The best MPVs for 2021

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  • We choose our favourites
  • Five- to eight-seaters available

Growing families couldn't get enough of MPVs in the 1980s and 90s. Leaping out of their family saloons and into these multi-purpose vehicles, family buyers grew to love models such as the Ford Galaxy, Renault Espace and Volkswagen Sharan thanks to their space, flexibility, and of course, their three rows of seats.

Despite their popularity with those who understood exactly how practical they were, some considered them too big - interestingly, the original Galaxy was shorter than Mondeos sold at the time - or dismissed them as vans with windows. Some are van-based, but that's not a negative point.

Manufacturers quickly got around the size factor by introducing smaller MPVs from the late-1990s and early-2000s. Within a few years, most mainstream brands offered a suite of flexible people carriers from bijou supermini-sized ones, all the way up to gargantuan seven- and eight-seaters.

Beige 2019 Citroen Berlingo MPV front three-quarter

Sadly, MPVs aren't as popular as they once were, so much so that most companies have stopped selling them in Britain. Instead, buyers flock towards SUVs in greater number, trading-in spaciousness and practicality for rugged styling and a modicum of off-road ability.


What makes a good MPV? Space, space and space. 

One advantage of basing much of the current crop of MPVs on compact- and medium-sized vans is that those vehicles' more perpendicular shapes lend themselves well to maximising the space available, while sliding doors into the rear of the passenger compartment are a boon in compact car parking spaces.

Passengers have more space in an MPV than a similarly sized SUV, plus there's usually more space for luggage, too.

Other MPV virtues? After capaciousness, chief among them has to be the flexibility of the seats, with many having individual chairs that can be slid back and forth, reclined and even removed when you need to haul massive loads instead of people.

Ever tried fitting three Isofix child seats side by side in a regular hatchback or SUV? It's impossible in the majory of cars, yet most MPVs manage it easily.

There's life in the MPV yet and we've rounded up our favourite people carriers on sale in 2021. Click the links below to take you straight to your favourite model or scroll down to read the full list.

The best MPVs for 2021

Citroen Berlingo 

Beige 2019 Citroen Berlingo MPV front three-quarter

At Parkers, we're huge fans of the Citroen Berlingo - as well as its Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life sister cars. They are all superb value for money MPVs.

Self-evidently from its styling, you can see that the third-generation Berlingo is once again van-based, but this time it's taller and wider, plus longer if you opt for the seven-seater XL version. Not only that, it shares much of its underpinnings with other well-regarded cars from the corporate stable such as the Citroen C5 Aircross and Peugeot 508.

Is it sporty to drive? Not at all, but it's comfy and there are few vices in the way it handles, meaning your passengers - all with individual seats - remain comfy in the light, airy cabin. We ran a long-term Berlingo and it impressed us with its all-round abilites.

Sliding rear doors ease acccess to and from the spacious interior, while useful features such as the opening tailgate glass and Modutop ceiling-mounted storage solutions add to the vast number of cubbies and lockers that the Berlingo already boasts.

Petrol and diesel Berlingos are currently available, with a fully electric e-Berlingo joining the range in autumn 2021, with no reduction in its space or practicality. 

Price new: From £21,880
Lease this car: From £254 per month
Search for a used Citroen Berlingo for sale on Parkers with prices from: £8,555-£22,100

Mercedes-Benz V-Class 

Grey 2020 Mercedes-Benz V-Class front three-quarter

Another van-based MPV - this time an indulgently plush version of Mercedes' Vito. In fact, there's much more to the V-Class than that as its various configurations allow you to specify it as a six-, seven- or eight-seater, in three different lengths and with the option of a full camper conversion with the V-Class Marco Polo.

Commerical origins it may have, but once you're inside the V-Class, it feels luxurious and refined in typical Mercedes fashion, with a high level of on-board technology and driver aids, superbly comfortable leather seats, electrically sliding rear doors and tailgate, as well as clever touches to boost practicality such as an optional pop-up table in the rear compartment and a luggage cover over the boot area that includes fold-out storage trays.

