Currently reading: Top 10 best MPVs and people carriers 2022
The market may have embraced SUVs, but the best way to haul people and their stuff at the same time is still with an MPV. These are the best ones currently on sale

The market may have embraced SUVs, but the best way to haul people and their stuff at the same time is still with an MPV. These are the best ones currently on sale.

The MPV segment has been under attack for years and is now close to dying out as people move to more fashionable SUVs. For large families, a traditional MPV is still hard to beat as they make much more efficient use of their space. You’ll get more interior room for the same footprint, and most MPVs have three Isofix points in the back, or even integrated booster seats, and those are features that even the largest SUVs don’t offer.

Even though the traditional MPV is dying out, there is some hope in the form of van-based MPVs. Since vans have become much more habitable in recent years, the passenger versions are now a genuine alternative to the traditional people carrier. Take the seats out and they’re perfect for a house move, too. Multi-purpose vehicle indeed.

1. Citroën Berlingo

More than two decades and almost two millions sales ago, Citroën pioneered the van-based MPV with the Berlingo, and this latest (but only third) generation model returns to the original's charm and odd-ball likeability.

There are stout reasons why you might buy this instead of a more conventional MPV, too: the interior is truly cavernous, with 186 litres of storage space in the various cubbies dotted about, and even with seven seats there's still generous space for luggage.

Best of all is that the Berlingo rides with true calmmess and steers intuitively, which along with generous equipment levels for UK-spec cars make it something of an everday gem.

Save money with new Berlingo deals from What Car?

2. Volkswagen Touran

The Touran feels like a car created from the very core of the MPV textbook, having been born to deliver great occupant space from a fairly compact footprint.

It can’t come close to the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer for premium-brand allure or driver appeal, while it also lacks charm and its design is bland.

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That said, the Touran scores no less than eight out of 10 in every department, making it a strong all-rounder that does exactly what it says on the tin with fantastic consistency.

Save money with new Touran deals from What Car?

3. Ford S-Max

Ford is one of very few manufacturers who are persisting with traditional MPVs, although that does mean keeping older models in production for a long time. The Ford S-Max is now fairly old, but a new hybrid powertrain and infotainment updates have kept it current.

It doesn’t appeal in quite the same way as the previous one in the driving sense and now lacks the old car's unique selling point of quirky looks and surprisingly good handling. However, it’s still a respectable, competitive and generally pleasing-to-drive family car. As it’s now hybrid-only, it’s very economical, too.

Save money with new S-Max deals from What Car?

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4. Ford Galaxy

The Ford S-Max has an even bigger and more practical sister model, the Ford Galaxy. It’s very similar inside and comes with the same hybrid powertrain. 

The difference is that it has seven genuinely usable seats which make it the ultimate transport for large families. It’s less engaging to drive than the S-Max, but it’s even more comfortable on the motorway and still handles surprisingly well, as we’re accustomed to from Ford.

Save money with new Galaxy deals from What Car?

5. Citroën Grand C4 Spacetourer

The Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer (née Picasso) has also been around for a long time, and that shows in the interior. Nevertheless, it retains all the quirkiness that made the original such a unique proposition in a segment many would assume to be entirely dull. There used to be a 5-seater C4 Spacetourer, but that has been taken off sale.

The interior might feel a little bit old, it’s still very functional and smartphone mirroring keeps the infotainment system usable. To drive, the C4 lacks the shine of Ford’s S-Max, but it is far from bad on the road and comes with a good range of powertrains. As far as MPVs go, this is a highly talented, albeit not perfect, example.

Save money with new Grand C4 deals from What Car?

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6. Mercedes-Benz B-Class

The Mercedes B-Class is in effect a tall Mercedes A-Class. It’s not the ultimate people hauler like the Ford Galaxy or Citroen Berlingo, but it does offer a much more premium experience, as you would expect from Mercedes-Benz.

As highbrow family transport, the B-Class is more serene not only than the A-Class but also the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. It hits its brief, in other words, and the spacious interior is a rare treat for passengers, with a generous glasshouse, luxurious finishing and a digital array almost as intuitive to operate as it is eye-catching. There’s a plug-in hybrid version available, too.

The steering can be indirect and the lower-power engines are insipid, but working within its laid-back, refined comfort zone, the B-Class does enough to outshine almost every rival.

Save money with new Mercedes B-Class from What Car?

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7. BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

The 2 Series Active Tourer looks expensive, but that's compensated by the fact that it is so well equipped, is of such high quality inside and features engines that are clean and frugal. It was the first front-wheel drive BMW, but in a class of cars that are generally lacklustre to drive, this is one of the better ones. 

Currently you can choose between the five-seat Active Tourer and the seven-seat 2 Series Gran Tourer. The replacement for the Active Tourer has just been revealed and deliveries will begin in March, but the Gran Tourer is unlikely to be replaced.

Save money with new 2 Series Gran Tourer deals from What Car?

8. Vauxhall Combo Life and Peugeot Rifter

Both the Vauxhall Combo Life and the Peugeot Rifter are largely mechanically identical to the Citroen Berlingo and can be good alternatives if you prefer the styling or if you can get a good deal, but in general, the Citroen is better value, more comfortable, slightly more practical and it has a more distinctive style.

As an affordable means of transporting a lot of people, a lot equipment, or a fair amount of both with little fuss or bother, the Vauxhall did well enough in our road test and although we haven’t driven the Rifter, it will likely be not that different. All three are also available as a fully-electric version with a range of 170 miles.

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Save money with new Combo Life deals from What Car?

9. Ford Tourneo Custom

If the amount of space and passenger carrying capacity is your number-one priority, you need to be looking at the passenger versions of medium vans. The best van to drive is the Ford Transit Custom and the Tourneo Custom is the same, but made more habitable for carrying passengers.

One of our photographers ran a Ford Tourneo Custom PHEV for six months and found that the versatility fit his lifestyle perfectly and while it was never going to rival a Focus for driver appeal, it never felt like a chore to drive, either. We’d recommend a normal diesel, though. The pure-electric range is a paltry 30 miles, which is just not enough for a vehicle you want to take on long trips.

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10. Vauxhall Vivaro Life/Peugeot Traveller/Citroen Spacetourer

Like the Citroen Berlingo, Vauxhall Combo and Peugeot Rifter, the Vauxhall Vivaro Life, Peugeot Traveller and Citroen Spacetourer are identical triplets. However, they’re even bigger as they’re based on medium vans. They compete with the Ford Tourneo Custom and can carry up to eight passengers.

They’re still pretty van-like to drive, with wallowy handling and so-so interior quality. We prefer the Ford, but you can also get the Stellantis triplets in fully-electric versions with 150 miles of range, which might appeal.

Save money with new Vivaro Life deals from What Car?