Top 10: best used estate cars for less than £25,000 (and the one to avoid)
Looking for an antidote to a large SUV? Then try any one of these premium used estate cars for less than £25,000...
Keep this to yourself, but there’s really no need to buy an SUV because the modern estate car is still a very capable all-rounder.
Follow our advice and you could be driving around in something that seats just as many people, just as comfortably and, at the same time, uses a lot less fuel.
Each car on this list has all the practicality you would ever need, provides fine handling characteristics and even the luxury fixtures and fittings you’d expect of a posh executive express. At this price level, they're all pretty new, too, so you should have no worries with reliability.
Read on to find out which cars are our favourite used estate cars for £25,000 >>
10. BMW 3 Series Touring
It may be long in the tooth but this older version of the BMW 3 Series Touring is an excellent used estate, particularly if you want a classy car but in a more compact package. You won’t be able to transport jumbo Ikea furniture home in it, but the standard 40:20:40 split-folding rear bench is a more useful set-up to the regular (read: cheaper) 60:40 ratio most rivals use.
BMW 3 Series Touring (cont.)
And the glass opens separately to the boot lid itself and means you can put stuff in the rear even if you can’t access the boot in a tight parking spot. Plus, the 3 Series has all the refinements of the saloon car and its excellent iDrive infotainment system.
We found: 2018 320d SE auto, 42,000 miles, £20,000
9. Audi A6 Avant
Another example of a car that’s a bit old but still makes for a good posh estate is the Audi A6 Avant. Enthusiasts will only be interested in the V8-powered RS6, but we’re focusing on the plain and simple 2.0-litre diesel that’ll serve you well with good fuel economy and more than enough performance for effortless motorway cruising.
Audi A6 Avant (cont.)
S Line models look a bit more purposeful, but we’d suggest sticking with SE or SE Executive because they come with smaller wheels and more supple suspension to ensure you get a comfortable ride.
We found: 2017 2.0 TDI Ultra SE Executive auto, 35,000 miles, £20,000
8. Volkswagen Golf estate
Dull, but ultimately very worthy: the Volkswagen Golf Estate is the booted version of the evergreen Golf hatchback that provides a big boot, a classy image and a nice interior. It’s a fine steer, too, and the ride soaks up the very worst that pothole-ridden city streets can offer without being wallowy at motorway speeds.
Volkswagen Golf estate (cont.)
You can have everything from a tiny 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol to the turbocharged 2.0-litre R model with over 300bhp, along with numerous diesel alternatives if you need to go further between fill-ups. An all-new Mk8 version was launched in 2020, so shop around for a good version of the old car.
We found: 2018 2.0 TDI GTD DSG auto, 18,000 miles, £18,500
7. Skoda Octavia estate
You may wonder why there’s a Skoda in a list made up of mostly premium brands, but the Skoda Octavia is actually much more than a cheaper Golf these days. Go for a higher-spec version and there’s very little difference between the two, except, of course, for the fact that the Octavia estate is bigger inside.
Skoda Octavia estate (cont.)
Just like the Golf, there are loads of petrol and diesel options available for under £25,000, so there’ll certainly be an Octavia estate to suit all needs and budgets. The launch of an all-new version in 2020 means now's the time to strike a bargain on the older car.
We found: 2019 2.0 TDI 150 Laurin & Klement, 9000 miles, £18,995
6. Volvo V90
When you’re looking to spend this amount of money on a car you’d expect it to feel special, which is exactly what the Volvo V90 is. From its handsome exterior to its welcoming interior, you’d be hard-pressed not to be impressed by it. Okay, the steeply angled rear roofline means that it isn’t the most capacious estate car that Volvo has ever produced, but you’re unlikely to be filling the car up to the roof every time you get in it so this shouldn’t be a major issue.
Volvo V90 (cont.)
We’d stick with diesel power over the petrol because of the extra torque a diesel engine provides. It suits the V90 better since the handling leans more towards safety and ease of use rather than offering outright thrills.
