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Despite the reputation MPVs used to have, modern day MPVs have grown in popularity and can be just as much fun to drive as a regular hatchback thanks to cutting edge designs, heightened versatility and the attractive price tag, which is often less than an SUV.
Below, Trusted Dealers provides a guide to buyers considering purchasing an MPV. We’ll provided you with all the advice you’ll need to make an informed choice next time you enter the showroom.
Is an MPV for me?
A good starting point is to consider whether and MPV is best suited to your needs. Many motorists with larger families are attracted to the volume of space offered, the flexibility of seating arrangements and the practicality of sliding doors. Furthermore, if you’re elderly or a business owner, an MPV could make life a lot easier. If you have a smaller family, you could also consider an estate car. Estate cars are cheaper to buy than some MPVs and also come with a large boot and plenty of practicality. For more information on estate cars, read our guide.
Which type of MPV should I buy?
MPVs generally come in three different size categories, small MPVs such as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, mid-size MPVs such as the Ford C-Max or large MPVs like the popular Citroen C4 Picasso.
Small MPVs – these models are not all about space, but are aimed at people who seek a five-seater car with practical and adaptable cabin space at a low cost. Some small MPVs will offer handy sliding rear doors or rear hinged doors that make fitting child seats lots easier.
Mid-size MPVs – these models have much more room in them for luggage and can even be purchased as seven-seaters, but the rear seats are often only practical for children to use. To obtain the extra space, the wheelbase is lengthened meaning they are not much larger than regular saloons or hatchbacks and therefore quite fuel efficient.
Large MPVs – these models offer maximum carrying capacity for a family of seven. Not only can you fit in seven seats but the boot space is usually fairly spacious too. Some of the most popular large MPVs include the Ford S-Max , the Ford Galaxy and the Seat Alhambra.
It might seem like an attractive option to choose an MPV with seven seats as you will certainly benefit from the extra carrying capacity should you need it, but if you don’t actually need the space, and wouldn’t be utilising it on a regular basis, you will save money on fuel costs by opting for a smaller model. If you do decide to opt for a seven-seater MPV, make sure you assess the amount of boot space you’ll be left with, with all the seats in use, and whether the seats are suitable for adults.
The choice of seating options in an MPV is vast so you need to think about which layout is best suited to your needs. Sliding rear seats can be a huge asset to families – you can push them back to increase legroom or slide them forwards to increase boot space. Some MPVs offer seating that moves in rows, whilst others allow you to move each seat separately. Some rear seats will slightly recline which can also be a bonus for small children to prevent their heads from falling forward whilst sleeping. Beware of MPVs that only have two usable middle-row seats as this means that a family of five may have to use the third row of seats, which will restrict boot space. If you need more luggage space, look for cars with roof rails as standard – you can typically add up to around 100kg of luggage on rails in roof-top boxes.
One of the most important aspects when buying an MPV will be the amount of luggage space offered. Most buyers will be looking for the largest boot space possible, so it’s well worth researching the dimensions of different MPVs in the size category you are considering. It is also important to check whether the load floor will be flat once the rear seats have been folded down as this could increase or decrease the load capacity. Finally, look at the shape of the boot, is it fairly boxy and tall to make awkward objects easier to fit in? Are there any cubby holes ideal for storing valuables?
Cabin storage is another area to consider when purchasing the best MPV for your needs. If you have children, you may benefit from large door pockets to store the kid’s toys, snack and drinks. Cabins with a pull down drinks holder or table in the middle of the seats can also be off great benefit to children and adults alike! How much space is there in the rear foot well for luggage and/or longer legs? There is nothing worse than cramped children on a long journey!
Child car seats
Many parents opt for an MPV if they need to transport three young children in child car seats as there are very few five-seater conventional cars that have the ability to fit three seats across the back row. When considering your options, always check the third row of seats contains ISOFIX points for child car seats, or that the seats have the ability to carry child car seats. If in doubt, take your child car seats with you when you go to test drive a car, to see how easily they will fit into the model.
Modern MPVs are so practical these days that many models offer sliding passenger access doors. These can be a real bonus if you’re trying to unload a large family in a tight parking spot! Some of the best examples come on the Ford Grand C-Max and the Seat Alhambra. Make sure you thoroughly test out MPVs with sliding doors before you make a purchase. Although they are a great option if you have small children strapped into car seats, older children who can get themselves out of the car, may struggle with the weight of a sliding door.
Before you purchase an MPV, make sure that you feel happy behind the wheel of it. Manoeuvring a larger vehicle is not easy and will take some time to get used to. Many MPVs will have larger wing mirrors to aid drivers with parking as well as reverse and front parking sensors that can alert a driver when they are nearing an obstacle – some might even have a rear-view camera for heightened visibility which can prove highly useful for parallel parking.
The latest MPVs come with so many different options it can become a bit overwhelming for buyers. Before you make a buying decision, think about the options you actually need and will use on a daily basis, rather than being blinded by all the fancy gadgets that could drastically increase the price tag of your preferred MPV .
If you’ve a really large family, even a seven seat MPV might not be able to accommodate you. If this is the case, consider opting for a commercial van – many of which can be adapted to become people carriers by adding windows and additional seats. Vans may not be the most attractive choice of car, but they are built to carry as much as possible at a low cost. Van-based MPVs are the most practical cars you can buy and some models can offer space for up to nine people.