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Best used estate cars (and the one to avoid)

In need of a practical car to suit an active lifestyle? Don't rule out an estate. Check out our top 10 favourites here...

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Mark Pearson
Updated11 July 2024

Used estates

We all know someone who aces everything, no matter what activity you throw at them. Estate cars can often prove the automotive equivalents of these people. From family holidays to morning commutes, the class leaders take it all in their stride. 

Versatility tends to be an expensive commodity, mind you. To avoid some of this cost and get yourself a great deal, the used market is an excellent avenue. But which model should you buy? Here’s a list of our top 10 favourite used estates to help you decide...

And, should you not be able to wait for the answer, we can tell you that our top dog is the tremendous Volkswagen Passat Estate, which has been one of our favourites for many years and now combines practicality, affordability and desirability in just the right measures. 


  • Good range of engines
  • Spacious interior and boot
  • Classy interior


  • Slightly unsettled ride
  • Base S trim misses out on some kit

You know an estate car is doing its job well when it makes life a doddle, and the VW Passat Estate has that effect. Its huge boot will save you the question of whether items will fit (unless you're transporting an elephant), while its engines are smooth and economical, keeping running costs low. Its interior is also suitably smart, and the Passat should be reliable, too. Its used prices are temptingly affordable.  In short, it does all that a great estate car should. 

"I remember one memorable holiday I took the family on to Cornwall where we almost couldn't fill the boot of the Passat. And that was when my children were young and insisted on taking every toy they possessed with them. " - Mark Pearson, used cars editor

We found: 2021 Volkswagen Passat Estate 2.0 TDI SE Business, 49,000 miles, £14,925

Read our full used Volkswagen Passat Estate review

Search for a used Volkswagen Passat Estate for sale

Our pick: 1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid mHEV 155 Titanium 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 8.6 sec
MPG/range: 53.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
Seats: 5
Insurance group: 18E


  • Eager handling
  • Plenty of passenger space
  • Large and practical boot
  • Good value used


  • Interior feels cheap
  • Infotainment system a little old-fashioned
  • Seating could be more versatile

The Ford Focus Estate combines the style and driving behaviour of its family car counterpart with a much bigger boot. It drives really impressively, gripping and handling nicely. Its steering is pleasingly light and direct and its ride is comfortable and composed over urban ruts and potholes. And above all, it's practical and great value. Oh, and it's proving reliable, too. Our money would go on a car with the lively 1.0 Ecoboost engine in mid-range Titanium trim. 

"This really is the do-it-all estate car in that it's good to drive and wonderfully practical. But it's its affordability that marks it out here." - Mark Pearson, used cars editor

We found: 2022 Ford Focus Estate 1.0 Ecoboost 125 Titanium, 49,000 miles, £11,900

Read our full used Ford Focus Estate review

Search for a used Ford Focus Estate for sale


  • Agile around corners
  • Accurate steering
  • Brilliant infotainment system
  • Ace plug-in hybrid


  • Not as well finished inside as an Audi A4
  • Boot isn't the biggest
  • Firm ride on M Sport versions
  • Reliability of diesel-engined cars mixed

Like the contemporary Mercedes C-Class Estate, this BMW 3 Series Touring doesn't have the biggest boot going, but it's a decent size nonetheless. Its most notable strengths lie in its smart interior and precise handling, as well as its wide range of gutsy yet economical engines. Those who value a car's driving experience will adore this sophisticated yet fine-handling estate, although our latest reliability reports on it are a bit mixed.

"Such class doesn't come cheap usually, but a second-hand 3 Series is surprisingly good value bought at two or three years old. " - Oliver Young, used cars reporter

We found: 2021 BMW 320i Sport Touring, 68,000 miles, £19,500

Read our full used BMW 3 Series Touring review

Search for a used BMW 3 Series Touring for sale


  • Hybrids are very fuel efficient
  • Supple ride and good to drive in general
  • Confidence-inspiring reliability


  • So-so infotainment system
  • Noisy under sustained acceleration
  • Some rivals whip up less wind and road noise

The best estate cars are not only practical, they're comfortable, frugal and dependable. The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports has all these qualities, plus it's supremely reliable and really good value to buy used. In our recommended 1.8-litre hybrid form, the Corolla averages 62.7mpg, rides well and is eminently practical, too, with a large square boot that has a low load floor for easy access.

