The UK’s most wanted MPVs
Tuesday 07 June 2011
Trying to decide which MPV is right for you? With so much choice, why not see what other people are searching for on Auto Trader?
More than 17 million searches have been carried out for MPVs so far this year, the Multi Purpose Vehicle market is one of the competitive with an abundance of choice to suit every budget and need. MPVs are all about moving lots of people and things in comfort and as efficiently as possible. They’re loved for their practicality, flexibility, low running costs and comfortable ride – they’re great for driving around town, and plenty capable on the motorway.
Owner rating: 4.2/5
The Vauxhall Zafira is one of the UK’s most popular cars today – and the most searched for MPV on Auto Trader, with more than 2.2m used car searches so far this year. It’s also the most reviewed MPV in our Owner Reviews section, with more than a 100 owners giving it an average rating of 4.2 out of 5. If you’re looking for a comfortable, practical and great value used family car then you need look no further than the Vauxhall Zafira.
When it was introduced in 1999, the Zafira’s clever and flexible seating for seven was revolutionary – each pair of rear seats fold easily into the floor, while the middle bench reclines, slides and collapses. But the rear most seats are only really suitable for children and with the seats upright, the boot is very small.
The second generation version was introduced in 2005 and offers more space, a comfortable ride and more refined engines, with improved efficiency and emissions.
Build quality is traditionally impressive, but remember to check the service history to make sure that the cambelt has been replaced when it should have been. Also check the suspension, particularly on high-mileage cars.
“The Vauxhall Zafira is a practical family car equipped for every eventuality. With its flexible seating and storage it makes for an ideal place to keep the kids entertained if it’s raining and cold outside. Alternatively it is a useful load carrier with the seats down.” Jason S, Hunstanton
Read all Vauxhall Zafira (2005 – ) owner reviews
Owner rating: 4.4/5
The UK’s second most searched for MPV with more than 1.4m used car searches so far this year is the Ford Galaxy. The original Galaxy was developed alongside the Volkswagen Sharan and Seat Alhambra, and feels more like a hatchback to drive than a seven-seat people carrier.
There are two versions to choose from: 1995 to 2006 and 2006 onwards.
The 1995 version was rather small for a full-sized seven-seater MPV but still offered enormous levels of practicality and versatility. The rear five seats are removable to create a van-like cargo area, but then they do need storing. Early cars are now very cheap but check carefully how many seats any potential buy has: some models only seat five or six people. Equipment levels aren’t great and air conditioning wasn’t standard until 1999.
The second generation Galaxy was introduced alongside the more sporting S-MAX in 2005. Before buying also check the electrics all work, that the interior trim is intact and that the steering feels right – problems are common.
“Great handling and acceptable economy from a very versatile and well equipped car. There is nothing lacking in the spec as it includes handsfree Bluetooth controls as well as all the other refinements of a high spec vehicle. Car drives better than any other MPV I have used.” Paul O, Romfrod
Read all Ford Galaxy (2006 – ) owner reviews
Ford C-MAX and Focus C-MAX
Owner rating: 4.4/5
With almost 1m used car searches so far this year, the Ford C-MAX is one of the best sellers in its class. It’s ideal for those who want an MPV that’s enjoyable to drive and need more space than a Focus.
The first version was known as the Focus C-MAX and was based on the standard Focus. With its great engines and sporty looks, it has huge appeal, but isn’t as versatile as it might be. Reliability is a strong suit, but it’s worth checking for tired clutches, temperamental air-con and damaged interior trim.
In 2007 it was given a revamp and the Focus moniker was dropped. The C-MAX isn’t as flexible as some of its rivals but it is a great all-rounder, thanks to a comfortable ride, low running costs and decent boot space.
The new C-MAX was introduced in 2010 and is also available as the long-wheelbase seven-seat Grand C-MAX, complete with sliding rear doors for improved access. Whichever you buy you’ll love the space and versatility – we’d recommend opting for a diesel.
