Compare the best estate cars
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Best estate cars in the UK of 2023
Estates arguably make for the best cars. You get the same (more or less) driving enjoyment as a saloon or hatch, but with much more space for luggage and/or pets without the extra running costs that come with SUVs.
And gone are the boxy shapes of old. Nowadays, we have estates with sleek, swooping lines that have all the style of their saloon equivalents despite the capacious boot out back. Our team of reviewers have put each of the cars in this list to the test and have brought together the best estates you can buy today.
So whether you’re looking for something big and cheap or more premium practicality, there’s something for you here. Here are the best estate cars in the business.
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Estate cars FAQs
Generally, an estate car is one that takes an existing saloon or hatchback design and extends the rear bodywork upward and outward to create a bigger and more versatile boot. Generally they’ll have fold-flat rear seats, and many will have boot floors that adjust to allow you to carry larger, or heavier, loads. They’re the practical cars we bought before SUVs took over…
The primary benefit is space — estates almost always have bigger boots than their saloon or hatchback cousins. For instance, a BMW 3 Series Touring has a 500-litre boot, compared to the 3 Series saloon’s 480-litres, and when you fold the back seats flat and load it to the roof, there’s 1,510-litres to play with. The other benefit is running costs — a lower, sleeker estate will, for a similar (sometimes superior) amount of cabin and boot space, be cheaper to run and tax than an equivalent SUV.
There are plenty of hybrid and plug-in hybrid estate cars, including the Audi A6 Avant TFSIe, Citroen C5 X, Mercedes C-Class Estate and E-Class Estate, Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate, and the Volvo V60 T6 and V90 T6. If you want a fully-electric estate, your choices are a bit more limited for the moment. You can either go really cheap — the MG 5 — or really, really expensive — the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo. Better-value electric estates are coming, though.
Yes, although to be fair most of the saloon and hatch variants of these cars will tow just as well. The ones with the highest towing limits are the Skoda Superb Estate, Volkswagen Passat Estate, and Volvo V90, all of which can haul as much as 2,200kg of braked trailer weight — just bear in mind that hauling that much weight might push you over the combined 3,500kg weight limit (if you got your driver’s licence after January 1997). You also need to remember that, if you’re hauling a caravan, you’re limited to 50mph on single-lane roads, and 60mph on dual-carriageways and motorways.
Of the cars on our top ten list, you’re best going for the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports if you want maximum reliability — it’s the only one of the ten to get a maximum five-star reliability rating from Which? That said, Skoda, Audi, and Volvo all tend to produce well-made cars too, so you’re probably not going to be taking too big a risk with one of those.
Buying an estate car for a family really boils down to one equation — how can I get the best possible space for the minimum possible cost? With that in mind, the winner here probably has to be the Skoda Octavia Estate. It has a bigger boot than anything else of a similar price (indeed, more space than many larger, more expensive cars) and Skoda has a solid reputation for reliability and running costs. You can get it as a plug-in hybrid iV model too, which could potentially save you a lot of money in fuel bills.
Two of the best-value estates come from Skoda in the form of the Superb and Octavia, which both boast boot space that wouldn’t be out of place in the class above. The Dacia Jogger is also very affordable and has a huge boot, though its seven-seater status means you could argue it’s more of a stretched MPV than traditional estate.
If you’re sticking to electric powertrains, the MG 5 is the easy winner here, since the only other electric estate is the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo, a considerably pricier option.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we reckon there are a few contenders for this crowd. The Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo’s sleek shooting brake design is enough to set your heart racing, while the Volvo V60 has a subtle sophistication that’s a far cry from the design-by-set square estates the firm used to sell.
Looking at official figures, this list would be dominated by plug-in hybrid models, because if you can keep the battery topped up you might find you rarely use a drop of fuel. Some of our favourite examples here include the Skoda Superb, Audi A6 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring. The Mercedes C-Class Estate PHEV has the best official economy figure, though at 404mpg.
Don’t want a plug-in model? Again, the Skoda Superb and Octavia have some of the most economical petrol and diesel engines in the business, while the petrol-electric (non plug-in) hybrid Suzuki Swace and Toyota Corolla Touring Sports return excellent MPG in the real world.
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