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 cars for a bargain price, meaning you can get a great family car for a lot less than it would have cost new. But which models are the best? That’s where this list comes in handy.
We’ve lined up some of our favourite second-hand estate car choices below. 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.
SUVs are all the rage, and their hatchback boots are popular with customers – but what estate cars can bring is a nice low loading lip, so they can be loaded up more easily. They’re also often better to drive than an equivalent SUV – thanks to a lower centre of gravity – more economical and cheaper. What more could you ask?
Our used estate choices have been picked out on other criteria as well – they’ve got to be good value, affordable to run and feel just as fresh as a showroom model even after a few years of use. Read on to find out the models we’ve chosen…
The best used estate cars to buy
- Skoda Octavia
- Volkswagen Passat
- Citroen C5
- Skoda Superb
- Vauxhall Insignia
- BMW 3 Series
- Mazda 6
- Peugeot 308
1. Skoda Octavia (Mk3)
- Our pick: 1.0 TSI SE Technology (2018/18, 45k miles, £13,495)
If you want to load up on value, then look no further than the Octavia Estate. With its blend of family-friendly versatility, eye-catchingly attractive prices and enviable reputation for reliability, this spacious Skoda
is one of the safest places for your used-car cash.
Of course, for most estate car buyers carrying capacity is king, and the Czech machine doesn’t disappoint. Open the large tailgate and you’ll discover a class-leading 610 litres of space, while lowering the rear bench using the handy levers liberates a cavernous 1,740 litres. Better still, the Skoda’s boot is packed with thoughtful touches, such as hidden storage and load dividers to stop items moving.
Passengers are just as well catered for, with those in the rear getting the sort of head and legroom normally reserved for much bigger machines. And like all Octavia models, the estate is crammed with standard kit, with SE models having all the gadgets and gizmos you’ll need. If you can make your cash stretch, then it’s worth seeking out a post-2017 facelift car, which gets far more advanced infotainment with a larger screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
Yet the Octavia isn’t all work and no play. Quick steering, crisp handling and a composed ride mean it’s satisfying to drive, and there’s a wide range of punchy, refined and frugal petrol and diesel engines. There’s even a hot vRS model or, if you fancy heading off the beaten track, a rugged Scout version with raised ride height and four-wheel drive.
However, the really good news is that you don’t have to spend big to bag one of the best estate cars in the business. Just £5,000 will buy you a tidy but well used early example. Spend around £14,000 and you’ll have the pick of low-mileage facelifted examples powered by the eager 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine, and in desirable SE Technology spec.
BuyaCar finance options
Few cars offer so much space for such low monthly payments. This Skoda Octavia Estate represents great value on BuyaCar.co.uk, at just £254 per month with a £3,000 deposit on a four-year hire purchase contract.
This finance deal means that you’ll own the car at the end of the term for £15,184 overall. That’s several pounds less than the cash price of even the most basic new Skoda Fabia.
Check the latest used Skoda Octavia prices on our sister site BuyaCar…
2. Volkswagen Passat (Mk7)
Handsome, good to drive and with a big 650-litre boot (1,780 litres with the rear seats folded), the Passat is ideal for buyers after a load-lugger with a dash of premium appeal – it’s comfy, composed and beautifully built. The range includes the plug-in hybrid GTE, which mixes strong performance with an electric range of around 30 miles.
Check the latest used Volkswagen Passat prices on our sister site BuyaCar…
3. Citroen C5 (Mk2)
Citroen’s rich history of spacious estate cars ended when the C5 was dropped in 2018. However, our left field choice is a stylish wagon is a great used buy, with robust quality and prices from just £1,000. Flagship models get self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension, which keeps the car on an even keel regardless of load.
Check the latest used Citroen C5 prices on our sister site BuyaCar…
4. 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 offers more carrying capacity for your cash than almost any other used buy.
Whatever your budget, you’ll get the same large and well shaped boot which, at 660 litres, is 20 litres more than in a Mercedes E-Class. Handy levers in the load area allow you to quickly fold the rear seats for a van-like 1,950 litres. 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.
Factor in a lengthy list of standard equipment that includes an intuitive touchscreen infotainment system featuring USB, Bluetooth and smartphone mirroring, and the large Skoda estate’s appeal is easy to see. In fact, when it comes to used cars, rarely has a model ever deserved its name as much as the Superb.
Check the latest used Skoda Superb prices on our sister site BuyaCar…
5. 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.
Check the latest used Vauxhall Insignia prices on our sister site BuyaCar…
6. BMW 3 Series Touring (Mk7)
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.
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. It’ll hold its value better than a four-cylinder model.
Check the latest used BMW 3 Series prices on our sister site BuyaCar…
7. Mazda 6 Tourer (Mk3)
The Mazda 6 Tourer is another 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.
Check the latest used Mazda 6 prices on our sister site BuyaCar…
8. Peugeot 308 SW (Mk2)
The Peugeot 308 SW is an estate along the same lines as the Skoda Octavia – it’s a relatively small car but there’s a huge amount of space inside. This means it’s easy to park and fit through narrow streets, but still has enough room for anything and everything you might need to carry. There’s a 660-litre boot here, the same as in the Superb, and that opens out to 1,775 litres with the seats folded down.
The Peugeot makes a great used buy because it has depreciated fairly quickly, so even tidy examples are really affordable. It’s a great way to get into a really roomy and well-equipped car for less money than in some of the other options on this list.
Okay, the driving position (with the dials above a small steering wheel) won’t suit everyone, but you can get used to it – and for some, it’s no trouble at all.
Check the latest used Peugeot 308 prices on our sister site BuyaCar…
Now find out more about the best used cars you can buy…