Best estate cars for 2019
By Martin Pratt
Article 9 of 16
The best estate cars will give you load-lugging versatility, reliability, great handling and efficient engines. Find your next estate car.
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.
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.
Best new estate cars
Best used estate cars
The estate version of this popular large car has premium aspirations, which it comes close to achieving with a comfortable, high-quality interior. Both the 150 and 180bhp diesel engines are sufficiently powerful, and the car doesn’t feel sluggish when overtaking. The boot isn’t the biggest we’ve seen on an estate car, but at 365 litres it’s not small by any means and the capacity almost doubles to 685 litres when you fold the rear seats.
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.
For example, just because a boot'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 lighter, with a lower centre of gravity 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.
Here are the estate cars we recommend you should avoid.
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Estate cars to avoid
Not a car you might expect to see in this list. As good as this model was when new, it's feeling its age now (being based on the underpinnings of the previous model). It's not quite bad enough to be a Don't Buy, but there's better alternatives available.
Good-looking? Check. Easy to drive? Check. Acres of interior space? Check. Reliable? No. This estate car has so much going for it, but with only a two-star reliability rating out of a possible five in our most recent survey, it’s more prone than most to breakdowns and expensive to repair faults. One to avoid.
Practicality, low prices might appeal, but there are lots of downsides to this estate car. It's a spacious and functional choice, with strong safety performance (good brakes and a five-star Euro NCAP score). But this is spoiled by the fact that stability control was only ever a pricey option; also, its level of pedestrian protection is very poor.
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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 500 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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