Best estate cars 2024 – the top choices for luggage capacity

An estate car needs to be practical, but the best models are also comfortable, well equipped and affordable to run. Here we reveal our top 10 buys – and the estates to steer clear of...

Author Avatar
by
Alasdair Rodden
Updated22 January 2024

Estate cars can make fine family transport and are great for shifting stuff, because they tend to offer more boot space than the saloons and hatchbacks they're based on.

The best examples of the breed are more than just big, though – they also offer a load area that's a practical shape with easy access, and rear seats that fold flat easily. Estates are often used for business as well as family motoring, so low running costs and good driving manners are important, too.

So, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when trying to find the best estate. That makes it a big task for our road testers to measure their load capacity, check their practicality and comfort, compare prices and efficiency, and see how good they are to drive. After much deliberation the verdict is that the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is the best estate car you can buy. 

Best estate cars

Read on to find out why it's our pick of the bunch and see which other estate cars made it into our run-down. You'll see links to our full review of each model so you can read more about it, and you can check the latest prices by searching our estate car deals pages.

Our pick: 1.8 Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT

0-62mph: 9.4 sec
MPG/range: 62.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 101g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 596 litres
Insurance group: 17E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Impressively low CO2 emissions on hybrids
  • Comfortable ride
  • Great reliability record

Weaknesses

  • More wind and road noise than in rivals
  • So-so infotainment system
  • 12.3in digital instrument cluster could be easier to use

There’s more to being an excellent estate than being able to accommodate a family in comfort or the occasional wardrobe, because the best estate cars are also comfortable, frugal and dependable. And it's these qualities that propel the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports to the top of our estate car league. 

In our recommended 1.8-litre hybrid form, the Corolla averages 62.7mpg, which is more than a comparable Ford Focus Estate and on a par with the Skoda Octavia. The Toyota brand also has an exemplary reliability record, so buyers can rest assured they’re unlikely to be let down by their car. 

Ride comfort is impressive, too, striking a fine balance between suppleness and control, and handling potholes and uneven surfaces with aplomb. 

And the Corolla is eminently practical, too, with a large square boot that has a low load floor for easy access. No wonder, then, that the Corolla Touring Sport is our Estate Car of the Year.  

Read our Toyota Corolla Touring Sports review

Our pick: 1.5 TSI SE Technology 5dr

0-62mph: 8.6 sec
MPG/range: 51.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 124g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 640 litres
Insurance group: 19E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Supple ride most of the time
  • Huge boot
  • Well priced next to rivals

Weaknesses

  • Rivals are more fun to drive
  • A bit floaty over big undulations
  • Heating controls are in the touchscreen

In at number two is the Octavia Estate, which strikes an excellent balance between practicality, comfort, low running costs and value.

All versions of the Skoda Octavia give you loads of interior space, but the estate version adds a whopping boot for even greater practicality. We managed to fit nine carry-on suitcases in the boot, so none of your passengers will need to pack light.

Our favourite engine is the 1.5 TSI 150 petrol, which offers a welcome performance boost over the entry-level 1.0 TSI 110 petrol engine. We’d also recommend stepping up to SE Technology trim, which adds front parking sensors and sat-nav to the generous kit list.

Read our Skoda Octavia Estate review

Our pick: E300e AMG Line Advanced 5dr 9G-Tronic

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

Strengths

  • Base car is well equipped
  • E300e makes for a compelling company car

Weaknesses

  • Not cheap

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 10 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 infotainment system is responsive and features menus that are well laid out.

Our pick of the engine range is the E300e plug-in hybrid, which uses the 2.0-litre diesel engine from the E220d and an electric motor to deliver a combined 302bhp and a 0-62mph time of 6.0sec.

It's the cheapest E-Class estate for company car tax, and it has an official pure electric driving range of 32 miles that should be enough for most daily commutes.

Read our Mercedes E-Class Estate review

Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Relatively good electric range
  • Low cash price
  • Sprightly performance and comfy

Weaknesses

  • Infotainment system could be easier to use
  • Rivals can charge up a little quicker
  • Not much fun to drive

There aren’t currently many fully electric estate cars to choose from, but right not 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.

