Compare the best MPVs and people carriers

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Compare the best MPVs and people carriers 2024

If practicality and space are your main priorities for a new car, you can’t go wrong with an MPV. They have plenty of room for growing families while also offering impressive flexibility, comfort and – in some cases – they are good to drive too.

Unfortunately MPVs have fallen out of favour somewhat in recent years as the rise of the SUV marches on, so in many instances you'll have to turn to the second-hand market if you're after one of these sensible, practical family cars.

MPVs haven’t disappeared from new car showrooms completely, though, and some have been given a new lease of life as electric cars.

Volkswagen ID.Buzz

1. Volkswagen ID Buzz

Volkswagen ID.Buzz review
Battery range up to 258 miles
Volkswagen Multivan
Adventurer's Choice Award

2. Volkswagen Multivan

Volkswagen Multivan review
Ford Tourneo Connect

3. Ford Tourneo Connect

Ford Tourneo Connect review

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Volkswagen Touran

4. Volkswagen Touran

Volkswagen Touran review
Ford S-Max

5. Ford S-Max

Ford S-Max review
Ford Galaxy

6. Ford Galaxy

Ford Galaxy review
Citroen Berlingo

7. Citroen Berlingo

Citroen Berlingo review
BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer

8. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer review
Peugeot Rifter

9. Peugeot Rifter

Peugeot Rifter review
Vauxhall Combo Life

10. Vauxhall Combo Life

Vauxhall Combo Life review

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Advice about MPVs


MPV stands for Multi-Purpose Vehicle, which is not particularly helpful because loads of cars have multiple purposes or at least can do many things. So what is an MPV in a more practical sense? Well essentially, it is ideal for carrying multiple people – that’s why they are sometimes called people carriers – and so are popular with growing families and cab drivers.

They tend to have a tall, boxy, upright shape, with lots of space and either five or seven seats. Those seven-seat MPVs usually have a middle row of three seats and then a further two seats in a third row. Seats in the third row usually fold into the boot floor, giving you the flexibility of being able to carry lots of luggage or lots of people.

Obviously, the best ones have loads of storage space all around the interior.

As with conventional cars, MPVs are put through rigorous crash tests by Euro NCAP, so it's easy to find out the specific safety rating an individual people carrier has - and they tend to perform pretty well for passenger protection. Just search online for the make and model of a car you're interested in followed by the words "NCAP results" to find official ratings.

The vast majority of MPVs are front-wheel-drive, though some can be had as a 4x4. The BMW 2 Series Active and 2 Series Gran Tourer are four-wheel-drive when specified in BMW xDrive guise, while the Ford Galaxy and S-Max could also be had as 4x4 models - though these are rare.

Insurance companies use myriad factors when calculating premiums, but there is nothing inherent in MPVs that makes them pricier to get cover for. A car's value, power and what safety systems it has will be among factors that affect premiums, rather than whether or not it is a people carrier.

A number of the models above have sliding rear doors, including the recently discontinued SEAT Alhambra, Volkswagen Sharan and Ford Galaxy. Among MPVs you can buy new, the Volkswagen ID.Buzz, Volkswagen Multivan, Citroen e-Berlingo and Ford Tourneo Connect have this feature. Sliding rear doors are great for access, but if you have small children you'll need to keep a close eye out for little hands when sliding the doors closed, as they can require a fair amount of force to latch.

We're into predicting the future territory here, but as far as we can discern through our crystal ball, it looks unlikely that MPVs will make much of a comeback in the foreseeable. New cars cost billions of pounds to develop, and with SUVs and hatchbacks so much more popular than MPVs, it makes commercial sense for car makers to design models that will sell in large quantities.

On the face of its that’s bad news for MPV buyers, but many SUVs have MPV-style features and flexible interior layouts, so should make decent alternatives.