“I have owned many family cars over the years and by far this is the best. Loads of boot space easily fits three child seats and a whole array of camping equipment for a 2 two week holiday to France. So comfortable to drive and for all the passengers.” Edward B, Exeter
Read all Ford Focus C-MAX (2003 – 2007) owner reviews
Owner rating: 4.4/5
The Touran is VW’s take on a compact people-carrier. With 1 million used car searches so far this year, it has proved incredibly popular in the UK thanks to its practicality, versatility and great build-quality.
There are two versions to choose from. The original Touran was introduced in 2003 and was offered with a choice of five or seven seats, with a spacious middle row that folds, slides or can be removed fairly easily. The third row is fine for children but a squeeze for adults.
In 2010, the current Touran went on sale. The most obvious changes are to its look, with sharper styling bringing the seven-seat MPV bang up-to-date with the rest of the range. There’s also a new 1.6-litre 104bhp diesel model which thanks to Bluemotion technology can average 61.4mpg, making it the most economical MPV ever to roll off VW’s production lines.
Practicality is high on the agenda which is why the Touran comes with 39 cubby holes and seven seats as standard. The two rear rows can be folded down individually to leave either 695 or a whopping 1,913 litres of boot space.
“Very practical, not expensive, feels slightly underpowered to drive uphill with full load but cruises very well on motorways, comfortable, power socket to rear seats and cupholders very useful for kids, loads of storage compartments.” John H, West Kirby
Read Volkswagen Touran (2003 – 2010) owner reviews
Owner rating: 4.6/5
The Volkswagen Sharan is the highest rated MPV according to Auto Trader Owner Reviews, with 25 owners giving it an average rating of 4.6 out of 5. There are two key versions to choose from – one’s built from 1995 to 2010 and 2010 onwards.
Developed alongside the Ford Galaxy and SEAT Alhambra, the original Sharan introduced in 1995 was a full seven-seat MPV that drove much more like a car than a big people carrier. It has a comfortable ride, a well-built cabin and lots of practicality – all six passenger seats can be folded and tilted forwards to create a larger cargo space, but the rear five seats are heavy to lift out.
A new-look version was introduced in 2000 which had better equipment levels, and it was updated again in 2002 – the later the car the better, so it’s best to opt for the newest model you can afford. The Sharan is more expensive than its rivals but it will also hold onto its value better and is reliable.
The current Sharan was introduced in 2010 and is a completely new car – it’s bigger, has a modern look and is more accessible thanks to its new sliding rear side doors.
“Great family car- flexible, reliable and so easy to drive! Safe and practical for toddlers, teenagers and friends, parents, luggage for all and furniture! Economical and spacious, a true member of the family!” Anne W, Southwater
Read all Volkswagen Sharan (2000 – 2010) owner reviews
You may also want to consider:
Owner rating: 4.4/5
“This vehicle has performed exceptionally well for us. It is a brilliant crossover between a car and a people carrier. It feels and handles like a car, but is spacious enough for five adults and two children. It has plenty of power even when full, and is very economical.” Guy B, King’s Lynn
Read all Ford S-Max (2006 – ) owner reviews
Citroen Xsara Picasso
Owner rating: 4.5/5
“A great versatile car, handles well with great visibility. Three point seatbelts in rear, folding seats create a surprisingly large cargo space. Good all rounder that’s actually fun to drive.” Duncan W, Exeter
Read all Citroen Xsara (2000 – 2010) owner reviews
Citroen C4 Grand Picasso
Owner rating: 4.3/5
“Great practical family vehicle. The seats all fold to create a flat boot and fold down in a variety of combinations. It is comfortable to drive and we are making great savings on fuel costs.” Stella N, Milnthorpe
Read all Citroen C4 Grand Picasso (2007 – ) owner reviews
Toyota Corolla Verso
Owner rating: 4.7/5
“It is the very first car I have found very easy to park and has enough space for seven people. Looks small outside but very roomy inside and it drives like it was bought new.” AH, London
Read more Toyota Corolla Verso (2002 – 2007) owner reviews
Owner rating: 4.6/5
“This is a great car to drive, very comfortable ride, but has the power when you put your foot down. With the extra space you never struggle to get everything in, and if you’re moving stuff, all the rear seat come out easily.” Torsten S, London
Read all SEAT Alhambra (2000 – 2010) owner reviews