If you want a practical four-wheel drive car with extra grip in snowy and icy conditions – but without the size and cost of an off-roader – an all-wheel drive estate car should fit the bill.
You might think you need a big 4×4 if you need lots of space and extra grip in winter weather, but we’ve found five top estate cars that give you both of these attributes, as well as less imposing looks. And, in many cases, a four-wheel drive estate will be cheaper to buy – and live with – than a similarly-sized off-roader.
As well as offering more grip in snow and ice, four-wheel drive cars are also perfect for greasy, slippery roads – especially if you fit them with winter tyres.
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BMW 3 Series xDrive – a BMW that can handle snow
BMWs may be famed for slithering around on snow like Bambi on ice, but BMW now sells a number of medium and large models with four-wheel drive. Saloon, estate and hatchback 3 Series models are with four-wheel drive, so you won’t get marooned when the going gets slippery.
The BMW 3 Series Touring (estate) is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines from a frugal 2.0-litre models to a rapid 3.0-litre diesel that returns an official fuel economy figure of 50.4mpg. Prices range from £29,400 to more than £40,000.
Will the 3 Series let you down? Find out in the Which? Car Survey
Skoda Octavia – affordable 4×4 estate
If you’re on a tighter budget, but don’t want to compromise on space, the Skoda Octavia Estate is available with four-wheel drive on the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesels. Prices start under £22,000, and if you go for the 1.6 TDI it should be affordable to own with a claimed fuel economy figure of 60.1mpg.
You might want to consider the 2.0 TDi 150 4×4 if you regularly carry heavy loads. This strong diesel engine does 0-62mph in just 8.7 seconds, but is barely less frugal than the 1.6-litre model, with claimed fuel economy of 57.6mpg. With a premium of just £900 over the 1.6, the 2.0-litre model looks like great value.
Will the Skoda Octavia Estate leave you out of pocket? Check the real-life tested fuel economy figures in our full review
Audi A4 – four-wheel drive Allroad model
Audi is famed for selling many models with four-wheel drive – whether you want a sleek two-seater convertible or a super-sized seven seat off-roader, Audi has a model to suit.
Compact estate buyers also have the choice between a standard four-wheel drive A4 or the A4 Allroad, an estate with a 37mm higher ride, chunky tyres and tough stainless steel panels underneath to protect the engine should you venture off road. Prices for four-wheel drive A4 estates start around £31,000, while the A4 Allroad costs from around £32,000.
Is the Audi A4 Avant worth its steep price? Read our full review for everything you need to know
VW Passat Alltrack – estate with increased ground clearance
Like the A4 Allroad, the Passat Alltrack has off-road suspension that gives extra ground clearance. With four-wheel drive and the choice of two strong 2.0-litre diesel engines, the Passat Alltrack should cope well with icy roads and snowy conditions. With ‘self-sealing’ tyres the car should provide some protection against punctures too.
Prices start from around £29,000 and the Alltrack is available with Volkswagen’s slick DSG automatic gearbox for around £32,000.
Does the VW Passat Estate perform well on tarmac? Find out in our comprehensive full review
Skoda Superb Estate – full size estate with 4×4
The Superb Estate boasts an absolutely enormous interior and boot, and the 4×4 models add some extra off-road ability. Petrol and diesel engines are available and range in price from around £27,000 to £35,000.
Plump for the 2.0 TDI 140 4×4 and official fuel economy is a reasonable 53mpg; but if you’re more interested in pace the powerful 3.6-litre petrol model can accelerate to 62mph in just 6.5 seconds.
Find out how the Skoda Superb Estate compares to its rivals