With the sudden surge in popularity of the crossover and the SUV, it’s easy to forget that there’s still a very strong demand for spacious, practical and reliable MPVs. These Multi-Purpose Vehicles, often referred to as people carriers, are able to transport mums, dads, children and all the miscellaneous luggage, toys and snacks that families demand, with rugged interiors, cubbyholes for storage, and large boots for swallowing up buggies, bags and more. Larger families will be keen to know the best 7 seater cars available, whereas smaller families can make do with 5 seats in their car.
There’s a wide range of used MPVs to choose from, but as a driver you don’t just want to be at the helm of a huge box on wheels with a load of seats in it. Having a car that is economical, affordable to run thanks to lower running costs and enjoyable to drive is important. Not to mention, a good used people carrier needs to be adaptable to your lifestyle – so if keeping younger passengers entertained on longer journeys is a key priority, these cars are comfortable, quiet and packed with plenty of storage space so your favourite things can be transported wherever you go.
So read on to discover the ten best MPVs on the used car market right now.
Price: £4000 - £30,000
The Ford Galaxy is one of the staples of the MPV segment, having been around since 1995 and currently on its third generation, proving that it remains a popular choice for families. Since the second generation in 2006, the Ford Galaxy has been developed alongside Ford’s other MPV, the S-Max. The Galaxy wins the battle by virtue of being both longer and taller and therefore more practical for a large family, and it is also a 7 seater car.
The Galaxy is a spacious and comfortable people carrier, with the rear sixth and seventh seats offering plenty of comfort and legroom meaning they can be used more often than just the occasional journey. As a driver’s car, the Galaxy is an enjoyable place to be too, thanks to its 2.0 diesel engines which return impressive fuel economy figures and reasonable road tax costs for this class meaning low running costs for owners.
Our favourite: 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec
Renault Grand Scénic
Price: £5000 - £14,000
Many would argue that the first ever MPV was the Renault Espace from the late 1980’s, so Renault know a thing or two about building a good people carrier. The Grand Scénic manages to live up to these expectations well, thankfully. There is an excellent level of equipment as standard, a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating for the safety-conscious buyers, and a range of fuel efficient petrol and diesel engines.
It is a well built, practical car with seven seats, although the third row of seating will only be suitable for small children and plenty of storage spaces and cubby holes throughout the cabin. Whilst petrol engines are still very efficient, the majority of Grand Scénics that will be found on the used car market will have either the 1.5 dCi or 1.6 dCi diesel engines.
Our favourite: 1.5 dCi Dynamique TomTom
Citroën C4 Picasso
Price: £3500 - £19,000
The C4 Picasso from Citroën is available in two forms, either the standard C4 Picasso or the C4 Grand Picasso, with the seven seater latter boasting more space and more practicality as you’d expect given the name. The Standard C4 Picasso is still an extremely impressive MPV, not only is does it have an attractive exterior, it strikes the perfect balance between style and practicality on the inside thanks to a well-built and spacious interior. For those looking for value for money, the Citroën is a sensible choice. Thanks to excellent new car sales figures, you will find plenty of these on the used car market, resulting in a very affordable car. Not to mention, running costs on some versions almost defy belief for a car in this class.
The most efficient engine will return over 70mpg and benefits from very low CO2 emissions, meaning no road tax to pay. The Citroen C4 Picasso scores highly in terms of safety, it comes with ISOFIX child-seat mounting points and a fantastic five-strar Euro NCAP safety rating. So if 5 seats fit the mould, the C4 Picasso is an excellent addition to your family. However, if you have a few more bodies to seat the larger C4 Grand Picasso is equipped to carry 7 passengers.
Our favourite: 1.6 BlueHDi 120 S&S Feel
Price: £4700 - £21,000
The Peugeot 5008 has been with us for a while now; since its introduction in 2009 this MPV has been a popular car thanks to its practical and durable interior, enjoyable handling and understated looks. The 5008 is available with either five or seven seats depending on your requirements, and actually shares many of its structural components with the C4 Grand Picasso as part of the PSA Peugeot-Citroën partnership. It was awarded MPV Of The Year in 2010 by What Car? magazine, so has some good credentials to justify why the Peugeot 5008 is a great buy.
Whilst a 1.6 petrol engine is available with two power outputs, most buyers will be drawn to the diesel engines, of which there are three; two 1.6 HDi units with either 110 or 150bhp, or a bigger 2.0 HDi which puts out 163bhp and comes with an automatic gearbox. Again for the safety-conscious, the Peugeot 5008 was awarded five stars by Euro NCAP.
Our favourite: 1.6 HDi Active
Price: £2000 - £21,000
Vauxhall have been producing the ever-popular Zafira since 1990 and is currently in its third generation where it is known as the Zafira Tourer. Released in 2011, this latest model comes with excellent equipment levels as standard and the excellent EcoFLEX petrol and diesel engines, both of which come with Start/Stop systems to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions.
