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Best MPVs and people carriers to buy this year

The MPV and people carrier sector might not be the most glamorous, but it’s nevertheless vital for those larger families who need a single car that can carry everyone in comfort, along with the masses of luggage that family life often entails.

The multi-purpose vehicle, or MPV, has its roots in the mid-eighties, when the incredibly boxy Renault Espace arrived in Europe, while the Chrysler/Plymouth Voyager launched in the US. The fundamentals of both were to combine the refined, comfy interior of an estate with the boxy shape of a van – creating a highly spacious, highly versatile vehicle.

Like most types of car on sale in the UK, MPVs grew over the years, meaning that the larger models now offer even more space. There are now sub-sectors within the MPV class, with cars such as the Volkswagen Touran being labelled as a compact MPV and models based on commercial vehicles known as van-based MPVs. The MPV models with commercial vehicle origins have evolved markedly over the years from little more than vans with windows and seats bolted in to become a genuine alternative to a purpose-designed MPV, with similar levels of luxury and kit, but arguably even more space for less cash.

Today, the MPV sector is under increasing pressure from the crossover and SUV class – perhaps best evidenced by the new Renault Espace morphing into an SUV. However, large family SUVs still can’t compete against the best MPVs for sheer space, practicality and, in many cases, efficiency.

Below, we’ve selected the 10 best MPVs on sale today, based on our extensive real-world testing of every new car on sale. All of them deliver the versatility that family buyers need, while also offering reasonable running costs. We’ve chosen the best models in a variety of classes, ranging from the conventional five and seven-seat models to the best van-based MPVs, with a variety of petrol, diesel, hybrid and full electric powertrains, so there should be something for everyone.

Best people carriers and MPVs

  1. Dacia Jogger
  2. Volkswagen ID. Buzz
  3. BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer
  4. Volkswagen Touran
  5. Citroen Berlingo
  6. Tesla Model X
  7. Ford S-MAX
  8. Ford Tourneo Connect
  9. Toyota Proace Verso
  10. Mercedes V-Class

1. Dacia Jogger

The Dacia Jogger is quite literally a lot of car for very little money. Not only does the Jogger follow the Romanian brand’s popular approach of simplicity and low cost, but it’s also a bit of an unusual package. The Jogger blends MPV, small SUV and estate car qualities and rolls them all up into one.

There’s up to 1,807 litres of luggage space, it’s surprisingly nimble to drive and there’s seating for up to seven people. This combination has earned the Jogger the prestigious title of our Family Car of the Year – not bad for a model that starts from under £18,000.

Inside, things are kept very simple and functional – an indication of the car’s low prices – but the modern essentials such as air-conditioning, cruise control and smartphone connectivity are all provided as standard. There’s also the choice of either a 1.0-litre petrol engine or a 1.6-litre full-hybrid powertrain. Neither unit is particularly quick, but they should prove adequate both in town and at motorway speeds. The hybrid can also return over 55mpg. 

2. Volkswagen ID. Buzz

The ID. Buzz can be thought of as a modern day interpretation of the legendary Type 2 Kombi, so it’s definitely a head-turner. More importantly, though, it’s also one of Volkswagen’s best all-electric models to date. 

VW has focussed particular attention on maximising the amount of space on offer within the ID. Buzz, all while keeping the large battery pack from being too intrusive. This effort has paid off as there’s plenty of room for five passengers, along with a number of cleverly-designed storage areas. The 77kWh battery should also deliver a range of up to 255 miles, according to the WLTP cycle.

The ID. Buzz handles itself pretty well for a car of its stature, with body roll kept in check by the low centre of gravity. It’s comfortable, with only a small amount of road and wind noise. So only the biggest bumps upset the ride quality.

3. BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer

The 2 Series Gran Tourer marked a lot of firsts for BMW. The brand’s first seven-seat MPV, the first front-wheel-drive BMW, and the first time those with large families could buy a BMW with the head rather than just the heart.

The Gran Tourer is luxuriously trimmed inside, as you’d expect from a premium marque like BMW. Trim levels range from Sport and Luxury to range-topping M Sport and as you might expect, there’s no full-fat 2 Series Gran Tourer M car. All available versions are generously equipped, but options are expensive.

The 2 Series Gran Tourer isn’t the most spacious MPV, but if you want something more premium than the regular offerings, it’s a fine choice.

4. Volkswagen Touran

Volkswagen is one of the few companies to still sell more than one purpose-built MPV. The Touran is smaller than the ID. Buzz and the van-based Multivan, but it is also much cheaper.

The Touran features seating for up to seven people but, due to its compact size, the rearmost seats are probably best for only occasional use. Opt for the Touran’s dedicated SE Family trim level, and this adds extra safety features and sat nav to the mix.

