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Best Cars

Best Estate Cars for 2018

By Martin Pratt

Article 9 of 15

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, take out a £1 trial to unlock this table and all our expert impartial reviews.

Best new estate cars

Price from £20,255
Which? score 77%
Reviewed May 2016
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

For many, this large estate will be the most complete and well-rounded car currently on sale. It's particularly likely to appeal to growing families but also cuts the mustard as an executive cruiser. It may not be the most engaging estate to drive, but in all other respects it excels.

Price from £25,439
Which? score 77%
Reviewed Feb 2012
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This estate is the driver's choice of premium compact estate cars, but is comfortable and practical enough to make it an extremely easy to live with family car. The interior is improved over the old model, too.

Price from £25,258
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Oct 2015
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This Best Buy estate's practicality, quality and ease-of-use appeal is bolstered further by the addition of four-wheel-drive. It's no more difficult to drive than the standard model, and now has added traction and stability in slippery conditions. It will handle the odd field, too.

Price from £19,285
Which? score 74%
Reviewed Jun 2013
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
5 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 £4,275
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Sep 2008
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 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 £4,681
Which? score 73%
Reviewed Nov 2007
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This car sits somewhere between a true estate and a sizeable hatchback with its 220-litre capacity boot. It’s probably not the estate to go for if you want boat-loads of boot space, but it does excel in other areas. Its engines are powerful and responsive and it has go-kart-like handling that other estate cars can only dream of.

Price from £6,334
Which? score 70%
Reviewed Oct 2009
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This Japanese brand is better known for its high-performance large car, but we were impressed with its estate. It’s a bulky 4x4 estate with hulking diesel engines that accelerate effortlessly. It’s practical, too, with plenty of headroom in the front and the back seats. The cavernous boot is the icing on the cake for this Best Buy estate.

Price from £2,538
Which? score 67%
Reviewed May 2008
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Proving you don't need a huge estate car for decent practicality, this older model has a large boot and plenty of front seat space. However, as it's an older model, some versions didn't come with electronic stability control as standard.

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, take out a £1 Which? trial to unlock this table and all our expert, independent reviews.

Estate cars to avoid

Price from £3,340
Which? score 55%
Reviewed Aug 2007
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Performance:
5 out of 5
Seat comfort:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Seat space:
5 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) and there's better alternatives available.

Price from £1,340
Which? score 53%
Reviewed Nov 2004
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Performance:
4 out of 5
Seat comfort:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Seat space:
3 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.

Price from £2,610
Which? score 53%
Reviewed Apr 2004
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Performance:
4 out of 5
Seat comfort:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Seat space:
3 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.

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