"Modern hybrids like the Corolla can be amazingly economical on everyday roads. I have seen over 60mpg on my commute on a mix of roads. Its potential for a very long warranty is also awe-inspiring. " - Oliver Young, used cars reporter

We found: 2021 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Icon, 30,000 miles, £12,895

Read our full used Toyota Corolla Touring Sports review

Search for a used Toyota Corolla Touring Sports for sale


  • Class-leading space
  • High-quality interior
  • Excellent value used


  • Diesels sound a bit gruff
  • Some rivals are more fun to drive
  • 2.0-litre petrols are quick, but rather thirsty

The Skoda Superb Estate is massive both inside and out, so if you're looking for maximum passenger and load space and you're on a budget, this is the one for you. It's good to drive and it should be reliable, too - its saloon counterpart also did well in the executive car category of the most recent What Car? Reliability Survey. We'd look at a 2021 car with plenty of equipment for the best value.

"Like the Passat, the Superb majors on space. It's not quite as well finished inside as the Passat otherwise there'd be little to choose between them if you were looking for a large used estate car." - Oliver Young, used cars reporter 

We found: 2021 Skoda Superb Estate 1.6 TDI SE Business, 74,900 miles, £13,900

Read our full used Skoda Superb Estate review

Search for a used Skoda Superb Estate for sale


  • Quiet ride
  • Interior quality
  • User-friendly infotainment


  • Not as good to drive as the saloon
  • Standard M Sport suspension
  • Vague off-centre steering

Big, practical and refined, the BMW 5 Series Touring is one of the finest luxury estate cars. It's hugely impressive. There's the superb refinement, generous amounts of high-tech kit, economical engines, excellent driving manners and the classy image, so this Touring really could be 'all the car you’ll ever need'. The plug-in hybrid 530e is a great used buy, too, with the potential for impressive economy. 

"This is one truly tempting used buy. You get all the plushness of the 5 Series and the huge load space of this Touring variant wrapped up in a surprisingly affordable package. Your neighbours will love it, and so will you. " - Mark Pearson, used cars editor

We found: 2021 BMW 530e Sport Touring, 68,000 miles, £24,500

Read our full used BMW 5 Series Touring review

Search for a used BMW 5 Series Touring for sale

Our pick: E300e AMG Line Premium 5dr 9G-Tronic [Pan Roof]

0-62mph: 6.5 sec
MPG/range: 470.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 14g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 460 litres
Insurance group: 50E


  • Good high-speed ride
  • Refined at speed
  • Well equipped


  • Unsettled low-speed ride
  • Not as much fun to drive as some rivals

The Mercedes E-Class Estate blends a capacious interior and a huge boot with a comfortable ride. All the engines have plenty of punch and are smooth and refined. It rides well, too, even better on its optional air suspension, and its handling is tidy. However, where the E-Class really scores is its high-speed refinement. Add in a spacious interior of rare class and you've got a great used buy. 

"So nearly matching the all-round quality of the BMW 5 Series Touring, the E-Class Estate is a terrific used buy. For starters, you'll find few estate cars that are so quiet at speed, and very few who can match that boot space." - Oliver Young, used cars reporter

We found: 2019 Mercedes E-Class Estate E220d AMG line, 55,000 miles, £19,995

Read our full used Mercedes E-Class Estate review

Search for a used Mercedes E-Class Estate for sale

Our pick: C220d AMG Line 5dr 9G-Tronic

0-62mph: 7.6 sec
MPG/range: 60.1mpg
CO2 emissions: 124g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 490 litres
Insurance group: 35E


  • Well-judged ride and handling
  • Good fuel economy
  • Long electric range for the C300e PHEV


  • So-so interior quality
  • Mixed Mercedes reliability record
  • Many cheaper and more practical estates available

Mercedes has built its reputation on luxury, and that's reflected in the attractive, plush interior of the current Mercedes C-Class Estate. Add decent load-lugging abilities and you have yourself a compelling package – one you can pick up for less money than you might think. It rides well, has a striking interior and the hybrid version has a very long electric-only range. 