As we discovered when we ran a long-term V-Class, the primary advantage of its larger size is that you can install the middle-row seats so that they face rearwards, creating a very social traveling experience for those in the back.

It's a diesel-only engine range for the V-Class, topped by the impressively punchy V 300 d, all with automatic transmission, but if you fancy all of this in a more eco-friendly package then consider the fully electric version, badged Mercedes-Benz EQV, that joined the line-up in 2020.

Price new: From £54,660
Lease this car: From £712 per month
Search for a used Mercedes-Benz V-Class for sale on Parkers with prices from: £15,635-£60,830

Volkswagen Touran 

2020 Volkswagen Touran

A seven-seat MPV doesn't have to be an enormous bus of a thing - cars like the Volkswagen Touran prove they can be compact and as easy to drive as a hatchback.

The Touran feels rather like a slightly taller Golf when you're behind the wheel - unsurprising, as it shares its engine, some of its interior fittings and all of its technology with its hatchback sibling. That also means it's comfortable, refined, and pleasingly screwed together.

Unlike some of its larger rivals the Touran isn't really intended to be used as a full-time seven-seater - it's more of a five-seat car with two additional perches that can be used occasionally in the third row. That will be fine for most people's needs, though - and when the rear seats are folded out of the way, they leave a huge and practical boot.

It's far from the most exciting car you can drive, but with an efficient range of petrol and diesel engines, it's an inexpensive MPV to run - an important factor for many families.

Price new: From £29,115
Lease this car: From £343 per month
Search for a used Volkswagen Touran for sale on Parkers with prices from: £7,595-£23,760

Ford S-Max 

White 2020 Ford S-Max front three-quarter

When MPVs were deservedly more popular, Ford offered a suite of 'Max' models, ranging from the diddy B-Max, through the C-Max up to the larger, sportier S-Max. Now, only the S-Max remains, along with its taller Galaxy twin - so what's the secret of its enduring appeal?

It's fine handling is the key - this is one of the most engaging MPVs to drive. Using Mondeo-based underpinnings, while the Galaxy was focused on carrying seven adults in comfort, the S-Max's brief was to appeal more to buyers who wouldn't ordinarily consider an MPV. It's agile, looks rakish - relatively speaking - and that tapering roofline means that the third-row pair of seats are smaller, more designed for kids than grown-ups.

While those factors remain true in this second-generation S-Max, the fastest - petrol-engined - versions have long-disappeared, but the largely diesel line-up still offers fine performance, plus a petrol-electric hybrid version joined the range in early 2021.

No sliding doors here, but they are wide to ease access and although the back five seats can't be removed they do fold completely flat into the floor for convenience.

A quartet of trim levels ensures there's an S-Max to suit most budgets, topped by the leather-lined Vignale - wisely, Ford's stopped offering that with a pale cream leather interior.

Price new: From £33,335
Lease this car: From £333 per month
Search for a used Ford S-Max for sale on Parkers with prices from: £7,895-£29,895

Volkswagen Caravelle 

Copper 2020 Volkswagen Caravelle front three-quarter

Directly rivalling the V-Class is VW's Caravelle, which is similar in concept, but is offered at a slightly lower price and with fewer body and trim permutations.

With its angular, upright styling, there's again no mistaking this for anything but a van-based MPV, in this case using the structure and mechanical gubbins of the Volkswagen Transporter van. There's also a dedicated - and popular - range of camper conversions, all sold as the VW California.

Recently facelifted and sometimes called the Caravelle 6.1, the number doesn't relate to an engine size, but references that this is the sixth-generation of VW's van-based people carrier, with its first major upgrade. That upgrade largely consisted of a much more attractive - and car-like - dashboard, a facelifted nose with a deeper interpretation of the corporate grille and tweaked tail lamps.

As standard the Caravelle is a seven-seater, but the three-seater rear bench can be swapped for a pair of individual reclining chairs, while the middle-row pair can be spun around without removing and reinstalling them to face the rear. Electric side doors, tailgate and a pop-up table for rear passengers are also available.

Only two lengths of Caravelle are offered in Britain, and unusually the more expensive Executive model is only available in the shorter body. There are two choices of 2.0-litre diesel engines, and all new Caravelles have a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox as standard, with 4Motion four-wheel drive avalable on the range-topping version.

