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Best cars

Top 10 best estate cars 2024

They’re practical, great to drive and less bulky than an SUV – here are the best estate cars

Best estate cars 2024

Estate cars have long been the sensible choice for families who need that extra chunk of boot space over a typical hatchback or saloon car. Although their popularity has dwindled in recent years thanks to the wider selection of high-riding SUVs on sale today, they remain an excellent choice for those who want something just as practical but without the added bulk.

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Finding the ideal estate car tailored to your needs can be challenging, given the wide range of sizes, fuel types and price points. Our list includes conventional petrol and diesel models, hybrids and even electric options, spanning from budget-friendly manufacturers to luxury brands, ensuring an option to cater to every discerning buyer's preferences.

We have spent time behind the wheel of each of the cars featured on this list and scored them considering a number of factors, from practicality to technology, comfort and value for money. You can find out our thoughts on a specific model in more detail by reading its in-depth review.

If you’re looking for a more niche selection of estate cars, you can read our guides to the best hybrid estates, the best fast estates and the best used estates

Skoda Octavia Estate review – the class leader for practicality

Skoda Octavia Estate facelift review
Carbuyer rating

4.5 out of 5

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The Skoda Octavia retained its Best Estate Car crown in our 2024 Carbuyer Best Car Awards and we described it as one of the best new cars money can buy. The Octavia isn’t quite as spacious as the large Skoda Superb, but it will easily meet the needs of most families with plenty of room for buggies, suitcases, and the family dog. A premium interior that still feels sturdy ensures that the Octavia is a nice place to be on longer journeys. While its price has crept up in recent years, the Skoda is still great value, especially when compared with premium competitors from Audi and BMW.

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A five-star Euro NCAP safety rating is another plus point for the Octavia, and the choice of diesel, petrol, and plug-in hybrid engines means car buyers should be able to find the right model to suit their needs. It may not be the most glamorous car in the world, but for a dependable vehicle that has to work for a living, the Octavia deserves its spot at the top of our list.

Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo estate review

Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
Carbuyer rating

4.4 out of 5

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It goes to show just how far battery technology has come in recent years that an EV just misses out on the top spot for best estate car. The Porsche Taycan saloon is one of the best electric cars around, and the Cross Turismo model only adds to that car’s long list of strengths with a much larger boot.

Externally, the elongated roof line, raised ride height and chunky wheelarch cladding add up to create a rugged appearance, yet the Cross Turismo still retains the blistering performance of the saloon. Top-spec Turbo S models will outperform some of the most exotic machinery, while even the base model will embarrass most hot hatches, all while cosseting the driver with a comfortable and near-silent cabin. There’s a Sport Turismo model too, which does away with the 4x4-esque costume for an even sleeker look, and all Taycans have received a facelift for 2024, bringing tweaked styling and improved range.

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It’s not the most practical estate car on this list – boot space stands at 446 litres with the rear seats up, or 1,212 litres with them down – but with its all-round combination of space, performance and technology, the Taycan Cross Turismo is hard to beat – if your budget can stretch to it. 

Mercedes C-Class Estate review

Mercedes C-Class Estate
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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The latest Mercedes C-Class Estate builds upon the strengths of the old model, bringing some form of hybrid technology to every version in the range. You might struggle to spot the visual differences with the old estate, but it’s more efficient than before and families will be pleased to know that it’s just as spacious and comfortable on the inside.

The interior really is the party piece for the C-Class Estate. We think it's the best in its class, with superb materials and build quality, backed up by genuinely useful technology. Comfort levels are top-notch both up front and in the rear seats, while the boot has grown by an additional 30 litres – now up to 490 litres. Opting for the plug-in hybrid model reduces this slightly, but you’ll be trading boot space for a real-world electric range of 60 miles.

If you want a more traditional engine, Mercedes offers the C-Class estate with petrol and diesel mild-hybrid powertrains, all offering good levels of performance and refinement. 

