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Best cars

Best estate cars for 2019

By Daljinder Nagra

Article 9 of 16

The best estate cars will give you load-lugging versatility, reliability, great handling and efficient engines. This guide will help you 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.

You'll find our top recommendations for the best new and used estate cars in the tables below. Plus we reveal some models that aren't worth your money.

Alternatively, you can jump straight to our in-depth estate car buying tips:

Best new and used estate cars 

Only Which? members can view our expert impartial reviews in the tables below.

Log in to see the estate cars we recommend. If you're not already a member,  join Which? to unlock all of our expert reviews, including our Best Buys and Don't Buys.

The best new medium estate cars

Our rigorous lab tests leave no stone unturned, so you can be confident the cars in the table below are some of the very best on the market.

Best new medium estate cars

74%
£15,957
Reviewed

This medium estate increases boot space over the hatchback model, without spoiling its keen handling and driver appeal. Rival models may offer greater load space overall, but as an all-rounder, it’s difficult to fault.

72%
£21,209
Reviewed

How do you improve on the usability of one of the best rounded hatchbacks available? Turn it into an estate of course. This model requires no compromise for its additional load space, though we found rear passenger room to be slightly lacking.

70%
£19,405
Reviewed

Family estate cars have no right to be this much fun to drive. But with each successive generation of this model, its manufacturer nails its handling - meaning it has great driver appeal. This estate model has a large, practical boot that’s significantly larger than the hatchback’s, too.

69%
£20,069
Reviewed

Comfy and easy to drive, this medium estate is a likeable alternative to the most popular models in the class. It’s got a refreshingly unique sense of style, but the fiddly touchscreen media system could prove frustrating.

69%
£16,493
Reviewed

This capable carry-all majors on sensible appeal. It’s well-equipped, safe and backed by a lengthy manufacturer warranty. It’s also more involving to drive than previous generations, while the design has been made more appealing, too.

The best new large estate cars

Find the top-performing large estates in the table below, with plenty of room for passengers and luggage.

Best new large estates

74%
£27,429
Reviewed

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

74%
£25,258
Reviewed

This off-road biased estate car is hugely impressive. Not only does it offer the great practicality you’d expect from the brand, it’s very spacious and easy to drive, and has a modicum of ability on rough tracks. Only middling fuel consumption and a limited engine range let it down.

73%
£28,102
Reviewed

Sporting the same improvements made to the saloon model, this estate is better to drive than ever before, while retaining excellent levels of quality and comfort. The complicated infotainment system might annoy you, though.

72%
£21,364
Reviewed

This brand’s most luxurious car looks especially good value when you consider how much passenger space it offers. The boot is very large, too, and it takes the sting out of long journeys. Just don’t expect cabin material quality to compete with a true luxury model.

71%
£26,845
Reviewed

This large estate car differentiates itself from the competition with avant-garde styling inside and out. It’s also fun to drive and comfy to sit in. That extravagant design does mean an awkwardly low roofline, though, and causes issues with visibility to the rear.

The best new luxury medium estates

Those looking for added comfort will find here the top scorers from our comprehensive lab tests.

Best used medium estate cars

75%
£10,504
Reviewed

This medium-sized estate should be considered as a family car, particularly if you’re not sold on a fashionable compact SUV. It’s spacious, practical and safe, and is unlikely to go wrong, thanks to the brand’s enviable rock-solid reliability rating from our survey of owners. It’s just a shame it’s so dull to look at and drive.

71%
£17,156
Reviewed

This entry-level estate might not come with many frills, but it’s got an enormous boot, a range of peppy engines and is decent value for money. Just don’t expect it to pamper you on long journeys.

71%
£9,575
Reviewed

A huge boot, a well laid-out interior and an efficient range of engines characterise this mid-size estate car. It’s not the most refined or quiet inside the cabin, but it’s likely to prove dependable.

70%
£8,313
Reviewed

A regular medium estate car that’s been given a mild off-road makeover in the form of raised ride height and four-wheel-drive. It won’t win any boot space top-trumps, but is usefully practical, has impressive levels of grip and is very satisfying to drive.

