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. Dacia Jogger
Families living on tight budgets need a bit of good news right now; and, right on cue, along comes a genuine seven-seat family car you can buy for less than £15,000. Budget brand Dacia has finally joined the MPV class, and it's done so with the fairly compact but functional Jogger, which delivers value family motoring like we've rarely known it.
This car isn't the biggest, cleverest or most versatile car in its class, but if it's all the car your growing brood really needs, and it costs you Fiesta money, how could you complain? It offers five decent-sized seats and a couple of more kiddy-sized ones in the boot, but the latter can easily be lifted out entirely when you've got big loads to carry.
The Jogger shares its model platform with the Dacia Sandero supermini, as well as its 1.0-litre, 109bhp petrol engine; a petrol-hybrid is coming later. We've yet to drive either in the UK, but have tested the petrol model in Europe. Performance is pretty modest, but also more than adequate, with reasonable torque for mid-range hauling, and a tall top gear for economical long-distance driving. Ride and handling are as ordinary as the car's performance is, with a little rough springiness characterising the ride in particular - but it's far from objectionable.
The cabin is pretty sparsely fitted out in the case of lower-trim models, in which there's simply a built-in smartphone holder for in-car entertainment and navigation - but upper-level ones offer fitted touchscreen system and factory navigation as standard. And there are even clever roof bars which can convert into a roof rack of their own, for the storage of bikes and roof boxes.
There hasn't been a new MPV with the potential to rejuvinate interest in this flagging class for a decade or more; but the Jogger's value alone could do that.