Top 10 best people carriers and MPVs 2023
Practical, spacious and well-equipped, these are the best MPVs you can buy in the UK right now
Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPVs) continue to come in different sizes, with plenty offering up to seven seats, multiple ISOFIX points and much more space than a similarly sized hatchback. The biggest MPVs in the UK even offer eight or more seats. Our list covers a range of sizes and manufacturers from the upmarket and electric Volkswagen ID. Buzz people carrier to the great-value Dacia Jogger MPV.
Many customers are moving towards SUVs, such as the Volvo XC90, instead of large MPVs for their people-carrying needs, but people carriers are often even more versatile, with more rear space and flexible seating layouts. Check out our guide to the best large SUVs if you’re happy to sacrifice a little practicality for some extra style and go-anywhere ability.
EVs are increasing in number each day, and you can now have a large MPV from several different manufacturers that run purely on electricity. For those not quite ready to change to fully electric, there are still efficient petrol and diesel options in our list, and some plug-in hybrids too.
Practical, spacious and well-equipped, these are the best MPVs you can buy right now…You can also scroll down to the bottom of our list to read about the history of people carriers in the UK.
While MPVs tend to be rather expensive due to their large size, the seven-seat Dacia Jogger breaks this trend with a starting price of just over £18,000. It’s the brand’s largest model, which shares several parts and engines with the latest Renault Clio. While entry-level trims are sparsely equipped, stepping up to the Extreme SE trim adds luxuries like heated seats, a reversing camera and a touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav.
Unlike some rivals, the Jogger’s third row is large enough to accommodate two adults, and it boasts 213 litres of boot space with all seven seats in place, increasing to 699 litres with five seats, and a vast 2,085 litres with both rear rows of seats removed. However, it’s worth noting there are only two ISOFIX points across the middle row.
Dacia has tuned the Jogger’s suspension strictly for comfort, and it deals very well with rough road surfaces, but the car’s tall stance does mean there is a fair amount of body lean in the corners. Power comes from a turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine producing 108bhp, which provides nippy performance, managing 0-62mph in just over 11 seconds. Officially, this engine can return up to 49.6mpg, meaning the Jogger won’t cost the earth to run.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Volkswagen Multivan is electric, given its futuristic-looking and smooth front end. Company car buyers or business users have the option of a plug-in hybrid with low BiK (Benefit in Kind) but also a great overall range for tackling a full day of driving when needed. Private buyers looking for decent fuel economy may be best served by the recently introduced diesel engine, as the eHybrid is a good chunk more expensive than the rest of the engine lineup.
The Multivan replaced the Volkswagen Caravelle, and its base-spec Life version could replace the Volkswagen Transporter Shuttle too. Life includes alloy wheels and USB chargers, while Style and Energetic trims add more equipment; the latter even includes a 10-inch sat-nav display and a backlit grille.
As you’d expect, the Multivan is brilliantly practical, with up to 4,000 litres of luggage space and flexible seating and tables. It’s why you’d choose something like this over a similarly priced seven-seat SUV such as the Kia Sorento, but it will be expensive for many buyers, and those after bolder styling may be attracted to the electric Volkswagen ID. Buzz LWB instead.
Citroen has long been a front-running competitor in the MPV market, particularly appealing to families looking for a relatively affordable solution. The latest Berlingo took a leap towards the future; previously offered only with a fully electric powertrain and a range of up to 174 miles, in early 2023 Citroen announced that petrol and diesel engines would return. This broadened its appeal for buyers of all budgets and requirements, including those who need to tow a trailer or caravan. Both 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesels are available, with power outputs up to 128bhp and fuel economy in the ballpark of 50mpg.
Its designers have worked to further separate the feel of the Berlingo from the van on which it is based, both with a stylish reworking of the exterior and upgrades to the interior to make it feel much more modern.
With the e-Berlingo, Citroen also kept comfort near the top of the priority list. That means a hushed ride for passengers and controllable and predictive handling for the driver, while the electric motor emits just a faint whine under acceleration. Competitive 100kW rapid charging can replenish the battery from 10-80% in half an hour for those longer drives.
