The MPV is a relatively modern invention, with the first car in this class only arriving back in the eighties. The best of the latest people carriers stand out with their large dimensions and clever use of interior space.
Flexibility is the name of the game in this market. Manufacturers are constantly battling to offer the cleverest and most useful seat layouts and folding mechanisms, as well as sliding doors, so owners can squeeze in as many people and as much luggage as possible. The result is some of the most practical cars on the market – although unless you have a large family and regularly carry five people or more, a regular family car will probably be more than spacious enough.
Drivers who really need an MPV can choose between five and seven seats. Only in the largest and cleverest models are the two rearmost seats spacious enough for adults, but the extra passenger capacity is often useful for emergencies. Most modern MPVs have individual seats which fold, slide and can even be removed to allow you to carry any combination of people and luggage. Those with the best designs have seats that fold flat to maximise load capacity. If they can only be removed, you’ll have a huge, van-like space at your disposal, although you’ll need somewhere to store the seats when carrying loads.
Unless you’re going for one of the smaller MPVs on the market, diesel is usually the better option. Large people carriers are often heavy, so petrol versions will be thirsty. Diesels not only offer better fuel consumption, they also provide the extra torque required to power the car when it’s fully loaded, and enhance its towing capacity.
Driving fun is likely to be low down on the list of priorities for buyers in this market, although the class leaders belie their tall dimensions by delivering excellent handling, accurate steering and strong performance. So the best MPVs will offer a car-like driving experience as well as massive carrying capacity.
Find out which MPV is right for you by clicking the links on the left.