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Top 10 MPVs

By Russell Bray Published

MPV | advice | top 10 | Top 10 category guides

Top-10-mpv_3x2 MPVs, or multi-purpose vehicles, are often joked about as being for being for people who don’t understand contraception. And the truth is that they make more sense for families than the current cars of fashion, the 4x4 or crossover.

But with their versatile interiors and folding or removable seats you see them being put to all sorts of uses.

They have become vehicles of mystery. When you see one you never know if contains a brood is going to the multiplex, grandparents are going to unload cases of wine they bought in France or a wet suited pair will start sliding out wind surfers and canoes.

Here we list the Sun Motors Top 10 MPVs. We've included our expert's ratings and reader ratings. We also want to know which of these motors you think is the best. So get voting, and we'll print the results in Sun Motors in the coming weeks.

More Top 10 guides:  City - Electric - Hatchback - Saloon - MPV - 4x4 - Crossover - Estate Sport - Convertible

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used MPV on sunmotors.co.uk


Seat Alhambra

alhambra1000
Sun rating: 5/5
THE GOOD
  • Value for money
  • Comfortable, spacious and versatile
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Electric sliding doors expensive option on lower spec models
  • Diesel particulate filters need Adblue to work

Read the full Seat Alhambra review


When it comes to carrying masses of stuff Seat’s Alhambra is a classy way to do it.

Launched 18 years ago in a joint manufacturing deal with Volkswagen and Ford, who sold their own Sharan and Galaxy versions, the Alhambra was replaced in 2010.

Ford has since gone its own way.

The Alhambra has three middle seats, and two each front and rear. The two back rows can be folded flat. Sliding rear doors make access easier than with a Ford S-Max’s conventional doors.

The 138bhp diesel is okay for everyday use but for long hauls heavily laden go for the 168bhp 2-litre. S trim is best value.

Overall a class act.

What to watch out for: Side doors can freeze shut. No spare wheel.

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Search for and buy a used Seat Alhambra on sunmotors.co.uk


Ford S-Max

Take it to the S-Max ... Ford's latest people carrier
Sun rating: 4.5/5
THE GOOD
  • It’s the driver’s MPV
  • Well equipped and versatile
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Some engine/clutch problems
  • Centre console trim is cheap and can rattle

Read the full Ford S-Max review


The is the car for the driver who would rather be in something sporty.

It’s more agile and gives more back to the keener driver than other rivals though Citroen has made big strides with its new Grand Picasso.

The S-Max has got the two fold-up seats in the boot which turn it into a seven-seater but these chairs are best for children. As usual in this class, fill the S_Max with people and you need a roof rack for their luggage.

Engine choice is 2.0 or 2.5 litre petrol or 1.8, 2.0 or 2.2 litre turbo diesels. Mid power diesel suits most.

General refinement is good but wind noise can intrude and ride is quite firm.

Some cheap cabin plastics. DAB radio loses signal easily.

Watch out for: Mainly electrical gremlins including unexplained battery drain. Some turbo and clutch failures reported.

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Search for and buy a used Ford S-Max on sunmotors.co.uk


Peugeot 5008

Seventh heaven ... the new Peugeot 5008
Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
  • Refined family transport
  • Versatile carrying capacity
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Base model Spartan
  • Haphazard switch locations

Read the full Peugeot 5008 review


In some colours, and with that toothy grin front, the 5008’s looks are an acquired taste, but live with the car and its comfy, airy and spacious cabin will win you over.

It’s even got a high up driving position like a 4x4 .

There’s a choice of two petrol engines, 1.6 and 1.6 Turbo, but Peugeot is renowned for its turbo diesels so if you do a high enough mileage to justify the extra cost and keep the DPF filter clear that’s the way to go.

The 1.6 HDI can deliver a genuine 55mpg and you should get 47mpg out of the 148bhp 2.0HDI.

Avoid the jerky, when used in auto mode, ECG gearbox.

The 5008 rides bumpy roads well. Turbo petrol and 2-litre diesels have ‘dynamic roll control’ system to reduce body lean when cornering briskly.