We found: 2018 2.0 D4 Inscription, 34,000 miles, £23,995
5. Audi A4 Avant
Like the BMW 3 Series Touring, the Audi A4 Avant isn’t the biggest estate in this list, but we can forgive it because the boot itself is a very usable space that’ll meet all your everyday needs. First, it’s a very uniform shape with no wheel arch intrusions. There are places to tie items down to and you’ll get a more flexible 40:20:40 split-folding rear bench that’s much better for when you need to carry longer loads and passengers at the same time.
Audi A4 Avant (cont.)
We’d suggest you stick with a Sport model to get all the luxuries you really need, but if you must go for an S Line example, make sure it doesn’t have big wheels and sport suspension, otherwise the ride will be too firm.
We found: 2018 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra Sport, 32,000 miles, £21,000
4. Volkswagen Passat estate
True, there are many more interesting estate cars on the market, but few get on with the job quite as well as the Volkswagen Passat Estate. The interior is very well finished and houses a really good touchscreen infotainment system, and most get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can easily access phone functions.
Volkswagen Passat estate (cont.)
Passengers will be impressed with the sheer volume of leg and head room you get, and the boot is big enough to put most removals companies out of business. Stick with the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine because it offers the best blend of fuel economy and performance for your money.
We found: 2018 2.0 TDI R Line DSG auto, 9000 miles, £21,750
3. Skoda Superb estate
The Skoda Superb estate is just like faux tile lino: it looks just as good as the real thing but you pay significantly less for it. The Superb offers similar amounts of room to all the best posh estate cars from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW, but at a fraction of the cost.
Skoda Superb estate (cont.)
It drives nicely, too, and you don’t have to pay too much more for a high-spec version that’ll have all the extras befitting a luxury car. There’s a decent mix of petrol and diesel power for your £25,000, but we’d suggest going for the 2.0-litre diesel since the Superb is a big car and the extra torque of this diesel engine will be a real boon if you make liberal use of its load-carrying capabilities.
We found: 2018 2.0 TDI 150 SE L Executive DSG, 8000 miles, £18,995
2. Mercedes E-Class Estate
If ever there was a car that could cover all bases, then the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate is it. Not only is it voluminous enough to work as a posh removals van, but the interior of the E-Class is comfortable enough for not only the odd motorway dash but cross-continent touring.
Mercedes E-Class Estate
It is desirable in the way few other estate cars can match, yet can be found for similar money to some of the more mundane entrants on this list. What’s more, the interior is a comfortable and luxurious place in which to spend time, making it perfect for everything from the daily commute, to the cross-country dash with a boot full of luggage to visit family or, indeed, move a child into university. All things considered, there are few situations that would flummox an E-Class Estate.
We found: 2018 E220d SE Premium auto, 29,000 miles, £24,000
1. BMW 5 Series Touring
Our winner here is the wonderful BMW 5 Series Touring. While it might lose out to some of its rivals in terms of overall boot volume, it is still very clever in how it uses the available space. First of all, it is one of only a few estate cars left where the glass can be opened independently from the door itself, which can be useful in tight parking spots and when you need access to the load area. Second, there’s no load lip to hump items over and the space is a nice square shape. A more flexible 40:20:40 split-folding rear seat gives you the ability to still carry people and longer loads if you need to.
It’s also good to drive with great handling balance, and the smooth automatic transmission that the majority of 5 Series buyers went for is the perfect accompaniment to any of the excellent engines available. The best option is the base 2.0-litre diesel (badged 520d) since it has plenty of performance and some stellar fuel economy figures.
BMW 5 Series Touring (cont.)
Just as well, really, that the interior is an excellent place to while away the miles and if you can find an example with BMW’s Professional Media navigation pack, you’ll get a larger screen with which to use the intuitive iDrive infotainment system.
All in, it's a great car, based on a wonderful luxury saloon that's been one of our favourites for years. Our money should buy you a good 2018 car with an average mileage for the year and in excellent condition.
We found: 2018 520d M Sport auto, 20,900 miles, £24,500
Click on to the next slide to find out what's the estate car to avoid >>
The used Estate to avoid: Subaru Levorg
If reliability is your utmost concern in a used car, then there might be something to be said for getting a Subaru Levorg. Trouble is, there aren’t that many of them available for sale, the interior isn’t befitting a car that once cost £30,000 when new and you might as well go for an inefficient SUV anyway because of the Levorg’s thirsty petrol engine.