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Best cars

Best Estate Cars for 2017

By Martin Pratt

Article 9 of 14

The best estate cars will give you load-lugging versatility, reliability, great road manners and efficient engines. Find your next estate car.

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Estate cars aren't the default choice for large families these days, thanks to the increased popularity and availability of SUVs and MPVs. But with a lower profile, they're often more efficient and rewarding to drive.

Estate cars are also immensely practical, with almost all models offering capacious boots. These are capable of swallowing everything from holiday luggage and kids' bikes, to pets and purchases from the local garden centre.  

Nearly all the big brands offer at least one estate car in their line-up. Popular models include the Ford Mondeo Estate, BMW 3 Series Touring, Audi A4 Avant and the huge Mercedes-Benz E-class estate. 

Estate cars need more than a big boot to be a Best Buy, our tests look at reliability, comfort, fuel-efficiency and safety. If a model doesn't stack up in those key areas we won't recommend it.

Below are our Best Buy recommendations – new and used estate cars that are supremely safe, reliable and versatile. As well as some estates that are best avoided.

Which? members can log in to see the estate cars we recommend. If you're not already a member, take out a £1 trial to unlock this table and all our expert impartial reviews.

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We are currently updating our test scores and recommendations based on our latest research. Please check back soon.

Not found the car for you? Browse all our estate car reviews

And here are three estate cars to avoid

The formula of what makes a great estate car is simple - there should be plenty of interior space, it needs to be comfortable and it should have a massive boot. That seems straightforward enough, but there are models that miss the mark.

An enormous boot is the hallmark of an estate car but, just because it’s big, it doesn’t mean it will be well designed. We don’t just test the capacity of a boot; we look at how easy it is to fill. A boot could be as deep as the Mariana Trench, but it’s useless if you can’t get your heavy items over a high load lip. 

The success of small and large SUVs has eaten into the sales of estate cars, but being closer to road means they can be more efficient and handle better. One estate we tested proves it by achieving a staggering 74.3 miles to the gallon – the highest of any petrol or diesel car we’ve tested. On the other hand, a similarly sized estate managed just 31.7mpg.

The huge gulf in the efficiency of estate cars highlights the importance of our fuel-economy testing. It’s easy to assume all estates are the same - big, spacious and sturdy. But our in-depth testing finds the important differences, such as efficiency, that separate a good estate from a bad one.

Table coming soon

We are currently updating our test scores and recommendations based on our latest research. Please check back soon.

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Our tests go further than those carried out by other organisations, and because Which? is independent and doesn't accept advertising or freebies, you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about every car we test.

Every car we review is subjected to more than 100 individual tests in a lab, on a test track, and on real roads – and we really clock up the miles, driving around 900 miles in every car we test.

Testing in controlled lab conditions means the results we collect are directly comparable between different cars, helping us determine exactly which models are better and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs

And so you know which cars are likely to prove reliable for years to come, we also gather feedback from thousands of UK car owners through the Which? Car Survey, using it to generate detailed reliability ratings for the cars we test.

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