Top 10 best large MPVs 2021
If you want to transport seven people as easily and as comfortably as possible, where better to start than with our rundown of the 10 best large MPVs.
Fashions come and go and what’s hot today might be forgotten tomorrow. A few years ago, this looked to be the case with the humble Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV), also known as the ‘people carrier’. For over a decade, MPVs like the Renault Espace were the default way to carry a family that needed a little extra versatility. Today, however, it seems many would rather choose anSUV as their practical family car.
When you take off the rose-tinted spectacles, however, some SUVs can prove to be quite expensive to buy and run. That’s why the MPV is experiencing something of a renaissance. Fuel efficiency has never been more important than it is today and engines have been developed to use less fuel and emit fewer CO2 emissions, cutting daily running costs to levels that many SUVs can’t match.
Buyers have also realised that the shape of an SUV somewhat compromises its ability to carry groups of people around with ease – the third row of seats is often inconvenient to access and some can struggle with climbing up into the car. There’s a greater variety of models with space for five or more occupants than ever before and many cars on this list have seven seats. Some of them even boast three ISOFIX points, too, enabling three child seats to be secured across the second row.
Designers and car manufacturers realise there’s more to a successful MPV than practicality alone, though. The best have a whole host of attractions, from luxury interiors through to sleek exterior styling and, above all, an enjoyable and safe driving experience.
Read on for our top 10 favourite large MPVs on the market today.
Among all MPVs, the space-age Grand C4 SpaceTourer is probably truest to the original concept of a big yet stylish body with three rows of seats that can be arranged in various configurations. It earns the top spot in our list thanks in part to its remarkable fuel economy – especially the 128bhp version of the newer 1.5-litre BlueHDi engine, which replaced the 1.6-litre unit. Its low emissions also mean company-car drivers will find it sits in a relatively reasonable Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band.
The Grand C4 SpaceTourer has been facelifted, but its sleek looks were left largely untouched, while some welcome improvements to the standard touchscreen system were introduced. The mid-range Feel model is the one to go for, as this has all-round parking sensors, sat nav, a panoramic sunroof and an upgraded HD infotainment screen.
The Peugeot Rifter is what we would regard as a competent family workhorse. It’s simple, spacious and practical, especially thanks to its rear sliding doors, and comes with a range of economical engines. Though it may not be the most attractive MPV on our list, its price tag certainly has appeal, with prices starting from just over £23,500 for the entry-level Allure in five-seater form.
Buyers can choose from diesel, petrol and electric powertrains. The 108bhp petrol is capable of returning around 45.8mpg and the more powerful version returns a similar figure. The two diesels, meanwhile, offer up to 57mpg. The electric e-Rifter is the cheapest to run, with a range of 172 miles and VED exemption but the most expensive to buy. Boot space is impressive, with the Rifter’s van DNA having its effect: in five-seat guise, the standard Rifter has a large 775-litre boot. Choose the long-wheelbase version and this increases to a huge 1,050 litres.
The Volkswagen Touran isn’t a flashy MPV, instead relying on its spacious boxy shape, seven seats and line-up of economical engines to lure customers. With the entry-level S costing more than £28,000, it is one of the more expensive options, though this is reflected in the high-quality cabin with soft-touch materials and neat design features.
One thing the Touran has heaps of is space. Its high roofline means even tall six-foot passengers can be comfy in the rear seats. Volkswagen claims there are 37 storage compartments throughout the cabin and the glovebox is usefully big too. If you opt for a high-spec model, you can even have fold-out tables behind the seats, much like in an aeroplane. With all seven seats in place, the Touran has 137-lite boot, increasing to 1,857 with the rear seats folded.
The VW Sharan is at a slight disadvantage on account of being one of the more expensive cars to buy on this list. Its relatively high price asde, it has a long list of virtues, with excellent build quality, low running costs and a seven-seat interior. It does suffer a few flaws, though – deploying the third row of seats doesn’t exactly endow the sixth and seventh occupants with tonnes of space and it severely reduces luggage capacity, too.
We think it’s fair to say the Sharan isn’t exactly the most memorable car to look at, either. On the plus side, it wears the classy and desirable VW badge on its nose, and for many that will make all the difference. SE trim is the pick of the range, as this includes alloy wheels, folding picnic tables, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and a leather steering wheel. Like many MPVs, the Sharan is most relaxing to drive when fitted with a diesel engine and the 148bhp 2.0-litre is the best of the bunch.
For families who want all the practicality a Peugeot, Citroen or even Volkswagen can offer, but with added refinement and a premium badge, the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer is an attractive alternative to mainstream models.
