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Cars & travel.

Updated: 3 May 2022

Best estate cars for 2022

The best estate cars are reliable and versatile for load-lugging, with great handling and efficient engines. Use our expert lab and road test results to help you find your next estate car.
Daljinder Nagra
Best estate cars 1

Much like MPVs, estate cars aren't the default choice for large families these days, because of the increased popularity and availability of SUVs. But with a lower profile and normally much lower kerb weight, they're often more efficient and rewarding to drive.

Most estate cars are also immensely practical, with almost all models offering capacious boots. These are capable of swallowing everything from holiday luggage to kids' bikes 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 Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring, the huge Mercedes-Benz E-class estate and the Skoda Octavia 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.

Best new and used estate cars

We've broken down our pick of the best new and used estate cars into three categories, to help you choose the one that will best suit you and your family. 

  • Medium estate cars will benefit those who want more boot space without losing the benefits of a hatchback around town; they're typically a little longer than their hatchback counterparts, but otherwise very similar. 
  • Large estate cars give you oodles of space and are ideal if you regularly transport lots of passengers or equipment, but they can be a little more unwieldy than medium estates. 
  • Luxury large estates have more bells and whistles than our pick of standard large estates, with higher prices to match. 

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.

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.

  • 75%
    • best buy
    £24327.00

    This is a great all-rounder, and it's conversion into an estate only ups the appeal. It's spacious and practical, and feels safe and secure on the road. We've got some reservations about the touchscreen infotainment system, but that's a minor gripe overall.

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  • 75%
    • best buy
    £25501.00

    This car's appeal lies in its effortless and serene driving experience around town. It's safe, well equipped and the boot is a decent size. It's available solely as a hybrid, which can get raucous at motorway speeds, but returns respectable fuel economy overall.

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  • 70%
    • best buy
    £23825.00

    Proving that you needn't spend a fortune if you want a coupe-styled estate with some visual drama. Thankfully this model backs up its good looks with a decent standard kit list, strong safety and a seven-year manufacturer warranty.

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  • 70%
    • best buy
    £22560.00

    The fourth-generation Seat Leon arrived in 2020, and is based on the same platform as the VW Golf Mk8 and Skoda Octavia. As well as the Leon hatchback, Seat offers its mid-size model in estate form, fitted with either petrol, mild hybrid or plug-in hybrid engines. But does it match rivals such as the Ford Focus Estate, Hyundai i30 Estate and Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer? Find out in our full Seat Leon Estate review.

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Best new large estate cars

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

  • 77%
    • best buy
    £36769.00

    This highly-practical plug-in hybrid fully deserves its Best Buy status. It’s an eager performer and very comfortable, with an excellent cabin. It's got plenty of passenger space and a gargantuan boot, too, while the hybrid system opens up the potential for very low running costs.

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  • 72%
    • best buy
    £23098.00

    This large Estate is better to drive than ever before. It delivers where it really matters too. It's hugely spacious, very safe and comfortable over long distances.

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  • 71%
    • best buy
    £30769.00

    A match for its premium competition; you won’t feel short changed in any respect. It’s a genuinely head-turning car that feels special from behind the wheel. It’s fun to drive, too, and is reasonably practical.

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  • 69%
    £25865.00

    This striking large estate not only ticks the boxes for roominess and practicality, it's also superbly well put together and will appeal drivers with its keen handling.

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Best new luxury large estates

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

  • 75%
    • best buy
    £40366.00

    This huge (and hugely impressive) luxury model stands out from rivals by being sharper and more fun to drive than you’d expect any enormous estate car to be. This dynamism hasn't come at the expense of practicality or long-distance comfort, either.

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  • 70%
    £56464.00

    Classy styling, a well-appointed cabin and lashing of safety technology make this model a compelling choice. Add in impressive fuel economy (provided you can keep the battery topped up regularly) and this luxury estate is perfect for shorter distance trips.

