There’s no shortage of award-winning load carriers in this affordable price bracket
Here’s something you may not have noticed: Christmas is coming. Sorry.
Anyway, apart from this being the season to be merry, it’s also the time when you need to cart dirty trees, long-forgotten relatives and various other bits of Xmas about the place.
This is the time of year, in other words, to be looking at a used estate. Not just for Christmas, but to keep as a year-round tool that will do just about everything a modern family could need doing.
So here’s our list of what we consider to be the best ten used estate cars for under £5000, along with actual examples we’ve found for sale. Have a browse – and don’t forget to keep smiling.
10. Volvo V70
‘Volvo’ and ‘estate’ go together like ‘Christmas’ and ‘cracker’. Even 10-year-old specimens like this one will do a great lugging job. Other cars may have more load capacity but the Volvo’s boot is well shaped. The seats are super comfy and the build quality is very good. Older V70s can be dear to run, but big mileages shouldn’t be a problem.
We found: 2007 2.4D SE, 76,000 miles, £4250
9. Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer
£5k gets you into the newest car on our list, the Astra Tourer. Now, don’t go for an Astra if sharp handling and high style are your proirities, but do if you appreciate value, practicality and ride comfort. Surveys indicate that this is a reliable car, and you’ll get lots of toys to play with in the cabin.
We found: 2013 2.0 CDTi 16v SRI (165) Auto, 81,634 miles, £4757
8. Toyota Avensis estate
Another ‘function over form’ choice, the Avensis is crazy-reliable and well equipped in TR spec with dual-zone climate control, cruise control and sat-nav on a list that’s longer than most cars we’ve picked here. If you’re happy to trade excitement for predictability, an Avensis makes sense.
We found: 2010 2.0 D-4D TR, 85,000 miles, £4790
7. Audi A6 Avant
Cracking looking inside and out, and a good handler especially if you go for a quattro four-wheel drive model. Lots of kit in SE models, lots of bling on S line cars but not such a good ride on their bigger wheels. Avoid the sometimes troublesome CVT transmission cars: stick with manuals and tiptronics.
We found: 2005 2.7 TDI S line manual, 79,500 miles, £4495
6. Volkswagen Passat
Dodgy electronic handbrake apart, this model of Passat estate is a very useful companion, and it’s surprisingly agile too for such a big vehicle. Very comfy seats up front; plenty of space in the back; air con, alloys and a CD player even in entry-level S cars. If you don’t fancy a diesel, petrol options include a V6.
We found: 2008 2.0 TDI Highline, 74,000 miles, £4611
5. Kia Cee’d SW
The name might be out of the ordinary, but the car isn’t. Not quite enough interior quality to top the class, but has a lot of thoughtful details such as a clever tailgate hinge system to keep your head out of harm’s way when loading. It has a five-star NCAP safety rating too.
We found: 2011 1.6 CRDi 3, 57,000 miles, £4812
4. Mazda 6 Estate
Light weight works for and against the Mazda 6 Estate: it helps handling but not refinement. Still, loading is easy through the big boot opening, and the space becomes very large when you fold the rear seats down. Economy and reliability are both decent, and prices are low.
We found: 2009 2.2d SL 185ps, 76,000miles, £3990
3. BMW 5 Series Touring
Few companies blend luxury into estates as well as BMW, and the 5 Series Touring is probably their finest work in that regard. Great rear-drive handling, smooth, punchy engines (petrol and diesel), smart, well-built interiors, they have it all. The Touring model also has self-levelling air suspension at the rear. Newer cars are out of range, but the old ones are excellent.
We found: 2006 523i SE Touring, 105,000 miles, £3495
2. Skoda Octavia Estate
Gen-two Skoda Octavia estates are based on the Mk5 Volkswagen Golf, so you get proven Volkswagen tech with a bigger body. You don’t get the same level of class inside, and the cabin plastics aren’t so nice, but the massive boot and passenger spaces are brilliant compensation.
We found: 2010 2.0 TDI Elegance, 101,000 miles, £4995
1. Ford Mondeo Estate
Anyone who avoids Fords because of the badge is losing out on great cars like the Mondeo Estate. It has the full package of comfort, driving sharpness, equipment and value for money. A little space has been traded for swoopier styling in the Estate, but none of Ford’s fine chassis dynamics have been lost in the conversion.
We found: 2008 1.8 TDCi Zetec, 87,000 miles, £4495