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Best Cars

Best MPVs for 2017

By Martin Pratt

Article 10 of 15

The best MPVs offer comfort, practicality and bags of interior space. These people carriers should also deliver low running costs and long-term reliability.

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MPVs, or multi-purpose vehicles, are the ideal choice for anyone who needs to carry a lot of people and luggage around, making them perfect for larger families (and minicab drivers).

The Renault Espace was the first people carrier to hit the mainstream in the early 1980s, but MPVs are now available in a range of sizes from most of the big brands. Popular models including the Renault Scénic, Citroën Picasso, Ford C-Max and S-Max. There's even a premium offering in the shape of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. 

Below are our top picks for new and used MPVs – Which? Best Buy cars that are truly multi-purpose, as well as reliable and affordable to run.

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Best new MPVs

Price from £18,739
Brand score 76%
Reviewed Sep 2010
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This MPV is as good to drive as most hatchbacks, while still being an effective people and luggage-carrying car.

Price from £19,239
Brand score 73%
Reviewed Jun 2016
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This seven-seater family MPV majors on practicality and space. It's versatile and has proven itself brilliant for those with large families. This latest model drives well, too.

Price from £14,122
Brand score 73%
Reviewed Nov 2010
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

For such a small car, it's immensely practical. Passengers will be comfortable and the boot is huge, despite it seeming to shrink slightly on post-2015 models. Its strong reliability record seals the deal as a Best Buy. We did find that fuel consumption in our more realistic tests was some way off official claims, however.

Best used MPVs

Price from £1,784
Brand score 73%
Reviewed May 2004
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

One of the best seven-seater MPVs on the used car market. The third row seats are best for kids, but still come in very handy, plus it has a large, usable boot.

Price from £5,665
Brand score 72%
Reviewed Jan 2010
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This one is that rare thing: a large and highly practical seven-seat MPV that's also good to drive. It's very comfortable and massively spacious inside, yet doesn't feel too big when you're behind the wheel. It's good-looking for a people carrier, too.

Price from £2,509
Brand score 72%
Reviewed Nov 2004
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

A unique interior layout sets this MPV apart, but despite the unusual arrangement it's still a competent, versatile vehicle, that will take plenty of people and luggage, while remaining easy to drive.

Price from £5,671
Brand score 70%
Reviewed Jun 2010
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This people carrier boasts a versatile cabin, twin sliding doors and decent build quality - plus it gives a sportier driving experience than most MPV rivals, despite being ultra-practical at the same time.

Price from £2,803
Brand score 69%
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Massive interior space is this car's most impressive aspect. You have huge amounts of room for up to seven passengers and their luggage. It's comfortable too, but it's far from sharp to drive. Some engines are weak and the automatic transmission is jerky.

Not seen the car for you? Browse all our MPV reviews

And here are the MPVs to avoid

MPVs are designed to be versatile, spacious family cars. There should be plenty of space for the biggest and smallest family members, with room in the boot for a fortnightly food shop. The image of MPVs as the perfect family drive makes it all the more alarming that some are woefully unsafe.

We report on the cars' Euro NCAP safety results. We also consider the safety equipment each car comes with. 

Electronic stability control (ESC) is all but essential for keeping high-ride cars stable while cornering. MPVs that don't have ESC can be tricky to manoeuvre in emergency situations. This means you’ll need to work harder to keep the car in lane, and any last-minute turns could result in skidding and complete loss of control. We’ve tested models where ESC is optional, or not available at all, and you’ll find most of those cars among the models we’d recommend you steer clear off.

Chances are you and your family will be spending a fair amount of time in your MPV, which is why we look at how much comfort and space you get in every seat in the vehicle. We use dummies to measure the exact head and legroom so, if your kids have shot up over the last few months, you know they won’t be hunched in the back. 

We’ve found cars that compromise on quality and comfort. These have drab, poorly thought-out interiors that aren’t going to keep anyone happy during a long drive.

Below are the cars whose poor safety records, dull interiors or poor reliability ratings put them bottom of the heap when it comes to new or used MPVs.

MPVs to avoid

Price from £13,588
Brand score 45%
Reviewed Mar 2010
Don't buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Seat comfort:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Seat space:
5 out of 5
Boot space:
5 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

It's certainly a lot better than the old model, with much improved build quality and better road manners. But it's a Which? Don’t Buy as it performed poorly in crash tests and lacks the latest safety technology.

Price from £3,036
Brand score 45%
Reviewed Mar 2009
Don't buy
Driving stability:
1 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Seat space:
5 out of 5
Boot space:
5 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

It may be practical, but we can't recommend it because of its below-par Euro NCAP rating – it only scored three stars out of five. The lack of electronic stability control (ESC) in the launch version meant that it flipped over during our stability test, and it still has little useful safety kit. Neither does it hide its van-based nature well.

Price from £13,914
Brand score 45%
Reviewed Jun 2008
Don't buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Seat space:
4 out of 5
Boot space:
5 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

This is a popular car thanks to its practicality, but the cabin is uninspiring cabin and the safety rating sub-par. Side and curtain airbags are optional, rather than standard. Earlier models didn’t have stability control - which is all but essential in tall van-like MPVs. It all feels dated, with its underpowered heater and a cabin that does a poor job of blocking engine and wind noise. It’s an MPV in dire need of an upgrade.

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