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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Its diesel engines are refined and some versions have eight seats

Against Luggage space is poor considering the size of the car and the electric sliding doors aren't fitted to all models

Verdict It's a fine MPV, but Citroen's C8 offers more kit

Go for… 2.0 TD

Avoid… 2.0 Prestigio

Fiat Ulysse MPV
  • 1. Check all the electrics - owners complain that the instruments can misread or fail
  • 2. Most models seat seven, but there was an eight-seater and top-trim cars have six individual captain's chairs
  • 3. Warranty Direct tell us that the front suspension is a weak point
  • 4. Ensure that any necessary recall work was done to stop the airbags going off spontaneously
  • 5. Go for the 2.0-litre turbodiesel - it has useful pulling power and good fuel economy
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Fiat Ulysse MPV full review with expert trade views

The Ulysse's dash has a modern, minimalist design, complete with centrally mounted dials, but it's very much a typical MPV otherwise. Most versions can carry seven, although there was an eight-seater option, and top-of-the-range cars have six individual captain’s chairs. In each model, all but the front pair of seats are removable.

Every model also has sliding rear doors, which are a real help when getting in and out of the back in tight parking spots. However, where the virtually identical Citroen C8 and Peugeot 807 tend to come with these doors electrically operated – useful when your hands are full - these were only a cost option on the Ulysse.

Given the car's size and shape, it's surprisingly refined and good to drive: the ride, which is on the firm side around town, settles nicely at speed; and, while you're always aware of its bulk when tackling corners, the car is reasonably controlled, with only limited body roll.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Average reliability - watch for engine or transmission faults

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

There was a 136bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine, but the two fine turbodiesels - a 109bhp 2.0-litre and a 128bhp 2.2 - make more sense because of their superior fuel economy and smooth power delivery. However, while the extra low-down pulling power of the 2.2 is useful, it costs a fair bit more, so put the 2.0-litre at the top of your shopping list.

The basic Dynamic model has more than enough kit for most people, so we think there's no point in spending any more. Climate control, a CD player and a small fridge for keeping cans of drink cool are all fitted as standard, and the safety kit includes driver, passenger and side airbags for those in the front, and full-length curtain airbags that protect all three rows of seats.

If that really isn't enough, you could step up to Eleganza trim, which brings dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, alloy wheels, reversing sensors and a mirror that lets you keep an eye on the kids in the back, while top-trim Prestigio cars come with leather upholstery and a CD multichanger.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Buyers like them and 2.2 JTD with Eleganza spec most sought after

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Ulysse depreciates quite heavily, making it a tempting second-hand buy, but it didn't sell as well as the near-identical Citroen C8 and Peugeot 807, so used examples are harder to find.

As long as nothing major goes wrong, it should be affordable to maintain. The rates charged by Fiat dealers are on a par with most rival manufacturers, and independent Fiat specialists can undercut them by almost 40%.

Fuel economy is pretty much what you'd expect for this sort of car, with the petrol engine returning 31.0mpg on the combined cycle, the 2.0-litre diesel averaging 40.4 and the 2.2 diesel 38.2mpg.

However, insurance bills are low for a large MPV, with the Dynamic petrol car attracting a group 10 rating and all the other models sitting in group 11.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Average reliability - watch for engine or transmission faults

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Fiat doesn't have the best reliability record, with owners consistently criticising their cars in the annual JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey. It's no surprise, then, that the Ulysse is no more than average in this area.

Claims by Warranty Direct customers show that it can suffer from electrical problems that cause the instruments to misread or fail, and some cars have suffered front suspension failures.

Fiat also issued three recalls on the car, so make sure you check in the service recors that the necessary work has been done. Diesel models built between January 2002 and July 2004 had a problem with the bolts that held their sound deadening guard in place; there was a chance the airbags could go off by mistake on all models built between January 2002 and July 2004 and cars built between August 2003 and July 2004 needed to have their engine management software updated.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Buyers like them and 2.2 JTD with Eleganza spec most sought after

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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