Best people carriers and MPVs

Last updated: Jan 7, 2016

There's no denying the benefits of owning a people carrier or MPV if you have a large family. They’re an invaluable method of family transport thanks to their sheer size and versatile interiors.

MPVs are often purchased out of necessity more than desire, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Car manufacturers have been working harder than ever before to inject some excitement into the class, resulting in funky people carriers like the Fiat 500L MPW and stylish Ford S-MAX. MPVs aren’t just offered by mainstream manufacturers, either – the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is a bit of a departure for the sporty German brand, but it ranks well in this class.

All of the MPVs on this list represent good value, have excellent interior space and feature movable (or removable) rear seats. Some even have sliding doors and no B-pillars for easy access in tight car parks.

However, a spacious and versatile interior is just part of the criteria – to get on our top 10 list, the best MPVs need to offer value for money, useable performance and decent reliability. Low running costs are a key issue, too, so many of the people carriers on this list are fitted with their respective brands’ most efficient engines – such as the BlueHDi diesel in the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso.

We've tried to feature a broad spectrum of models, from the small Ford B-MAX to the mid-sized Kia Carens and full-sized SEAT Alhambra, ensuring we cater to as many needs as possible with this list. Seven seats aren’t quite as important on this list as they are on our dedicated top 10 list for that type of car.

So, if you’re in the market for a spacious, practical and flexible people carrier that's cheap to run, the keep reading for our guide to the UK's top 10 MPVs.

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso MPV

If you're after the practicality and flexibility of an MPV, but don't want the typically dull looks, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso should be top of your list. Its small headlights, massive panoramic windscreen and slick alloy wheel designs make it look like it's beamed down from space. If you choose the BlueHDi diesel engine, the Citroen can return up to a claimed 74.3mpg and emits 98g/km of CO2, so it escapes road tax. It's comfortable to drive and hugely practical inside. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£20,195 - £28,925

Ford Galaxy MPV

This latest generation of the enormous Ford Galaxy MPV is incredibly spacious inside. Not only does it have seven seats, but those seats aren't just meant for children – full-size adults can use them easily and in comfort. The Galaxy has a 300-litre boot with all seven seats in place, which can expand to 2,339 litres if you fold all of the rear seats down. Useful features like power-folding rear seats, a 230v power socket and a powered tailgate only add to the Galaxy's versatility. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£27,045 - £37,545

SEAT Alhambra MPV

The SEAT Alhambra is uncompromisingly boxy, but the trade-off for that is a huge amount of interior space. The 267 litres of luggage space available when all seven seats are in use isn't as much as the Galaxy, but the Alhambra’s sliding rear doors are great for accessing the car in tight parking spots. SEAT’s diesel engines are the best option for the Alhambra, as they all pull well and return good fuel economy. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£24,885 - £36,130

Ford B-MAX mini MPV

The Ford B-MAX is the second of several Ford MPVs on this list. It's miles apart from the Alhambra above, as it's much smaller and only offers five seats. Sliding rear doors and no B-pillars mean the Ford offers unrivalled access to its interior. Boot space is around the same as an average hatchback, at 318 litres, but that jumps to 1,386 litres with the rear seats down. The Ford B-MAX is based on the Ford Fiesta, so it features a similar interior and handling characteristics. Read more.

Key points

4.6 / 5
Price 
£13,295 - £19,545

Ford S-MAX MPV

The latest version of the Ford S-MAX and slightly bigger Ford Galaxy are harder to tell apart than their predecessors. The S-MAX is still a large and practical MPV, but it's one of the most fun-to-drive cars here, thanks to accomplished suspension that controls body lean in tight corners. There’s a wide engine range, including economical diesels and a fast 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol. The S-MAX is still an MPV at heart, though, so it offers a decent amount of boot space even with all seven seats in use. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£25,145 - £36,295

Renault Grand Scenic MPV

The Renault Grand Scenic comes from the manufacturer that arguably built the world's first MPV – the Renault Espace – so it should be good. Equipped with seven seats and a huge 2,063-litre boot with the third-row seats removed, the Grand Scenic is well suited to big family outings. Like most modern family cars, the Grand Scenic scored the maximum five stars for crash safety at Euro NCAP, while its most economical diesel engine can return up to 69mpg fuel economy and costs just £20-a-year to tax. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£22,360 - £24,785

Ford Grand C-MAX MPV

In Ford’s MPV hierarchy, the Grand C-MAX is a step down from the S-MAX. It has useful rear sliding doors for easy access to the rear and its compact dimensions make it easier to park than its larger sister models. It does come with seven seats, but legroom in the third row is limited and the Grand C-MAX can only hold 115 litres of luggage with all seats in place. However, it’s comfortable and surprisingly quiet for such a tall car. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£20,745 - £28,065

Kia Carens MPV

Kia has already proven it can make an impressive hatchback in the shape of the Cee’d, so it’s no surprise to find it can make a good MPV, too. Like any Kia model, the Carens benefits from the brand’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty and very good build quality. It has seven seats, too, but the third row is tight and only really recommended for children. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£18,195 - £27,150

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer MPV

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is BMW’s first front-wheel-drive car and first-ever MPV. It was a controversial move for a brand with the tagline ‘the ultimate driving machine,’ but the Active Tourer is a very good MPV to drive. That’s thanks to sharing some mechanical parts and a peppy 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine with the MINI hatchback. It’s not the most practical MPV here, but if you like the sheen of the BMW badge and value an involving driving experience, the Active Tourer will fit the bill nicely. Read more.

Key points

3.6 / 5
Price 
£23,310 - £34,405

Fiat 500L MPW MPV

The Fiat 500L attempts to blend the retro looks of the 500 hatchback and a much more practical interior, with mixed results. Its bloated design might not appeal to everyone, but the interior has a flat floor, 400 litres of boot space and seven seats. However, the third-row seats are definitely only suitable for children and the small 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel engine feels slow. It’s capable of up to 72mpg, though, and there’s a punchier 1.6-litre diesel for those who need more power. Read more.

Key points

3.6 / 5
Price 
£19,205 - £21,705