SUV vs. Estate Cars: Which Is Right For You?

SUV vs. Estate Cars: Which Is Right For You?

Choosing the right car can be a challenging task, especially when you’re torn between two popular types: SUVs and estate cars. They are two of the most practical and spacious styles available for a family car, but there are significant differences between them. The choice ultimately comes down to your particular lifestyle and driving needs.

In this article, we‘ll guide you through the key differences between SUVs and estate cars, and examine the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision about which one is the best fit for you. See the infographic below for a quick overview or read the full article below to learn more! 

suv vs estate comparison

What is an SUV?

SUVs, or Sports Utility Vehicles, are large, high-riding cars designed to offer a comfortable and spacious ride for passengers. They are available in various sizes from compact to full-size so there’s plenty of choice, even including 7-seater options. 

Originally, the majority of SUVs were four-wheel-drive, but since the early 2010s there has been an increasing trend towards front-wheel-drive SUVs. This is due to two-wheel-drive models being lighter and more fuel-efficient, while still offering higher ground clearance and the big and ‘boxy’ look of a traditional 4x4 that many drivers value. 

Advantages of SUVs

SUVs have several advantages, making them an attractive choice for many drivers. Some of the key benefits include:


SUVs have a generous amount of space for passengers, offering more head and leg room than estate cars. They are also ideal for families with children, as they have ample space for car seats and prams. 

Off-road capabilities

If you enjoy outdoor activities or live in a rural area, an SUV may be the best choice for you. Their high driving position and ground clearance makes them suitable for off-road driving, allowing good visibility and a feeling of security when navigating challenging terrains like mud, gravel and snow.

Towing capacity

SUVs have a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes, which is higher than the towing capacity of estate cars. Therefore, they’re ideal for those who need to tow trailers, boats or caravans.


SUVs are sure to turn heads thanks to their rugged and adventurous appearance. Even if you’re not going to drive them off-road, they’ll give you a sense of thrill when you’re behind the wheel.

Disadvantages of SUVs

Despite the numerous advantages, SUVs also have a few downsides to consider:

Fuel efficiency

SUVs are generally less fuel-efficient than estate cars due to their size and weight. They require more fuel to move, and this can result in higher running costs over time.


Due to their size and weight, SUVs can be challenging to handle in tight spaces. Manoeuvring in an SUV isn’t as easy compared to smaller vehicles due to its bulkiness, and parallel parking may be a challenge even for the most experienced driver.

Weight and bulk

In the city, driving an SUV can be cumbersome. Unless you’re using it to transport five to eight passengers every day, driving such a bulky car can feel like wasted space. Therefore, it's important to consider your lifestyle and surroundings before purchasing an SUV. 

Popular SUV Models 

What is an Estate Car?

Estate cars are essentially a standard hatchback or saloon model with an extended boot. Therefore, they have a longer body than a regular car, providing ample space for passengers and their belongings. Estate cars are available in various sizes, from compact to full-size, and tend to be more affordable than SUVs.

In estate cars, the boot lid opens up at the rear of the vehicle, exactly like in a hatchback, so they’re ideal for loading luggage. The rear seats are also foldable, creating a van-like space that can be very convenient for transporting lots of equipment. 

Advantages of Estate Cars

Estate cars offer several benefits to drivers, including:


Estate cars are more practical than SUVs in many ways. They have a lower loading height, making it easier to transport luggage. They also have a larger cargo area than SUVs, providing more space for bulky items. Estate cars are a popular choice amongst families in particular, because of their combination of comfort and space. 

Fuel efficiency

Estate cars are generally more fuel-efficient than SUVs, making them an ideal choice for those who want to save on fuel costs. 


Estate cars tend to be less expensive than SUVs, making them an attractive choice for budget-conscious buyers. 

Driving experience 

Closer to the ground than an SUV, estate cars offer a more pleasant driving experience. With a lower centre of gravity, the grip on the road is better and offers a more dynamic feel when you’re behind the wheel.

Disadvantages of Estate Cars

While estate cars have many advantages, they also have some downsides to consider:

Limited off-road capabilities

Estate cars are not designed for off-road driving and may struggle to navigate rough terrain. Therefore, they’re better suited to urban environments. 

Lower towing capacity

Estate cars have a lower towing capacity than SUVs, making them less suitable for those who need to tow heavy loads.

Limited headroom

Estate cars may have limited headroom in the rear seats, making them less comfortable for taller passengers.


It’s important to consider that everything you gain in interior space, you lose in exterior size. While modern estate cars feature the latest assisted parking technology (including parking cameras and sensors), parking an estate does require a bit of practice.

Popular Estate Models 

For a detailed analysis of the best estate cars in the UK for 2023, check out our blog.

Which is the right choice for you?

Choosing between an SUV and an estate car ultimately comes down to your lifestyle and driving needs. If you live in a rural area or require the ability to tow heavy loads, an SUV may be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you want a more practical and fuel-efficient car for everyday use, an estate car may be a better fit.

Take into account the following factors before making a decision:


SUVs are generally more expensive than estate cars to buy and run. So if you're looking to keep costs down, an estate or hatchback may be the better choice. Or, you might want to explore different car finance options to make it more affordable.

Driving needs

If you frequently drive on challenging terrains or need to tow heavy loads, an SUV is a better choice.

Space requirements

If you need more space for passengers and their belongings, an estate car might be the better choice for you due to their larger cabin space. 

Fuel efficiency

If you're looking to save on fuel costs, estate cars are generally more fuel-efficient than SUVs, although there are some exceptions depending on the specific models and their engine types. 

SUVs are generally heavier than estate cars due to their larger size and body construction. This means they require more energy to move and therefore consume more fuel. Estate cars are generally designed to be more aerodynamic than SUVs, which reduces air resistance and ultimately improves their fuel efficiency.

SUVs often have larger engines that require more fuel to operate, while estate cars may have smaller engines that are more fuel-efficient. Additionally, SUVs are more likely to have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, which can also reduce fuel efficiency.


SUVs can be more challenging to handle in tight spaces and require more effort to park than estate cars. 

In Summary: SUV Vs Estate

In conclusion, SUVs and estate cars both have their strengths and weaknesses, and it's important to consider your personal requirements when choosing between the two.

Whether you opt for an SUV or an estate car, make sure you test drive different models to find the one that suits you best. With careful consideration and a bit of research, you can find the perfect car to fit your needs and preferences. 

Find your brand new SUV or estate car at Motorfinity today. We offer exclusive discounts to NHS staff, members of the police, the armed forces, teachers and all UK service personnel and carers. Get in touch for more information about our offers.