62%
£1,896
Reviewed

This medium-sized estate offers a cavernous boot and a huge amount of passenger space, front and back. It’s also very nice to drive with keen handling. Elements of the cabin feel cheap and it’s not as refined as some rivals, but it’s a fantastic all-round family car.

The best new luxury large estates

Those looking for exceptionally well-made large estates will find the most exceptional choices below, selected by our experts.

Best new luxury large estates

74%
£34,905
Reviewed

This huge (and hugely impressive) luxury model 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.

72%
£73,981
Reviewed

This is one of the best looking load-luggers currently available. Not only does it offer supercar-rivalling pace, it’s also available as a plug-in hybrid, for reduced emissions and (limited) silent EV driving.

70%
£36,611
Reviewed

If space and luxury are top priority, this estate won’t disappoint. It’s expensive to buy, but justifies the price with superb quality and high levels of technology. It’s reasonably involving to drive for such a large car, too.

69%
£36,172
Reviewed

This is a unique alternative to the ubiquitous marques that dominate the luxury car classes. It’s got the safety, technology and lavish interior to compete with the best. Although bear in mind it isn’t the most wieldy to drive, particularly around town.

The best used medium estates

Buying used can be a great way to get a dependable car on a budget. And there are fantastic options available, as selected by our experts.

Best used large estates

75%
£4,473
Reviewed

This estate has premium aspirations, which it comes close to achieving with a comfortable, high-quality interior. Both 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 it’s not small by any means and the capacity almost doubles when you fold the rear seats.

73%
£15,019
Reviewed

This plug-in hybrid estate adds a reasonable emissions-free driving range, and an impressive turn of speed to the otherwise dull combustion model, for only a small sacrifice to boot space.

73%
£2,900
Reviewed

It might not get the blood flowing with its styling or performance, but the appeal of this large estate is more subtle than that. It’s superbly easy to drive and live with, feels safe and secure and offers decent practicality. One to consider with your sensible hat on.

73%
£3,251
Reviewed

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

67%
£8,060
Reviewed

This large off-road estate is a compelling alternative to a mid-size SUV. It retains the strengths of the regular estate model, namely its practicality and superb build quality, and adds to it with a raised ride-height, and protective body cladding. It’s also four-wheel-drive as standard, though petrol models can be thirsty as a result.

The best used large estate cars

Get a great deal on an exceptionally practical car with one of our superb selections below.

Best used luxury large estates

73%
£43,274
Reviewed

The practicality and superb luxury of the regular estate model, given some mild off-road ability. It won't climb every mountain, but four-wheel-drive and a useful increase in ride height means it can go where most normal estates can't.

70%
£2,552
Reviewed

With a superbly finished (not to mention hushed) interior, plenty of space and decent ride comfort, this large estate makes an excellent used luxury buy. Although it’s not the easiest to get in and out of and running costs are likely to be high.

68%
£14,508
Reviewed

The practical cabin and boot of an estate with the swoopy styling of a svelte coupe – this model is unique in the luxury car class. Its talents run more than skin deep, too, as it’s supremely comfortable and loaded with tech. That sloping rear roofline does affect rear headroom somewhat, though.

68%
£9,315
Reviewed

This model is very good to drive. Whether you opt for a petrol or diesel engine; the handling and steering are top-drawer. Build quality is good, but rival luxury estates offer greater boot space overall.

64%
£5,692
Reviewed

Before the crossover became the must-have car type, this model was quietly flying the flag for off-road biased estate cars. It’s superbly comfy for long distance driving, has a huge boot and is safe in a crash. We’d avoid the most powerful engines if fuel economy is a priority.

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 still miss the mark.

For example, just because a boot's big, that 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 that 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.

Below we've rounded up the estate cars you should avoid at all cost.

