Used test: BMW 5 Series Touring vs Mercedes E-Class Estate vs Volvo V90 verdict

Posh used estate cars are as practical as SUVs yet have much more affordable running costs, but which load-lugger from BMW, Mercedes or Volvo is the best?...

Volvo V90 front cornering

Our Verdict

Each car here has its strengths, but the surprise is that the Volvo V90 squeaks into first place due to its excellent value. It may not be quite as capacious as the Mercedes E-Class Estate, but it still has the space to transport an offspring and a year’s worth of luggage to a far-flung halls of residence, before keeping you relaxed on the journey home. The tidy handling of this R-Design model lets you have a modicum of fun behind the wheel, too. And you’ll no doubt enjoy the over £3300 in savings compared to our second place choice. 

The BMW 5 Series Touring that takes silver. Why? Because it isn’t quite the complete package that the saloon version was, with noticeable shortcomings in how it drives – a shame, given that that’s been a hallmark of the BMW brand for so long. However, if you’re primarily looking for luxury and space, the 5 Series is the most comfortable by a mile and offers the best compromise of passenger and luggage space.

But rest assured, the E-Class is no rotter. It would have been the comfiest of the three on the optional all-round air suspension, but finding one with that fitted isn’t easy. It lost marks for passenger space, interior quality and driving position, too, leaving it third – and not by much. Indeed, if outright boot space is your absolute priority, it’s still, by a small margin, the best of its breed.

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1st – Volvo V90 D4 R-Design

Volvo V90 rear studio

For Well-controlled handling, roomiest rear seats, smart and solid interior, comfiest front seats

Against Distracting infotainment system, noisiest engine at idle, most wind noise

What Car? says Five stars out of five

Volvo V90 review >>

2nd – BMW 5 Series Touring 520d M Sport

BMW 5 Series Touring rear studio

For Best ride, quietest on the move, best interior quality, most user-friendly infotainment

Against Priciest to buy and own, doesn’t handle as well as the 5 Series saloon

What Car? stars Five stars out of five

BMW 5 Series Touring review >>

3rd – Mercedes E-Class Estate E220d AMG Line

Mercedes E-Class Estate rear studio

For Largest boot, potential to find one with the seven-seat option, pokiest engine

Against Lumpiest ride, so-so handling, iffy quality, road noise

What Car? says Four stars out of five

Mercedes E-Class Estate review >>

Specifications: BMW 5 Series Touring 520d M Sport

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price when new £41,385
Price today £22,178*
Power 188bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 295lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
0-60mph 7.9sec
Top speed 139mph
Fuel economy 62.7mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 119g/km

Specifications: Mercedes E-Class Estate E220d AMG Line

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price when new £41,215
Price today £20,904*
Power 192bhp @ 3800rpm
Torque 295lb ft @ 1600-2800rpm
0-60mph 7.6sec
Top speed 146mph
Fuel economy 67.3mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 120g/km

Specifications: Volvo V90 D4 R-Design

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price when new £38,365
Price today £19,777*
Power 188bhp @ 4250rpm
Torque 295lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
0-60mph 8.0sec
Top speed 140mph
Fuel economy 62.8mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 119g/km

*Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and full service history in excellent condition and bought from a dealer according to the What Car? Valuation tool, correct at time of writing

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