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Sunday 26 March 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# Driver dilemma
Estate or SUV: Which one is right for you?
Or is there an alternative option?

ESTATES AND SUVs make good choices for family cars for a variety of different reasons.

However, knowing which one is best for you and your motoring needs can be tricky. The best advice is to test drive a variety of makes and models to see which you prefer driving.

However, to help you narrow down your choice and streamline the decision making here are some basics about each body type.


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Estate models are usually based on a saloon or hatchback. They typically have an extended rear end with a rear window the extends to the boot lid. Examples of estate cars are the Audi A6 Avant, Skoda Superb Combi and Volvo V60.

The shape of the rear end gives estates a bigger and boxier load area than most SUVs.

Estates generally have more cabin space too.

As they are usually based on saloons and hatchbacks, estates have a low centre of gravity making them feel quite stable out on the road especially at high speeds when compared to SUVs.

The driving position is also lower down giving a better driving experience and handling.

Estates usually ride smoother than SUVs and are a good option if you suffer from a bad back. A smoother ride will protect your back from jarring lumps and bumps and rough road surfaces. However, the best bet here is to test drive the car over rough roads.

If you need to carry three children across the back seats, estate cars are usually more accommodating width-ways than SUVs and you may be able to get three child seats across the back – or at least two and a booster seat. The Opel Insignia Sports Tourer and previous generation Peugeot 308 SW are good options if you need three ISOFIX points on the rear seats.

There aren’t many downsides to estate cars. They are extremely practical and offer great handling and comfortable rides. Some people just don’t like the look of them, but in my humble option they are some of the best looking cars on the road.


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SUVs are usually stand alone models not based on saloons or hatchbacks. Examples of SUVs are the Mercedes GLE, Kia Sorento and Nissan X-Trail - the latter two, like some SUVs, can be had with seven seats.

SUVs sit a little higher off the ground, with higher door hip points. This can make getting into and out of them easier for people with mobility problems and for picking children up and putting them in and out of child seats.

They often have a raised driving position that can give a good commanding view of the road ahead and improve visibility.

SUVs often have chunkier bodies and a more rugged style which is very trendy and desirable at the moment.

SUVs are taller than estate cars and with the added ground clearance this can make them feel less stable on the road, especially at higher speeds.


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If luggage space, a practical load area or cabin space is your main priority my advice would be to consider an estate.

The same recommendation goes for those looking for a better driving experience and better road handling.

If you have mobility issues or regularly lift small children in and out of car seats then consider an SUV.

If you are worried about resale value, then consider an SUV. You should have no issue selling on an estate car either, but an SUV may sell quicker.

If you want a car with chunky rugged looks and some plastic cladding (why though?) then there is a lot of choice with SUVs.

However, you could also look at some jacked-up estate cars like the Audi A6 Allroad, Mercedes-Benz E-Class All Terrain, Volkswagen Passat Alltrack or any of the Volvo cross country models. These models combine the practicality and road handling of estate cars with the rugged looks of SUVs.

READ: Review – Mercedes brings V6 diesel power to the X-Class pickup >

READ: 5 tips to keep your cool behind the wheel in this hot weather >

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