Watch out for: Steering vibration from worn bushes, dashboard rattles.

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Search for and buy a used Peugeot 5008 on sunmotors.co.uk


Kia Carens

carens1000
Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
  • Good value, honest product
  • Slick looker with stylish and practical interior
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • It’s comfortable transport rather than a keen driver’s car

Read the full Kia Carens review


The first Kia Carens in 2000 was so bland and van like it was only noticed by people wanting good value motoring and who didn’t care about appearances. Perhaps they had a night time job.

It was revamped in 2006, with the current, stylish ‘tiger face’ car, based on the Kia Cee’d hatchback, launching last year.

With previous version, S models have five seats, GS five or seven and LS seven seats. Now only seven seaters offered.

Rear seat access awkward as middle row doesn’t move forward enough.

The 1.6 litre petrol works hard to move the Carens so the 114bhp turbo diesel is a good choice for most. There’s also a 134bhp version of the 1.7 litre engine.

Carens rides smoother than Peugeot’s 5008.

Buying older than ten years/100,000 miles? Make sure cam belt has been replaced on 2-litre CRDi engine.

Watch out for: Check flywheel on cars used mainly round town as can fail below 50,000 miles. Some coil spring failures, bulbs and switches.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Kia Carens on sunmotors.co.uk


Vauxhall Zafira

Wheels on Zafira ... it's not exciting, but it's a good seller
Sun rating: 3.5/5
THE GOOD
  • Looks good
  • Versatile cabin
  • Strong acceleration
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Expensive
  • Diesels rather uncouth

Read the full Vauxhall Zafira review


Vauxhall was late to the MPV market but really got things right with the Zafira and its clever folding third row of seats.

Purchase and running costs reasonable so it’s a pity the second row of seats is a bench rather than individual seats.

Second generation, sold from 2005 to 2012, proved the car best suited to diesel power though engines noisier and less reliable than the 1.6 and 1.8 litre petrols which deliver good economy on long motorway cruises.

Some oddly chosen gear ratios make progress strained at times.

The 1.9CDTi diesel suffers from throttle lag. Problems with exhaust gas recirculation valve can stop the car or cause limp home mode if it doesn’t get a ‘clean out’ drive every couple of weeks.

Watch out for: Spare wheels get stolen from cradle under the back of the car and you don’t know until…

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Vauxhall Zafira on sunmotors.co.uk


Citroen C4 Grand Picasso

Citroen-C4-Grand-Picasso-1000
Sun rating: 3.5/5
THE GOOD
  • Stylish and spacious with great visibility
  • Quality feel
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Quite sluggish
  • Engine, gearbox and electrical problems

Read the full Citroen C4 Grand Picasso review


Citroen replaced its popular Grand Picasso last year (2013) after a seven year run.

It was a car jam packed with style and innovation. On some models you could change the colour of the instruments at the press of a button and the boot light was actually a removable torch. For the French just providing seven seats was not enough.

There was a choice of two petrol engines, one a sporty turbo; and two diesels. The 1.6 and 2.0 diesels were improved in 2010 and are the motors to go for.

Most drivers should find the 110bhp 1.6 HDI adequate. Official fuel consumption is 53mpg. Compared to 40mpg for the petrols.

Manual gearbox is preferable to the jerky semi automatic (EGS) gearbox.

Watch out for: Some cars seem to eat turbochargers, electronic gearbox can give problems including loss of drive. Might be caused by an oil return pipe cracking resulting in low pressure.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Citroen C4 Grand Picasso on sunmotors.co.uk


Volkswagen Touran

Family test ... Jon Doran takes the new VW Touran for a spin
Sun rating: 3.5/5
THE GOOD
  • Feels a class act
  • Strong reliability record
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Not very sexy looking
  • When it comes to versatility, others do it better

Read the full Volkswagen Touran review


Not everyone wants the full battle bus MPV and prefer the VW Sharan/Seat Alhambra’s little brother, the Volkswagen Touran.

