Which £18,000 family estate car? - awbp
A growing family means we'd like to replace our diesel hatchback with an estate car. With a budget of £18,000 my first thought was an 18 month old V70, but after some research I'm now also considering:

- A 3 year old E280 CDi.
- A 12 month old Honda Accord Touring.
- A 12 month old Mondeo Estate 2.2 TCDi.
- A Mazda6.

I like the Volvo because it's practical, comfortable and stylish (in a Scandinavian way), it's reasonable quick and well equipped, and we can happily fill the boot and drive across Europe every summer. I'm put off however by the huge servicing costs my sister faces with her S60, and the dull driving experience.

Has anyone been through the same buying process recently and have any views on the Volvo or the alternatives? We don't tend to change cars that often, so running costs are more important than depreciation.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - midlifecrisis
Can't comment on your other choices (other than the Mazda 6 is a great looking car).

The Volvo V70 is being withdrawn from our fleet of cars. They have proved very unreliable, very expensive to fix (and they take along time to get fixed). Admittedly they are driven differently than an 'average' driver would use them, but even when taking this into consideration, they haven't done well.

Don't ever consider manoeuvring them in a tight space either, they've got the turning circle of a London bus.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - TheOilBurner
The Volvo V70 is being withdrawn ...

That's the old V70. The OP is referring to an 18mth old example, which will be the all new car.

Still, it does make you think.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - midlifecrisis
That's the old V70. The OP is referring to an 18mth old example which will
be the all new car.
Still it does make you think.

Our Volvo's are 57/08 reg. Can't wait to see the back of them (not that we see that much of them at the moment..they're always in the garage)
Which £18,000 family estate car? - TheOilBurner
Yeah, but Police spec cars often follow a year or so after the end of actual production. The new V70 was introduced on the 07 plate, there's very few old ones even on the 57 reg for the public at least.

Just wondering, the ones on your fleet weren't T5 autos were they? I had an interesting chat with a Volvo sales manager the other day who made it quite clear that this was one Volvo worth steering clear of! He claimed the autobox just couldn't take the power of the engine.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - midlifecrisis
They are T5 autos. But we haven't had a problem with the gearbox. It's aircon, heater matrix, manifolds, electrics amongst other things.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - DP
They are T5 autos. But we haven't had a problem with the gearbox. It's aircon
heater matrix manifolds electrics amongst other things.

I am genuinely shocked to read this. I have an S60 (same car but a saloon) which is coming up on 8 yrs old, and has done 147k. It has had routine servicing and consumables, plus just four non-scheduled replacement parts totalling less than £300, one of which was broken by the servicing dealer rather than failed of its own accord. Oh, and a clutch at 110k.

It's still even on its original battery and exhaust. Unscheduled replacement parts were a pair of front wishbones, an alternator and an upper engine mount.

The only quibble it seems to have is that it likes to have its spark plugs replaced before Volvo's recommended 36,000 mile intervals.

I know police use isn't "standard" as you say, but I wouldn't expect it to have an effect on the items you list above. Has Volvo's quality really dropped to this extent?


Edited by DP on 22/07/2009 at 11:19

Which £18,000 family estate car? - cjehuk
Of your choices I would take the Mondeo - had a 2.0TDCi estate as a hire car earlier this year and did 1000 miles in a week. Very good to drive - nice and responsive, huge boot, reasonably economical (45mpg touring the roads of Scotland) and pretty smooth. Needs more power so the 2.2TDCi should be absolutely fine. It's bigger than the Volvo, it's most likely better equipped than the Volvo, will cost less to service and I personally think it's a pretty smart looking car in the current generation.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - 1066
or you could cheer up mrX and get a nearly new XType estate.
i'd choose the mondeo2.2 tdci.

Which £18,000 family estate car? - Alby Back
My own money ? A low mileage two or three year old last of the line Mondeo Mk111 2.2 diesel and a couple of fandabidozie holidays with the change !

Your money ? A new Mondeo !

Which £18,000 family estate car? - Statistical outlier
Of those I'd say that the Ford or the Honda would be top of my list. Personally I'd spend less and go for an older Honda.

If you are buying at 12 months old, then I think the new Ford is a better car than the older shape Honda (I assume you don't mean the new Accord as it's a lot smaller).

Older (as in old shape Ford), and I'd prefer the Honda, although that may be a dose of snobbery as the Ford is an excellent if bland car.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - Alby Back
Bland ?

Humph !

Which £18,000 family estate car? - Statistical outlier
Perhaps the wrong word? It's a common sight and therefore suffers from familiarity in a way that the Honda doesn't so much.

On the other hand the Honda is a far more 'Marmite' sort of car. I've always liked it, some friends think it's fallen out of the ugly tree hitting a number of branches on the way down. :-).

I remain unconvinced that there is much between them in terms of reliabilty - although statistically the Honda is better, mine has had a certain 'citrus' element to it that I wouldn't have expected. Although to be fair the AA look stunned when they come to get me, so I think I'm unusual.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - daveyjp
I've just swapped an A3 sportback for a Jag X type estate 2.2d auto. Not as frugal as the Audi, but a nicer environment to spend many many miles.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - Graham567
Mazda 6 estate.For your money you could buy a brand new one.Voted best estate in class in a popular car mag recently.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - Statistical outlier
Mazda 6, really nice car, the 2.2 diesel has some serious problems with the particulate filters. Look up in technical, I wouldn't touch with a barge pole.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - Avant
I'd go for a Mondeo or an Octavia. If you prefer an Accord, the petrol models seem impeccably reliable, the diesels less so.

I haven't tried a Mazda 6 - I believe the rear seats fold down in one movement which is useful.

Edited by Avant on 20/07/2009 at 22:02

Which £18,000 family estate car? - barney100
Just bought a V70 d5 and have had Volvo estates in the past. Take it to the main dealersand the service casts will be high and so will be the parts. You need a good inde and parts can be got from Volvo owners club or Swedish and German autoparts at a great saving. The Merc can be be very expensive at a main dealers but a good inde again brings the costs right down. The big thing about the two is that they will give years of service if looked after properly, you seem to want to keep them for a long time and both would fit the bill. Lookon the Volvo owners club high mileage club register and marvel at the miles they can do. I have no experience of the Ford or Honda but maybe other roomers have. Just had the springs done on my CLK 320, the main dealer wanted megabucks but my local inde did the job with genuine parts for £120 less.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - Martin Devon
Just had the springs done on my CLK 320 the main dealer wanted megabucks but my local inde did the job with genuine parts for £120 less.

With the greatest respect £120.00 less than "Megabucks" doesn't sound too much like a good deal?

Which £18,000 family estate car? - Brit_in_Germany
If you can wait, Skoda will be launching an estate version of the Superb sometime in the Autumn. The saloon costs about 17.5 K so I would expect the estate to be in your price range.

Which £18,000 family estate car? - Bagpuss
Of that list it would be the Merc for me, but I would extend your list to include the BMW 5-Series Touring. Miles nicer to drive than anything else that size and the ones on our company fleet cover massive mileages without trouble (usually 530d).
Which £18,000 family estate car? - LikedDrivingOnce
Good shout! Great car for a keen driver who needs space and practicality. Not my cup of tea personally, but I fully recommend your suggestion.

Without much effort, I found one for sale on the net for 17,995 from a franchised dealer. A 530d Auto. 55 Plate, 33,000 miles. Leather, Cruise control etc.

Which £18,000 family estate car? - vs60
Are the V70s really that unreliable?

I own a 2001 S60 with 81k miles and I take it an indy for servicing and, touch wood, I've had nothing in a year and a half save for standard servicing (although it likes to go through bulbs).

Reading through the Volvo forums though, the main dealers do seem to charge a lot for their work.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - boxsterboy
£18,000 will get you a newer than 3 year old E280CDI. I paid £16,500 for my E320CDI estate from a Merc dealer when it was 3 years/55,000 miles old 9 months ago. It's now got nearly 70,000 on the clock. I've been delighted with mine. It's big, comfy and refined, and I can get 40 mpg out of it without trying.

Much bigger all round than the others you are considering, if that is a priority, and some are 7-seaters, although the boot seats are for kids only.

Yes, the early ones had some electrical problems, but they seem to fine from about '04 onwards.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - bazza
No need to spend that much dosh, £12K will see you in a nearly new Mondeo or Avensis. A lot of car for the money and should serve you well.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - grumpyscot
No need to spend that much dosh £12K will see you in a nearly new
Mondeo or Avensis. A lot of car for the money and should serve you well.

Can't disagree with that - I had a Saab 95 Estate before my Avensis Tourer - the boot mat from the Saab fits the Toyota perfectly with no modification at all - so both are same size inside, but about £6k less to buy the Toyota.

IIRC the rear seats in the V70 sits kind of high and tall people find not a lot of headroom.

From all the suggestions so far, most practical is the New Skoda, or for "buy it and forget about it" - the Honda.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - ijws15
You mentioned growing family- if that means three in kiddy seats make sure they will fit, the Honda would only take 2 on the back seat, don't know about the others.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - Happy Blue!
Why do people insist on buying estate cars when they have families. Smaller MPVs are so much more practical. They are a little higher, so it is much easier to belt children into car seats without breaking your back. They ability to remove middle and rear seats makes the cars much more flexible. For £18,000 I would buy a Mazda 5.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - TheOilBurner
We have both now. A whacking great C5 estate and a Zafira. Personally, I prefer the boot shape of the C5, Mrs Oilburner prefers the Zafira. Both have their pluses and minuses, so it's whatever floats your boat really.

One thing about MPVs - the boots can be really high when open so that shorter folk can find it quite difficult to close them! Much easier to park than a long estate car mind...
Which £18,000 family estate car? - Lou_O

I just wanted to add another vote against the Mazda 6 with the diesel engine.

A friend of mine had one and it caused him grief, engine and gearbox problems, he couldn't wait to get shot of it.

Which £18,000 family estate car? - daveyjp
My only experience of an MPV was a Touran - more than capable, but to me I was still sat in a van. I prefer sitting in a car rather than on one.

The lack of a bulkhead between the rear seats and the boot area also meant we were constantly retrieving things which had rolled under the seats. Potentially very dangerous if a bottle rolls and ends up under the brake pedal.

The rear door was very heavy and shot up when opened almost causing an injury the first time we opened it. My wife was also too short and barely strong enough to close it.

One real plus of the X type is an opening tailgate window - I've found I rarely open the boot door.

If I had three children I'd put up with one, but with just one an estate does it for us.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - morellomax
Agreed about the Touran tailgate, it's lethal. In the very short time I spent with one, it nearly broke my nose and jaw.

Also didn't like the Touran's driving position or feel. S-Max is much better for that. Feels as stable at 80 as the Touran did at about 60.

Edited by Dynamic Dave on 21/07/2009 at 22:16

Which £18,000 family estate car? - awbp
Thanks for this. Did you have to drive a hard bargain to get an E320 from a main dealer at that price? I like the idea that I could keep a Volvo or Mercedes forever, but I'm worried I can only afford a reasonably used E-Class.

I've been very interested to hear all the tales of poor Volvo reliability in this thread; are E-Classes any better?

Thanks as well for the suggestion to use specialist independents for the servicing; as we have both Volvo and Mercedes places on our doorstep that's certainly an option to keep running costs down.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - morellomax
The Mondeo is the best of those you mention, but I would then ask: why not go for the S-Max instead ? It's actually shorter than the Mondeo, better visibility especially with the higher driving position allowing you to judge speed and distance better on the motorway, easier to park, more room inside, much more seating flexibility, huge boot with the 3rd row seats folded down. Also much better retained values. Buy for 18k now and sell for 10k in 3 years' time.

