Best estate cars in 2021

Last updated November 04, 2021

Once the must-have option for families looking for bigger capacity vehicles, the estate car has declined in popularity with the rise of affordable SUVs and MPVs. However, estates are still the perfect car for those of us who want a bit more space and there is an incredibly wide variety on sale in 2021.

The best estate cars have a large boot and a wide tailgate that opens high, as well as a flat load area with seats that fold down with ease. Additional extras like ski hatches, load rails and boot dividers, as well as innovative storage solutions along the sides or under the floor of the boot, can turn a good estate car into a great one.

Even though SUVs and MPVs may be more versatile, estate cars can ultimately provide a more appealing driving experience whilst almost matching them on the load capacity front.

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Things to consider when looking for an estate

Before you buy an estate, you should consider whether this is the type of car for you by considering what features you need to have. You should work out how much luggage and towing capacity you require; in estates, luggage capacity can range from 360-660 litres with the seats up, significantly increasing when they are flat. As for towing capacity, this can vary innumerably between vehicles.

You must also consider how often you will be using the car, as if you cover a lot of miles a diesel or hybrid may be the most economical option. If you drive less, a traditional petrol engine could prove to be the best option, although there is also an increasing number of electric vehicles with ever increasing ranges to consider.

Should you find yourself requiring a 7-seater, an estate probably won’t be for you – you’d be hard pressed to find an estate with any more than the standard 5-seats, so you should look into bigger cars.

Without further ado, we have listed our favourite estate cars in 2021 below.

Mercedes E-Class Estate

Whilst the latest model isn’t as big as its predecessor, the Mercedes E-Class is one of the biggest estates on the market, coming in at around 4855mm in length.

For starters, it’s a good-looking car and it offers great practicality. It has a boot size of 640 litres with the seats up, but when you fold them flat this increases to a whopping 1820 litres. Aside from the large boot space, the E-Class has a huge towing capacity, around 1800kg. All trim levels get a powered tailgate and self-levelling rear suspension.

The interior is extremely high quality and offers more than enough room for five passengers. It’s also loaded with ample storage space, with cubbyholes and cupholders dotted in and around the cabin. The E-Class comes fully equipped with seven airbags, ensuring the driver and all passengers are adequately protected – and to ramp up the safety aspect, you can add an optional safety kit which includes night vision and lane departure warning technology.

As expected, the price of the E-Class Estate is higher than some of the other cars on the list due to the build quality and technology loaded to the car. However, whilst the E-Class can be competitive with rivals like the BMW 5 Series Touring (which we’ll mention shortly), options can drive up the cost. The E220d SE 4dr 9G-Tronic is the base-spec trim and cost, starting at £37,545, with the highest-spec E400d 4Matic AMG Line Premium 4dr 9G-Tronic coming in at £56,065. If you choose a diesel or plug-in hybrid you’re likely to save some cash on the overall running of the car, as fuel consumption is considerably better than the comparable petrol models.

Find out more about the Mercedes E-Class here.

Volvo v90 Recharge

Volvo have a relatively long history of building spacious, family-friendly estate cars. Models such as the 850 or 240 have gained a reputation as popular family cars historically and the V90 brings all of the beloved characteristics from these models alongside an elevated standard of quality.

A primary feature of good estate cars, the boot capacity sits at 560 litres with the seats up, and 1526 with them down. The V90 also contains plenty of autonomous technology to help you on the road, such as full Google Maps integration. Simply say ‘Hey Google’ to keep in touch with family and friends, get directions, or enjoy entertainment.

As with the E-Class, you can opt for petrol, diesel, or plug-in hybrid models depending on which suits your requirements – although, it’s probably best to keep clean air zone fees in mind when purchasing a new car.

Like the E-Class, the V90 has a relatively high list price, but for the build quality and technology on-board it offers great value for money. The basic 2.0 T4 Momentum Plus 5dr Geartronic starts at £38,650, with the top-of-the-range 2.0 T8 {390} Hybrid R DESIGN Plus 5dr AWD Gtron topping off at £59,000. Find out more about the Volvo v90 Recharge here.

Peugeot 508 SW

Whilst this isn’t the biggest estate car on the market, the latest Peugeot 508 is great to drive, practical, and stylish for a family car. The drive is safe and predictable, but with trim levels offering a great list of standard equipment and the car itself has relatively low running costs, this is a firm favourite on our list.

