Best MPVs for 2019
By Martin Pratt
Article 10 of 16
The best MPVs offer comfort, practicality and bags of interior space. These people carriers should also deliver low running costs and long-term reliability.
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.
Best new MPVs
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.
Plug-in hybrid tech is something of a unique proposition in the MPV market. If you've got the means to charge it and exploit its battery range, then this five-seater could prove very economical. However a conventional petrol or diesel version is likely to better suit most buyers.
Best used MPVs
Masses of passenger space and a flexible interior layout make this popular model a decent people mover. There's not much luggage space with all seven seats in place, and some engines feel sluggish. However, it's good enough to easily be recommended as a Best Buy.
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
A clever three-abreast seating arrangement in the front and a large boot meant this unique model was once a persuasive choice for those looking for a practical family car. Since its launch, though, vehicle safety has moved on to such an extent that it simply can't compare to rival models. Given that this is the sort of car you're likely to be transporting your nearest and dearest in, we'd be particularly concerned about its three star Euro NCAP rating.
When launched, this seven-seat MPV impressed us. Not only was it as spacious and practical as you'd expect, it also offered an engaging driving experience that few rivals could match. However, as safety tests have become more stringent, the C-Max's age is beginning to tell and it's now rated at just three stars for safety. As such we can't recommend it.
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Every car we review is subjected to more than 100 individual tests in a lab, on a test track, and on real roads – and we really clock up the miles, driving around 500 miles in every car we test.
Testing in controlled lab conditions means the results we collect are directly comparable between different cars, helping us determine exactly which models are better and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs
And so you know which cars are likely to prove reliable for years to come, we also gather feedback from thousands of UK car owners through the Which? Car Survey, using it to generate detailed reliability ratings for the cars we test.
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