Best estate cars

SEAT Leon ST estate action
Credits: Pete Gibson
11 Aug, 2014 3:30pm

We reveal the 10 best estate cars, from the awarding-winning SEAT Leon ST to the enormous Skoda Superb

As sales of fashionable crossovers, SUVs and MPVs have boomed, estate cars have almost been forgotten as a practical way of transporting the family and their luggage around. With similar prices and running costs to a regular family car, too, the estate car remains a great option for those who need a big boot but don't necessarily want to follow the crowd.

Estates are longer than the hatchbacks or saloons on which they're based, so they may not be right for you if you're not a confident parker or you don't have loads of space on your driveway. However, once you lift the tailgate, you'll see the benefits of these increased dimensions.

The best cars in the estate class have enormous boot spaces which can be configured in a range of useful ways - often with underfloor cubbyholes, luggage nets and load dividers. In addition to this, the rear seats will fold to offer a super long load space and most new models now feature systems to split fold the rear seats for extra versatility.

Up front, the driver shouldn't notice any difference to the standard family car on which an estate version is based. The dashboard is identical and, despite the increase in size, the performance should be the same as well. Because most estates amount to a conventional family car with an extension to the rear, the driving experience will often be preferable to purpose-built MPVs or SUVs.

Buyers no longer have to compromise on style with an estate car either. The class-leaders often look as though they were designed to be an estate from the start, as opposed to a standard hatch or saloon with extra bodywork grafted onto the back.

In terms of running costs, estates normally carry only a small price premium and won't cost much more to run - insurance groups, tax bills, servicing and fuel consumption are all largely comparable to the saloon or hatch counterparts.

We've rounded up our favourite estate cars currently on the market. Click the links on the left to find out which is the right choice for you.

Disqus - noscript

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
or
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...?

AEX 1337
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