"If the voluminous E-Class Estate is just a fraction more than you actually need or want, try the C-Class Estate. This latest model is a class act and if you can stretch to the plug-in hybrid version unbelievably frugal too. " - Mark Pearson, used cars editor

We found: 2022 Mercedes C-Class Estate C220d AMG Line, 75,000 miles, £30,495 

Read our full used Mercedes C-Class Estate review

Search for a used Mercedes C-Class Estate for sale


  • Refined engines
  • Smooth ride on Comfort suspension
  • Superb interior quality


  • Not as much fun to drive as some rivals
  • More practical estates are available
  • Economy not outstanding

The Audi A4 Avant is about as refined as estate cars come for our budget. And that term spreads across essentially every aspect of the car, from its efficient engines to its supremely classy interior. If you're after a functional workhorse, there are other estates more suited to you. However, if you desire a premium load-lugger that can cater for your family, and one with a good reliability record, the A4 Avant is right up your street. 

"The A4 Avant seems to have been around for centuries, but this latest version still has the power to charm. Its refinement and its plush and well-finished interior are its main selling points. If you can't stretch to a newer one the older ones are really nice too." - Oliver Young, used cars reporter

We found: 2021 Audi A4 Avant 1.5 TFSI Sport, 51,000 miles, £14,990

Read our full used Audi A4 Avant review

Search for a used Audi A4 Avant for sale


  • Good to drive
  • Plenty of space in the back
  • Well equipped


  • Firm ride on FR models
  • Road noise
  • EHybrid’s ride and boot space drawbacks
  • Reliability mixed

This latest Seat Leon Estate finishes high up in our list, not just because of how much car you get for your money, but also how much quality you get. It barely feels any less classy than the related Mk8 Volkswagen Golf yet will generally cost you less to buy. Add in sharp handling and a good-sized boot and the Leon Estate is very compelling. Only an average result in our latest What Car? Reliability Survey stops it from finishing higher here.  

"Once upon a time, the old Seat Leon ST was an estate-car bargain. This later version is even better to drive and live with and yet it continues the original car's theme of value for money. Few can match it on that front." - Oliver Young, used cars reporter

We found: 2021 Seat Leon Estate 1.5 TSI Evo SE Dynamic, 50,000 miles, £12,895

Read our full used Seat Leon Estate review

Search for a used Seat Leon Estate for sale

And the estate car to avoid...

Genesis G70 Shooting Brake

Nicely made but outclassed by nearly all its rivals. Expensive too, even used Read our review


What is the best sporty estate car?

If you want an estate car that's sporty and good to drive, we highly recommend the BMW 3 Series Touring. It offers good performance (even in entry-level 320i guise) and balanced, engaging handling. Those will bigger budgets will appreciate the range-topping M340i's sonorous six-cylinder engine, while true performance car enthusiasts will likely find themselves gushing (quite rightly) over the BMW M3 Touring. It combines a mighty 503bhp engine with super-sharp handling, yet it'll cope with a family holiday abroad better than most cars in its class. 

Is an estate car worth it?

We'd answer that question via asking another one: how much boot space do you need? If you need a lot, an estate car could very well be worth choosing over an executive car equivalent, because it'll have a bigger boot. In many cases, estate cars have bigger boots than comparable SUVs, too. Of course, it all depends on what estate car you're looking at, so it's worth comparing boot sizes – it's usually measured in litres, plus we measure how many carry-on suitcases you can fit in each car's boot when we group test cars.  

What estate car has the best MPG?

The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is very good on fuel, returning around 60mpg in most situations. It's a regular hybrid, so you can't plug it in. A plug-in hybrid will get you even better fuel economy – potentially more than 100mpg – as long as you keep the battery topped up. A good used buy in that space is the VW Passat GTE