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Best Cars

Best MPVs for 2018

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.

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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.

Which? members can log in to see the MPVs we recommend. If you're not already a member, join Which? to unlock our best MPVs and all of our expert impartial reviews.

Best new MPVs

Price from £14,588
Which? score 73%
Reviewed Nov 2010
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
5 out of 55 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.

Price from £24,787
Which? score 73%
Reviewed Jun 2016
Driving stability:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This really is the complete MPV package, with space for seven adults, a comfortable ride and plenty of technology to keep you relaxed and safe. It's our highest scoring MPV, but is denied Best Buy status due to high emissions.

Price from £25,797
Which? score 71%
Reviewed Nov 2015
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Hybrid technology makes this seven-seater and quiet around town. There's plenty of space too, but it doesn't like to be hurried around corners.

Price from £25,517
Which? score 68%
Reviewed Nov 2010
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This full-size MPV is immensely practical. It also feels built to last, with excellent construction quality. The engine range is frugal, too, but lower powered models can feel sluggish. It's also somewhat van-like to drive.

Price from £29,829
Which? score 67%
Reviewed Jul 2017
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 53 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

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

Price from £5,261
Which? score 77%
Reviewed Mar 2009
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
5 out of 55 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Robust and dependable, but a little short on space for those in the third row of seats. Thankfully this model's levels of equipment and safety make it a Best Buy.

Price from £3,236
Which? score 70%
Reviewed Jun 2006
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

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.

Price from £3,142
Which? score 69%
Reviewed Apr 2009
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

A strong engine range, high levels of comfort, and - crucially - excellent crash safety credentials, make this seven-seat model very easy to recommend. High exhaust emissions in our tests prevent it being a Best Buy, though.

Price from £3,490
Which? score 68%
Reviewed Jun 2006
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
3 out of 53 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Proving you needn't give up on driving pleasure just because you need seven seats, this popular model is amongst the best MPVs to drive. Passengers won't be short-changed either, as it's got a comfortable ride and a spacious cabin, too.

Price from £6,716
Which? score 65%
Reviewed Sep 2012
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

A unique door layout makes getting in and out of this compact MPV very easy. It's got a huge boot, despite its relatively compact dimensions, and comes with a decent range of engines.

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 £750
Which? score 45%
Reviewed Jan 2000
Driving stability:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Seat space:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Boot space:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

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.

Price from £750
Which? score 45%
Reviewed Jul 1995
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Seat comfort:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Seat space:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Boot space:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

This large people carrier was once a serious contender in the MPV class, and has the benefit of seven seats. However, this generation is now too outdated to be worthy of consideration. It's three-star Euro NCAP safety rating is particularly worrying.

Price from £20,124
Which? score 45%
Reviewed Sep 2010
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Seat comfort:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Seat space:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Boot space:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

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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