Okay, it looks almost as if it was styled with a set square, but straight edges are good for carrying capacity.

Launched in 2003, and heavily revised in 2010, the Touran is built to last, but there are some rogue 1.4TSI petrols out there and DSG gearbox cars can hesitate worryingly part out of junctions.

The 1.6 and 2.0 litre turbo diesels have good power but are noisy. BlueMotion versions most economical.

Centre three seats do not fold into the floor and have to be removed and stored (where?) if you need maximum load space.

Well equipped and well bolted together

Watch out for: DPF soot traps on diesels clog up if the car doesn’t get enough open road use.

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Search for and buy a used Volkswagen Touran on sunmotors.co.uk


Renault Grand Scenic

Family values ... the cool looking Grand Scenic
Sun rating: 3.5/5
THE GOOD
  • Renault build quality has improved since it joined an alliance with Nissan
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • The steering is woolly and the ride jittery over poor surfaces

Read the full Renault Scenic review


French car giant Renault hasn’t imported its big and stylish Espace into the UK since early 2012, leaving ‘big’ MPV duties to the Grand Scenic.

Launched in 2009 it was face-lifted in 2013 when the engine range was cut from seven to four.

The 128bhp 1.6 litre turbo diesel has the most poke followed by the 109bhp 1.5 litre.

Petrol power is 109bhp 1.6 litre or the newer 11bhp 1.2 litre turbo which is sweeter than you would believe.

You can just about squeeze seven into the Grand Scenic.

Watch out for: Electronic handbrake doesn’t always release.

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Search for and buy a used Renault Grand Scenic on sunmotors.co.uk


Chrysler Grand Voyager

chrysler-grand-voyager-1000
Sun rating: 3/5
THE GOOD
  • Amazingly versatile
  • Classy image
  • Huge space
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Needs a more economical and quieter engine
  • Only four stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.

Read the full Chrysler Grand Voyager review


If size really matters, and you need luggage space inside, even when all seven seats are occupied, then the answer is to go American.

Chrysler launched its fifth generation Grand Voyager in 2008 and it’s still with us and so is getting a bit long in the tooth.

Kids love ‘em though because they think they are in a space ship, its stow n’ go rear seats are brilliant and it has a classy image.

Yet the interior is a bit American woodsman’s cottage crude though it’s doubtful the ‘wood’ is wood at all and some bits are quite fragile.

The GV is well equipped with electric rear doors, climate control and cruise control even on the entry level SE.

The 2.8 litre 178bhp turbo diesel delivers leisurely performance (0-62: 12.8 seconds) and 35.8mpg on the official combined test.

Watch out for: Check automatic transmission works correctly. Brakes can take a pounding so have them checked too.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Chyrsler Grand Voyager on sunmotors.co.uk


Mazda 5

mazda5_1000
Sun rating: 3/5
THE GOOD
  • Styling gives some personality
  • Not bought by fleets so not on every street corner so strong used values
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Some rivals have better cabin versatility

Read the full Mazda 5 review


Sporty good looks and practical sliding rear doors give the Mazda 5 an edge over most MPVs and the practical interior is not a let-down either, though the dashboard is a wall of buttons.

The 5 tackles the bends well too when you haven’t got the family on board thanks to relatively firm suspension which they might not like.

The second generation 5 ran from 2005 to 2010. The current car was launched with 1.8 or 2.0 petrol engines or a 1.6 diesel.

Now only available with the bigger petrol engine and the diesel. Expect 38mpg from the petrol, 44mpg from the diesel.

Rear seats are for kids only and the centre middle seat is narrower than the outside pair.

Trim level TS2 is the best value specification as it includes climate control, rear parking sensors and Bluetooth phone connectivity.

Watch out for: Suspension alignment correct; odd tyre wear is a symptom. Oil level critical with the diesel engine. Some diesel particulate filter (DPF) problems.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Mazda 5 on sunmotors.co.uk


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More Top 10 guides:  City - Electric - Hatchback - Saloon - MPV - 4x4 - Crossover - Estate Sport - Convertible
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