BMW 3 Series Touring estate review

2022 BMW 3 Series Touring - front 1
Carbuyer rating

4.4 out of 5

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The BMW 3 Series Touring is another excellent car – one that builds on the enjoyable driving experience of its saloon sister model. BMW always manages to strike a balance between handling prowess and everyday usability, and despite its sporting appeal on country roads, the 3 Series is also a comfortable car for long motorway journeys. Its boot measures just shy of 500 litres with the seats up, which is a bit less than you get in some of the other cars here, but it’s still a sensibly shaped and useful space that can expand to 1,500 litres with the seats folded down.

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Families will appreciate its generous standard equipment and strong Euro NCAP crash-safety rating, as well as the fact that BMW’s engine line-up is one of the strongest – and most economical – on the market today. Finally, there’s little doubt that the BMW badge carries the image and status that many owners crave.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake review

Jaguar XF Sportbrake
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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Jaguar’s competitor to the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5 Series also gets an estate variant, the XF Sportbrake. First appearing in 2015, the practical Jag lags behind rivals in terms of cutting-edge tech, but for buyers wanting a comfortable and spacious estate car, the XF Sportbrake is still worth considering. It’s a fair chunk cheaper than those rivals, too.

For similar money to the BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class Estate, you get a larger car with a larger boot – fold down the rear seats and the boot grows to a vast 1,700 litres. It’s just as good to drive as its saloon sibling, with sharp steering and switchable driving modes that make a significant difference to how sporty or comfy you want the ride to be. Speaking of comfort, the interior is a pleasant place to sit, although it's not as flashy as its German rivals. That may be of benefit to some who find the excess of screens in those cars too fiddly or distracting.

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Engine options are solid, if not spectacular, with a choice of two petrols and a mild-hybrid diesel. Rivals offer a broader selection of different engines and even plug-in hybrid versions, but the XF Sportbrake still represents good value for money in the premium estate car segment.

Cupra Leon Estate review

Cupra Leon Estate driving
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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The Cupra Leon Estate is a quirky alternative for estate buyers wanting hot hatchback performance with a roomier boot. Based on the SEAT Leon Estate, the Cupra variant looks even sharper and ramps up the driving enjoyment. Available with either a pure-petrol engine or a plug-in hybrid powertrain, there’s a Cupra Leon Estate for buyers who prioritise speed or efficiency.

You’ll struggle to find a car with such high practicality and performance at this price. With the rear seats up, there’s an impressive 620 litres of boot space – plus the load area is usable shape. When you’re not busy carrying the kids and the family labrador, the fastest Cupra will provide bundles of excitement down a twisty road, helped by its four-wheel drive and 306bhp. With the flick of a switch, it can also transform into a smooth, comfy family car.

The plug-in hybrid variant is slightly down on horsepower, and therefore isn’t as quick, but offers excellent efficiency and is still a fun steer. If you’re not bothered about performance from your estate, you can always read our review of the more sedate SEAT Leon Estate.

Volkswagen Golf Estate review

Volkswagen Golf Alltrack estate front 3/4 driving
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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The Volkswagen Golf is one of the best-selling family cars of all time, but if you find the hatchback’s boot a little too tight, the Golf Estate is the natural choice to consider. It does everything it says on the tin – you get everything that’s great about the regular Golf, including an excellent choice of engines, a robust driving experience and a solid cabin, plus a larger boot.

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The latest Golf Estate is just as smart-looking as its hatchback twin, but packs a handy 611 litres of boot space. It can’t quite match the Cupra Leon or the Skoda Octavia, but it’s still a useful step above the regular Golf. The Golf Estate shares much of its platform with the Cupra and, while it's not quite as fun to drive, the interior feels more upmarket. Some of the tech can be fiddly to use however, so make sure to test it for yourself before picking up the keys.

The Golf has just received a mid-life facelift as well, featuring a tweaked exterior and revised cabin that should hopefully address some of our gripes with the interior tech.

