The term 'MPV' stands for Multi Purpose Vehicle, though in the UK it's most commonly known as a People Carrier. MPVs are often built upon the same chassis as the respective manufacturers Van range, in order to take advantage of their square shape and high roof. If you're a growing family, having an MPV often makes life a little bit easier than cramming everything into a seven-seater SUV, though this comes with a slight compromise on style.
The MPV category is broken up into three main segments - Compact, Large & Extra Large. Below is a list of some of the most popular models from each respective segment.
Compact MPVs are the smallest size of people carriers available on the market, but only by a small margin. Their shorter wheelbase makes them a little bit easier to drive compared to most MPVs as the larger models try to make the most of every inch of space in the cars body.
The SEAT Alhambra is one of the most affordable MPV models, but what sets this particular car apart is the sliding rear passenger door. Another interesting point about the Alhambra is that it's the sister car to the Volkswagen Sharan, with the model sharing many of the same parts.
The Volkswagen Touran is a car that is straight to the point - there's less emphasis on having a swanky interior, but it excels in all the most important areas. It's easy to drive and is available in either petrol or diesel and with an incredibly smooth DSG automatic gearbox. With Volkswagen's respectable build quality, the Touran won't let you down - it also has a five star NCAP rating!
Larger MPVs make the most of the space available to them, these are best suited for families that often go on holiday trips or for those that need that little bit of extra space to fit school supplies inside, such as instruments or P.E kits. They're not just suited to families though, MPVs of this size are often used by taxi companies and local charities.
The S-Max is one of the most popular people carriers in the Ford range, mainly due to its affordability, value for money and better exterior looks than some of its competitors. While it's not the most luxurious on the inside, there is an awful lot of space and everyday practicality. That being said, there is a special Vignale model, if you want a more premium interior.
Previously named Picasso, the new Space Tourer is perfect for the large family who values a trendier looking car over the typical utilitarian styling of other MPVs. Looks aside, what sets the Space Tourer apart is that it's available with up to eight seats!
Extra large MPVs have an enourmous amount of presence on the road due to how long and wide they are. You won't have any trouble at all packing equipment into the back nor will there be any hassle squeezing passengers into the back.
The Galaxy is the kingpin of the XL MPV segment, it's one of the largest vehicles in the entire Ford range and is more focused on usability and comfort as opposed to just being useful for the school run alone. Being a Ford, the price point is also very reasonable, so it won't hurt your wallet nearly as much as its competitors like the BMW 2 Series Grand Tourer or Mercedes V-Class.