The 2.0-litre TDI diesel has been removed from the Touran powertrain range so now there’s just a 1.5-lite TSI petrol with 148bhp.

5. Citroen e-Berlingo

The Citroen Berlingo has slimmed down its powertrain options and is now a purely-electric van-based MPV with five seats, named e-Berlingo. 

Two versions of the e-Berlingo are available, the Feel and the XTR. You’ll find a spacious 775-litre boot with five seats in place. Perhaps even more impressive are the numerous storage cubbies around the cabin, which on their own provide more litres of storage than some city cars’ boots.

The Berlingo is mechanically identical to the Peugeot e-Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life Electric, and it can reach 170 miles on a single charge.

6. Tesla Model X

Tesla fans may be shocked at the inclusion of the Model X on this list, but it blurs the line between SUV and MPV. After all, the car’s signature ‘Falcon Wing’ doors are included to make it easier to get into the back seats in tight car parks, not just to look outlandish.

Five, six or seven seats are available, with the front and middle rows offering generous amounts of head and legroom. The sloping roofline robs space from the third row (if fitted), so these are best reserved for children or occasional short journeys.

The Tesla is easily the priciest car on this list, but features all the performance and technology that you could want. Acceleration from 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds in the Plaid model is unsurprisingly unmatched by any other car here, yet there’s a maximum 348 miles of range available.

Tesla’s electric powertrains mean the Model X is quiet on the move, while there’s plenty of features to explore in the large infotainment touchscreen – which should keep both adults and kids entertained.

7. Ford S-MAX

The Ford S-MAX is spacious, practical and cheap to run, and while the latest model isn’t the driver’s car the original was, it’s still hugely comfortable and refined on the move.

Gone are the two diesel options so now there’s only a 2.5-litre petrol hybrid model. It’s powerful enough with 187bhp and 200Nm of torque sent to the front wheels. Ford claims it’ll do 43.5mpg with emissions of 147g/km of CO2. 

The 7-seat S-MAX isn’t as roomy as its larger Galaxy sibling, and the rearmost seats are pretty cramped. There’s also precious little boot space when they’re up, but there’s decent room when the car is in five-seat mode.

The handsome S-MAX is offered in three trim levels: Titanium, ST-Line and Vignale. The latter is for those who want a little more luxury, offering all the kit plus extra sound insulation and quilted leather seats – but it comes at a very hefty price. For most buyers the lower trims will make more sense, and every car comes with the essentials.

8. Ford Tourneo Connect

Available in five or seven-seat form, the current Tourneo Connect is a result of Ford and Volkswagen’s new partnership. It shares plenty with the VW Caddy van, in terms of styling and technology. 

There’s a choice of one petrol and two diesel units – all of which are taken from the VW Group. The petrol is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder with 113bhp and 220Nm of torque. Both diesels use a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with either 110bhp or 120bhp. All powertrains come with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic transmission. 

The engines aren’t the only thing to come from VW either. Inside you’ll find plenty of Germanic influence with the 10-inch screen and 10.25-inch drivers display using Volkswagen’s infotainment system. 

Practicality should be easily enough for most families. The short wheelbase model comes with a maximum carrying capacity of 2,600 litres and the long wheelbase ups this to 3,100 litres.

9. Toyota Proace Verso

It may look like a vehicle that your parcels are delivered in, but a van-based MPV like the Toyota Proace Verso is worth a look if you need an awful lot of space or seats from your next car.

Seven-seat versions get two rear-facing seats, like a taxi, while you can have up to nine seats for minibus use or really big families. Fold even a couple of seats down and there is an enormous boot, with up to 4,000 litres on offer if you don’t need to use the space for passengers.

Three diesel engines are available, but the Proace Verso’s bulk means 40mpg will only be achievable on the most economical journeys.

As van designs are often shared between multiple brands, the Proace Verso uses the same underpinnings and most of the same styling as the Citroen SpaceTourer, Vauxhall Vivaro Life and Peugeot Traveller. Just like the smaller Stellantis vans above, all of these vehicles are available with an electric option.

10. Mercedes V-Class

If you would like your family hauler to be a lot more luxurious than everyone else’s, and if you have the money to realise that dream, then the Mercedes V-Class will appeal. Top trim levels are more like a Mercedes S-Class or even a private jet than a van.

It may be more expensive than other van-based MPVs, but Mercedes V-Class buyers have plenty of options to choose from. There’s an electric one called the EQV, and even a camper van conversion called the Marco Polo.

The V 300 d diesel will appeal to buyers not ready to jump to the electric model just yet, as it offers fuel economy and performance that are both surprisingly good for such a large and powerful vehicle.

As is often the case with a van-based MPV, the tailgate is absolutely huge – which may be a pain in tight car parks, especially on the Extra-Long version which is longer than a standard UK parking space.

Now read our list of the best family cars…

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