The ID. Buzz steps in where the classic VW Type 2 Microbus left off with funky retro styling and space for the family, the dog, and all your luggage. As standard, you get sliding doors for easy access, a reversing camera, and creature comforts like a heated steering wheel and a 10-inch infotainment screen.
Families hoping to make an environmentally conscious decision with their next car won’t only benefit from zero tailpipe emissions. The seat upholstery in the ID. Buzz is made from 90% recycled plastic bottles, including 10% waste plastic collected from the ocean. It’s also apparently delivered with a carbon-neutral footprint from its factory in Hannover, Germany with materials of non-animal origin.
A 250-mile range and charging times as low as 30 minutes from 5-80% should mean the ID. Buzz is versatile enough for most families. All this does come at a price though: the cheapest model starts from around £58,000.
The even more family-friendly ID. Buzz LWB version that’s inbound for 2024 is likely to cost over £60k, but promises to be a great MPV for those who can afford one. With a 250mm increase in length, there’s a third row of seats, and the option to buy either a six or seven-seat layout. A bigger 82kWh and more powerful motor will also boost its driving range and performance.
If you need a vehicle that can carry lots of people and still has storage room then the e-Spacetourer from Citroen – or the mechanically identical Peugeot e-Traveller or Vauxhall Vivaro-e Life – are well worth a look. These vehicles can carry up to nine people and are available in extra-long ‘XL’ bodystyles for those in need of even more space. Headroom and shoulder room are excellent so even taller passengers should be able to get comfortable.
Although the e-Spacetourer is based on a van, the driving experience is similar to a larger car, partly thanks to the suspension being reworked for the passenger variant. The robustness of the van remains, though, and the e-Spacetourer feels like it will wear well even with the rigours of family use.
Despite its big size, the MPV’s height of 1.9 metres means it can fit in the same car parks as big SUVs, while sliding side doors should make it easier for rear occupants to get in and out. There are neat touches like an opening tailgate window too, so you can throw in smaller items without having to open the large hatchback. A split panoramic sunroof also brightens the interior for passengers.
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is one of the few premium-badged MPVs on the market. While it doesn’t offer the same sporty driving experience as the brand’s other models, it is more engaging to drive than a lot of other MPVs. The latest model features a more striking exterior design complete with BMW’s enlarged kidney grilles, giving it a more modern and premium look. There’s also a wide assortment of petrol and diesel engines available, all of which can return between 45-60mpg, alongside a flagship pair of plug-in hybrid models.
With the latter fitted the 2 Series Active Tourer is one of the most economical cars on sale, thanks to an astonishing claimed 470.8mpg economy figure and low emissions sure to appeal to company car choosers. This is possible thanks to the 225e xDrive’s 57-mile electric range, which should be enough to cover off the daily driving of most owners.
On the inside, BMW has given the latest 2 Series Active Tourer a thoroughly updated interior with plenty of high-quality materials and cutting-edge tech. Prices start from over £30,000, and every model gets a long list of standard equipment including LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and a larger 10.7-inch infotainment touchscreen. Practicality is also decent enough for a five-seat MPV, with plenty of rear passenger space and 406 litres of boot space.
A van-based MPV is about the most versatile class of passenger car on sale, and they’ve really come on leaps and bounds in the last few years. One of our favourites is the sharply styled Peugeot e-Rifter, which combines a 4x4-inspired design with a colossal boot and a similarly large amount of headroom.
The interior is light and airy, quiet and reasonably well-equipped, and we like Peugeot’s i-Cockpit digital instrument cluster. Once available with traditional combustion engines, the e-Rifter is now only offered with an electric powertrain featuring just over 170 miles of range. The same goes for the Peugeot's mechanically identical siblings, the Citroen e-Berlingo and the Vauxhall Combo e-Life.
The Mercedes B-Class doesn’t offer the versatility of seven-seat models on this list but you should think of it as a taller, more spacious Mercedes A-Class hatchback. The boot is much bigger than the A-Class’s and rear-seat passengers have more space to stretch out.
