Estate cars offer everything you need when it comes to practicality, and there are plenty of models that give you so much more than that as well. Luckily, if you’re prepared to buy used, you can find these models for a bargain price, meaning you can get a great family car for a lot less than it would have cost new. But which are the best used estate cars to buy today? 

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Our expert road testers have driven and tested every estate car that you can buy in the UK, and we’ve lined up our favourite second-hand choices. By definition, each of these cars has a large, hatchback-style boot door that opens wide, and features a big, flat load bay. This means they’re great for carrying lots of garden waste, dogs, shopping or holiday equipment. The rear seats will fold down, too, allowing access to an even larger space for the occasional Christmas tree or surfboard.

Read on to find the best used estate cars that you can buy, listed below.

The best used estate cars to buy

  1. Skoda Octavia
  2. Volkswagen Passat
  3. Hyundai i40
  4. Citroen C5
  5. Skoda Superb
  6. Vauxhall Insignia
  7. BMW 3 Series
  8. Mazda 6

1. Skoda Octavia (Mk3)

  • Our pick: 1.0 TSI SE Technology (2019/19, 36k miles, £12,995)

It’s a good thing the Octavia has a big boot, because it needs all the space it can to carry off its haul of used car awards. Yes, for the second year in a row, the vast and versatile Skoda has scooped our Used Estate Car of the Year trophy, and it’s easy to see why.

As you’d expect, the Czech machine’s load-lugging credentials are impeccable, with a huge 610 litres of carrying capacity. Use the handy levers to lower the rear seats and the available space increases to a van-like 1,740 litres. What’s more, there are plenty of handy features, including load dividers, a shopping basket and numerous heavy duty hooks. The boot is also nice and square, while the large tailgate opening and low lip make it easier to get bigger items in and out.

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The roomy theme continues in the cabin, which features more head and legroom than rivals, and plenty of useful storage space. And despite the brand’s value-focused image, the smart design and use of high-grade materials mean the Octavia actually feels a cut above mainstream competition. You won’t be wanting for standard kit either, because even entry-level SE models come lavishly equipped, while post-2017 facelift models benefit from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Just because the Skoda is a sensible choice, it doesn’t mean it can’t bring a smile to your face. Based on the same MQB platform as the VW Golf, the Octavia feels poised and planted through a series of corners, while the suspension strikes a fine balance between comfort and control. There’s also a wide range of engines, from the peppy 1.0-litre TSI petrol through to fuel-sipping diesels and the muscular 242bhp vRS fast flagship. There’s also a rugged four-wheel-drive Scout version that gets to the places other estates can’t reach.

Better still, you don’t have to break the bank to get such a big boot, with prices starting at well under £6,000 for higher-mileage but well kept examples. Increase your budget to £10,000 and you’ll have the pick of the desirable facelifted models. 

2. Volkswagen Passat (Mk8)

There’s an all-new Passat Estate on the horizon, so there’s never been a better time to bag a used example of the current car. It’s handsome, spacious and has an understated upmarket image, with comfort and refinement the order of the day, while the sporty GTE PHEV model can manage 30 miles of EV running.

3. Hyundai i40 (Mk1)

When it comes to style and space on a shoestring budget, the i40 Tourer takes some beating. Its rakish lines hide a robustly built and generously equipped interior, plus a usefully sized 553-litre boot. It’s not as engaging to drive as some, but it promises to be a comfy, reliable and cheap-to-run choice.

4. Citroen C5 (Mk2)

Citroen’s rich history of spacious estate cars ended when the C5 was dropped in 2018. However, it’s still a stylish wagon and a great used buy, with robust quality and low-mileage examples available for under £6,000. Opt for a flagship model and you’ll even get self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension. This keeps the car on an even keel regardless of load.

5. Skoda Superb (Mk3)

If you’re looking to come out on top in the space race, then you should take a giant leap towards the Skoda Superb Estate. With its cavernous boot and vast interior, which is packed with family-friendly features, the big Skoda boasts one of the most capacious boots on the market — a whopping 660 litres.

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If this isn’t enough, quickly fold the rear seats and you’ll have a van-like 1,950 litres at your disposal. Passengers are just as well catered for, with those in the back getting limousine-like levels of head and legroom.

The driver isn’t left out, thanks to the MQB underpinnings that deliver precise and agile handling, plus a cushioned ride and low noise levels that take the strain out of long- haul trips. And while diesel power isn’t as fashionable these days, the muscular and refined 148bhp TDI is perfectly suited to the car’s versatile character, plus it gives an easy 50mpg and is dependable and durable.

6. Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer (Mk2)

It’s not as spacious as the Skoda Superb, but the handsome Insignia will have no problems coping with the needs of most growing families. It’s engaging to drive, efficient and bursting with standard kit. Steep depreciation when new makes the model a used bargain, while both petrol and diesels are frugal.

7. BMW 3 Series Touring (Mk7/G30)

If you want a family car that’s practical yet also great to drive, the BMW 3 Series Touring is a great choice. With a boot of 495 litres, expanding to 1,500 litres, it’s far from the roomiest car here – but it’s by far the best to drive.

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The 3 Series has a range of punchy but economical engines – the 320d is the best – and a fantastic chassis that’s enjoyable yet comfortable, even on bumpy country roads. Every 3 Series Touring generation is fantastic, get one that’s five years old for a bargain estate car that will fit the whole family inside, but be fun to drive as well.

You could even consider the superb 335i model, which has a six-cylinder engine that’s ultra-smooth and very fast – but not very economical.

8. Mazda 6 Tourer (Mk3)

The Mazda 6 Tourer is a slightly left-field choice, but will really suit those who appreciate quality engineering. The 522-litre boot is smallish in the context of this list but still plenty big enough for most people’s needs, but what really stands out is the Mazda’s high-quality interior and sharp exterior styling.

It’s a great-looking estate car that hasn’t aged a bit, so used models still look fresh. It’s also incredibly well-built so should still feel fresh on the inside as well. The 2.2-litre diesel engine is the one to go for (as long as you’re not only going to do short journeys), along with the sweet-shifting manual gearbox.

The Mazda 6 is a driver’s car at heart, with responsive and satisfying controls and a great chassis – but it’s also comfortable and refined, so make a great everyday car.

Now find out more about the best used cars you can buy…

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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