- The best estate cars for 2019
- Practicality is key if you’re buying a new wagon
- Our selection covers all budgets and lifestyles
If you want the maximum practicality from your car without sacrificing roadholding or comfort, an estate is the obvious choice. Often taking up no more road - or parking - space than their saloon or hatchback siblings, a tall load area and folding rear seats can make all the difference for family holidays and trips to IKEA.
What are the best estate cars in the UK right now? Parkers has gathered together the best small estate, the best value, the largest and the sportiest alongside some worthy alternatives in this high-capacity round up.
For long distance drivers, the taller rear profile often offers better economy and rear visibility too; estate cars have benefits beyond loadspace.
Find the best estate car for your lifestyle
We're going to set the benchmark early, with our Parkers New Car Awards 2018 'Large Family Car' winner.
Spanning a wide range of budgets, engines and trim levels, the sleek design shouts premium and elegance, and there is a wide range of optional extras to choose from. Park Assist will steer the car into a parking space for you, while Surround View gives you a 360-degree view of the car.
Popularity means there's a good supply of new and used cars, including the excellent previous generation 5 Series Touring. For cash buyers and fleet/PCP leasing customers alike, strong residuals ensure the BMW is appealing financially too.
Performance is excellent, with four and six cylinder turbocharged petrol or diesel engines to choose from and either six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearboxes. xDrive is offered on all but the base model. Driving is engaging, with a good compromise between handling prowess and passenger comfort.
New price: £39,005 - £54,775
Used price: £25,170 - £47,520
Fuel economy: 37 - 61mpg
Insurance group: 30 - 41
Boot space: 570 litres with the seats up; 1,700 litres with the rear seats folded.
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The Superb Estate, which lives up to its name, joins its hatchback sister that arrived in 2015. It’s enormous, and provides serious competition for the establisted estate car rivals on this list.
It is also one of the best-looking estate cars, with large side windows that keep the proportions balanced without fussy styling elements. This understatement continues to the remarkable 280 TSI 4x4, which allows the aforementioned antiques and livestock to be transported to 62mph in 5.8 seconds yet costs less than £40,000 - even with desirable options.
There are four petrol and three diesel engines to choose from, and we expect most in the UK will opt for diesel. It’s certainly comfortable to drive, if not the most engaging in the sector.
Lots of head- and legroom in the cabin, combined with supple ride quality and a luxurious interior, mean comfort levels are high in the Superb. It’s free from road noise, and most models come with heated leather seats.
Not only is the boot large, offering 1,950 litres of room with the rear seats folded, but there’s also a variable-height boot floor - without which, the floor isn’t completely flat. You also benefit from nets in the boot for securing smaller items.
New price: £23,440 - £38,445
Used price: £10,480 - £29,635
Fuel economy: 39 - 76mpg
Insurance group: 12 - 29
Boot space: 660 litres with the seats up; 1,950 litres with the rear seats folded.
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Is this the best premium estate car you can buy? Possibly.
It’s not the largest estate on the market - the Skoda Superb and Peugeot 308 are both bigger at the back - but you can choose the option of two rear-facing child seats in the boot, turning it into a seven-seater if you wish.
The E-Class Estate is packed with technology and can be parked remotely using a suitable smartphone, which you can also use to unlock and start the car. The Driving Assistance Plus package includes a system as close to autonomous driving as you can currently get. Simply overtake on motorways by holding the indicator for two seconds, and the car will steer itself.
Comfort remains the top priority for the E-Class Estate, so look to rivals like the BMW 5 Series if you want a more engaging drive.
New price: £38,030 - £109,620
Used price: £21,415 - £81,920
Fuel economy: 30 - 67mpg
Insurance group: 28 - 49
Boot space: 640 litres with the seats up; 1,820 litres with the rear seats folded.
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In the 308 SW, you have more legroom for rear passengers, the doors open wider, and there’s a huge boot. The rear seats fold completely flat, and the boot lip is handily low.
The interior is minimalist, with a tiny steering wheel; you’ll get a large infotainment touchscreen on models above entry level.
On the road, the ride is relaxed - soft enough to cope with bumps and potholes, but firm enough not to roll around corners. Fuel costs are low across the range. Most efficient is the new BlueHDi 120 diesel engine, which is claimed to average an astonishing 88.3mpg, though you're unlikely to see such high figures in typical driving.
