Estates are a pretty good better-driving alternative to the now ubiquitous SUV. You need to pick the right one, though.
Given that it will often have to double up on driving and family duties, an estate car must combine a roomy, comfy, and well-equipped cabin with decent economy and good driving enjoyment.
To help you make a decision, we’ve enlisted the help of What Car?’s expert reviews to highlight ten of the best estates in showrooms right now.
Plenty to boot: These are the 10 best estate cars on the market right now, and not just because they have the biggest storage compartments
When it comes to estate-car shopping, total boot capacity isn’t the most important factor.
The best load luggers are the ones with a storage compartment that’s as squared-off as possible with minimal intrusions from the internal bodywork.
It should be easy to fold the rear seats flat. And a good estate should be financially accessible.
It’s quite a wish list, but plenty of manufacturers have had a go at fulfilling it.
We’ve weeded out the duffers to present you with what we believe to be the ten best estates – make, model and variant.
10. Audi A4 Avant
The Audi A4 Avant combines practicality with premium quality
The boot is enormous and has few intrusions that limit the space
Price: from £29,255
The Audi A4 saloon was a multiple award winner, so it’s no surprise that the Avant estate car is brilliant too. For big trips its comfort, sophistication and quality will make it popular for families.
The 3.0-litre diesel engine is wonderfully refined and surprisingly economical. Sport trim gives you everything you need.
9. Seat Leon ST
The ride quality of this Seat Leon ST might not be as good as the Audi A4 in 10th spot, but it costs £10,000 less than the German rival
Price: from £19,995
The ride is a bit harsh and it can’t compete with the Audi on quality, but those small things apart, the Seat Leon ST is extremely convincing, with a large boot, lots of kit and a good driving manners.
Competitive pricing is even better in reality thanks to regular deals on finance.
8. Ford Mondeo Estate
The latest generation Ford Mondeo Estate is a handsome wagon
The square boot is ideal for extended holidays with the entire family and luggage
Price: from £20,950
Only the dearer (and smaller) BMW 3 Series Touring drives more nicely than the Mondeo Estate. Whether you’re a private or a company car buyer, you’ll be able to find a bargain price, and ongoing costs will be low too thanks to the 2.0-litre diesel motor.
An excellent day to day car, with tons of room.
7. Volkswagen Golf Estate
The Volkswagen Golf Estate isn’t the biggest of models here, but the boot is enormous and puts others to shame
Price: from £21,070
Maybe it’s not the most affordable estate, but the Golf delivers a high class experience in quality, space and equipment, with a digital radio, Bluetooth and air conditioning all included in SE spec and a range of engines that perform well in both speed and economy.
Low depreciation boosts its appeal.
6. Volkswagen Passat Estate
The Passat ticks most of the boxes. Comfortable, upmarket, badge appeal and a quality drive
The boot is perfectly square and the flat floor is ideal for loading long, heavy, objects
Price: from £24,720
Price-wise, the Ford Mondeo Estate and Mazda 6 Tourer will make the Passat Estate look like a bit of an indulgence, but you get what you pay for in terms of the VW’s more upmarket feel.
Low costs for company car users will appeal too. Perfect for the family that does plenty of motorway miles.
5. Skoda Octavia Estate
The Skoda badge might put some buyers off, but the amount of equipment that comes as standard in the Octavia trumps the competition
The Skoda Octavia boot is plenty big enough for to load a washing machine or to transport rubbish to the recycling centre. Handy storage compartments and hook points are a benefit
Price: from £21,325
Nothing too fancy-schmancy here, but if simple ability plus plenty of space are your requirements then the Skoda Octavia Estate will tick most boxes.
The boot is right up there with the best in space, and we love the abstemious but still responsive 1.6-litre diesel version. The great prices on offer look even better when you see how many toys you get at this spec level.
4. Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate
If you’re looking for luxury and comfort as well as tons of boot space, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate should be high on your wish list
Price: from £38,070
Mercedes-Benz has more experience in big family estates than probably anybody else, and that really shows in the excellent new E-Class Estate. It tops the class on luggage space and dishes up tons of passengers space too.
The cabin is posh and it’s a great cruiser. The BMW 5 Series Touring might beat it in hard cornering, but for those who prefer refinement to razzing the E-Class Estate will fit the bill.
3. Skoda Fabia Estate
If the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a big comfy estate, the Fabia Estate offers up many of the same benefits but with much smaller dimensions. Of all the cars on this list, this is one of the most overlooked
Price: from £13,300
The estate version of the multi-award winning Fabia is brilliantly practical and very accessible in terms of what it will cost you to buy and run. Standard safety equipment is impressive and you should quite enjoy the driving experience too.
For something that’s practical without being too big to maneouvre around a multi-storey car park, check it out.
2. BMW 5 Series Touring
The BMW 5 Series Touring places ahead of its nearest rival – the Mercedes E-Class – because it is the better car to drive
Price: from £39,005
If cost isn’t so much of an object, the newest BMW 5 Series Touring will demonstrate what a great manufacturer can do when they put their mind to it. Not only will it swallow most of your gear (the E-Class will take slightly more), the Five is also a terrific drive, irrespective of it being an estate.
Standard self-levelling suspension gives it extra versatility when there are big loads to be shifted.
1. Skoda Superb Estate
Don’t be fooled by the Skoda badge – the Superb is one of the best-equipped and high-quality estate models you’ll find
As you can see in this image, even with the rear seat backs up there is acres of room in the boot of the Superb Estate
Price: from 23,450
Affordability and practicality are Skoda watchwords, and the Superb Estate is a perfect illustration of that. It’s not just a big load-carrier, it’s also very luxurious and, thanks to its powerful but also fuel-sipping engines, very adept at running all day with five adults and all their stuff on board.
Leave the rear seats up and it will hold one more big suitcase than a Mondeo Estate. Recommendable in every way.
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