Best estate cars

Skoda Octavia Estate 1.6 TDI front action
Credits: Otis Clay
6 Sep, 2013 3:00pm

We reveal the 10 best estate cars, from the stylish Hyundai i40 to the enormous Superb Estate

Estate cars have almost been forgotten as sales of fashionable MPVs and crossovers have boomed. But an estate still provides all the space and practicality a family needs for a similar price – and with similar running costs – to a regular family car.

It goes without saying that most estates have longer bodies than the saloons or hatchbacks they’re based on, so if you’re not confident at parking or have limited space on your drive or in your garage, they may not be for you. Lift the tailgate of a modern estate, though, and you’ll see it really makes the most of these dimensions.

The best cars in this class have enormous boots with the rear seats in place, but the seatbacks and seatbases usually fold flat – often with a pull of a single lever and normally with a handy 60:40 or 30:20:30 split – to provide a long, wide space with a practical shape. Neat touches like underfloor cubbyholes, luggage nets and load dividers make these cars perfectly suited to family life.

Yet from the front seats, you wouldn’t know all this was here, as an estate looks and feels like a standard family car, with an identical dashboard. It drives like one, too, with wheelbases often extended slightly to ensure the same secure handling as the saloon or hatch it’s based on. And while there’s usually a bit of an increase in weight, the strong engines in the latest family cars can take this in their stride. There should be no sacrifice in performance.

Buyers will often have to compromise on style, as it’s a challenge for designers to graft on that extra bodywork, although the class-leading estates look as though they were shaped that way from the outset. And the best thing is that you get all this extra practicality in a package that usually carries only a small price premium and won’t cost much more to run. Insurance group ratings, road tax bills, service intervals and fuel consumption will be largely comparable to a regular family saloon or hatch.

With these points in mind, we've rounded up the 10 best estate cars on the market. Click the links on the left to find out which one is right for you.

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No Volvo V70???????????

Volvo lost their reputation for producing the best estate cars several years ago, fully intentionally.

They know what they are doing, because look at what they're building now - really good looking machines to compete with the best in class.

Good move, I say. Look at most of the most successful brands. They generally make 'cool' or desirable cars which estates just aren't. People who buy them are people who don't care or have one out of necessity.

The move to push up design in the priority list has probably saved them from going under, like Saab.

I'm not for estates but if my dog somehow doubles in size on Christmas left-overs then buying one may become inevitable.
In that unlikely scenario my pick from this list would be:
Hyundai i40 Tourer because it looks nice for an estate
Jaguar XF Sportbrake because its got style written all over it

Interesting list, and all look great cars - but it's hampered by the fact that there are no cars from the smaller, compact estate class here.

Skoda Octavia, Ford Focus, VW Golf, Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed, and to a slightly lesser extent Renault Megane and Vauxhall Astra, all have excellent estate variants which would perfectly suit most small-to-medium families. The latter either won't be able to afford, or won't want anything as big as, most of the cars in this list.

Why no Peugeot 508SW. Come on Auto Express why miss out a great car. Well built, stylish French Chic, and very frugal. Ive done nearly 22000 in mine and not a thing has gone wrong and I am averaging 53mpg. No other large family estate beats that. Robert Rainham Kent

The Octavia Estate makes top of the list here, but I agree that vast size isn't necessarily a top requirement.

More useful to me is a usefully rectangular hole, with a flat loadbed.

I managed happily for years with an Astra Estate - and that was for a family of four, plus bikes on the back and canoes on the roof.

Having said that, I'm now driving 'the whale', a long, black, Mondeo Estate. A fine car, but I'll probably drop down a size when I chop it in.

Hello AE, Mondeo estate??? And unlike most of the cars in this list, it's a proper estate and not a glorified hatchback with the title "Tourer" or worse yet, "Sports Tourer". The Mondeo is well built, economical, well equipped, reliable and spacious. Plus, it's handles nicely too. What more can you ask? So what it's overdue for replacement, it's still a fine car.

Disagree, the V70 is still a fine estate car (after all, it's a Mondeo underneath!! ;), but it's just not as fashionable as the SUVs these days. It appears most people value form over function today. I'd love a modern version of the old 940 estate with it's big long (and importantly) square rear end. Sadly, I seem to be in a minority in this!

Yet again again Auto express sidling up to their biggest advertisers, As has been said where is Mondeo, Volvo,Renault Citroen Oh they aren,t German now there is a surprise .Auto express Yet again a waste of space list Most of this list are Life Style so called estates with little more space than their brothers with boots Come Auto Express we DON,T believe you anymore Was once a subscriber to A E not anymore

I agree, but I'd much rather see Volvo thrive on with new models that are competitive with rivals.

It's a shame that they've lost their roots a little but they are at least putting a big emphasis on safety which is definitely in-keeping with the brand.

You never know, Volvo may well have their day again with the estate.

good post

Where the HE ll is the mondeo, the volvos the renault megane or citroen?

It's official. Give me a place, a date, I will slap the reviewers!

But, where is the mondeo etc...?

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