Best MPVs and people carriers
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...
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. Citroen C4 Spacetourer
The C4 Spacetourer is one of the most versatile five-seat cars around, with a roomy boot and seats that slide and fold independently. Its sleek, uncluttered dashboard is seriously classy, too. Just don't expect the Spacetourer to be particularly fun to drive.
9. Volkswagen Sharan
With a strong range of diesel engines and smooth handling, the Sharan handles 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.
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.
7. Ford S-Max
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.
6. Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer
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.
5. Vauxhall Combo Life
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.
4. Peugeot Rifter
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.
3. Ford Galaxy
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.
2. Volkswagen Touran
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 Citroen C4 Picasso.
1. Citroen Berlingo
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.
And the MPV to avoid...
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.
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