The Peugeot 508 is a fantastically usable family model, providing dynamic steering. It’s quiet at a cruise, with the eight-speed auto combined with the entry-level diesel engine being a good combination for driving on the motorway.

Peugeot has also added a new plug-in hybrid to the range, bringing lower emissions and better fuel economy, with the hybrid able to travel between 33-39 miles solely on electric power whilst achieving a claimed fuel consumption of 166-235mpg.

All of this comes at slightly lower costs than the V90 or E-Class, with the entry level 1.5 BlueHDi Active 5dr coming in at £27,970 and the higher-spec 1.6 Hybrid GT Premium 5dr e-EAT8 model costing from £41,990. Find out more about the Peugeot 508 SW here.

Ford Focus Estate

This is the classic estate and proves that the original format still has a lot to offer. The updated Focus is considerably more stylish than its predecessors, with streamlined features that could be described as anything but boxy.

The Focus is also fun to drive, which is something you would struggle to find in a top-heavy compact SUV. There are trim levels to suit almost every pocket and they contain solid, efficient mild-hybrid engines.

Even entry level Zetec models feature a good level of standard equipment, including an 8” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, cruise control with a speed limiter, a heated front screen and LED daytime running lights.

Even with the rear seats in full use, you’ll find a massive 728 litres of boot space – 1620 litres of flat loading space when you fold them down. Aside from this, the powerful EcoBoost engine can provide a great driving experience even when you’re carrying a full load in the back.

The Focus isn’t overwhelmingly pricey either, with the entry level 1.0 EcoBoost 100 Zetec 5dr coming in at £21,615 and the higher trim level 2.0 EcoBlue 150 Vignale 5dr Auto topping off at £32,055.

Find out more about the Ford Focus Estate here.

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

With great handling, excellent comfort and low running costs, the Corolla Touring is a supreme family estate. It’s good to drive, with a smooth ride and a great ability to tackle harsher bumps and potholes in the road.

The petrol-hybrid system works well, providing good fuel economy and low emissions, so if you’re planning on purchasing this for a company car you could see more affordable tax bills. However, the Corolla Touring is more suited to a relaxed driving style with its CVT gearbox. Many owners have found that it can have the potential to be noisy when accelerating hard.

The safety sense package includes a host of active safety kit and this has helped the Corolla achieve a full five-star Euro NCAP rating, which should give owners peace of mind when out on the road. This level of reliability should provide a positive ownership experience, making the Corolla a dependable and safe vehicle.

The Corolla Touring 1.8 VVT-I Hybrid CVT comes in at around £22,875, with the higher-spec models, such as the 2.0 VVT-I Hybrid CVT costing £28,362. Find out more about the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports here.

Skoda Octavia

The latest version of the Skoda Octavia is bigger and better than those that came before it.

This is the ideal car for anyone who prioritises space, comfort and reliability – the Octavia is a true all-rounder, offering great flexibility. With the seats up, the boot is a phenomenal 640 litres which can increase to 1700 when you maximise the space by folding the rear seats down.

The Octavia doesn’t lack for equipment either, with Bluetooth, DAB radio and engine stop/start coming as standard on all trims. There are also handy features such as a rubbish bin, a double-sided boot floor and an ice scraper hidden in the fuel cap, perfect for those cold mornings when you find yourself having to de-ice your car.

In more recent updates, you can even find yourself with a torch in the boot and umbrellas in the door. Aside from these practical features, the Octavia is an economical vehicle, with a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines – like the others on this list, a plug-in hybrid model is also available.

The Skoda Octavia is among some of the cheaper models on our list, with entry level 1.0 TSI SE Technology 5dr costing £20,070, whilst the higher trim 1.4 TSI iV vRS 5dr DSG starts from £37,285. Find out more about the Skoda Octavia here.

BMW 3 Series Touring

This is a particularly handsome estate car, with great practicality offering up to 1500 litres of load space when the rear seats are folded. Whilst some rivals have the Touring beaten on load capacity, the driving experience on offer could be difficult to compete with, considering the rear drive set-up created by BMW. The xDrive versions also benefit from all-wheel drive, which could be enough to persuade customers away from an SUV purchase.