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate review

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate rear 3/4
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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Toyota gained a reputation for reliability and its hybrid powertrains a long time ago and today they are still refining the Corolla: a model that isn’t just popular in the UK, but across the world. The Touring Sports estate version of the Corolla will be a familiar sight if you’ve ever stopped to look at the cars taxi drivers use, or ordered a lift on a ride-hailing app. Low running costs, dependable reliability, and 581 litres of boot space make it a great fit for those who need a car they can rely on. A ten-year warranty when serviced at a dealer, and Toyota’s 12th place out of 32 brands in our 2023 driver power survey adds to the attraction of the Corolla.

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For car buyers hoping for anything but a hybrid there will be disappointment, although you can at least choose between a 1.8-litre, or more powerful 2.0-litre petrol self-charging hybrid depending on your performance preference. If you need to tow with your estate car though the Corolla might not make your shortlist, with a meagre 750kg limit.

MG5 EV estate review

2022 MG5 EV - front 1
Carbuyer rating

4.1 out of 5

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If you’re ready to get an electric car, but struggling to find one with the space you need on a tight budget, the MG5 EV is worth a look. Prices start at around £30,000 for the Long Range model which can achieve up to 250 miles on a charge. An update in 2022 added some sharper styling and both the interior trim and infotainment were upgraded to keep it competitive in the fast-moving EV market.

A total of 581 litres of boot space means the MG5 is on a par with petrol and diesel models, and even beats some vehicles that are plug-in hybrids. Buyers will be happy to hear that a new MG5 EV has a seven-year warranty, although MG was ranked last in our 2022 Driver Power survey. One key complaint was the infotainment setup, which has just been updated on the MG5 EV. If towing is required, the MG5 EV won’t be an option, as, like many electric cars, it isn’t rated to tow.

Skoda Superb Estate (2015-2023) review

Best Used Estate Car: Skoda Superb Estate
Carbuyer rating

4.8 out of 5

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The third-generation Skoda Superb has been on sale for quite some time now, but it still manages to impress even against newer rivals. It’s hard to look past the value, space, and design of the Superb which is packed with clever storage solutions. Families will be as impressed as we were by its solid interior, which should fend off all a family can throw at it. High mileage drivers will be content with the diesel option, while urban and company-car drivers wanting to keep their tax costs down also have the option of a plug-in hybrid for near-silent driving and low-cost miles.

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The Superb is big enough to make an SUV buyer think twice about their purchase. It has more boot space than most SUVs of a similar price, and Skoda even offers a four-wheel drive option for tackling slippery conditions. The main disadvantage is that you sit lower down, so it can be harder to get in and out and see around traffic and obstacles.

Why should you pick an estate car?

There is more competition for cars with a big boot than ever before, as SUVs and family hatchbacks continue to grow in size to accommodate the demands of buyers. However it can still be worth buying an estate car as they are generally cheaper to run and more fun to drive than SUVs, while providing more space than smaller hatchbacks.

In some ways, estate cars can be even more accessible than an SUV or MPV for load-lugging and transporting pets. The best cars for dogs are estate cars as they generally have a lower loading lip, so even if your dog is in their senior years, they should be able to get in about without a problem.

An estate car’s boot can be even more practical than an MPV’s, too. The rear seats in an estate will usually fold flat in one simple movement, leaving a long, flat load bay which makes it very versatile for carrying large items in place of passengers. In many seven-seater MPVs the third row can intrude on the load space, leaving a disappointing amount of room even when the bulky seats are folded down – these seats are often removable, but it can be cumbersome and frustrating to find a place to put them in the meantime.

Another big advantage estate cars have over cumbersome SUVs and MPVs is the way they drive. Driving an estate is typically indistinguishable from driving the saloon version of the same model. And even if you’re not someone who relishes the prospect of driving, you’re sure to be pleased by the biggest benefit an estate brings – that it’s unlikely to cost much more to run than a saloon or hatchback.

Top 10 best estate cars

  1. Skoda Octavia Estate
  2. Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
  3. Mercedes E-Class Estate
  4. BMW 3 Series Touring
  5. Jaguar XF Sportbrake
  6. Cupra Leon Estate
  7. Volkswagen Golf Estate
  8. Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate
  9. MG 5 EV
  10. Skoda Superb Estate
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