It’s a similar proposition to the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, with both cars offering a more premium feel than your average MPV, making them ideal for small families and drivers who only need to carry passengers occasionally. From behind the wheel, the B-Class feels exactly like the A-Class, both in terms of its driving experience and interior technology that’s amongst the best available. We’d recommend the B 200 petrol engine if you’re mainly going to drive around town or the B 200 d if you plan to go farther afield or rack up a high mileage, thanks to its fuel efficiency, with 55.4mpg versus the 46mpg of the petrol.
Like the BMW, the B-Class is also offered with a plug-in hybrid option. Its ultimate economy figure of 235mpg is only half of the BMW’s, but this is largely down to the effect of its shorter 42-mile range on official WLTP tests. So long as you keep its battery topped up when possible, it could prove just as cheap to run.
The Volkswagen Touran is not the most exciting car in terms of appearance or driving flair, but it more than makes up for this in practicality, which really counts here. Despite its relatively compact exterior size – it’s a little longer and wider than a Golf – the Touran has seven seats, although, unlike the pricier Multivan the rearmost seats are only suitable for occasional short journeys; it’s better treated as an extremely spacious five-seater.
Head and legroom are great in the front two rows thanks to the Touran’s boxy shape and tall roofline. With a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, the Touran will protect its occupants well. There’s a wide range of trims and petrol or diesel engines, so choosing your perfect Touran should be a simple affair. It does feel slightly outdated compared with VW’s more recent MPVs, however, both in terms of its interior design and lack of plug-in powertrains.
We can’t think of another company that sells as many seven-seat MPVs as Ford; there are four to choose from if you count the two van-based options, but the Galaxy is the flagship. You’ll need to be quick, however, as both the Galaxy and smaller Ford S-MAX are expected to go out of production sometime in mid-2023. Unlike many MPVs, seven adults can travel in genuine comfort in the Galaxy, with those in the two rear seats not being too cramped.
The Galaxy is better to drive than it needs to be, and the final version in Titanium trim is fitted as standard with a hybrid powertrain capable of 44.1mpg, with CO2 emissions of 148g/km. It gets a five-star safety rating and its reliability makes it popular with private hire and chauffeur firms.
If you don’t need the outright space and headroom of the Galaxy, there’s also the Ford S-MAX which is cheaper and comes with the same hybrid ‘FHEV’ powertrain. It’s a bit more fun to drive, and returns the same economy figure, while coming in a wider range of Titanium, ST-Line and Vignale trims.
Looking for a bargain? Take a look at our guide to the best used 7-seat cars
What’s the history of MPVs in the UK?
In the mid-1980s, when many people opted for a saloon or estate car, a brand new option made its debut. Though uptake was initially slow, people soon realised that the space and practicality offered by MPVs (Multi-Purpose Vehicles) and 7-seater people carriers made them perfect for families. As a result, slowly but surely, cars like the Renault Espace soon became commonplace.
The advantages for passengers were clear to see: a raised roofline, higher seating, huge windows and plenty of interior space meant large amounts of comfort and practicality. Getting in and out was easy and there was a light and airy atmosphere inside. The open space made it easier for parents to keep an eye on children in the back, while the extra all-around space meant plenty of room for all the luggage a family could need.
MPV sales picked up pace in the 1990s as more and more mainstream manufacturers launched their cars into the UK market, including the Ford Galaxy and Vauxhall Zafira. The latter was hugely influential, creating the blueprint for compact seven-seat people carriers with clever seating arrangements. Its ‘Flex7’ seating allowed the third row to fold neatly into the boot floor when not needed – a selling point that saved space and is now shared with a multitude of MPVs and SUVs.
The Vauxhall Zafira lacked the style of modern MPVs like the Renault Scenic, but it pioneered many of the design features of the best people carriers available today. It shared its chassis and engines with the Vauxhall Astra, so it drove like a smaller vehicle and had similar performance and running costs to a hatchback.
Looking for a bargain? Take a look at our guide to the best used 7-seat cars
Top 10 best people carriers and MPVs
Peugeot E-Rifter electric MPV gets 2024 updates but remains as roomy as ever
Top 10 best family cars 2023
Tesla Cybertruck finally delivered: specs, prices and UK availability
Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Best new car deals 2023: this week’s top car offers