Best used estate cars
Our list of the best used estate cars for 2021 will help you find a super-practical and affordable family car
Estate cars offer everything you need when it comes to practicality, and there are plenty of models that give you so much more than that as well. Luckily, if you're prepared to buy used, you can find these cars for a bargain price, meaning you can get a great family car for a lot less than it would have cost new. But which models are the best? That's where this list comes in handy.
We've lined up some of our favourite second-hand estate car choices below. By definition, each of these cars has a large, hatchback-style boot door that opens wide, and features a big, flat load bay. This means they're great for carrying lots of garden waste, dogs, shopping or holiday equipment. The rear seats will fold down, too, allowing access to an even larger space for the occasional Christmas tree or surfboard.
SUVs are all the rage, and their hatchback boots are popular with customers - but what estate cars can bring is a nice low loading lip, so they can be loaded up more easily. They're also often better to drive than an equivalent SUV - thanks to a lower centre of gravity - more economical and cheaper. What more could you ask?
Our used estate choices have been picked out on other criteria as well - they've got to be good value, affordable to run and feel just as fresh as a showroom model even after a few years of use. Read on to find out the models we've chosen...
The best used estate cars to buy
- Skoda Superb Estate
- Mercedes E-Class Estate Mk4
- Skoda Octavia Estate
- BMW 3 Series Touring
- VW Passat Estate
- Mazda 6 Tourer
- Peugeot 308 Estate
1. Best used estate car: Skoda Superb Estate
Most people buy an estate for its carrying capacity, so it makes sense to buy the biggest car that you can afford. And when it comes to the price-to-space ratio, nothing can beat the Skoda Superb Estate. It’s popular with owners: the 2020 Driver Power ownership survey, the Superb claimed 10th place out of 75 cars, with owners praising its child-friendly features, infotainment, running costs and rear-seat legroom in particular.
There are a large number of Superb Estates available used, and we think the 148bhp 2.0 TDI combined with SE Business trim is the sweet spot. That brings kit you’ll like, such as an electric driver’s seat, part-leather trim and sat-nav. But no Superb, entry-level S model aside, is spartan inside.
For sheer practicality, nothing else comes even close. There’s an almost comical amount of legroom for passengers, and the boot measures 660 litres seats-up, or 1,950 litres with them folded, something that can be done at the pull of a well placed lever. The front passenger seat back folds to allow the loading of long items, while there are a range of the Simply Clever features that Skoda has become famous for: a removable LED torch in the boot, umbrellas in the front doors, and even some dimples in the cup holders to allow a bottle to be opened one-handed.
Check the latest used Skoda Superb prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
2. Mercedes E-Class Mk4
If you’re after the load-carrying capacity of the Superb, but with an upmarket badge, the fourth-generation Mercedes E-Class Estate is well worth considering.
It has a 695-litre boot, which is actually bigger than the Skoda's, though the car itself is a bit bigger as well so it's not as easy to park. It expands to 1,950 litres when the rear seats are folded, which is the biggest space here.
The interior is also spacious, and the car looks and feels built to last. The 2.1-litre diesels are a little gruff, but are punchy and economical, so the E220d is our pick. The Mercedes is great value even though it's getting on a little bit now - just find a low-mileage model and you'll be laughing.
Check the latest used Mercedes E-Class prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
3. Skoda Octavia Estate
The Skoda Superb may live up to its name, but if you want something a little less expensive and a little smaller, but still want incredible practicality, the Octavia is the model to have. It has a 610-litre boot that expands to 1,740 litres with the seats folded down, so it's actually almost as roomy as the Superb in terms of load space.
There's not quite as much legroom in the back but there's still enough for adults to sit comfortably in the rear seats. There's plenty of modern tech inside including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on most models.
The 1.5-litre petrol makes sense for those doing shorter, local trips but the best Octavia for long trips is the 2.0-litre diesel, as it's really punchy and economical. The 1.6-litre diesel is good too, but it's a bit noisy.
Check the latest used Skoda Octavia prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
BMW 3 Series Touring
If you want a family car that's practical yet also great to drive, the BMW 3 Series Touring is a great choice. With a boot of 495 litres, expanding to 1,500 litres, it's far from the roomiest car here - but it's by far the best to drive.
The 3 Series has a range of punchy but economical engines - the 320d is the best - and a fantastic chassis that's enjoyable yet comfortable, even on bumpy country roads. The latest 3 Series is the best to date, but there really is no limit on which model you choose - every 3 Series Touring generation is fantastic. Get one that's five years old for a bargain estate car that will fit the whole family inside, but be fun to drive as well.
You could even consider the superb 330i model, which has a six-cylinder engine that's ultra-smooth and very fast - but not very economical. It'll hold its value better than a four-cylinder model.
Check the latest used BMW 3 Series prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
Volkswagen Passat Estate
The Volkswagen Passat and the Skoda Superb share a lot - in fact they're based on a set of common parts, including the engines and gearboxes. It stands to reason, then, that the Passat is a great alternative to the Superb.
It's not quite as big inside - it has a 650-litre boot that can be expanded to 1,780 litres with the seats down - but you'll hardly notice that, and it's still one of the most spacious cars around. The boot is easy to load and a nice square shape.
There's loads of room inside for passengers, and the interior is good quality. There's all the tech you'd want including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on the central touchscreen display, and it's nice and comfortable as well.
Check the latest used VW Passat prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
Mazda 6 Tourer
The Mazda 6 Tourer is a bit of a left-field choice, but will really suit those who appreciate quality engineering. The 522-litre boot is smallish in the context of this list but still plenty big enough for most people's needs, but what really stands out is the Mazda's high-quality interior and sharp exterior styling.
It's a great-looking estate car that hasn't aged a bit, so used models still look fresh. It's also incredibly well-built so should still feel fresh on the inside as well. The 2.2-litre diesel engine is the one to go for, along with the sweet-shifting manual gearbox.
The Mazda 6 is a driver's car at heart, with responsive and satisfying controls and a great chassis - but it's also comfortable and refined, so make a great everyday car.
Check the latest used Mazda 6 prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
Peugeot 308 SW estate
The Peugeot 308 SW is an estate along the same lines as the Skoda Octavia - it's a relatively small car but there's a huge amount of space inside. This means it's easy to park and fit through narrow streets, but still has enough room for anything and everything you might need to carry. There's a 660-litre boot here, the same as in the Superb, and that opens out to 1,775 litres with the seats folded down.
The Peugeot makes a great used buy because it has depreciated fairly quickly, so even tidy examples are really affordable. It's a great way to get into a really roomy and well-equipped car for less money than in some of the other options on this list.
Okay, the driving position (with the dials above a small steering wheel) won't suit everyone, but you can get used to it - and for some, it's no trouble at all.
Check the latest used Peugeot 308 prices on our sister site BuyaCar...