It's almost a rite of passage that individuals - often in their mid-30s - begrudgingly part ways with their sporty little convertible and instead secure themselves an estate. With their partner, children, pets and seemingly a small army's worth of possessions needing to be shifted, only an estate will do.
So for those weighing up this exact decision, here are some of the best estates out there on the used car market...
Large Estate Cars
Audi A6 Avant
Audis are known for their strong, powerful, long-lasting engines and the A6 Avant is no exception. The Avant offers a smooth ride that can also bring out the power when needed. Plus, coming in at the higher end of the size range, buyers can be certain an A6 Avant will offer the space required for even their most luggage-laden trips.
BMW 5-series Touring
For those struggling to part ways with their sport car, a used BMW 5 series is a great choice where performance is concerned, if not size. About as fun to drive as any estate on the market, BMW has managed to inject a great deal of fun into a car that's also quiet and comfortable in the cabin. Plus, seeing as they've been around a fair few years, there should be plenty on offer and a bargain could be had.
Ford Mondeo Estate
As with most Fords, the big selling point is its lower-than-average costs. Not only does harsh initial depreciation bring down prices significantly from new but this ensures that used Fords are excellent value when purchase from independent dealers. Servicing and repairs should also be relatively cheap for the Mondeo as long as one stays clear of franchises. This isn't to say the Mondeo is a bargain-bin car, however as quality and reliability are both good. In fact, with the estate being similar to drive to the hatchback on which it was based, many drivers swear by theirs.
Whilst the E-Class certainly isn't the cheapest estate on the market, you will definitely get plenty of car for your money. Among the biggest on the forecourt, E-Classes should come with the caveat that if you can't fit something inside, you probably shouldn't be transporting it in the first place. This isn't its only selling point, though, as E-Classes are also leaders in the field when it comes to ride quality.
Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer
Since it emerged from the ashes of the popular Vectra Estate in 2008, the Insignia Sports Tourer has set out its stall as one of the most popular of its class. Not only does it look a lot sleeker than its other competitors, the Insignia offers a real driving experience. All too often, estates feel more like mountains than cars - something which isn't the case here. Some like this, others don't it's just personal preference however a used Vauxhall Insignia Sport Tourer is.
VW Passat Estate
Comparatively, the Passat is one where the driver is protected away from road noises and bumps. More refined than your average vodka, the Passat is a calm, quiet drive that glides along effortlessly whether on motorways or country roads. The ideal alternative, then, for anyone who regards the Insignia with a little disdain.
The V70 has been around for nearly two decades now, which should be all the proof needed of its enduring popularity. Volvo has a long and rich pedigree when it comes to estates, of which the V70 is its crowning glory. Buyers swayed by this enviable market position will be rewarded with a car that is smooth on the motorways and fun around the countryside - although some have complained ride quality decreases with more modern iterations.
Medium Estate Cars
Audi A4 Avant
The A4 Avant is, quite simply, a smaller version of its aforementioned big brother the A6 and at first glance they are quite hard to tell apart. Equally reliable (and arguably more fun to drive, thanks to its compressed dimensions), the A4 is a great solution for those who want a decent-sized car without going all the way into full estate territory. Plus as an added bonus, their superior build quality should take much of the anxiety out of buying any used Audi.
BMW 3 Series Touring
Perhaps the biggest positive to be launched at the 3-Series Touring edition is that it's remarkably similar to the saloon version. BMW's build quality and reliability now almost goes without saying, so drivers instead focus on the other variables. For the 3-Series, it's the ride quality that can still be great fun around the corners. A small estate that drives like a saloon? Little wonder it's so popular.
Ford Focus Estate
Where sheer choice and variety are concerned, you'd be hard pushed to find something that trumps the Focus Estate. Offering Economic, Ecoboost, Edge, Ghia, LX, ST, Titanium and Zetec models - to name but a few - there should be something to suit all needs and budgets. Apart from the sheer variety of used Ford Focus' on offer the car is easier to drive than its size may attest and in eco guise offers amazing mpg making it a great value car.
Skoda Octavia Estate
In the past 15 or so years, Skoda has undergone the type of comeback that would make even Muhammad Ali jealous. Once synonymous with cheap, unattractive cars, Skoda is now immensely popular the world over. This can be put down entirely to the creation of such gems as the Octavia estate. Relatively large in the field of mid-sized estates, the Octavia provides all the room most families would need, as well as the safety rating and reliability to offer real peace of mind. A used Skoda Octavia should definitely be on your list if you are looking for a mid sized estate.
Vauxhall Astra Estate
Another popular car on British roads is the Astra estate, thanks to its compact size fitting the needs of those who don't want to feel like they're driving a bus. One of the cheapest used estates on the market, buyers should also be able to make their money go a while further with an Astra. For this, you'll not only get a comfortable ride, but also a well-constructed cabin that makes good use of the space available.
VW Golf Estate
Whilst the hatchback Golf will go down in history as one of the most loved cars in its field, the same may not be so true of the estate version. That's not to say it's any poorer where quality or design is concerned, just that its popularity never reached the same heights. What this does mean, though, is that a bargain could definitely be had if you are open to the option of a used VW Golf. Not only that, but if you select a smaller than average engine size insurance shouldn't be too costly either.
Just as with the Audi A4, A6 option, Volvo's V50 is an ideal solution for buyers looking at something just a little smaller than the super sized V70 estate but still with a useful size hike over a hatchback. If you're looking to lug half your worldly possessions around on each journey then the V70 might be best, but for everyone else, the V50 is worth considering. As solid, reliable and responsive as its big brother, the V50 is more a large day-to-day car than a fully-fledged carthorse.
If the above 14 cars are anything to go by, the market for used estates is looking rather healthy in 2014. Whether it's a vehicular monolith or a tidy, compact family transporter, there's certainly something for all needs and budgets.
For more information, see our Estate Car Buying Guides: