Luke, it all depends which flavour of estate and budget.
If you have the cash for a super clever 8sp auto Kraut autobahn stormer, then the difference between an auto and a manual maybe minimal. Back on Earth, an Auto will burn more fuel, how much depends on what you buy.
As for autos for recovery? No huge gain IMHO as long as the vehicle is up to the job. I prefer the control that a manual gives, especially with a 4x4.
When the torque converter spools up and begins to turn the wheels, there is little or no additional control. When used in super slippery conditions, this is not helpful. I know this from driving my Auto Disco and manual L200 on ice/snow.
In short, if you're towing a trailer/boat which is well within your car's towing capacity and doing so with a bit of care and consideration, the wear and tear on the car ain't worth worrying about IMV.
Whereas, the reduced MPG of an auto is with you for every mile that the car travels towing or not.
However, if you fancy an auto, get it bought.