Even for £5000, you can have your pick of some exemplary used estate cars. Here are the models we recommend – along with the ones to steer clear of
*** Note : £1 = $1.32 (correct at time of post)
It’s an unfavourable thing to mention at this time of year, but Christmas displays have already started going up in supermarkets. Not only is this a stark reminder that the big day is nearly upon us, it is a reminder that you’ll need wheels with which to cram the family, presents and possibly even pets and in-laws. Some of you will need space for the tree as well and we’re sure that, unlike a real Christmas tree, you’ll want to keep the car afterwards.
But money is tight and blowing it now on something with four wheels instead of the ones you love will be frowned upon. You need something that is good value, cheap to run and capable of hoovering up people and luggage, then transporting them to far-flung areas to see extended family – whether you want to or not. We feel your pain, so we’ve compiled a list of ten of the best used estate cars for less than £5000. Any one of the cars on this list should negate the annoyance of being repeatedly asked: “Are we nearly there yet?” And of course, we’ve also included two naughty sinners not worth a lump of coal.
Best used estate cars for less than £5000
10. Volvo V70
Volvo is renowned for its estates and this Swedish wagon still manages to be an excellent used load lugger, despite its advancing years. Some rivals offer greater outright load space and the tailgate of the V70 doesn’t open high enough for taller people, but this car is very well made and has seats so comfortable you will find other manufacturers’ perches lacking after you’ve experienced them. The V70 can be expensive to maintain, but Volvos tend to be able to cover huge mileages with ease, which helps to negate some of this cost.
We found 2007 2.4D SE, 76,000 miles, £4250
9. Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer
Fine handling and stylish design are not Astra’s strongest areas, but value, practicality and ride comfort certainly are. For your £5000, you will be able to get the newest car in this list. It will have average mileage, but the Astra is tough, as our latest reliability survey highlights, so this shouldn’t be an issue. Plus, you will still have some money left over, which is amazing considering the amount of standard equipment the Astra provides. If your priorities are comfort and load space, and you don’t care for more prestigious brands, then the Astra Sports Tourer is the car for you.
We found 2013 2.0 CDTi 16v SRI (165) Auto, 81,634 miles, £4757*
8. Toyota Avensis estate
Much like the Astra, the Toyota Avensis is a great used buy if you value functionality over driving pleasure, and as we’re talking about estate cars, it’s a fair assumption that handling isn’t top billing. TR versions come with dual-zone climate control, cruise control and sat-nav, to name a few options, which is over and above most cars in this list. Then there is the reputation for reliability, which is so good it seems almost a cliché to mention it – although our recent reliability survey proves that it’s as good as it sounds. The Avensis may not be exciting, but neither will it be a stressful car to own.
We found 2010 2.0 D-4D TR, 85,000 miles, £4790
7. Audi A6 Avant
The A6 Avant is a really smart-looking estate that is just as dashing on the inside. It handles tidily, too, and has huge grip levels when equipped with quattro four-wheel drive – provided you have matching tyres fitted all round. SE models have plenty of kit, while S line cars look a bit more sporty. We reckon it’s best to stick with manual versions and tiptronic automatics only; we’ve heard of a few problems with CVT cars and those transmissions also need an oil change every 40,000 miles, which only adds to ownership costs.
We found 2005 2.7 TDI S line manual, 79,500 miles, £4495
6. Volkswagen Passat
Apart from the dicky electronic handbrake, this Passat estate was and still is a very fine car. It even drives well, feeling much more alert than we’d normally expect from such a big car. Front occupants are treated to very comfortable seats with a wide range of adjustment, plus there’s plenty of room in the rear too. Even though most Passats sold were propelled by diesel power units, you can still find some interesting petrol options, including some V6s. Equipment levels are high, with even the standard S-spec cars getting air conditioning, alloy wheels and a CD player.
We found 2008 2.0 TDI Highline, 74,000 miles, £4611
5. Kia Cee’d SW
Unusual name aside, there isn’t really anything odd about the Kia Cee’d SW. It may not have the interior quality to beat the class best, but there are some neat details that show this car’s upmarket push – for example, the neat tailgate mounting that means the door opens up nice and high so you don’t clout your head on the boot lock. Add in the five-star NCAP safety rating and the Kia Cee’d makes for a great used estate.
We found 2011 1.6 CRDi 3, 57,000 miles, £4812
4. Mazda 6 Estate
The Mazda 6 Estate is comparatively light, and while that does come at the expense of some refinement, it means that it handles rather well for a full-sized estate. Its boot opening is nice and wide to aid loading items into the gulf of space behind the rear seats, which expands even further when you fold the bench down. The 6 is even economical and quite reliable, making this estate a great overall package.
We found 2009 2.2d SL 185ps, 76,000miles, £3990
3. BMW 5 Series Touring
If you are in the market for a luxurious estate car, then no rival does it better than the BMW 5 Series Touring. None manages to provide the rear-drive handling balance, smooth-yet-powerful petrol and diesel engines or classy interior. This Touring model adds self-levelling rear suspension to keep heavy loads from spoiling the handling and you can even have an optional electric tailgate to really up the practicality quota. You have to settle for something a little older and with more miles to get yourself into a 5 Series Touring, but it’ll be worth it.
We found 2006 523i SE Touring, 105,000 miles, £3495
2. Skoda Octavia Estate
This second-generation Skoda Octavia estate features underpinnings shared with the Mk5 Volkswagen Golf, which means it gives you a car with proven Volkswagen technology, but which has a larger Skoda body on top. Granted, the Octavia doesn’t have the nicer interior flourishes of its more expensive sibling and lacks some of the upmarket plastics, but we reckon the vast boot and generous interior space it does provide more than make up for that.
We found 2010 2.0 TDI Elegance, 101,000 miles, £4995
1. Ford Mondeo Estate
The Ford Mondeo has become a common sight on Britain’s roads, and with good reason – it’s comfortable, delightful to drive, well equipped and superb value for money. The Estate version only adds to the Mondeo’s impressive set of talents, even if outright load capacity has been sacrificed a little for the handsome looks of this generation. And the best news is that the extension work didn’t come at the expense of handling, which is just as good as the standard hatchback’s.
We found 2008 1.8 TDCi Zetec, 87,000 miles, £4495
And the estate cars to avoid…
A rough engine with high fuel consumption and emissions in relation to rivals means that while the Lacetti is reasonably cheap to buy, it isn’t cheap to run. This would be fine, if it didn’t have plenty of other shortcomings. Best buy any of the other estates in this list.
Fiat Stilo Multiwagon
The Stilo Multiwagon is pretty cheap on the used market, but that’s for a reason – it’s bland, flimsy and pretty mediocre to drive. Its cheapness also opens it up to those who buy one simply to run into the ground – and with this model’s reliability problems, that might not take long.