Best MPV 2024
A five- or seven-seat SUV might be the fashionable way to transport your family, but if you're after proper practicality and unrivalled flexibility, only an MPV will do. Also known as people carriers, these are the kings of the crèche car park and the stars of the school run.
A good MPV will accommodate five adults in comfort with space for their luggage, while some will have a third row of seats for when you need to carry an extra pair of children (or their grandparents!). Some will even have a pair of sliding doors for extra convenience in tight parking spaces.
Rumours of the MPV's demise have been greatly exaggerated, with electric power giving these dependable people carriers a new lease of life. Still want that fashionable SUV?
The VW Touran is a clever and very practical seven-seat compact MPV. For a car so spacious within, it’s surprisingly compact on the outside, making it easier to drive every day. Nonetheless, there’s a seriously impressive amount of room for all three rows of passengers. They also get plenty of thoughtful features, like an array of cupholders, USB sockets and rear air conditioning vents. SE Family grade has a comprehensive infotainment system with its own smartphone app, while the fuel-efficient 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine offers a choice of manual or DSG automatic gearboxes. The Touran is a compelling alternative to VW’s more popular Tiguan SUV for those who want maximum space and flexibility for the money.
The Ford Galaxy is well known to Londoners due to its popularity as a private hire car. Why do cabbies choose it? Because the Ford is enormous inside, with plenty of space for all three rows. The individually-reclining seats are comfortable and supportive even over long distances. Huge windows give a good view out, combined with an airy feel within, and the Galaxy’s well-developed chassis remains stable through corners while delivering a comfortable ride for passengers. These days, the Galaxy is offered with a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, for decent fuel economy and the added draw of silent, emissions-free electric running at slower speeds.
BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
The 2 Series Active Tourer is BMW’s five-seat MPV, for those who require more space than offered by a 1 Series hatchback. It has the enlarged grille that features on so many modern BMWs, plus chunky styling that blends SUV and MPV cues for a distinctive look. Inside, there’s lots of headroom and rear-seat legroom, along with a super-flexible boot that expands to over 1500 litres with the rear seats folded. BMW’s infotainment systems bring plenty of functionality to the 2 Series Active Tourer, and you can also choose a plug-in hybrid alongside regular petrol and diesel engine options. The hybrid has a remarkable electric range of up to 57 miles.
For all our insinuations that MPVs are rooted in the past, the Volkswagen ID.Buzz is a valid counterpoint. It’s undoubtedly inspired by Volkswagen vans of yore, but it’s achingly modern, with stylish looks and an all-electric powertrain that will get you up to 258 miles on a single charge. For now, the ID.Buzz is available as a five-seater, but a new long wheelbase version will offer the option of six or seven seats. Alternatively, the seats in the third row can be removed to create an even bigger boot. Right now, this is the most stylish MPV you can buy.
Some choose an MPV simply to get the maximum amount of passenger space possible. For such people, the Mercedes V-Class is ideal. It’s certainly premium-priced, but for large and growing families, there are few finer choices – particularly as the V-Class can seat up to eight people. Electric sliding side doors make access easy, even in tight spaces, while large windows and rear climate control systems help passengers relax in comfort. There’s even a brilliant Marco Polo camper version, with a kitchenette, auxiliary heater and pop-up roof that conceals a double bed. It’s a fantastically desirable machine and shows just how appealing MPVs can be.
Although most MPVs are focusing on practicality above all else, Ford managed to make the S-MAX genuinely enjoyable to drive. But that wasn’t at the expense of its primary goal – the S-MAX will happily seat seven in comfort and space, but if you happen to take the country road back from the school run, you’ll have more fun than in any other car on this list. It feels agile and sprightly, so don’t think that just because you’ve got a large family, you have to give up on driving fun. For sheer space and practicality it doesn’t quite match its stablemate, the Galaxy, but if you want a sporty edge, the S-MAX is the Ford MPV to go for.
Vauxhall Combo Life Electric
The Combo Life Electric is a pure electric evolution of the Vauxhall Combo five- or seven-seat van-derived people carrier. Offered in two different body lengths, it’s an exceptionally practical family car choice. There is acres of room inside and large, comfortable seats – even for those in the third row. The robust interior contains plenty of stowage spaces and the rugged design is made for the rough and tumble of transporting your clan. On the road, it can travel up to 174 miles between charges, and your eco-warrior kids will admire the fact you’re already prepared for the 2035 petrol and diesel car ban.
The Citroen Berlingo is a proper MPV. You can choose either a 4.4m M version with five seats or a long wheelbase 4.75m XL model with seven seats, but either way you get a hugely spacious and flexible cabin, with lots of storage pockets and cubbies for your odds and ends. Even the entry-level Feel trim has a long list of standard equipment, while the Flair XTR boasts the likes of 17-inch alloy wheels and three independent rear seats with headrests. There's also an electric e-Berlingo which offers up to 175 miles of range.
The Peugeot 5008 is an MPV with more than a touch of SUV styling. It's the seven-seat alternative to the popular 3008, with an enlarged rear end offering room for a third row of people, or simply an even larger and more practical boot when the rearmost seats are folded flat into the floor. Choose from fuel-efficient petrol and diesel engines, which are offered in a number of well-equipped model grades. Peugeot’s move upmarket can be felt in the good-quality interior and the classy materials and trims. They provide an undeniably more premium feel. It’s good to drive too, with neat handling and a smooth ride.
Vauxhall Vivaro Life Electric
If a Vauxhall Combo Life Electric is too small for you, enter the Vivaro Life Electric: the British brand’s largest van-derived MPV. Like the Combo Life Electric, it’s now purely electric, with a 50kWh battery giving a driving range of 143 miles. While that doesn’t sound much for getaways to the beach, Vauxhall stresses it’s able to use 100kW rapid chargers, giving an 80% top-up in just 30 minutes. Seating up to nine people, the Vivaro Life Electric has sliding rear doors. Opting for upmarket Ultimate trim brings leather seats, a panoramic glass sunroof and, to make those in the back seats feel like celebrities, dark-tinted rear glass.
What is the best seven-seater MPV?
The best seven-seater MPV should combine great practicality with terrific passenger-focused space and flexibility. We think the best MPV for seven on the market right now is the Volkswagen Touran, which makes long journeys for large families a breeze. It’s good to drive, fuel-efficient, built to last and commands good retained values to keep long-term running costs down.
What is the best five-seat MPV?
If you only need five seats, we really like the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. It’s an MPV that’s great to drive, meaning the person behind the wheel will still enjoy themselves even when driving alone. They get the benefits of BMW’s brilliant infotainment systems, too. All engines are strong, and the plug-in hybrid is a great eco-friendly choice. For passengers, there’s loads of space in the rear, while the ultra-flexible boot is easily practical enough even for the most cumbersome of loads.
Which is the most practical MPV?
The most practical MPVs are those derived from vans. They naturally offer the most space inside, thanks to their flat-sided, tall and boxy shapes. The Mercedes V-Class and Vauxhall Vivaro Life Electric are examples of just how practical a van-derived MPV can be. If you don’t need quite so much space, or have a smaller budget, the Vauxhall Combo Life Electric is similarly Tardis-like inside. You can also choose near-identical versions from Citroen and Peugeot (the e-Berlingo and e-Rifter respectively).