The best petrol engine is the 1.6 and either the 1.6 or 2.0 CDTI diesel engines are the picks of the bunch. The latest Zafira Tourer was awarded five stars by Euro NCAP for safety and has won a number of European car awards. The interior is durable but still feels like a quality product, with cubby holes and nooks and crannies suitable for storing all manner of family paraphernalia.
Our favourite: 1.7 CDTi ecoFLEX Design Nav
Price: £4800 - £21,000
Within the expansive Volkswagen range lies the Touran. The smaller of Volkswagen’s two MPVs (the other, larger model being the Sharan), the Touran won’t be the cheapest people carrier on the used car market. Whilst some of its rivals will be cheaper to buy, however, few will match the Touran for comfort levels, space for passengers, build quality and performance of the range of petrol and diesel engines.
Its looks are typical Volkswagen; understated but stylish, and the interior cabin has plenty of room for children and adults to be transported in comfort. There is ample room in the back with third row seating for two meaning that the Touran can carry seven people without breaking a sweat. Of the range of engines, the pick would be the 1.6 TDI 110 BlueMotion thanks to its excellent fuel consumption figures and low road tax costs.
Our favourite: SE Family 1.6 TDI BlueMotion
Price: £2400 - £24,000
If you’re looking for seven seats but don’t want to feel like you’re driving a van, the compact Kia Carens could be the answer. Introduced in 1999 and now in its third generation, the Carens comes with excellent equipment levels as standard across the different trim levels, and provides buyers a comfortable and practical family car that, admittedly, may not stand out from the crowd, but will provide years of reliable motoring.
The recommended engine is the 1.7 CRDI diesel thanks to its strong performance compared to the 1.6 petrol; with the diesel delivering a significant amount of torque to allow for good acceleration even when fully laden with family members and luggage. The Kia also comes with a seven-year/100,000 mile warranty which will be transferred to the next owner, so a used buyer will benefit from this.
Our favourite: 1.7 CRDi 3
Price: £11,400 - £25,800
Earlier we mentioned the Volkswagen Touran rather than the larger Sharan, and the reason for that was the Alhambra from SEAT. Basically a Volkswagen Sharan underneath, the seven seater Alhambra will be found with better standard equipment levels and identical engines for less and therefore represents a better deal for families on a budget. The mark 2 which was released in 2010 comes with four engines; two petrol and two diesel, but we’d recommend the 2.0 TDI diesel which is available with either 138hp or 168hp. The larger will probably be more enjoyable to drive if you’re carrying seven people on a regular basis thanks to it’s good torque figures.
As with any car from the Volkswagen Group, the Alhambra is well-built and reliable, if not the most exciting looking vehicle on the road. Some will love the rear sliding doors too, handy if you’re regularly loading children in and out at the side of the road or in a car park.
Our favourite: 2.0 TDI CR Ecomotive SE
Price: £3700 - £16,800
For those not looking for a seven seater, the Verso is a great choice. This compact and attractive MPV from Toyota is very easy to drive around town. Some MPVs can feel a bit like you’re driving a van, whereas the Verso retains a car-like feel. Reliability will never be an issue thanks to Toyota’s legendary build quality, and it’s also a comfortable and quiet car to drive.
Whilst there is space for seven people, the compact nature of the Verso means that space and comfort for rear passengers is at a premium, and is probably better suited for a smaller family that might occasionally need to transport some extra passengers in the third row. It’s engines also aren’t as economical as some rivals, but low maintenance costs and trouble-free motoring will negate this for many used Toyota buyers.
Our favourite: 1.8 V-matic Icon
Price: £3300 - £25,000
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class is a popular family car for those looking to transport their family in luxury with the prestigious three-pointed star badge on the bonnet. Whilst it is officially classed as a compact luxury car, when Euro NCAP tested it they classified it as a small MPV this, combined with its impressive length, height and spacious interior mean it earns a place on our list.
The second generation was released in 2012 and can be found with a number of petrol and diesel engines, many of which feature BlueEFFICIENCY engines which have Start/Stop functionality which work to lower CO2 emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Available with five seats, the B-Class is ideal for smaller families who are looking for practical car which enables them to travel in style.
Our favourite: B180 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY SE
BMW 2-Series Active Tourer
Price: £18,700 - £28,000
The 2-Series Active Tourer from BMW is, like the B-Class mentioned above, an excellent way to transport your family around but with an added feeling of luxury that you can only get from one of the big German manufacturers. Comfort and refinement are never compromised in a BMW, and this model is no different with a quality and rugged interior.
The 2-Series has seating for five and a large boot, though not as large as the equivalent B-Class. The 1.5 diesel will be suitable for those running around town, but for longer journeys we'd recommend the 218d which provides more torque and more power, whilst still returning a very respectable 51mpg on average.
Our favourite: 218d M Sport