for your needs. And whichever engine you choose, you can rest assured the 5 Series is a great car to drive.
USED PRICES FROM £1,000
In this top 10 list, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate is the car to beat for sheer luxury, spaciousness, and outstanding comfort. The car is astonishingly refined. Even the driving experience has a deluxe feel about it, proving every bit as comfortable as if you were a passenger. And it’s got bucket loads of practicality with lots of neat cubbies and hooks. Then there’s a 640-litre boot to play with, a wonderful selection of smooth and powerful engines on offer, and one of the most elegant, high-tech cabins available. With all this praise, you might wonder why it’s in third place. In short, the Skoda Superb is available for half the price and the BMW 5 Series just pips it to the post with a more engaging driving style. But if it’s luxury you’re after, the E-Class is the winner here.
USED PRICES FROM £450
Volvo consistently produce front-running estate cars and the V60 continues this tradition. It is a sensible vehicle in every way and it’s all the better for it. The steering is accurate, it is very comfortable to drive, and it comes with Volvo’s excellent City Safety system as standard, which offers that extra peace of mind with its ability to detect cars, pedestrians, and animals, and respond accordingly to help avoid a collision. It is an outstanding piece of kit and a reassurance to the safety conscious. Additionally, the V60 is very practical too, with a 529-litre boot and lots of hidden storage spaces and useful hooks. The high-end interior is of a premium quality, the driving experience is relaxing and smooth (particularly on the motorway), and it offers excellent insulation from outside. It only just misses out on a top spot, through no fault of its own, but the stiff competition.
USED PRICES FROM £4,000
A popular car amongst British motorists, the Ford Focus estate ticks all the right boxes. It is one of the best cars in its class to drive. It has stylish looks. It offers low running costs. And it is very practical, with a large 608-litre boot. Additionally, the cabin is spacious, with lots of room in the rear for all but the very tallest of adults. As standard, it comes with some excellent safety tech as well, like autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, and traffic sign recognition. Whilst the interior quality doesn’t quite match others on this list, it is an all-round fantastic estate – one that usually has excellent used deals on offer thanks to the car’s popularity.
USED PRICES FROM £350
If you like an estate with more reserved and conservative looks, the Passat certainly meets those requirements. It has an understated design, and whilst some think it plain, others consider it effortlessly sophisticated. Whatever you think of the Passat’s style, there’s no denying it is a fantastic estate. It has excellent build quality, it’s hugely practical (with a massive 650-litre boot), and the interior is of a high-standard, providing plenty of leg and headroom in the rear. It is a comfortable cruiser on the motorway and proves to be a great all-rounder too. It has superb value on the used car market and it is available with a wide selection of engines, from the eco-friendly to the powerful. And whilst the Passat is not as thrilling to drive compared to rivals, it still offers a smooth driving experience.
USED PRICES FROM £400
When it comes to the best driving experience in an estate, the Mazda 6 Tourer takes on the BMW 5 Series and gives it a very good run for its money. Precise steering and firm suspension result in a ride that matches the car’s sporty looks. If you are looking for an estate that’s engaging to drive, take a look at the Mazda 6 Tourer as it is one of the best in its segment for driveability. Compared to rivals, however, it is not quite as spacious or as practical with its 506-litre boot. The interior quality doesn’t quite match the standards set by the frontrunners either. Yet in a game of comparisons, the Mazda 6 Tourer can boast an excellent reliability rating and very competitive used prices.
USED PRICES FROM £1,100
The second Skoda on this top 10 list, the Octavia estate is slightly smaller and less luxurious than the top spot Skoda Superb, yet it is also slightly cheaper and still incredibly functional, with high-levels of practicality and comfort. And believe it or not, despite being slightly smaller than its sibling, it is still one of the most spacious family cars on the market. In fact, it has class-leading head space for all the taller drivers and passengers out there and it has a large 610-litre boot. Like the Superb, the Octavia is also renowned for its reliability, proving to be a brilliant car that suits a wide variety of motoring needs. The only downside: it is not as engaging to drive as rivals. This is a vehicle for those who value the practical over the experience. And there, the Octavia truly excels.
USED PRICES FROM £680
The Sportbrake is the estate version of the excellent Jaguar XF and it shows, because despite its larger dimensions, the Sportbrake still drives like a saloon. And that’s a good thing. In fact, Jaguar’s estate is one of the best cars to handle in its class: the steering has the right feel to it, the car is perfectly balanced, and it has a sense of agility that defies its stature. Whilst it has the sportier feel of a saloon, inside, it is definitely an estate. There’s a lot of legroom and headroom and a respectable 565-litre boot. As you’d expect from Jaguar, the interior is very comfortable, proving particularly comfy for longer journey. Surprisingly, however, the quality of the cabin doesn’t match the class frontrunners, especially the German marques like BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Although, if you’re considering an estate car and you want one that’s engaging to drive, the XF Sportbrake certainly meets those requirements.
USED PRICES FROM £7,000
In many ways, the Audi A6 Avant is like a mirror to the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Where Jaguar’s estate car excels on driveability, but lacks on interior quality, the A6 Avant does the opposite. It offers a more standard, less sporty driving experience, yet it increases the interior quality to a level that puts it as a class leader in that department. Massively practical and incredibly spacious, the Avant even outshines the BMW 5 Series with its refined and sophisticated cabin. It offers loads of legroom and headroom in both the front and rear as well, providing space for the tallest of adults. Although for that extra legroom, there is a bit of a trade-off with the boot space, but not massively, as you still get 565 litres worth to play around with – a worthy trade-off in our opinion. In short, the Audi A6 Avant is for the discerning driver who wants that premium cabin feel above anything else, and here, the Avant is a true leader.
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