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Best used estate cars for less than £20,000 (and the one to avoid)

If you need space and practicality but don't want an SUV, the traditional estate car is hard to beat. Here we reveal the best and worst used buys for less than £20,000.....

Don't dismiss the good old-fashioned estate car.

Best used estate cars for less than £20,000 (and the ones to avoid)

You might have been led astray by the promise of an adventurous SUV lifestyle, but why spend a fortune running a high-riding behemoth when you could have a posh estate that’s much more fun to drive?

Most of the examples on this list are only a few years old at most and will still feel pretty much like new. So go ahead and peruse our list of the top 10 used estate cars – plus the one you should avoid.

Slideshow story - please click the right-hand arrow above to continue, or simply scroll down if you’re reading on your mobile 

10: BMW 3 Series Touring

Used BMW 3 Series Touring 12- present

The latest BMW 3 Series Touring is on sale now, but the previous-generation model is still a great all-rounder for those looking for an estate car with a premium badge. It's not the most commodious choice, but the space it does have is reasonably flexible. Plus, it's one of the few estates with a back window you can open separately from the rest of the tailgate when you just want to throw in a bag. 

We found: 2017 BMW 3 Series Touring 318i Sport, 28,023 miles, £16,950

10: BMW 3 Series Touring

Audi A4 Avant vs BMW 3 Series Touring vs Mercedes C-Class Estate

Pros
Precise handling
Strong and efficient engines
High quality interior

Cons
Four-cylinder diesels can sound gruff
Some rivals offer more boot space
Offset pedals in the manual versions
 

9: Audi A6 Avant

Used Audi A6 Avant 2011-2018

Despite its age, the previous-generation Audi A6 Avant actually has a better infotainment system than the current car, with a rotary controller rather than touchscreens. That means you're not only saving money by going used but also making your life easier. Look for an SE or SE Executive for plenty of kit and a more supple ride than S line versions with bigger wheels. The 2.0 TDI Ultra diesel is a very efficient option. 

We found: 2018 Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI Ultra SE Executive S tronic, 23,000 miles, £19,491 

9: Audi A6 Avant

Used Audi A6 Avant 2011-2018

Pros
High-quality interior
Strong engines
Well equipped

Cons
Some rivals are more practical
Not much fun to drive

8: Volvo V90

Used Volvo V90 16-present

Volvo has often been seen as synonymous with boxy estate cars, but the V90 is a really rather stylish thing. It also has one of the most handsome interiors fitted to car at this price point, plus many versions come packed with all the latest active safety technology. The 2.0-litre D4 and D5 diesels make the most sense.

We found: 2017 Volvo V90 D4 Momentum, 62,139 miles, £18,990
 

8: Volvo V90

Used Volvo V90 16-present

Pros
Spacious rear room
Generous standard kit
High-quality interior

Cons
Dull handling on standard suspension
Distracting infotainment system
Lethargic gearbox
 

7: Volkswagen Golf Estate

Used Volkswagen Golf Estate 13 - present

How do you improve on a car that's often described as all the vehicle you'll ever need? Make it an estate. The Mk7 Volkswagen Golf is a great all-rounder, but if you need a bit more fridge-carrying capability, you’ll need the estate version. It’s a very pleasant car to drive and a very relaxing motorway cruiser.

We found: 2020 Volkswagen Golf Estate 1.5 TSI EVO Match, 8973 miles, £17,490

7: Volkswagen Golf Estate

Used Volkswagen Golf Estate 13 - present

Pros
Huge boot
Great interior design
Wide range of engines

Cons
Expensive to buy
Some rivals are bigger still
Limited petrol choice

6: Audi A4 Avant

Audi A4 Avant front cornering

You’d think that the battle between the BMW 3 Series Touring and the Audi A4 Avant would be a lot closer, but the A4 Avant is a far better estate car because of its longer load area and more uniform boot shape. Match that with a better driving position and a classier interior and you have a very fine estate car indeed.