True, most combustion-engined estate car rivals can carry more, but the MG5 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 too: even entry-level SE models come with 16in alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control and keyless entry and start.

Read our MG5 EV review

Our pick: 520d MHT SE 5dr Step Auto

0-62mph: 7.6 sec
MPG/range: 55.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 134g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 560 litres
Insurance group: 38E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Frugal diesel and PHEV engine options
  • Excellent infotainment system
  • Beautifully made, high-quality interior

Weaknesses

  • 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

The 5 Series Touring shows BMW at the top of its game. This is a hugely appealing executive estate car because it's comfortable, quiet and enjoyable to drive, with an interior that feels very classy.

Standard self-levelling rear suspension helps it to cope with the heftiest of loads. And in our test, the 5 Series Touring swallowed a very respectable eight carry-on suitcases.

There’s a range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, plus a frugal plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with an official electric-only range of up to 35 miles.

Read our BMW 5 Series Touring review

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Surprisingly good fun – especially in FR form
  • Big boot and roomy rear seats
  • Well priced

Weaknesses

  • Not quite as capacious as Skoda Octavia Estate
  • FR models have a fairly firm ride
  • TSI 130 engine could be smoother

The regular Seat Leon is one of the best family cars to drive, and likewise, this Leon Estate handles very tidily indeed. 

While FR models feature sports 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.

Read our Seat Leon Estate review

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Competitively priced
  • Plush ride
  • Upmarket interior

Weaknesses

  • Roly-poly handling
  • Boot could be larger
  • PHEV sits in a higher tax band than some rivals

The 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 39 miles places it in a higher tax band than some.

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.

Read our Citroën C5 X review

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

0-62mph: 7.4 sec
MPG/range: 60.1mpg
CO2 emissions: 123g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 490 litres
Insurance group: 35E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Adaptive suspension has impressive ride
  • Fuel economy and emissions compare well with rivals
  • Plug-in hybrid will have a low BIK tax rate

Weaknesses

  • So-so interior quality
  • Not as much fun to drive as a 3 Series Touring
  • There are more practical estates around

The C-Class Estate is not as fun to drive as the BMW 3 Series Touring, but it’s still a great choice thanks to its comfy ride and a range of punchy yet efficient engines. 

Speaking of engines, our pick of the bunch for private buyers is the C220d diesel. It can propel the C-Class Estate from 0-62mph in 7.4sec, and officially return more than 60mpg.

The C300e plug-in hybrid, meanwhile, is the best bet for company car drivers – its 69-mile official electric-only range keeps benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bills low, while standard rear air suspension means the PHEV has the comfiest ride in the C-Class range.

Read our Mercedes C-Class Estate review

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Agile around corners
  • Accurate steering
  • Brilliant infotainment system

Weaknesses

  • Not as well finished inside as the Audi A4 Avant
  • Boot isn't the biggest
  • Firm ride on M Sport versions

BMW's 3 Series is its best-steering car of recent times, and the Touring matches that 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.

Read our BMW 3 Series Touring review

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Plush interior
  • Strong engines
  • Lots of tech

Weaknesses

  • Distracting infotainment system
  • Air suspension available only on range-topping Vorsprung
  • A BMW 5 Series Touring is even quieter

The A6 Avant is a comfortable and beautifully built estate car, and despite not having as big a boot as its closest rivals, it forms a compelling package.

The entry-level petrol engine (badged 40 TSI) is the one we’d go for. It's got enough oomph to propel the car along swiftly, even when it's fully loaded, and even choosing it in entry-level Sport trim gets you a host of useful kit. 

We recommend adding Audi’s optional four-wheel drive system to improve traction. While it doesn’t bring handling up to the standard set by the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, it reduces the tendency for the steering wheel to tug unnaturally when you accelerate hard.

Read our Audi A6 Avant review

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

And the estate car to avoid...

Genesis G70 Shooting Brake

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