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Best Cars

Best Estate Cars for 2018

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.

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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, you can join Which? to unlock our best estate cars and to access all of our expert impartial reviews.

Best new estate cars

Price from £43,196
Which? score 79%
Reviewed May 2012
Driving stability:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 55 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

The practicality and opulence of a luxury estate car, given mild off-road ability thanks to four-wheel-drive and a useful increase in ride height. A great all-rounder.

Price from £35,638
Which? score 75%
Reviewed Mar 2018
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 55 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This large estate stands out from rivals by being sharper and more fun to drive than any enormous estate car has any right to be. This dynamism hasn't come at the expense of practicality or long distance comfort, either.

Price from £24,769
Which? score 74%
Reviewed Feb 2018
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 53 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

A hugely practical estate given a refreshing turn of speed in this high-performance model. The ride is stiffer than regular versions, but that's the only real compromise in this impressive estate express.

Price from £20,158
Which? score 73%
Reviewed Jun 2013
Driving stability:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This family-focused estate car impressed us with its efficient engines and comprehensive safety equipment. It’s a touch straight-laced, but is unlikely to let you down.

Best used estate cars

Price from £4,481
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Sep 2008
Driving stability:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

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.

Price from £3,304
Which? score 75%
Reviewed Sep 2005
Driving stability:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Improved boot space boosts the appeal of this estate over the saloon on which it's based. It loses none of that car's refinement, performance or driving fun, but adds a useful extra dose of practicality.

Price from £5,631
Which? score 72%
Reviewed Jun 2008
Driving stability:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Superb build quality, efficient engines and safe, predictable handling make this premium estate a compelling proposition.

Price from £2,267
Which? score 68%
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This budget model offers good value for money, given the interior space on offer. It's not the sharpest car to drive, but it's well built and good at the motorway cruise.

Price from £2,912
Which? score 66%
Reviewed May 2007
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
3 out of 53 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This popular model excels as a family car due to its enormous boot, high levels of comfort and safety, and a decent kit list. It's also fun to drive for something so large.

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.

Which? members can log in now to see the cars you should avoid. If you’re not already a member, join Which? to discover which estate cars you shouldn't buy and to access all of our expert, independent reviews.

Estate cars to avoid

Price from £2,964
Which? score 50%
Reviewed Aug 2007
Driving stability:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Performance:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Seat comfort:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Seat space:
5 out of 55 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

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.

Price from £2,244
Which? score 48%
Reviewed Apr 2004
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Performance:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Seat comfort:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 53 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

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.

Price from £1,072
Which? score 47%
Reviewed Nov 2004
Driving stability:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Performance:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Seat comfort:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 53 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

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.

We test cars more thoroughly than anyone else

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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