Best Estate Cars

9 minutes Published: 14/04/2020
Rowan Harris

Whether they’re used for family holidays or trips to IKEA, estate cars are a staple of British culture. 

With big boots and optional four-wheel-drive, there’s little that SUVs and MPVs offer that the estate car can’t match. In fact, the deep, flat, low-level boot offered by estate cars can make transferring larger items like furniture significantly easier. 

But of course, not all estate cars are created equal.

While some make for excellent family cars, with large rear seat footwells and the option for an additional two seats in the boot, there are others which lack many of the basic features that you would expect from a new car. Equally, boot sizes can vary quite a bit.

To help you find the best estate car for you, we’ve rounded up our favourites! All of these cars are practical, comfortable, and cheap to run. 

For an overview of our Best Family Cars, take a look at our blog! Or if you’re on the hunt for your next best company car, take a look at our roundup. Haven’t decided what body style is for you yet? Check out our best compact saloon list too so you’re totally clued up.

1. Skoda Superb Estate

RRP: £25,515 - £41,805 | From £242.99 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 3.6
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Estate
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 35 - 237g/km

Pros

  • Boot is massive. 

  • Very affordable. 

Cons

  • A bit noisy when driving at high speeds. 

  • Lacks some of the luxury offered by expensive rivals (if that’s your thing). 

We’re sure they don’t like to blow their own trumpet, but Skoda really couldn’t have chosen a more fitting name for their flagship car. The Skoda Superb Estate takes everything that was great about the hatchback and adds an even bigger boot. 

With plenty of load space, this family estate is a great option for long-weekend camping trips, dog walkers, or anyone about to take their kids off to university. The Skoda Superb Estate comes in at nearly half the price of more luxurious estate offerings, from manufacturers like Mercedes and Audi.  

With soft-touch trims, height adjustable seats (with lumbar adjustment on mid-range models) and a reach-adjustable steering wheel, you should have no issue getting comfortable inside. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom for those stuck in the rear seats.

Our Rating:

2. BMW 5 Series Touring (2017)

RRP: £37,820 - £58,525
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
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  • Body: Estate
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • Really nice driving experience.

  • Practical boot and spacious interior.

Cons

  • Expensive

  • For all out practicality, rivals are better. 

The BMW 5 Series Touring is one of the best estate cars money can buy. The BMW 5 Series Touring comes with a middle of the range boot - it’s larger than offerings from Jaguar and Volvo, but still doesn’t quite match Mercedes in this department. That being said, it’s more than practical enough for everyday life.

It has 40/20/40 folding rear seats, so you’ll have no problem carting around awkwardly sized items. The back seats are also particularly roomy - tall adults won’t have a problem back here. 

BMW’s pride themselves on technology and drive quality, and the 5 Series Touring is no exception. While you don’t buy an estate for all-out-performance, the 5 Series offers plenty of satisfaction to make the daily commute less arduous. BMW’s infotainment system is one of the best in the game. 

Our Rating:

3. Audi A6 Avant

RRP: £42,880 - £76,010 | From £417.54 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 5.2
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 348g/km

Pros

  • Really enjoyable to drive.

  • Good balance between boot size and rear leg room.

Cons

  • A pricier option.

  • Optional extras can add up.

The Audi A6 Avant sits at the upper end of the pricing spectrum, but if it’s a high tech, premium feel estate that you’re looking for, then this could be the one for you.

The interior has a fairly spacious boot, but it’s significantly smaller than some of its rivals. What it lacks in boot space, it more than makes up for in the front and rear of the car. While the front seats traditionally offer a lot of space in estate cars, there are few that could also comfortably fit a couple of six-footers in the back at the same time, making this a great car for a slightly older family.

 A more high-end option the A6 offers a really comfortable and refined driving experience.  All A6 Avant models have a wide range of electronic adjustments for the driver’s seat, such as four-way lumbar, so you should have no trouble tackling longer journeys in this car.

