The Best Family Cars: Saloon vs Estate Cars

Make an informed decision when buying your next family car.

Thursday 4th of July 2024 13:00 BST

3.5 minute read

Discover Direct Cars informative guide comparing saloon and estate cars, covering key differences.

Saloon Vs Estate vehicle side-by-side photo

Choosing the right family car can be a challenge, especially when deciding between a saloon and an estate. Both body styles have their own strengths and weaknesses. This guide will help you understand the differences and make an informed choice.

What is a Saloon Car?

A saloon car, also known as a sedan, is a popular body style. It features a three-box design: engine at the front, passenger area in the middle, and cargo space at the rear. Saloon cars like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 are common choices because of their mid size engines & sporty design.

What is an Estate Car?

An estate car, also called a station wagon, is like a saloon car but has more space in the back. People favour this body type for its practicality and increased storage space. Examples include the Skoda Octavia and Toyota Corolla estates.

Pros and Cons of a Saloon


  • Sleek and stylish design.
  • Better fuel economy because of lighter weight.
  • Generally more affordable.
  • Superior driving experience with stable handling.
  • More options for plug-in hybrid and electric powered models.


  • Limited boot space.
  • Less rear seat space for larger families.
  • Lower roofline can make entry and exit slightly difficult.
  • Less versatile for carrying large items.

Pros and Cons of an Estate


  • Larger boot space for luggage and gear.
  • More rear seat space for passengers.
  • Higher roofline offers easier access.
  • Versatile and practical for families and trips.
  • Often available with four wheel drive options.


  • Slightly higher fuel consumption.
  • Can be more expensive than saloons.
  • Bulkier design may not appeal to everyone.
  • Heavier weight can affect driving dynamics.

Which is Better?


Saloon cars have sleek, aerodynamic designs that enhance fuel efficiency and lend a sporty appearance to the vehicle. Estate cars prioritise practicality by featuring an extended rear, offering generous boot space and facilitating easier loading and unloading of items.

Saloons are good for efficiency and style, while families or individuals prefer estates for their storage space and accessibility.


Saloon cars are great for people who want to save on fuel and enjoy a classy driving experience. They are perfect for small families or those who don't need a lot of storage space. On the other hand, estate cars are perfect for families requiring additional space for travel, sports equipment, or pets.

These cars are great for everyday driving and longer trips because they have extra space in the boot and rear seats. This extra space provides comfort and versatility, making the cars ideal for various needs. Whether you're running errands or going on a road trip, these cars offer the space and comfort you need.

Driving Experience:

Saloon cars provide a better driving experience because they are lighter and more responsive on the road. This makes them easier to handle and more stable. Their quick responsiveness also contributes to a more enjoyable driving experience.

Estate cars, although not often as sporty as saloons, offer a comfortable and stable ride. The additional weight of estates provides a grounded sensation that some drivers appreciate. Especially for longer journeys, drivers prefer comfort and stability over sporty handling characteristics.

Fuel Economy:

Saloon cars typically excel because of their lighter weight and streamlined designs. Vehicles such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla saloons are renowned for their impressive fuel efficiency. Making them economical choices for daily use.

Estate cars, while slightly less fuel-efficient because of their larger builds, have made significant advancements in recent years. Modern estate vehicles offer improved fuel efficiency. Particularly with options like plug-in hybrids or electric-powered variants, which further enhance economy and reduce environmental impact.


When choosing between a saloon and an estate, consider your family's needs. If you value style, fuel efficiency, and a sporty drive, a saloon car like the BMW 3 series or Mercedes-Benz C Class might be the right choice. Consider getting an estate car like the Skoda Octavia or Toyota Corolla if you need more space for luggage and passengers.

These types of cars have more room in the back for storing luggage and can comfortably seat more passengers. The Skoda Octavia and Toyota Corolla are good options to consider for their spacious interiors and practicality.

Ultimately, the decision depends on your lifestyle and what you need from your vehicle. Both body styles offer excellent options for families, so you can't go wrong with either choice.

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