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.