Our Rating:

4. Volkswagen Passat Estate

RRP: £26,960 - £43,745 | From £258.60 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 4.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Estate
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 319g/km

Pros

  • One of the biggest boots in class.

  • Plenty of tech features even on entry-level models.

Cons

  • There are cheaper options available.

  • If you don’t care for a posher badge, a Skoda will do the same thing. 

Better than smaller rival Volkswagen Golf Estate, the Passat has a huge amount of boot space, but is more expensive than comparable cars - why wouldn’t you just take out a Skoda Superb Estate lease? For one, the Passat is a far more upmarket affair. 

While VW isn’t quite a luxury brand, they offer a nice compromise between elegance and practicality. With the aforementioned huge boot, incredibly comfortable driving position, and spacious rear-seats, the Volkswagen Passat is an excellent candidate for the next family road trip. 

While the Passat isn’t a bargain up front, the running costs are pretty low. Insurance groups are reasonable, and the engine options (particularly the diesel engines) offer a great MPG with relatively low CO2 emissions. 

Our Rating:

5. Volvo V90 Estate (2017)

RRP: £36,500 - £60,500
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Estate
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • Plenty of room in the front and rear.

  • Premium feel all throughout.

Cons

  • Mid-sized boot, let down by 40/60 seat split folding.

  • Premium price.

Once the antique dealer’s car of choice, Volvo has now swapped its stale styling for something much fresher. No longer a car synonymous with the bespectacled buyers of items of a bygone era, the Volvo V90 sports a pretty slick exterior… and the inside is even better.

The Volvo V90’s boot space is more than sufficient for most families, but it's also by no means the biggest. Unfortunately the rear seats are also 60/40 split folding, so you don’t have the flexibility of only folding down the middle seat. On the flip-side, there’s plenty of head and leg room for those in front, and there should be no problem fitting a couple of NBA basketball players in the rear with the abundance of leg room back there. 

The seats, as you’d expect from a Volvo, are particularly comfortable, with electrical seat adjustment and lumbar support making it easy to get settled down for the long haul. The seamless blend of wood, aluminum and leather on the interior gives the car a premium feel which oozes scandi-cool. 

Our Rating:

6. Mercedes E Class Estate (2018)

RRP: £38,955 - £47,520
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Estate
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • 7 seater. 

  • Beautiful interior - very high-class.

Cons

  • Those additional seats are really small - good for toddlers, not so much for anyone bigger. 

  • Expensive.

Mercedes is no stranger to luxury estate cars and the E-Class brings everything you’d expect from a high end estate with one of the biggest boots for your buck.

There’s a little less legroom in the rear but head room shouldn’t be an issue. The car has another trick up its sleeve, however. You can also add two smaller seats in the boot area, making it the only luxury 7-seat estate on the market. It’s worth noting though that these are only intended for smaller children up to the age of six, so don’t stick Grandpa back there. 

The driver’s seat and steering wheel are both electronically adjustable, though lumbar adjustment is an optional extra. It’s a refined drive, with all of the models doing a decent job of soaking up the lumps and bumps in the road. There’s also little road or wind noise. The Mercedes E-Class Estate offers transmissions with up to 9 gears - so fuel economy is excellent. 

Our Rating:

7. Skoda Octavia Estate (2017)

RRP: £18,200 - £32,395
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Estate
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • Spacious all-round, with a large boot and roomy rear passenger space.

  • Very affordable, with modestly priced upgrades.

Cons

  • Lacklustre interior - nothing on more premium rivals.

  • For maximum practicality on a Skoda, you’d better with a Skoda Superb lease deal. 

The Skoda Octavia Estate is a solid contender in the budget-range of estate cars. Slightly smaller than the Superb, the Octavia still has a great large and practical boot. The shape of the car makes for a boot that’s taller and squarer than rivals, making it really easy to take full advantage of the available load area. 

Even with a large boot, the rear passengers won’t suffer. There’s plenty of room inside, so your teenage kids won’t end up fighting because their elbows are touching. 