I've owned maybe 20-25 cars in the last 10 years, and our S-Max 2.2 diesel is without doubt the best all round family car I've had. Nothing gets close in terms of the balance of practicality, driving enjoyment and value. Find an "X-Pack" version with 18's, leather/alcantara interior and panoramic roof and it also looks smarter inside and out than anything else with 7 seats.

You could get a brand new one for not much above your budget, or get a nearly new one through the Ford Direct scheme. The 2.2 was only available from March 2008 and only in Titanium trim. It's significantly smoother and faster than the 2.0, for a small fuel penalty. Also has a better gearbox and bigger brakes than the 2.0. In most conditions, it's got as much shove as the 2.5 petrol from the Focus ST.

If you haven't driven an MPV much before, it's worth trying to rent an S-Max next time you have a weekend away. Once you get used to the advantages, it's quite difficult to go back to a "normal" car.

Which £18,000 family estate car? - legacylad
Spec B Sports Tourer...if you can afford the depreciation and fuel costs, but the positive side is ( or should be!) excellent reliability and 'adequate' performance.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - awbp
Thanks for the suggestion. Our local Ford dealer gave me the S-Max brochure when we went to look at a Mondeo estate and said "this is what you really want". The fact it's slightly shorter than the Mondeo is attractive as we enjoy on street London parking, and I have read very positive reviews. My initial search on the Ford website suggested however that S-Max's don't seem to depreciate at all and I thought a well specified one may be out of budget. Maybe I need to look again?

As for arguments for and against MPVs in general, my main concern is boot space. Scenic size MPVs all seem to have hatchback sized boots, and Espace size MPVs seem to loose too much space to the rarely used third row of seats. I have rented both Grand Scenics and Grand Espaces, and their longer wheelbase does address the problem, but I'm not sure I'd want to keep a Renault long term.

Do the third row of seats on an S-Max fold into the floor, or do they have the same problem as Espaces? I need to be able to carry big people, small people and all their stuff, and the reason for changing car is really we need more luggage space.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - TheOilBurner
Consider the Zafira. Not as scary to own as a Renault, cheaper than the S-Max. Nice big boot in 5 seat mode, nice and short lengthwise too. 2 rear seats fold flat into the floor.

Just consider engine and gearbox combination carefully.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - boxsterboy
They fold into the floor, which is why there is no spare wheel. Which was a deal-breaker for me.

The S-Max and new Galaxies did surprisingly badly (almost bottom) of the most recent JD Power, if that is of any interest. Other forums have tales of woe with regard to reliability and dealer attitude.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - TheOilBurner
They fold into the floor which is why there is no spare wheel. Which was
a deal-breaker for me.

Eh? You don't mean the Zafira, do you? It definitely has a spare under the car. It does tend to get nicked, but Vauxhall sell a decent security device, for about £30, although I have seen them for as little as £8 on eBay.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - SpamCan61 {P}
>> They fold into the floor which is why there is no spare wheel. Which
>> a deal-breaker for me.
Eh? You don't mean the Zafira do you? It definitely has a spare under the
car. It does tend to get nicked but Vauxhall sell a decent security device for
about £30 although I have seen them for as little as £8 on eBay.

The Zafira B doesn't come with a spare wheel IIRC, a mate has just bought a year old top of the range one and that just has an electric tyre pump sitting in the rear storage compartment. Zafira A certainly has a spare, SWMBO's has the security device which means it take sabout 5 minutes to wind down the tray far enough to get the spare wheel out. I don't think the Zafira could compete with the S-Max for luggage space, the latter seems abigger vehicle all round.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - TheOilBurner
"The Zafira B doesn't come with a spare wheel IIRC"

It seems you're right, it looks like they removed the spare as standard equipment after August 2006.. Ours is registered April 2006 and still has a steel spare underneath.

It looks like a full size spare is an option, so it may be possible to retro-fit this to Zafira Bs that only have the repair kit.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - boxsterboy
Eh? You don't mean the Zafira do you?

No I meant the S-Max.