With BMW, you can expect a high-quality interior regardless of the spec you choose. The dashboard is clearly and efficiently laid out, incorporating plenty of quality trim with great fit and finish, whilst the intuitive iDrive infotainment controller is a definitive highlight.

The 330e version is available in any of the standard trim levels, which means there is the entry level SE followed by Sport and the more aggressive-looking M Sport. If you find yourself wanting even more visual impact and driving fun, the Touring comes in the M Sport Pro edition, which includes 19” alloys, unique paintwork, adaptive suspension and an M Sport Differential, which can help improve the handling and traction out of corners.

Again, you can find this in petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid. Like its E-Class rival, the 3 Series isn’t the cheapest of vehicles. Even the lowest trim 318i SE 5dr Step Auto starts at £31,970, and the higher spec 330d xDrive MHT M Sport Pro Ed 5dr Step Auto [Tech] costs £51,090.

Find out more about the BMW 3 Series Touring here.

BMW 5 Series Touring

The second BMW on our list, this is a beautiful estate car that will truly impress in the office car park. The 5 Series Touring is available in SE and M Sport trims and comes in a wide range of strong petrol and diesel engines.

Each car comes fitted with BMW’s comprehensive eight-speed automatic gearbox. Even the lower spec four-cylinder diesel models bring great fuel economy, with the 520d claiming to achieve 55.4mpg economy and 134g/km emissions. Despite these impressive economical features, the Touring still provides plenty of power to cruise along at high speeds when fully loaded.

Offering even better efficiency is BMW’s plug-in hybrid powertrain, which in 530e SE form delivers up to 35.4 miles of all-electric running and an average fuel consumption figure of 188.3mpg – providing that you keep the battery charged up. Whilst the boot size doesn’t quite rival the Mercedes E-Class, it still impresses with 570 litres of space, expanding to 1700 litres with the rear-seats folded down.

The Touring also sets itself apart with useful extras like opening tailgate glass, load dividing nets and self-levelling suspension. There’s also plenty of room for passengers, although the transmission tunnel can get in the way of those stuck in the middle seat.

The Touring’s overly firm ride can be modified with optional adaptive dampers and it is an overwhelmingly safe car with ESP and a pop-up bonnet to protect pedestrians. Aside from this, it has excellent towing capacity and comes with good value fixed-price servicing.

Like the 3 Series, the 5 Series Touring is pricey. The base level 520i SE 5dr Auto comes in at £38,775. Higher trim levels like the 540i xDrive MHT M Sport Edition 5dr Auto can cost upward of £60,690. Find out more about the BMW 5 Series Touring here.

Skoda Superb Estate

This is a great choice for an estate car and deserves its place amongst our list. The previous model had a somewhat dowdy design, but this is long gone replaced with sharp creases and a lower, wider body, plus the car is cheaper than all of its main rivals.

The Superb features a wide choice of engines, starting with a 1.5 litre TSi petrol – and like the other cars on our list, there are also diesel and plug-in hybrid options.

Boot space has grown from the pre-facelift model, now boasting a cavernous 660 litre load area or 1950 litres with the seats down. For a particularly luxurious passenger experience, the Superb provides considerable legroom to rival many of its competitors.

The Superb Estate is slightly more friendly on your bank account than some of the other estate cars available in 2021, with the base level 1.6 TDI CR S 5dr DSG costing £25,560. The top trim 1.4 TSI iV Laurin + Klement DSG 5dr comes in at £43,175. Find out more about the Skoda Superb Estate here.

Audi A6 Avant

For a truly luxurious estate, the A6 Avant may be the way to go. This is a masterclass in fine packaging, with a palatial cabin and the latest technology all wrapped in a sophisticated exterior.

Audi designed the Avant specifically to cover long distances in a quiet and refined manner, so it may not be the first choice for buyers looking for keen dynamics.

For an all-rounder, the 2.0 litre 40 TDi is the way forward, whilst the 3.0 litre v6 50 TDi is the best choice for crossing continents. However, this does come at a price – even the lowest trim 40 TFSI Sport 5dr Tronic comes in at £40,115, and the most expensive 55 TFSO Quattro Vorsprung 5dr S Tronic costing £75,410.

Find out more about the Audi A6 Avant here.