The 308 SW really is all about the boot space - it’s more generous than the already huge 508 SW and several of the larger estates featured here too. Rear seats fold flat, operated by levers in the boot or controls on the seats. There are also useful rails and tie-down hooks.
New price: £19,675 - £28,285
Used price: £5,205 - £19,990
Fuel economy: 47 - 88mpg
Insurance group: 12 - 30
Boot space: 660 litres with the seats up; 1,775 with the rear seats folded.
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The Logan MCV is the cheapest estate car available in the UK, so it’s understandably basic - but its bargain price is not its biggest selling point. A minimalist interior ensures maximum use of space, though if you want some luxuries It comes with a wide range of optional kit. Big on space and value for money, it's a highly practical vehicle that fits the brief for a family car that can also work hard. It's also fairly handsome for a hatchback-derived estate; form has followed function.
You can choose from one diesel and two petrol engines, which come from Dacia's parent company, Renault. The petrol engines aren’t the most powerful considering the car’s size, but they are economical on fuel. With the diesel, economy is claimed to be 80.7mpg - great for its size.
This car’s honesty and simplicity means it’s really easy to drive; there aren’t many buttons to navigate in the cabin as there isn’t much technology to contend with. Driving at night is interesting, as the lack of media screens and lights in the footwells means it’s eerily dark.
It’s fairly comfortable, although the suspension is firm over potholes and speed bumps. There’s lots of head- and legroom for passengers, and the load bay is not only tall - it will take items up to 2.3m in length.
New price: £8,495 - £12,695
Used price: £2,605 - £10,235
Fuel economy: 48 - 81mpg
Insurance group: 2 - 12
Boot space: 573 litres with the seats up; 1,518 litres with the rear seats folded.
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The second Skoda appearance on our list, but at the opposite end of the scale for size. The Fabia is a small car with a massive boot, compared to the Superb Estate, which is a beast of a car all over.
This smaller Skoda is unsurprisingly cheaper to buy and run, while remaining practical, easy to drive, and full of features. It’s a great estate car for families living in cities and towns where parking is at a premium.
It might not be that sporty, but it is fun and refined. There are four engines to choose from, and three trim levels, with even the base level featuring DAB radio, air-conditioning, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Handling is excellent, and it feels like this car will take anything in its stride. The interior is classic, being simple and clear to operate, although the plastics aren’t of the highest quality. Given the cost of this car, its also surprisingly comfortable.
Its best quality is how large the boot is for a small car. Three adults will just about fit on the back row, with better headroom than the hatchback.
New price: £13,275 - £19,965
Used price: £5,975 - £14,195
Fuel economy: 58 - 78mpg
Insurance group: 3 - 13
Boot space: 530 litres with the seats up; 1,395 with the rear seats folded.
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Kia’s large wagon is packed with kit and lots of practical elements. The boot is roomy, and there are many tie-down options to make the most of the space in the back. Under-floor trays keep valuables out of sight, too.
Most of the range is centred on one diesel engine on offer, with two gearboxes, both claiming to offer economy in the low 60s. The manual is a bit quicker to accelerate to 62mph than the auto.
The interior finish is of a high standard, with a responsive touchscreen media system, aimed towards the driver. There are a lot of buttons, but it means you can find the seat ventilation controls without looking, for instance.
Entry-level models are packed with kit, and there are three equipment levels to choose from on diesel models. The PHEV comes with high specification as standard.
New price: £22,500 - £35,145
Used price: £13,485 - £23,970
Fuel economy: 61 - 64mpg
Insurance group: 19 - 25
Boot space: 522 litres with the seats up; 1,686 litres with the rear seats folded.
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VW's Passat estate has been a consistently good offering since the first models appeared over 40 years ago. Safe handling, comfort for the whole family and impressive load space have defined the Volkswagen, which remains an excellent choice despite the strong competition from within the same group. There's a trim level and engine for every lifestyle and aspiration, including all wheel drive and plug in hybrid drivetrains.
There’s lots of kit even on the bottom of the range, with Bluetooth, DAB radio and iPod connectivity as standard.
It’s one of the most comfortable estate cars on this list, and the huge boot helps its cause too. It’s not the most exciting to drive, but excitement probably isn’t what you’re looking for. It does feel safe and assured, though, and inspires confidence.