Many MPVs with seats that fold into the floor have the same problem/feature, depending on your point of view. The Grand Pic has fold-into-floor seats and a spare, except in top Exclusive trim which has air suspension at the rear, which gets in the way of a spare wheel.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - a900ss
To counter the reliablilty of the S-Max, I had a 2007 S-Max for 16 months and did 55,000 miles in it without any mechanical breakdowns. Let's face it, it's running on the same basic chassis as the Volvo V70 and Ford Mondeo, the engines are what are in the Fords and some Volvos as well. I had two minor issues and both were from delivery. The first was that the armrest was not fully tightened when it left the factory (took 5 minutes for the dealer to sort). The other was 'banding' on the heated front windscreen; some elements worked, some didn't. The screen was replaced under warranty.

I really recommend the S-Max, it's a huge car for the money and REALLY practical for children. It's worth remembering that Zafiras/Tourans/Scenics are built upon the Astra/Golf/Megane platforms, whereas the S-Max is upon the larger Volvo V70 and Ford Mondeo platform and it certainly shows in interior space. As already mentioned, the rear most seats fold into the floor. Unlike the Zafira/Scenic/Touran, when the rear most seats are in use, you still have a small usable boot and large cubby hole below the loading area. Certainly big enough for us to put our folded pram in there (Our pram was a Jane Nomad)

It did go through tyres at an alarming rate, circa 15k miles for the fronts but other than that all OK.

I think Ford dealers are as good/bad (delete as appropriate) as the mainstream manufactures. If you want to get better service (MB/BMW/Audi/Etc), you will pay considerably more per hour for it. The typical driver sees their dealer once a year so is it really an issue?

Good Luck
Which £18,000 family estate car? - morellomax
awbp - pop over to www.smaxownersclub.co.uk if you want more advice on the S-Max. For deals on new ones, try "dealdrivers" and "drivethedeal". You can get a brand new top of the range 2.2 Titanium for as low as £18.1k in metallic. £800 of the discount comes from a finance scheme, but you can take a small amount on the finance and/or terminate it early, so it's pretty much free money.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - awbp
Thanks for all the advice. It sounds as if I need to add an S-Max to my shortlist!

In summary, the consensus seems to be:

- Volvos may or may not be reliable, but good ones go on forever.
- I can reduce the running costs of both the Volvo and Mercedes by using local independent garages.
- A 5 series touring is also a great option and would be much more fun to drive, but I can only afford an older one.
- The Mazda looks good but the diesel might be unreliable. I was quite suprised by this as my MX-5 was fantastic, but I must admit it did all start to rattle after only a couple of years.
- The Honda is good but expensive, and the new shape one I was considering might actually be a bit small.
- Small MPVs have small boots.
- Everyone loves the Mondeo even though there are lots of them about.
- Everyone loves the S-Max even more, and I might be able to afford one after all!

Which £18,000 family estate car? - Collos25
Honda a different build class to the rest whatever you do do not get a Jag the depreciation is staggering compared to a merc or honda will be worth less than a mondeo in 2 years in fact the new shape mondeo is a far far superior car to the x type having had all four I have reverted to a merc makes an x type seem like an old banger.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - awbp
That's interesting Andy. Having had all four, can I ask what made you go back to a Mercedes?
Which £18,000 family estate car? - Collos25
It was a toss up between another Honda Accord or a Merc and I came across a C class coupe that took my fancy having run Mercs before I have always been impressed by the smoothness of the autobox and the general driving experience I don't think they can match Hondas build quality having had an Accord 2.2 executive estate but Mercs are so nice to drive.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - Dvb99
Subaru Legacy, you can get a nearly new Diesel for that money
Which £18,000 family estate car? - daveyjp
Agree with the Legacy - I had a lengthy test drive and it's a very capable, well equipped car. No auto with the diesel was the deal breaker for me.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - Collos25
I have looked at Suburu in the past but their lack of agents throughout Europe makes them a no no.
Which £18,000 family estate car? - awbp
I did think of a Subaru but the current Legacy design is quite old now, and the interior quality is very poor. Having said that it's supposed to be a great drive and I would fit in with the farmers when I visit my family in Herefordshire.