Flexible, extremely comfortable with the optional adaptive suspension package, the desirability of the Caravelle is further heightened by a range of two-tone paintwork options - just be prepared to pay almost £3,000 for that privilege, though.

Price new: From £50,336
Lease this car: From £724 per month
Search for a used Volkswagen Caravelle for sale on Parkers with prices from: £19,420-£56,870

Vauxhall Vivaro Life 

Orange 2019 Vauxhall Vivaro Life driving front three-quarter

Similar in concept to the V-Class and Caravelle is Vauxhall's Vivaro Life, based somewhat unsurprisingly on the latest version of the British brand's Vivaro van.

This is an extraordinarily good value large MPV, providing significantly more space than conventional rivals such as the Galaxy and Sharan for a similar amount of money.

It's also significantly cheaper than its Mercedes and VW van-based alternatives, particularly if you go for a high-spec Elite model, but it's not as if those cost savings go unnoticed, with much cheaper feeling interiors and less flexibility in terms of seat positioning.

If your budget will stretch to the 180hp diesel engine and automatic gearbox then you won't be short of a decent turn of speed without sacrificing too much in terms of fuel efficiency. The small diesel engines lack lustre, while the fully electric Vivaro-e Life is better-suited to urban use due to its relatively small 50kWh battery - its capacity needs to be 50% larger for it to make more sense for more buyers.

While it's not immediately obvious, underneath the Vivaro Life's perpendicular bodywork lies very similar underpinnings to the Citroen Berlingo mentioned above and its clones, so no surprise that it's also available as the Citroen SpaceTourer and Peugeot Traveller, as well as the Toyota Proace Verso, all differentiated by very minor styling differences at the front.

Price new: From £34,615
Lease this car: From £331 per month
Search for a used Vauxhall Vivaro Life for sale on Parkers with prices from: £16,110-£33,660

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer 

Blue 2021 BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer side elevation

Think 'BMW' and seven-seater MPVs are unlikely to be at the forefront of your mind.

Such is the (often unrelated) diversity of the German brand's 2 Series range that it includes coupes and convertibles as well as the five-seater Active Tourer as well as this seven-passenger Gran Tourer.

Rather like the Touran, the third-row seats are smaller and better suited to children, but the other five are spacious and comfy, with the rest of the interior feeling appropriately upmarket for a car wearing the BMW badge.

Petrol and diesel engines deliver pleasingly punchy performance without horrendous fuel economy, but there's no plug-in hybrid version here as there is with the 2 Series Active Tourer. As unlikely as it sounds, the range-topping M Sport trim level is also the one to go for.

At a time when MPVs are seen as less desirable, the allure of the BMW image helps charm family car buyers into the benefits of this flexible choice.

Price new: From £28,955
Lease this car: From £343 per month
Search for a used BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer for sale on Parkers with prices from: £6,950-£25,980

Volkswagen Sharan 

Blue 2021 Volkswagen Sharan front three-quarter

This third - and probably final - generation of Sharan, is quite possibly one of the most underrated cars on sale.

Yes, it's been on sale for what feels like decades - well, 11 years - and it's outlasted its SEAT Alhambra sister car, but those who know them swear by them.

Seven adult-sized seats that easily fold into the floor when not required are a great touch, as are the rear sliding doors, but all of this spaciousness is available in a model that takes up less space on the road than VW's popular Passat range.

As the Sharan is one of VW's older models there are no hybrid versions, but the petrol and diesel engines offer adequate performance and good real-world efficiency. Equipment levels are generous, too, with options such as built-in child seats offering great convenience.

And, for a car that's going to be ferrying around something so precious to you, knowing that the Sharan is one of the most reliable MPVs on sale adds further peace of mind.

Price new: From £34,720
Lease this car: From per month
Search for a used Volkswagen Sharan for sale on Parkers with prices from: £3,270-£25,085

Further reading:

>> We rate the best seven-seaters for 2021

>> Looking for a coupe? These are our favourites

>> Find out how much your car's worth with a Parkers valuation