With a highly adjustable steering wheel and seat (even on basic trims), the Octavia is a really comfortable car to drive. The tech, while nothing particularly impressive, is plenty for the majority of people. Dual-zone climate control is a nice touch - to keep everyone happy. 

Our Rating:

8. Jaguar XF Sportbrake (2017)

RRP: £39,580 - £49,685
  • Doors:
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  • Fuel:
  • Body: Estate
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • High quality, luxurious interior with a pleasant exterior.

  • Great for towing.

Cons

  • Expensive. 

  • Luxurious additions come at the cost of some practicality.

Despite its slightly eccentric marketing name, the XF Sportbrake is still very much an estate car, pitched against those sitting at the upper end of the market. It offers a more-than adequate boot, and has a flexible 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, so it’s got plenty of practicality. 

Inside, the cabin is really luxurious and upmarket. The materials are all solid, and the tech is subtle yet advanced - everything you’d expect from a Jaguar. The rear has plenty of space, and the leather interior will make your passengers feel spoiled. 

The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is great to drive, and the efficient diesels and powerful petrol engines will have you  gliding effortlessly down twisting roads. It also won’t cost a fortune at the pumps, with plenty of efficient engine options available. 

Our Rating:

9. Audi A4 Avant

RRP: £31,565 - £53,940 | From £291.51 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 4.2
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 324g/km

Pros

  • Virtual Cockpit is great.

  • Refined drive.

Cons

  • Plenty of options with bigger boots.

  • Fuel economy is better on less-powerful rivals. 

The Audi A4 Avant comes with a well-sized boot, beating out it’s German rivals BMW and Mercedes. It has a versatile 40/20/40 split rear seating arrangement, which is great when you have lots of luggage but also need to squeeze kids in the back.

There’s also a reasonable amount of space in both the front and rear of the car, so you should be able to fit a couple of six-footers in the rear with no issues. Up front, you should have no issues getting comfortable, as there’s lots of options for seat and steering wheel adjustments. 

Audi’s Virtual Cockpit comes as standard on the Audi A4 Avant. Where you’d normally have a set of analogue instruments you’ll find a screen for sat-nav, meaning you don’t need to take your eyes away from the wheel for directions.

Our Rating:

10. BMW 3 Series Touring

RRP: £32,190 - £50,420 | From £306.41 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 3.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Estate
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 247g/km

Pros

  • Agile and fun to drive.

  • Great infotainment system.

Cons

  • Adjustable lumbar support is an extra - standard on many competitors.

  • If you can afford it, the 5 Series is the better BMW estate.

The latest BMW 3 Series Touring doesn’t stray far from its signature sporty estate car formula. It is the  BMW Estate you can purchase, below the BMW 5 Series Touring. You’ve got the optionsmallest of a rear-wheel and four wheel drive, which can be essential if you live in a more rural location. 

The boot is reasonably spacious, at 500 litres, with minimal intrusion from the rear wheels. There’s also 40/20/40 split rear seats for maximum flexibility when loading up with passengers in the rear. 

The infotainment system is one of the best in its class, with a responsive and easy to navigate touch screen and plenty of scope for upgrades. It’s a BMW, it’s a joy to drive. There’s a Sport Mode which stiffens the suspension, for when you fancy a more exciting drive on the weekends.

Our Rating:

Estate cars are all about practicality - but don’t think that means boring. Our list of best estate cars shows you that this body-style really can have it all. An estate is easy to live with, relatively fun to drive, and ultra-comfortable to sit in.

With budget options like Skoda making great estates, and plenty of luxurious German offerings for those who want something more upmarket, there’s bound to be an estate car for you. 

Still not settled on a car for your growing family? Consult our Best Family Cars guide! Or if you’re not 100% sure any of these cars will be good for work, check out our best company car list. And if you want to see if another body style might suit you better, have a glance at our best compact saloon.