Best estate cars 2023
The best estate cars are spacious, great to drive and packed with tech. Here are the models we recommend – and the ones to steer clear of...
The best estate cars offer more than just a big boot; the load area has to be a practical shape and allow easy access, and the rear seats must be simple to fold flat.
These cars are often used for business as well as family motoring, so they need to combine a spacious, comfortable and well-equipped interior with low running costs and an enjoyable drive. And they need to do all that for an affordable price.
Here, we count down our top 10 choices and reveal the models to avoid. If any take your fancy, simply click on the relevant links to find out more or see how much of a discount you could get by using our free New Car Buying service.
BMW 3 Series Touring
BMW's latest 3 Series is its best-steering car of recent times, and the 3 Series Touring estate and matches this with stellar body control and plenty of grip, yet still manages to serve up good ride comfort and relaxing refinement.
Add to all that a spacious interior – featuring one of the best infotainment systems you’ll find on any new car – and the tax-efficient plug-in hybrid tech of the 330e model, and there's an awful lot to like.
True, plenty of other estate car rivals have bigger boots, but the 40/20/40 split rear seats and separately opening tailgate window of the 3 Series Touring are nifty practical touches.
- Agile around corners
- Accurate steering
- Brilliant infotainment system
- Not as well finished inside as the Audi A4 Avant
- Boot isn't the biggest
- Firm ride on M Sport versions
Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
The Corolla Touring Sports’ rear seats are cramped for six-footers, but this hybrid estate offers super-low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions that make it an excellent choice for both private and company car drivers.
In addition, the Corolla's ride is cosseting and its standard spec is generous; even entry-level models come with automatic lights, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats.
There’s no need to look beyond the cheapest 1.8-litre version, either, because this offers all the performance you’re likely to need, while returning around 60mpg in real-world conditions. That’s not to say the more powerful 2.0-litre option is thirsty; it managed close to 50mpg in our hands.
- Impressively low CO2 emissions on hybrids
- Comfortable ride
- Lots of standard kit
- Relatively small boot by estate car standards
- So-so infotainment system
- 12.3in digital instrument cluster could be easier to use
Mercedes E-Class Estate
Mercedes has a long history of building large family estate cars, and the latest E-Class Estate is its best yet.
It offers more luggage space than most of its rivals, fitting eight carry-on suitcases in our tests, and there’s plenty of room for your passengers to stretch out.
The interior feels sophisticated and plush, and the E-Class’s infotainment system is responsive and features menus that are well laid out.
Our pick of the E-Class’s engine range is the 191bhp 2.0-litre diesel found in the E220d, but whichever version of the E-Class you go for, make sure you specify air suspension; it’s an expensive option, but it delivers a dramatic improvement in ride comfort.
- Massive boot
- Well equipped
- E300de plug-in hybrid fuel economy
- Not as fun to drive as some rivals
- Expensive to buy
- Unsettled low-speed ride
The Volvo V90 may be the biggest estate in the Swedish brand's modern range, but it's the V60 that's the company's best.
It's still a very roomy choice and feels every bit as classy as its larger sibling, yet it's cheaper to buy and run, as well as being more comfortable and better to drive.
Most of the V60’s engine options are petrols with mild hybrid technology to help lower your fuel bills. Our favourite is the 194bhp B4P, which is best suited to hauling several people plus their luggage.
Alternatively, if you fancy a plug-in hybrid, the Recharge T6 model can officially travel for up to 54 miles before its petrol engine takes over.
- Well-struck ride and handling balance
- Smart and airy interior
- T6 PHEV is a fantastic choice for company car drivers
- Distracting infotainment system
- Not as fun as a BMW 3 Series Touring
- Hesitant automatic gearbox
Seat Leon Estate
The regular Seat Leon family hatchback is one of the best cars in its class to drive, and likewise, this Leon Estate handles very tidily indeed.
While FR models get sporty suspension that can feel a little firm, most other versions get a softer set-up that does a good job of rounding off ruts and bumps in the road.
Elsewhere, the Leon offers loads of space for both passengers and luggage, and no matter which engine option you choose, you shouldn’t find it expensive to run.
Add in attractive pricing and running costs and the Leon Estate is an excellent choice that only just misses out on a podium place.