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  • 70%
    £41633.00

    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.

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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.

  • 76%
    £9773.00

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

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  • 75%
    • best buy
    £10867.00

    This medium-sized estate is worth considering 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.

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  • 70%
    • best buy
    £4874.00

    This car has long appealed to those in need of a well-rounded family car that doesn't leave keen drivers feeling cold. This third generation estate model is a fine example of the breed, with keen handling and a big boot, as well as plenty of safety kit.

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  • 70%
    £7479.00

    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 it’s practical and very satisfying to drive, with impressive levels of grip.

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Best used large estate cars

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

  • 74%
    • best buy
    £9766.00

    This is an excellent all-round estate model. It's got the space, pace and premium interior that you'd expect from an upmarket brand. And with a wide range of engines, there's something for everyone, whether you prioritise performance or fuel economy.

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  • 74%
    • best buy
    £3790.00

    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.

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  • 72%
    • best buy
    £4734.00

    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 is decent for practicality. One to consider with your sensible hat on.

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  • 70%
    • best buy
    £2294.00

    Possibly the king of practicality in the used estate world, the huge boot swallows 530 litres of luggage (or 1,733 litres with the seats folded down) and passenger space is generous, too. It delivers an upmarket feel and it's hard to find fault with how it drives. It manages to accommodate a comfortable ride along with taut steering response, which is no mean feat, and that's maintained even when fully loaded.

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Best used luxury large estates

Grab a bargain on a heavily depreciating second-hand luxury model that won't let you down.

  • 73%
    • best buy
    £11442.00

    This model gives you the practicality and superb luxury of the regular estate version, enhanced with 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.

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Not found the car for you? Browse all our estate car reviews

What to avoid when buying an estate car

The formula for 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 estates can be more efficient and handle better. One estate we tested proves it by achieving a staggering 74.3 miles to the gallon – the best fuel economy of any petrol or diesel car we’ve tested. On the other hand, another 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.

Estate cars to avoid

  • 55%
    £18766.00

    Don't be tempted by the value the this estate seems to offer. Yes, it has a decent amount of luggage space, but it lags behind rivals in every other regard. It's uninspiring to drive, dull to sit in and the brand's reliability record is very worrying. It's the model's poor three-star Euro NCAP rating that seals its fate as an estate to avoid.

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How to buy the best estate car

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

Read on for the advantages and disadvantages of different-sized estate cars and how they compare with MPVs, 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 style

Where once estate cars were all about sheer load capacity, they’ve been reinvented 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 and driving dynamics 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 have less usable loadspace than their saloon counterparts, whether it be due to sloping rooflines or other design features. Each of our car reviews has accurate measurements of usable loadspace in litres, with the seats both up and down, so you can compare models in detail.

Of course, an advantage of estate cars is a larger boot opening; there's the option to load all the way to the ceiling and fold down the rear seats more effectively. 

Manageable medium-sized estate cars

You don’t have to put up with a large car just because you need extra boot space. Many 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 to buy

If you wish to scale down even further, compact estate cars do exist, although they've really been squeezed out by compact crossovers. 

Only a handful now remain, such as the Skoda Fabia estate and Mini Clubman.

Should you buy an estate car, SUV 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 particularly 4x4s have captured the attention of many buyers in recent years.

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 room for seven, 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, although our tests highlight models that come up short inside, despite taking up lots of room on the road. However, SUVs have a more commanding driving position, and some – depending on the model – will also have better off-road ability. Such full-sized four-wheel-drive cars tend to be more expensive to buy and run, though.

Where estate cars have the upper hand is on the road, as they're often little different to drive than their hatchback or saloon counterparts. This is in contrast with SUVs that, unless you go for a particularly performance-orientated model, can feel heavy and unwieldy on twisting roads.

Consider a 4x4 estate car

If you just can't make the call between an estate and a 4x4, another small niche in the estate car market is 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, 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 to 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.