Best people carriers and MPVs

Last updated: Jun 25, 2014

MPVs and people carriers are excellent cars to go for if you have a large family or want a flexible interior. Most offer extra seats, which can be arranged in a variety of different ways, have plenty of storage space throughout the cabin, while the latest models offer sliding doors, and interiors devoid of C-Pillars (in-between the front and rear doors) for excellent access.

Being an excellent MPV is just part of the story and to get on our top 10 list cars need to offer value for money, cheap running costs, useable performance, decent reliability, and appealing looks. Just because you’re going for an MPV doesn’t mean you should settle for a car that's not fun to drive, so our list includes models such as the excellent Ford S-MAX.

We have 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, so keep reading for our guide to the UK top 10 MPVs.

SEAT Alhambra MPV

The SEAT Alhambra may have uncompromisingly boxy looks, but they pay off when it comes to carrying people and their luggage. While some MPVs make you choose between the two, the SEAT offers 276 litres of luggage space even with all the seats in use. The SEAT also gets sliding rear doors, which offer excellent access to the rear seats, and they can also be opened even when the car is in a tight parking space. The diesel engines make the best options, because they do a better job of moving the big MPV, while also returning strong economy figures. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£25,630 - £33,810

Ford B-MAX mini MPV

The Ford B-MAX comes from the other end of the MPV scale from the SEAT, it only offers five seats, but nonetheless is extremely practical thanks to its sliding rear doors and pillar-less interior, which means the Ford offers unrivalled access to its interior. Boot space with the rear seats up is a useful 318 litres, but that jumps to 1,386 with them down. The Ford B-MAX is based on the Ford Fiesta and it gets that car’s cute looks – albeit on a more upright body – and excellent handling characteristics, which mean the B-MAX is surprisingly fun to drive. Read more.

Key points

4.6 / 5
Price 
£12,995 - £19,095

Renault Grand Scenic MPV

The Renault Grand Scenic comes from the manufacturer that arguably built the world’s first MPV in the form of the Renault Espace, so you can expect the scenic to be good. It has seven-seats, and offers a huge 2,063 litres of boot space with the third row of seats removed, although it would be more handy if they folded into the floor. As with most modern cars nowadays, the Renault gets five stars for safety from Euro NCAP, while the most economical diesel can get 68.9mpg and emissions as low as 105g/km for £20 annual road tax. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£20,585 - £24,115

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

If you want the practicality of an MPV, but without the drab looks, then the Citroen Grand Picasso is a strong contender. Its small headlights and panoramic windscreen make it look like its been beamed down from another planet. Thankfully, its made right here on planet earth, although the most economical version boasts economy figures and emissions – of 74.3mpg and 98g/km – that could well be from another planet. The Citroen is hugely practical inside, but Citroen knows this car’s primarily for carrying families and has set it up to be comfortable rather than fun to drive. Read more.

Key points

4.4 / 5
Price 
£19,205 - £27,855

Ford Grand C-MAX MPV

Compared to the Citroen, the Ford C-MAX looks boring, although it does have practical sliding rear doors. The MPV’s a seven-seater, but with all the seats occupied there’s a meagre 115 litres of boot space. All but the rearmost seats have plenty of boot space, and Ford also offers the C-MAX with a good range of engines. As with any Ford, though, it’s the driving experience that really makes the C-MAX standout out thanks to its balance of fun handling and comfortable suspension. The car’s interior is also free from wind and road noise. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£19,745 - £27,000

Ford Galaxy MPV

Just like the Ford B-MAX and the Ford C-MAX, the Ford Galaxy is excellent fun to drive and also comfortable to travel long distances in. Unlike some seven-seaters, the Galaxy’s extra pair of seats are fine for adults to sit on and, even when the Galaxy is full to capacity, there’s still a 308-litre boot. Drop all the seats and that jumps to 2,325 litres, which means your Galaxy can also double as a light removals van if need be, although Ford’s super efficient diesel engines mean the Galaxy will be much cheaper to run. Read more.

Key points

3.9 / 5
Price 
£25,670 - £34,335

Kia Carens MPV

After Kia showed us what it can do with a normal hatchback, it’s no surprise to us that the Kia Carens has turned out to be an excellent MPV. And, as with every other car in the range, it gets the firm’s excellent seven-year warranty. The Kia may be a seven-seater by name, but the spare pair of seats are really only suitable for children. The car does get added flexibility however, with the middle row of seats being able to slide forwards and backwards for more or less legroom. Kia chose to make the Carens a comfortable car to travel in, but the downside is that it’s not much fun to drive. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£17,995 - £25,050

Volkswagen Sharan MPV

The Volkswagen Sharon shares many of its parts with the SEAT Alhambra, but in time honoured Volkswagen fashion it gets some classier touches to elevate it from the cheaper SEAT. We’d rather save the money and go for the SEAT, however. Opt for the Volkswagen and you won’t be disappointed, though. As with the Alhambra, the Sharon has 375 litres of boot space even with all the seats up, so there’s no need to choose between people and luggage. The VW also has a Read more.

Key points

4.0 / 5
Price 
£25,060 - £34,530

Ford S-MAX MPV

The Ford S-MAX may be a big and practical MPV, but it is also one of the most fun-to-drive cars here thanks to suspension that combines comfort with little body lean in the corners, although the odd bump does still get transmitted into the cabin. Ford also offers a good range of engines, including economical diesels and a fast 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol – in case you decide to explore the fine handling. The S-MAX is still an MPV at heart, though, so it gets 285 litres of luggage space even with all seven seats up. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£23,310 - £33,085

Fiat 500L MPW MPV

The Fiat 500L attempts to combine the retro looks of the Fiat 500 with a more practical body shape, with mixed results. The cute looks of the standard car are lost, but the interior is much more practical, thanks to a flat floor, 400-litre boot, and rear seats that slide backwards and forwards for more or less boot space. It does, however, lack the practical sliding doors of the Ford B-MAX. The Fiat has a strong range of engines, with the TwinAir petrol being the pick of the bunch, but it isn’t that much fun to drive. Read more.

Key points

3.6 / 5
Price 
£15,840 - £21,030

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