Which used Mercedes E-Class estate should I buy?
The E280 (from '05 onwards) gets our vote. It's smooth, quiet, economical and has just the sort of strong mid-range response you need for serious load-lugging.
On that score, the E200K supercharged petrol and E220 CDI diesel lose out. Besides, there's no great penalty going for the E280 diesel, as it isn't that much heavier on fuel than the E220 diesel. For pre-'05 cars look for the 270CDI.
The E320 CDI diesel looks promising on paper, but it's a little thirstier and doesn't give that great a boost in performance. More to the point, it isn't as quiet as it should be.
Among the petrol engines, the 3.2 V6 and 5.0 V8 are genuinely rapid and very tempting if you can stomach the higher running costs. The E55 AMG is insanely fast: 0-60mph in less than five seconds; flush to skint takes only slightly longer.
Trim levels kick off with Classic and spiral up through Elegance and Avantgarde to range-topping Sport. Avantgarde gives all you need, in our view.