Estate cars to avoid

50%
£5,769
Reviewed

It’s big, comfy and safe, but estate cars have to offer more than that to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, this large estate is exceedingly dull to drive and frustrating to live with thanks to a shocking used model reliability rating, based on feedback from owners in our latest reliability survey.

45%
£5,460
Reviewed

On the face of it, this car offers all you could want from a medium estate. It’s well-equipped, feels well-built and is backed by a lengthy warranty. You’ll need it, though – our latest survey results revealed that this is a deeply unreliable car.

43%
£3,237
Reviewed

This large estate offers decent value for the money. It’s spacious, comfortable and well-equipped. The boot is smaller than key rivals and, our main bug bear, long-term reliability is shocking. Avoid.

How to buy the best estate car

From boot dimensions and loadspace capacity to visual appeal, we look at the things you need to consider before buying an estate car. 

Find out the advantages and disadvantages of small, medium or large estate cars, so you can pick a model that will suit your needs.

Already know what you're looking for? Head straight to all of our expert, independent estate car reviews.

Estate car loadspace vs lifestyle 

Where once estate cars were all about sheer load capacity, they’ve been re-invented somewhat in recent years. Manufacturers have renamed them ‘sports wagons’, ‘sports tourers’ and other such dynamic names, and have put greater emphasis on the styling of what is traditionally a worthy but dull class of car.

Sometimes the desire for eye-catching design comes at the expense of practicality. In our tests we’ve discovered some estates that actually offer less usable load space than their saloon counterparts. Each of our car reviews has an accurate load measurement in litres, with the seats both up and down, so you can compare models in detail.

Of course, the advantage of estate cars is a larger boot opening, being able to load all the way to the ceiling and folding the rear seats down more effectively. Although, as a general rule, the more style or performance-oriented the less emphasis it will put on practicality.

Estate car, 4x4 or MPV? 

Estate cars used to be the default choice for families and for anyone needing to carry a lot of luggage, but MPVs and 4x4s have captured the attention of many buyers.

The best MPVs (people carriers) usually offer much greater seating flexibility, along with more headroom and – in some cases – the option of seven seats. 

However, they're normally more prosaic to drive and less visually appealing than a sleekly styled, lower-slung estate. If you're after something with seven seats, have a look at our guide to the best seven-seater cars.

High-riding large SUVs and 4x4s, as well as small SUVs and crossovers, offer much of the practicality of estate cars, as well as a more commanding driving position. Some - depending on model - will also have improved off-road ability. 

Full-sized four-wheel-drive cars tend to be more expensive to buy and run.

Estate cars score on the style front and they normally drive every bit as well as their saloon car counterparts. This is in contrast to larger 4x4s and MPVs, which can often feel unwieldy.

Manageable medium-sized estate cars 

You don’t have to put up with a large unwieldy car just because you need extra load space. The majority of medium hatchbacks currently on sale are also available in estate guise. This usually adds a little extra length, but otherwise keeps their easy-to-manage dimensions.

Strong contenders in this category include:  

Best small estate cars 

Should you wish to scale down even further, compact estate cars do exist, although they have really been squeezed out by small MPVs in recent times. 

Only a handful now remain, such as the Skoda Fabia estate and Mini Clubman (which in reality is little more practical than a normal medium hatchback).

Consider an off-road 4x4 estate car 

Another small niche in the estate car market are off-road biased estates. Kicked off by the ‘Allroad’ series of Audis, such models add increased ride height, four-wheel drive and a smattering of body protection, to improve their ability on rough tracks and slippery terrain.

The idea is that you get the off-road capability without sacrificing discreet looks and agile handling. Models we’ve tested include the Seat Leon X-perience and Audi A4 Allroad.

Other estate models, such as the Subaru Levorg, come with four-wheel-drive as standard. Quattro versions of the Audi A4 Avant and A6 Avant also have four-wheel drive, as do some versions of the BMW 3 Series Touring. This is only for increased road-holding and grip, though, rather than any additional off-road ability.

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.

To take the guesswork out of choosing your next car, join Which? and you'll receive access to all our expert reviews and advice.

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