Best MPVs and people carriers of 2013
All of them are family-friendly with comfortable and practical cabins, while also offering a good balance between price, specification and overall running costs.
Most feature flexible seating and clever touches to make transporting the family that much easier.
You'll find something to suit a range of tastes, budgets and requirements, from small MPVs to seven-seat 4x4s.
Topping the list is the Seat Alhambra – our What Car? MPV of the Year for 2013.
Inside, it offers room for seven adults. It has a very smooth ride and is quiet. The Alhambra is also great value. It is almost identical to the Volkswagen Sharan, but is considerably cheaper.
Our favourite is the 2.0 TDI 140 Ecomotive S, which has the best engine in the range and strikes a good balance between price and equipment. A great car for larger families.
Citroen C3 Picasso
The Citroen C3 Picasso has a roomy interior and a big boot. It has a stylish body that is only a little larger than that of a supermini.
It might be a bit more expensive than some rivals, but the running costs are low.
Our pick of the range is the Citroen C3 Picasso 1.4 VTi 95 VTR+.
The Ford Galaxy is more fun to drive than most large MPVs. It is refined, comfortable and well-equipped with seven seats and a roomy and versatile cabin.
The Galaxy is more expensive than its sister S-Max, but is also more practical.
Our pick of the range is the Ford Galaxy 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec, which combines the best engine with the best-value trim.
Ford's other large MPV is the S-Max. Like its Galaxy sibling, it is fun to drive, smooth and has a large cabin. The key difference is the rearmost seats. In the S-Max they are set higher making them less comfortable for adults and they are more fiddly to fold away. Otherwise the S-Max is a practical option at a lower price than the Galaxy.
We would choose the Ford S-Max 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec, which offers strong smooth performance with reasonable running costs, along with all the trim that most buyers require at a reasonable price.
The Nissan Note has a spacious interior that is full of interesting features to make the owner's life with the car that bit easier. The Note is well-built and good to drive with a comfortable ride and sharp steering. It is more expensive than regular five-door superminis, but it offers more practicality.
Our choice is the 1.4-litre petrol Acenta that costs less than the diesel engine and is a good all-rounder. The Note especially suits younger families.
The Peugeot 5008 has a spacious cabin and flexible, user-friendly seating. Refinement and interior quality are both good, the dashboard features some fiddly switches, but overall it is a very easy car to live with.
Our pick of the range is the 1.6 HDi 112 Active for its mix of performance, economy, equipment and affordability.
The Volkswagen Sharan is very similar to our favourite MPV, the Seat Alhambra. The main difference is the price. The Sharan costs over £2,500 more than the Alhambra for the same engine and similar specification. Both cars are roomy and versatile, good to drive and have sliding doors that help getting in and out in tight spaces – very useful considering the size of the cars.
We would go with the 2.0 TDI 140 SE because it comes with the best engine and plenty of standard equipment.
Seven-seater 4x4s offer plenty of room for the family and have go-anywhere ability. Here are a few of our favourites:
The BMW X5 drives extremely well, given that it is a large 4x4. It is agile and refined and the range of engines offers strong performance and good economy. Downsides are that it is expensive and the ride can be a little firm on rough surfaces.
The X5's cabin is a very comfortable place to be, though the rearmost seats are strictly for children.
Our choice is the X5 xDrive30d SE. It looks great, has plenty of equipment and offers a good balance between economy and performance.
Hyundai Santa Fe
The Hyundai Santa Fe is a practical, classy and well-equipped SUV. It is available in two- or four-wheel-drive versions and comes with a 2.2-litre diesel engine that is strong and economical. The Santa Fe is available with five- or seven-seats and comes with plenty of equipment as standard.
We would go for the Santa Fe 4x4 2.2 CRDi Style 4WD 7st. It is reasonably priced and comes with air conditioning, bluetooth, alloy wheels and rear parking sensors.
Land Rover Discovery
The Land Rover Discovery is brilliant on- and off-road. The classy cabin has plenty of room for seven adults and offers excellent versatility. The Discovery can go anywhere and comes with a great specification. The main downside is that the Discovery is an expensive car to run.
We would go for the Discovery 3.0 SDV6 255 XS that comes with leather upholstery, sat-nav and cruise control. All versions come with seven seats and a comfortable, classy cabin.
By Matthew Burrow
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