Best used MPVs and people carriers 2024
If you’ve got a growing family to ferry around, the best used MPVs and people carriers will do just that for a bargain price
Multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) — also known as people carriers — have been overtaken by sportier and more rugged SUVs as the large family car of choice for many drivers, but no model type can outdo the MPV for sheer practicality and space. So, while they may not be as stylish, these cars are still a fantastic choice for families, and the best used MPVs make for some literally huge bargains.
While the choice of brand-new MPVs has shrunk over the years, there are still plenty to choose from in the classifieds. So which model should you choose? Our experts have put every model to the test and have rounded up the very best used MPVs to buy right now. Read on to find them listed below.
The best used MPVs to buy
- Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
- SEAT Alhambra
- Honda FR-V
- Renault Grand Scenic
- Ford Galaxy
- Ford S-MAX
- Volkswagen Touran
- BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
1. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso (Mk2)
- Our pick: 1.6 HDi Excl. Euro 6 (2016/16, 40k miles, £10,990)
Packing style and substance, the eye-catching and brilliantly versatile Grand C4 Picasso is a true family car work of art. It’s been around a little while now, but the Citroen is still one of the best people carriers in the business. A facelift and namechange to Grand C4 Spacetourer in 2018 added extra kit and tech, but the superb blend of space, comfort and value remained.
At the heart of the family-friendly French MPV’s appeal is its ingeniously packaged cabin. Not only is the third row of seats suitable for adults, access is easy and the large windows mean occupants won’t feel claustrophobic. Better still, the middle row features three individual chairs that can slide and recline for comfort, plus each has its own set of Isofix mounting points. You won’t be short of space for prams or pushchairs either, because with the third row stowed in the boot floor, there’s a generous 793 litres of carrying capacity. Fold all the rear seats flat and you’ll benefit from a cavernous 2,181 litres of space.
Elsewhere in the cabin you’ll find numerous handy storage options, while there are other neat features, such as the observation mirror allowing you to keep an eye on younger passengers without having to twist your neck around. Solid build quality means the Citroen is well up to the trials and tribulations of family life, while the funky dash design includes a large TFT instrument cluster and touchscreen infotainment system.
You don’t expect driving excitement from an MPV, but the Citroen’s light controls, excellent visibility and soft ride make it a doddle to drive and very relaxing. There’s also a wide range of proven engines, but we’d make a beeline for the punchy and fuel-efficient 1.6-litre HDi.
Better still, with buyers continuing to flock towards more fashionable SUVs, the prices of MPVs have continued to slide, so you’re guaranteed to bag a bargain. Early examples start at just under £4,000, while doubling your budget will give you the pick of tidy facelifted Spacetourer versions.
2. SEAT Alhambra (Mk2)
The Alhambra isn’t the most glamorous choice, but its boxy lines hide a vast and versatile seven-seat interior. Handy features include the sliding rear doors, while on the move the poised and planted SEAT is surprisingly good to drive. The muscular and frugal 2.0-litre TDI is our pick of the extensive engine line-up.
3. Honda FR-V (Mk1)
Honda has a history of doing things differently – as it did with the FR-V. With a novel three-seat layout in the front, it combines space for six and compact exterior dimensions. Its reliability is bulletproof, while the trade-off for a firm ride is accurate handling.
4. Renault Grand Scenic (Mk4)
Renault pioneered the compact MPV class with the Renault Scenic back in 1996, and it’s been a contender for decades through multiple iterations, including the even more spacious Grand Scenic version. The fourth-generation Renault Grand Scenic MPV arrived in 2016, and it followed the same formula that brought its predecessors so much success: seven seats are offered, although the body is no wider than the standard five-seat Scenic.
A plentiful engine line-up with both petrols and diesels to choose from ensures that you can get the engine that strikes the right balance between performance and fuel economy for your needs. Five- and six-speed manual gearboxes were standard, while a twin-clutch auto was an option on the 1.5-litre diesel and standard on the more powerful 1.6-litre diesel. These diesels are the more capable options in the line-up thanks to the torque on offer, which should cope better when the car is at capacity with passengers.
5. Ford Galaxy (Mk3)
Given Ford’s long-standing reputation for offering a car that will suit just about any kind of family, it comes as no surprise that one of the most popular MPVs in the UK, the Ford Galaxy, appears on this list. The third-generation model arrived in 2015, with clean examples now available for less than £8,000.
The Mk3 Galaxy is (typically for Ford) available with a wide choice of engines: 1.5- and 2.0-litre petrols sit alongside a 2.0-litre diesel that produces either 119, 148 or 177bhp. A 237bhp version of the diesel was added in 2018. Most used examples you’ll find will be diesels, with their better torque and higher fuel economy making them more popular than the petrol alternatives. Manual or automatic gearboxes are available too and both perform well.
6. Ford S-MAX (Mk2)
The Ford S-MAX is a car that adds a slightly more driver-focused and sporty take on the MPV formula, given its lower roofline that makes it a little sleeker than rivals, although this reduces luggage capacity. However, the S-MAX represents brilliant value for money as a used car, and Ford’s impressive engines make it both enjoyable to drive and easy on your wallet.
A sportier driving experience is what makes the S-MAX stand out over the seven-seat Galaxy. The second-generation car reached showrooms in 2015, with petrol and diesel models combined with front- or four-wheel drive. Early editions of the current car have been around long enough to benefit from plenty of depreciation, but you’ll struggle to find many examples of the entry-level car as most buyers went for Titanium trim. This added sat-nav, automatic lights and wipers and various other features to the standard inclusions like 17-inch alloys, an eight-inch touchscreen and parking sensors front and rear.
The inside of the S-MAX is very spacious, although the rearmost seats are only really suitable for kids. The 285-litre boot isn’t ideal with all seven seats in place, but there’s more than enough to get by with when they’re not in use.
7. Volkswagen Touran (Mk2)
The second-generation Volkswagen Touran has been on sale since 2015. Since then the Touran has proved itself to be a practical vehicle that remains good to drive and well-built compared to the alternatives.
All cars come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with an automatic transmission an option on all but the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol. Both types of gearbox worked well, but the best engine choice for you really depends on how often you’re likely to fill all seven seats: if you’re regularly at capacity, one of the more powerful engines will be more economical in the long run.
Standard features include an eight-inch touchscreen with DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as all-round electric windows and heated door mirrors. SE models get 16-inch alloy wheels, and extra touches like automatic lights and wipers, plus adaptive cruise control. As a compact MPV, the rear seats should be reserved for children as adults won’t fit comfortably.
8. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (Mk1)
As the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is only a couple of centimetres longer than the 1 Series hatchback, it relies on its taller roofline for its added practicality. This also gives it the advantage of being more comfortable for passengers in the rear, with the additional headroom making it more suitable for tall adults.
Along with the spacious interior (made possible in part by the decision to only offer front-wheel drive, making it the first BMW not to feature some drive from the rear wheels), the inside is the 2 Series Active Tourer’s main strength: the cabin is beautifully designed and finished, giving the car a more upmarket feel than most rivals. The iDrive infotainment system is one of the best too, avoiding one of the main frustrations that so many other manufacturers run into.
Earlier examples of the 2 Series Active Tourer are usefully cheaper now than when they first went on sale, with the best performance coming from the four-cylinder engines in the line-up. 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors are all standard, but if you want seven seats you’ll need to step up to the 2 Series Gran Tourer instead.
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