Choosing the perfect Christmas tree is one of the most magical and enjoyable parts of the festive season – that is until you need to drive it home and discover it won’t fit in your car.
A large Christmas tree looks great when you’re picking it out, and there’s no doubt it will dazzle your guests at your annual Christmas get together. But we’ve discovered that none of the UK’s top five best-selling cars can squeeze in a Christmas tree that’s over 165cm – that’s 20cm less than the average-sized Christmas tree bought in the UK*.
We’ve measured the inside of some of the most popular cars to reveal what size Christmas tree they can carry, so you’ll know what size tree to get and don’t end up having to drag it home.
We also offer some top tips on choosing and caring for your tree, as well as the best way to load up the car – including how to get it on a roof rack.
Already know your car’s too small? Jump straight to our expert pick of the best cars on sale today.
How much space does your car have?
None of the top five best-selling cars in the UK** can fit a large cut Christmas tree in its cabin. In fact, none of them can fit in a tree over 165cm – 20cm less than the average size Christmas tree bought in the UK .
However, it’s important to note that some cars front passenger seat can be folded forwards. This will typically offer an average gain of around 45cm. So check your car and bear this in mind when you’re measuring up your tree.
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Other car cabin sizes
Our measurements go to show that just because your car looks big on the outside, it doesn’t mean it’s spacious on the inside.
Despite being a beefy SUV, the Kia Sportage offers a minimum space of 151.5cm, which would only just fit a medium size tree. While the bulky Nissan Qashqai can only manage 161.5cm – this equates to just over 5ft.
By contrast, some of the so-called small and medium models are also deceptively spacious inside. The current Honda Civic actually has a rather roomy cabin suitable for a tree up to 170cm tall.
The Honda Jazz has a minimum space of 149.5cm, putting it right on the small/medium tree threshold – if you’re going for a medium size tree, you’ll want to put the passenger seat as far forward as possible.
The Mini, on the other hand, really does live up to its name. Its usable space is just 118cm – so it’s unlikely you will be able to squeeze even a small tree in the back without some real effort.
Cars with the biggest cabins
Planning to go big with your tree this Christmas? If you own one of these models, then you’re in luck:
Only cars that are reliable, economical, comfortable, safe and good to drive can become a Which? Best Buy car.
How to load a Christmas tree into your car
1. Measure your car – and the tree
Check how big your car’s cabin is before choosing your tree. Kamalvir Dhillon, Category Manager at B&Q, also advises ‘taking a tape measure with you when choosing your tree in store to ensure you get the perfect fit.’
2. Make sure the Christmas tree is netted
This will make it more manageable when loading it in or on to the car, while also protecting the foliage.
3. Fold down your seats
Put all the back passenger seats down and remove any other luggage from the cabin. Some cars will also let you fully fold the front passenger seat down too.
3. Invest in a heavy duty boot liner to protect car seats
Kamalvir Dhillon told us: ‘Boot liners are a great way to protect the carpet of your car boot from damage and will also catch any loose pine needles to minimise mess inside your car. A boot liner with carry handles will also assist with loading and unloading your tree.’
4. Check you can drive safely
Once the tree is safely inside the cabin and all the doors are closed, make sure you can still see out of your windows, can move the gear stick easily and that nothing is hitting the steering wheel.
5. Drive home carefully
Note: Consider hiring a van for very large trees
‘Larger trees can be very difficult to transport due to their size and weight’, explains Kamalvir Dhillon. ‘They are also easily damaged if not moved with care and consideration for their size.
‘Consider hiring a van or even enlist the help of a removals company for especially large trees if you don’t have friends and family available to help.’
How to load a Christmas tree onto a roof rack
- Make sure the tree is wrapped securely in a net
- Place a blanket under the rack to avoid the needles scratching the paintwork
- Lift the tree on to the roof rack with the trunk towards the front end of the car
- Safely and securely tie down the tree to the rack
- If the tree pokes a little far out either end, place a bright flag or bit of material to warn other road users
- Drive slowly and avoid the motorway
Staying safe on the road is the priority. We explain the raft of safety features available in cars.
What kind of tree will you have this year?
The British Christmas Tree Growers Association estimates around seven million real trees are bought each year. But it’s not just real trees people are buying these days.
We asked you what tree will be adorning your living room this year and here are the results:
We surveyed more than 43,000 car owners in order to reveal the most – and the least – reliable cars.
Types of Christmas trees
If you’re opting for a real tree, make sure you get acquainted with the different types before making your purchase:
- Nordmann Fir – rich green foliage, soft leaves and great needle retention. It will stay fresh for a long time as long as it’s watered.
- Norway Spruce – often regarded as the traditional tree but has been overtaken by the Nordman. The Norway has lighter green foliage and shorter needles. It is usually a pyramid shape and has a typical Christmas tree smell.
- Blue Spruce – natural blue foliage and a conical shape.
- Fraser Fir – leaner in shape with much denser foliage and a lovely scent. The Fraser firs branches are also turned slightly upward.
The British Christmas Tree Growers Association estimates that about 80% of the trees sold in the UK are Nordmann Fir and around 10-15% Norway Spruce. The remainder of trees sold are lesser-known varieties.
Choosing and caring for your Christmas tree
- Research the type – every kind of tree has different needles, colours and smells.
- Pick the perfect size for your room – don’t overestimate the space you have. You want to leave around 6 inches on top of the tallest point of the decorated tree.
- Check the tree is fresh at point of purchase – it should have a healthy green appearance and no browning needles.
- Make sure you can get it home – check how much space your car has. If it’s not enough, get a roof rack, or rent a van or pay for delivery.
- Cut tree? – saw 3cm off the bottom of the trunk and stand it in a bucket of water.
- Potted tree? – keep it moist but don’t leave it sitting in water.
- Keep it cool – place it away from any radiators or heat source.
Avoid sitting at the side of the road with your Christmas tree and broken down car for hours on end. Here are the best car breakdown providers.
*(Average size of Christmas tree bought in the UK 185cm; or 6ft)