We found: 2018 Audi A4 Avant 1.4 FSI S Line, 21,778 miles, £19,980

6: Audi A4 Avant

Audi A4 Avant interior

Pros
Refined engines
Comfortable ride
Superbly made interior

Cons
Not as fun to drive as the BMW 3 Series
More practical estates are available
You can’t add many options
 

5: Skoda Superb Estate

Used Skoda Superb Estate 16-present

If you disregard your desire for a premium badge for one moment and consider the square-footage of car you could get instead, you’ll be looking at the Skoda Superb Estate. It does almost everything the equivalent Mercedes E-Class Estate and BMW 5 Series Touring manages but for a fraction of the price. In short, it's huge inside

We found: 2020 Skoda Superb Estate 1.5 TSI SE, 2879 miles, £18,990

5: Skoda Superb Estate

Used Skoda Superb Estate 16-present

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

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

4: Skoda Octavia Estate

Used Skoda Octavia Estate 13-present

You might be wondering why the smaller Octavia is higher up this list than its bigger stablemate, the Skoda Superb. Well, even though it's smaller, it still has a massive boot and lots of rear leg room, so it’s not as if you’ll be missing out on much practicality. The smaller exterior dimensions also mean it’s far easier to park, plus you can find a slightly newer example for less money. 

We found: 2020 Skoda Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI SE L auto, 7815 miles, £19,000

4: Skoda Octavia Estate

Used Skoda Octavia Estate 13-present

Pros
Huge load space
Well equipped
Some great-value options

Cons
So-so refinement
Choppy low-speed ride
Some versions are expensive

3: Seat Leon ST

Used Seat Leon ST 13-present

The terrific Seat Leon ST proves that you can still have fun while driving a practical car. The Leon shares plenty of mechanical and technology bits and pieces with the Golf and Octavia, but it feels very different because it has quicker steering and firmer suspension to better resist body roll. That means you have to be a bit careful about the size of wheels (preferably no bigger than 17in), otherwise you might find the ride to be a bit hard. 

We found: 2020 Seat Leon ST 1.5 TSI Evo FR, 2500 miles, £18,995

3: Seat Leon ST

Used Seat Leon ST 13-present

Pros
Outstanding value
Easy to use infotainment system
Sporty drive

Cons
Firm ride
Diesels a bit noisy
Bland interior
 

2: BMW 5 Series Touring

BMW 5 Series Touring (10 - 17)

The previous-generation BMW 5 Series Touring still feels wonderfully modern. Its iDrive infotainment system is one of the best around and its efficient diesel engines hold up against newer alternatives. It's good to drive, refined and best sampled with its smooth-shifting automatic gearbox. Look for a car fitted with adaptive dampers if you want an M Sport model as it will allow you to put the suspension in Comfort mode over rough roads. 

We found: 2016 BMW 5 Series Touring 520d M Sport auto, 30,344 miles, £17,689
 

2: BMW 5 Series Touring

BMW 5 Series Touring (10 - 17)

Pros
Excellent performance
High-quality interior
Tidy handling

Cons
Not the roomiest
Some reliability problems
Rear suspension expensive to repair

1: Volkswagen Passat Estate

Used Volkswagen Passat Estate 16-present

The Volkswagen Passat looks smart, drives nicely, is delightfully efficient and comes with all the equipment you’d expect of a premium vehicle. It's highly practical, too, with no loss of refinement over the regular version. There's an impressive amount of space for all passengers, a boot big enough for even the plumpest of sofas and it's decently priced. Go for a sensible 2.0-litre diesel engine for the best combination of performance and fuel economy

We found: 2019 Volkswagen Passat Estate 2.0 TDI EVO SE Nav, 13,700 miles, £19,990 

1: Volkswagen Passat Estate

Used Volkswagen Passat Estate 16-present

Pros
Good range of engines
Spacious interior and boot
Classy interior

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

And the used estate to avoid...? Read on 

Subaru Levorg

Subaru Levorg 2019 RHD left front cornering

If reliability is your utmost concern in a car, there's something to be said for buying a Subaru Levorg. Trouble is, there aren't that many examples available for sale used and the interior isn’t befitting of a car that cost £30,000 when new.

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