Even if you’ve got a large family, you won’t have any trouble finding suitable transport for around the £2000 mark
Steve Cropley Autocar
9 February 2015

You'll need a lot of car to transport your large family and all their luggage, but that doesn't mean you need to spend a lot of money finding the perfect transport.

1 - Toyota Previa (1992-2002)

Toyota’s people-carrier was never exactly lovely to look at, especially when new in the early 1990s, but it has plenty of other virtues. Space is one and extreme durability is another. No other car in the patch copes so well with high mileages and just keeps working. Better still, Previas are eight-seaters, so you 
can take granny wherever you and the family want to go.

For Spacious, reliable, economical and plenty of torque

Against Ugly and the interior trim collapses eventually

2 - Vauxhall Zafira (1999-2007)

The Zafira, related to the Astra saloon family, is better to drive and more compact than many seven-seaters, because Vauxhall has always been good at designing space-saving retraction systems for the rear row.

There are many hundreds for sale, so decent ones will be available near you. Diesels are probably the best bet for economy and long life.

For Good space for its compact size

Against You won’t stand out in a crowd

3 - Land Rover Discovery 2 (1992-2002)

It’s mainly an off-roader, of course, but many are available with seven viable seats and the sixth and seventh perches face forward, rather than sideways as in the original Disco model. Weirdly, it’s second-row passengers who are rather cramped for space, but the view from every seat is panoramic.

Ultra-thirsty 3.9-litre V8s are available from £500, but TD5 diesels are the better choice.

For Airy, plentiful and characterful

Against Not the most spacious

4 - Renault Espace (1997-2006)

The Espace is the closest thing to a luxury car in this group. It’s almost limo-like in its ride if you choose a post-2003 third-generation model. It handles well, too. There’s an airy cabin, with offbeat design features that please many but annoy others. 

The floor level is unusually high and compromises seating positions for some. There are 2.0 petrols, but a 2.2 dCi turbodiesel is far better for torque.

For A bit of sophistication in this class

Against Access and seating position

5 - Volvo V70 (1997-2004)

Seven-seaters don’t have to be MPVs and SUVs; they can be big estates, too. Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have been the big exponents of these, and the spacious Volvo V70 was probably the most popular, although you’ll also find petrol Mercedes in this price bracket. Owners say the petrol models are sluggish, so go for a diesel automatic if you can. 

You’ll struggle to find one that has covered less than 100,000 miles but, fortunately, most are still fit.

For Kids seem to like looking backwards

Against Third row limits luggage space

6 - Chrysler Voyager (1999-2006)

The Voyager is a bit of a wild card but a good choice if your priority is space and you don’t care too much about great economy or fine handling. It’s big, tough and durable but fell foul of Euro NCAP safety standards in the early 2000s.

Most cars at this price are diesel manuals — a shame, because the auto better suits the car’s leisurely gait. It can be harder than some to find expert service, though, because Chrysler specialists are thin on the ground.

For Space, durability, Yankee character

Against Ordinary dynamics

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Our Verdict

Land Rover Discovery

The Land Rover Discovery has an unbeatable combination of practicality, off-road ability and on-road manners

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Comments
14

9 February 2015
I don't recall the Xsara Picasso ever being available with 7 seats? Also, didn't it soldier on until 2010 rather than 2006?

9 February 2015
I agree, I'm sure that generation of Picsasso was not a 7 seater. The C8 was the people mover current at that time.

 

9 February 2015
....and it certainly never had 7 seats!!
I'd also have to disagree with the comment that it's decent to drive. Other than decent levels of grip and supple suspension, I found it vague, wallowy and wholly uninspiring to drive.
The reliability was completely woeful too! I was so glad when I traded it in for Mazda6 Touring. And don't get me started on the looks! The only thing liked about it was the concept.

"Why is http://www.nanoflowcell.com not getting more media attention? It could be the future... Now!"

9 February 2015
I can recommend the cheap but well made 2.0Lt turbo diesel Trajet made by Hyundai.
We have run one for over 10 years, the gearbox needed some attention about 2 years ago which is common with these (manual box) but apart from that its even reasonable to service yourself. Hell the original battery lasted just over ten years from new.
Inside you can remove the middle 3 and rear 2 seats separately to configure how best suits and with them all out the space is huge.
I can understand AutoCar overlooking this as it's not overly common especially as they haven't imported them for a few years now, offering instead a 7 seat SUV, but quite how they overlooked the equally practical Ford Galaxy which you can pick up a 1.9TDi Ghia for £2K I don't get.

 Offence can only be taken not given- so give it back!

9 February 2015
Mercedes W210 E class estate, find one that isn't too rusty and you have a 35k motor for 400-800 quid. Mechanically they are pretty strong.

15 February 2015
V70 or E class over any of the vans, absolutely no contest.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

9 February 2015
I see the Picasso has disappeared from the list.

 

MrJ

9 February 2015
Early model Previa was the best of the lot, better looks too.

Example: we drove fully-loaded with top-box and boats on the roof, bikes on the back, adults in front, grandparents in the middle row, kids at the back, all reasonably comfortable.

Oxford via Essex to the Loire Valley mostly at an easy 110-120 km/h cruise.

All in one day via the Tunnel, stopping only for breaks, on a single tank of diesel.

9 February 2015
If my preferred alternative of telling two of the brats to take a hike really isn't an option, I'd look at a MB W124.

9 February 2015
You could probably find a cheap Kia Carens at this price and they were pretty durable.

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