Best MPVs and people carriers 2020

Which people carrier is the best buy? There's a wide variety of seven-seaters, as well as smaller MPVs, to choose from. Here we count down the top 10 – and reveal the one to avoid...


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What Car? team

There was a time when all a good MPV needed to do was to provide space for the whole family, and have a big enough fuel tank to cope with long motorway journeys.

Things are a little different now, though. Outright space is still important, but how that space is packaged is even more critical. A new people carrier should offer a versatile interior that can adapt to a raft of scenarios. And if it seats seven, the rear pair should be able to fold flat into the floor.

Our favourite MPVs also provide a comfortable, relaxing environment, plus plenty of safety kit to protect passengers from harm. And, of course, affordable running costs are crucial.

Here we count down the top 10 MPVs on sale right now (and reveal the model that's best avoided). If you want to find out more about any of the cars on the list or see how much we can save you, just click on the relevant link.

10

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

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£24,575

RRP from £26,410 to £41,315

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The Active Tourer was a controversial car when it first went on sale, because it was BMW's first MPV, and the first BMW to feature front-wheel drive rather than the sportier rear-wheel drive setup that the brand has traditionally been associated with. However, in reality it still offers a fine ride and handling balance, while the interior is classy – if not quite as versatile as some of its five-seat rivals'.

Read our review

Pros

  • Plenty of rear space
  • Diesels are cheap to run
  • Good balance of ride and handling
  • High perceived quality

Cons

  • Some rivals are more versatile
  • Tyre roar on coarse surfaces
  • Expensive, especially top-end models
9

Volkswagen Sharan

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£27,906

RRP from £34,230 to £35,595

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With a strong range of diesel engines and composed handling, the Sharan drives more like a saloon car than a full-sized MPV. There's also an excellent driving position and plenty of space for seven people, although the seats are quite heavy to fold up and down.

Read our review

Pros

  • Strong engines
  • Superb space and practicality
  • Upmarket interior quality

Cons

  • Not as good to drive or as comfortable as a Ford Galaxy
  • Pricey to buy next to most MPVs
  • Four-star Euro NCAP rating
8

Seat Alhambra

The Alhambra has all the strengths of the Sharan, but costs less to buy. That was enough to make it our MPV of the Year between 2011 and 2013, and while the Alhambra's huge size can take some getting used to, in return you get near faultless practicality and space for seven adults. It's now on runout, though, so you'll have to be quick.

Read our review

Pros

  • Superb space and practicality
  • Strong engines
  • Good standard equipment

Cons

  • Unrefined diesels
  • Inconsistent ride
7

Ford S-Max

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£27,989

RRP from £31,150 to £41,270

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If you're looking for an MPV that won't cost a lot to run, the Ford S-Max is well worth considering. Like most of the best modern Fords, it's also one of the best-handling cars in its class, combining precise steering with excellent body control. And while the interior isn't as classy as some rivals', it's as practical as you'd expect from a family car.

Read our review

Pros

  • Decent handling
  • Comfortable ride
  • Practical interior

Cons

  • Interior quality could be better
  • Some rivals are cheaper
  • Third-row seats best for children
6

Citroën Grand C4 Spacetourer

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£26,203

RRP from £27,460 to £36,370

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The C4 Spacetourer's seven-seat sister is so good that we named it as our MPV of the Year in 2014 and 2015. Its 1.6-litre diesel engine is smooth and efficient, while the classy, minimalist dashboard and airy interior make it a relaxing place to spend time. Easy-folding seats and generous standard equipment complete a fine all-round package.

Read our review

Pros

  • Spacious and practical interior
  • Excellent visibility
  • Most versions very well equipped

Cons

  • Unsettled ride at low speeds
  • Fiddly touchscreen system
  • Optional EAT6 semi-automatic gearbox is decidedly jerky
5

Vauxhall Combo Life

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£22,125

RRP from £22,125 to £30,500

It might look like a van, but the Combo Life delivers more space per pound than just about any other new car. Both five and seven-seat versions are available, sliding rear doors make it easy to get kids in and out in tight spaces, and this is one of the most comfortable MPVs around.

Read our review

Pros

  • Huge inside
  • Cheaper than most conventional MPVs
  • Comfortable ride

Cons

  • Very low-rent interior
  • Looks like a van
  • Not quite as clever as it is big
4

Peugeot Rifter

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£21,203

RRP from £22,250 to £30,060

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The Rifter is basically a Vauxhall Combo Life wearing Peugeot badges, but it feels slightly classier inside, pushing it one place higher on this list.

Read our review

Pros

  • Tremendous space
  • Lots of practicality
  • Comfy ride

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than the Citroën Berlingo
  • Infotainment system is fiddly
  • Some cheap feeling interior trim
3

Ford Galaxy

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£29,607

RRP from £33,550 to £42,020

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If you need to carry seven people and some luggage as well, there's nothing better than the Ford Galaxy. It's wide enough to comfortably accommodate three adults across its middle row, plus there's enough head and leg room behind for two more six-footers. The Galaxy is also one of the best-handling MPVs out there and has a comfortable ride.

Read our review

Pros

  • Practical seating flexibility with heaps of boot space
  • Handles surprisingly well on the road
  • Quiet on the motorway

Cons

  • Not that well equipped
  • Infotainment system is sluggish
  • Top trim pushes up the price
2

Volkswagen Touran

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£23,229

RRP from £28,905 to £35,495

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Just because you're wearing your sensible trousers when buying a new MPV, it doesn’t mean you have to slum it. Opt for a Volkswagen Touran and you’ll find the same level of plushness that you’d get in a Golf, but with far greater practicality. All five of its rear seats feature Isofix child seat mounting points and enough space for adults. And the Touran drives better than the rival Citroën Grand C4 Spacetourer.

Read our review

Pros

  • Superb space and practicality
  • Tempting PCP finance deals and big discounts
  • Great to drive by MPV standards

Cons

  • There are cheaper and more efficient rivals
  • Ford Galaxy has more third row space
  • Automatic gearbox can be hesitant
1

Citroën Berlingo

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£19,908

RRP from £21,565 to £29,960

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Okay, it's the same as the Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life underneath, but the Berlingo’s keener pricing, better level of standard equipment and slightly plusher feel make it an even better buy. Add in its hugely spacious interior and a ride that’s softer than the Touran’s, and you’ll find the Berlingo a relaxing place in which to cover miles. Put simply, cars don’t get much more practical than this, especially for the money.

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Read our review

Pros

  • Great practicality
  • Flexible 1.2 Puretech 110 petrol engine
  • Excellent value

Cons

  • Fiddly infotainment system
  • Some storage solutions are optional
  • Mainstream MPV rivals are better to drive

And the MPV to avoid...

Ssangyong Turismo
Ssangyong Turismo

If you want lots of space for not a lot of money, then the Turismo can seem tempting. However, we'd urge you to think again, because it's missing key safety equipment, mixes sloppy handling with a jittery ride and the engine is noisy. Read our review

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