One optional feature, Traffic Jam Assist, will drive the car for you at low speeds, taking control of acceleration, braking and steering - great on congested motorways and urban commutes.
New price: £23,630 - £42,685
Used price: £9,505 - £32,485
Fuel economy: 44 - 74mpg
Insurance group: 12 - 28
Boot space: 650 litres with the seats up; 1,780 litres with the rear seats folded.
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The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is one of the newest estate cars on the market - it's also one of the best looking. Extensively revised for 2017, an aluminium body and choice of rear wheel drive or all wheel drive transmissions position the Jaguar for driver appeal.
Three trim levels are offered, plus the XF S supercharged V6. Jaguar's interiors are amongst the most attractive in the business, and from the standard four-cylinder models to the bespoke premium options, it's hard to find an unappealing option. Powering 2017's range are 2.0 litre Ingenium diesel and petrol four cylinder engines ranging from 163hp to 250hp, a 300hp 3.0 litre V6 diesel, and the 380hp petrol V6 in the S.
If you're considering previous generation as a used buy, you can choose from two diesel engines with two outputs - 163hp and 200hp. All models will get from 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds. However, the engine noise is a downside, interfering with the ambiance in the cabin.
You’ll enjoy driving this estate, and its self-levelling rear suspension means you might forget you’ve loaded up the boot.
New price: £36,235 - £54,010
Used price: £19,490 - £38,415
Fuel economy: 33 - 52mpg
Insurance group: 25 - 43
Boot space: 565 litres with the seats up; 1,700 litres with the rear seats folded.
Used price: £9,795 - £27,530
Fuel economy: 46 - 57mpg
Insurance group: 33 - 45
Boot space: 550 litres with the seats up; 1,675 with the rear seats folded.
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Volkswagen's understand of modular car design opens up some interesting possibilities, and the Golf R has been a popular outcome; take one astonishingly powerful but compact engine, put it in a relatively small car, and enjoy. While it's tempting to focus on the headline figures, the real beauty of this is creating an unstressed environment with plenty in reserve.
Its skill lies in its ability to combine speed with luxury; you can harness a lot of the engine’s power while still driving in comfort. And getting impressive output from an engine often goes hand in hand with efficiency - it is claimed to reach 40mpg. Driving within legal limits and the realities of British traffic, you stand a good chance of actually achieving that impressive fuel economy, too, as you'll rarely have to work the 310hp engine hard. If desired, it will comfortably reach a limited top speed of 155mph, and 0-62mph in less than five seconds.
The flagship Golf comes with lots of kit, as you’d expect, and there’s a wide range of options to spend extra cash on too. R Performance pack. Setting it apart from normal Golfs is the bodykit and bespoke 18-inch alloy wheels; it also comes as standard with 7-speed DSG transmission and 4Motion all wheel drive.
Used price: £12,370 - £24,220
Fuel economy: 39 - 40mpg
Insurance group: 34
Boot space: 605 litres with the seats up; 1,620 litres with the seats folded.
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The Civic Tourer is relatively small on the outside - it’s only a tiny bit longer than the 9th generation Civic hatch it is based on - but can cope with 147 litres more luggage with the seats up. If you choose not to have a spare wheel, you’ll get 120 litres of hidden boot space under the floor, too. It uses Honda's 'Magic Seats' arrangement for creating large load areas using the rear passenger space as well as the boot.
Ride comfort is increased thanks to the adaptive damping suspension system on the rear axle, which compensates for heavy loads; it also makes the car more stable when cornering.
There is yet to be a replacement based on the current Civic, but the Civic Tourer has now ended production - some dealers may have existing stock available.
There are two engines - one petrol, one diesel - and the latter is claimed to reach 74mpg. It’s not the most exciting to drive, but feels safe and predictable. Honda's 2017 Civic hatchback makes the Tourer feel dated inside, in both design and technology, but it is still a competitive compact estate car. If you don't need the load height and are buying new, it's worth checking out the current five-door.
New price: £18,645 - £27,510
Used price: £6,165 - £20,105
Fuel economy: 42 - 74mpg
Insurance group: 13 - 17
Boot space: 624 litres with the seats up; 1,668 with the rear seats folded (these figures include the under-floor storage without a spare wheel).
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