It’s available with petrol and diesel engines, which aren’t the most economical on our list but score better marks in terms of performance. We’d choose the smoother and more economical 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel option, which can return up to 54mpg. With all seven seats in use, the Gran Tourer has a 145-litre boot space, which is more than what the Volkswagen Touran offers. With the rearmost seats folded, this figure increases to 560 litres.
It’s one of the only van-based MPVs on this list, but it happens to be one of the best of its kind. The Ford Tourneo is also one of the safest, receiving a full five-star rating from Euro NCAP. The Tourneo Connect’s proportions make it one of the most spacious MPVs you can buy; if you need even more space, there’s even a long-wheelbase option.
It’s not as van-like to drive as you’d expect, as it shares much of its underpinnings with the Ford Focus. There’s a good selection of petrol and diesel engines, the pick of which is the 118bhp 1.5-litre diesel EcoBoost, which returns 51.4mpg on average and gets a sixth gear for more refined motorway cruising. Despite being so generously sized, the Tourneo is actually cheaper than many of Ford’s own ‘proper’ MPVs, making it the perfect choice for a large family on a budget.
The Galaxy shares its underpinnings with the S-MAX and itself offers a pretty decent drive, helped by a similar choice of economical, powerful engines. It’s taller, though, and all three rows of seats are adult-sized. Alternatively, you can easily fold them all away to turn the Galaxy into a stylish and comfortable van. Alongside its popularity with families, the Galaxy has found success in the VIP transport market, with top-of-the range versions cosseting customers with a long list of standard equipment.
The Galaxy’s engine range consists of two diesels: the best-selling 148bhp 2.0-litre EcoBlue or the more powerful 187bhp version of the same engine. The former can be had with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox whereas the latter is automatic only. The range-topping model can also be specced with four-wheel drive. The Galaxy is available in two trim levels: Zetec and Titanium. The entry-level is impressively well-specced, so we’d only suggest opting for the range-topping Titanium if you want features such as sat nav, keyless entry and tinted windows.
The Mercedes V-Class is a relative of the Vito van, but you wouldn’t know it from inside. In fact, it’s more like the luxury transport you’d expect to see a pop star or chart-topping rock band pile out of at Wembley arena. It certainly has a VIP price tag, with the entry-level Sport model costing just over £58,000.. The Extra Long version can seat eight adults in comfort, with every seat upholstered in leather trim. Of course, all the doors open electrically, and the driver should also appreciate a 360-degree bird’s-eye camera to help negotiate any car park or urban manoeuvre.
Despite its high price, the V-Class is offered with two modest 2.0-litre diesel engines. The range-topping V 300 d produces 236bhp and makes the car surprisingly quick for an MPV, while still returning around 47.9mpg with emissions of 154g/km of CO2. This makes the latest V-Class 13% more economical than the old model with the 2.1-litre diesel. Its £40,000-plus price tag means VED (road tax) costs £475 in years two to six, owing to a government surcharge for more expensive cars.
Ford MPVs have always been among the most fun MPVs to drive and the S-MAX is the closest you’ll find to being a driver’s car, thanks to its well-developed chassis (shared with the Ford Mondeo). It has a rather sporty character and sits a little lower than some; trading a bit of interior space for its racy demeanour. The third row of seats is tight and only really suited to the youngest of occupants, but if you do away with those, the car becomes a capable load carrier, and one in which you won’t be bored on every trip.
The S-MAX doesn’t have as efficient an engine range as the Grand C4 SpaceTourer, but what it lacks in economy it makes up for in driver enjoyment. Go for the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine if you’re after a decent balance of power and fuel consumption, or the 187bhp version for more punch. When connected to a manual gearbox, the former returns around 47mpg, while the latter manages an average of 43mpg.. In terms of trim, the top-spec Vignale model is well finished but unnecessarily expensive, so choose Titanium or Titanium Sport.
The Citroen Berlingo is now in its third generation, having pioneered the offering of a small van-based family-friendly car in 1996. While retaining its practical and economical attributes, you’ll notice that the Berlingo is one of the more stylish cars on the list, having borrowed design cues from the brand’s SUV range. It actually shares its mechanical parts with the Peugeot Rifter listed above and its main reason to exist is as a cheap-to-run alternative to more expensive SUVs and crossovers. Even the entry-level M model boasts a 775-lite boot in five-seater mode.
The Berlingo is actually powered by the same engines found in the brands superminis. The 1.2-litre petrol returns up to 45.8mpg and emits 146g/km of CO2. This is an ideal choice if you do mostly short journeys but if you regularly do longer trips, the BlueHDi 100 model manages just over 57mpg. Despite its price, it features a relatively upmarket cabin with an eight-inch inforntainemt touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
Check out our guides to the Top 10 most economical family cars and the Top 10 best large SUVs.
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