What is an estate car?

If you are looking for a spacious car that is enjoyable to drive, an estate car might be perfect for you

Simon Ostler
Jan 5, 2022

Estate cars are popular with drivers looking for comfort, practicality and spaciousness as a result of their elongated shape. Similarly to a saloon or a hatchback the driver and passengers sit low to the ground in an estate car, but the additional cabin and boot space makes transporting dogs, golf clubs, new furniture or other bits and pieces much easier. 

SUVs and crossovers have become a more popular choice with car buyers looking for practicality, however many people prefer estates for their better driving characteristics. If the styling, comfort and added driveability of an estate appeals to you, you may enjoy our list of the best estate cars on sale right now. You may also find our article on the best cars for dogs helpful, or indeed the best cars for golf clubs.

Estate cars offer a range of benefits that other car models struggle to match, so let’s take a closer look at estates and the features that make them unique.

The definitive aspects of an estate car

Volkswagen Golf Estate rear view

Estates are very similar to hatchback cars, but feature an extended rear end which provides additional boot space. This makes estate cars great for loading and transporting bulky equipment. Sports players, campers, furniture hoarders and the drivers of big families will be appreciative of a spacious estate car.

Similarly to hatchbacks, estates feature a boot that is accessible at the rear of the car. This boot space will provide enough room for your weekly supermarket baggage, but if you are looking for maximal storage space the rear seats can be folded down to extend the boot into the rear cabin. Lowering the rear seats will provide storage space comparable to a van, while the cabin will comfortably fit a driver and four passengers with the rear seats raised. Many estate owners love their cars for their versatility and practicality.

Estate cars of the past were renowned for their boxy styling and dull driving feel, but more recent examples have broken this trend. Modern estates are much more elegant and stylish than older examples. Improvements to the driving dynamics are also noteworthy and have made estates feel more agile, engaging and exciting on the road, especially compared to cumbersome SUVs and crossovers.

Estate cars: pros and cons


Practical space, with a large boot opening and square-shaped luggage area
Stylish design means they aren’t a frumpy choice
Not much more expensive to run than a hatchback


Not as spacious as many SUVs and crossovers
Length can make them difficult to park
Fill the boot up and you can’t see out of the back window

Used estate cars

Estate cars have maintained a loyal following with drivers who appreciate their practicality, stylish looks and engaging drive despite the growing popularity of SUVs and crossovers over the past decade. Their continued popularity means that there are many compelling options available on the used market. Given the versatility and practicality of this type of car, there is an abundance of estate options for every lifestyle and a range of budgets to be found on the used market.

If venturing off-road is a concern for you, an SUV may look like a more sensible choice given its bulky, off-road styling. However, there are many estates that are fitted with equipment made to tackle adventurous terrain, such as a raised ride height, off-road styling and four-wheel drive.

VW Passat Estate

Used deals from £11,901
Monthly finance from £232*

Volvo V60

Used deals from £17,699
Monthly finance from £270*

BMW 5 Series Touring front

BMW 5 Series Touring

Used deals from £21,999
Monthly finance from £326*

What to look for in an estate car

Volkswagen Golf Estate boot
  • Split-folding rear seats are best, as you can fold one or two, leaving one for a passenger.
  • Flat-folding seats. If the back seats don’t fold right down, leaving the boot floor completely flat, then you’re wasting space
  • Low boot lip: if the bottom of the boot is level with the top of the rear bumper, it's easier to slide loads in
  • Attachments: hooks, rails and loops in the boot will help you secure luggage so it doesn’t move about
  • A powered boot lid that you can open by waving your foot underneath the bumper is useful when your hands are full
  • Rear power sockets are handy - for an air compressor to pump up beach inflatables, for example.


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