- Surprisingly good fun – especially in FR form
- Big boot and roomy rear seats
- Well priced
- Not quite as capacious as Skoda Octavia Estate
- FR models have a fairly firm ride
- TSI 130 engine could be smoother
Citroën C5 X
The Citroën C5 X will cost more to run as a company car than some rival estates, even if you choose the fuel-saving plug-in hybrid version, because its official electric-only range of 34 miles places it in a higher tax band.
Still, the C5 X is impressively comfortable, and it's hard to beat in terms of refinement, with engine noise fading away at motorway speeds and wind and road noise being suppressed better than most rivals can manage.
The boot is smaller than some others here, but if you’re looking for an estate car with a slightly raised, SUV-like driving position, the C5 X has you covered.
- Competitively priced
- Plush ride
- Upmarket interior
- Roly-poly handling
- Boot could be larger
- PHEV sits in a higher tax band than some rivals
There aren’t currently many fully electric estate cars to choose from, but the MG5 EV is the best of the breed. It combines a respectable range (officially up to 250 miles) with a comfortable ride and serenity at speed.
Most combustion-engined estate car rivals can carry more, but the MG5 EV still has enough space to handle your weekly shop, holiday luggage or a large child’s buggy.
You get a lot of kit for your money with the MG5, too; even entry-level SE models come with 16in alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control and keyless entry and start.
- Relatively good electric range
- Low cash price
- Sprightly performance and comfy
- Infotainment system could be easier to use
- Rivals can charge up a little quicker
- Not much fun to drive
BMW 5 Series Touring
The latest 5 Series Touring shows BMW at the top of its game. This is a hugely appealing luxury estate car because it's comfortable, quiet and enjoyable to drive, with an interior that feels classy.
Standard self-levelling rear suspension helps it to cope with the heftiest of loads. Speaking of which, you can fit more into its boot than you can into some rivals; indeed, in our test, the 5 Series Touring swallowed eight carry-on suitcases.
There’s a range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, plus a frugal plug-in hybrid with an official electric range of up to 35 miles.
- Frugal diesel and PHEV engine options
- Excellent infotainment system
- Beautifully made, high-quality interior
- Volvo V90 has more rear-seat space
- Mercedes E-Class Estate has an even bigger boot
- Unsettled ride with M Sport suspension and bigger alloy wheels
Skoda Octavia Estate
All Octavias give you loads of standard equipment and generous interior space, but the estate version adds a whopping boot for even greater practicality.
We managed to fit an astonishing nine carry-on suitcases in the boot; that’s two shy of what the larger Skoda Superb Estate can hold, but still enough to mean that none of your passengers will need to pack light.
We're particularly keen on the plug-in hybrid iV model, which has an official electric range of 41 miles. There’s also a range of efficient diesel engines for long-distance drivers, and peppy petrols with fuel-saving mild hybrid technology.
- Supple ride most of the time
- Huge boot
- Low tax rates for plug-in 1.4 TSI iV 204
- Rivals are more fun to drive
- A bit floaty over big undulations
- Heating controls are in the touchscreen
Skoda Superb Estate
As good as the Octavia is, it has to settle for second place on this list, because the even bigger Skoda Superb Estate strikes the sweet spot of practicality, comfort, low running costs and value.
In fact, with masses of load space for flat-pack furniture or suitcases and palatial comfort for passengers, it's one of the most impressive family holdalls in any class of car.
There’s an engine option to suit most buyers, too, whether you favour petrol or diesel – plus there’s the ultra-frugal plug-in hybrid model. As well as being able to cover most commutes on electric power alone, this version is also one of the quickest in the range.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
- Great value and well equipped
- Limo-like passenger space
- Huge boot with lots of additional practical touches
- Other rivals are more fun to drive
- Some premium rivals have better resale values
- The driving position isn't perfect
And the estate car to avoid...
While it comes well equipped, most of the the G70 Shooting Brake's key rivals are more practical, quieter, better to drive and cheaper to run. Read our review
Best pick-up trucks 2023
The best pick-up trucks are tough and dependable working vehicles that can serve as practical family cars at the weekend. These are the best pick-ups available in the UK (plus one electric model)
Citroën C5 X long-term test
The C5 X channels the style and comfort of Citroëns of old, but how does it stack up against its estate-car rivals? We're running one to find out