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The best family-friendly people carriers

Section: What to Buy
The best family-friendly people carriers

You’ve got a growing family, you sometimes ferry about your children’s friends, your parents, your in-laws and, if you ever get the time for a social life, you might give your friends a lift too.

The car you need in your life now isn’t a sporty number or a three-door run-around, but a seven-seater people carrier.

These family cars used to resemble vans with windows, but today’s MPVs often feel like conventional cars to drive, have comfortable interiors and lots of practical touches to make them flexible enough to cope with everyday family life.

Our friends at Parkers have found the best seven-seater cars, the ones that make family life more of a doddle.

The only caveat is that none of them promise to end that familiar question of “are we nearly there yet?”.

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso


As distinctive on the inside as it is on outside, the futuristic Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is a flexible and adaptable seven-seater.

The Citroen’s rearmost seats are ideally suited for children but adults can squeeze themselves in there for shorter journeys, too.

The Picasso might not be exciting to drive, but it’s really comfortable, making long journeys feel relaxed.

Individual seats in rows two and three ensure all passengers have ample head, leg and elbow room, with lots of storage cubbies to keep stuff out of the reach of curious little hands.

All five rear seats fold flat into the floor in less than a minute and the front passenger seat also folds to accommodate long items.

Excellent all-round visibility ensures everyone can see out easily, helping reduce travel sickness, while two tablet-like screens on the dashboard allow everyone to see the sat-nav.

  • Parkers pick of the range: Grand C4 Picasso 2.0 BlueHDi 150 Flair
  • Price: £28,010 
  • Fuel efficiency: 68.9mpg
  • VED car tax band and cost*: B and £0 for first year, £20 for subsequent years
  • Boot space: 793-2,181 litres (lower figure is in five-seater mode)

Ford S-Max

Ford S-Max

The Ford S-Max is a sporty take on the people carrier.

The big Ford is a sound choice for drivers who like to get enthusiastic behind the wheel, while still being a really practical family car.

The rearmost seats are primarily designed for children but they fold into the floor at the touch of a button.

There’s also an electric boot option which can be activated by waving your foot under the rear bumper.

Many interior surfaces are coated with an anti-stain layer – perfect for protecting from sticky fingers.

  • Parkers pick of the range: S-Max 2.0 TDCi 150PS Titanium
  • Price: £28,445
  • Fuel efficiency: 56.5mpg
  • VED car tax band and cost*: D and £0 for first year, £110 for subsequent years
  • Boot space: 285-2,020 litres (700 litres in five-seater mode)

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer

This is an engaging family car, with a functional appearance and a great engine underneath.

It isn’t as practical as the other seven-seaters in this list, however.

The middle row of seats is essentially a bench rather than individual chairs, but there’s storage space under the seat and seat-back tables too.

It’s quite cramped on the back row of seats, but neat solutions such as elasticated strappings on the sides of the boot allow kids’ clutter to be tidied away easily.

The seats themselves can be raised and lowered with a single hand and the boot can be opened electrically in the same manner as the Ford’s.

  • Parkers pick of the range: 218d Sport Gran Tourer
  • Price: £28,340
  • Fuel efficiency: 64.2mpg
  • VED car tax band and cost*: C and £0 for first year, £30 for subsequent years
  • Boot space: 560-1,860 litres (lower figure is in five-seater mode)

SEAT Alhambra

SEAT Alhambra

The SEAT Alhambra is a bigger seven-seater than the others here, meaning grown-ups are more likely to find the back two chairs more comfortable than the other seven-seaters on our list.

It’s the longest, widest and tallest car here, and so comes with even more space inside for people and their stuff.

The Alhambra has an electric boot, but the SEAT’s trump card is the sliding doors to access the middle and rear rows of seats – these too can be electrically operated.

The result is fewer dings in car parks, as your children can’t swing them open wildly into neighbouring vehicles.

  • Parkers pick of the range: Alhambra 2.0 TDI 150PS SE DSG automatic
  • Price: £30,275
  • Fuel efficiency: 54.3mpg
  • VED car tax band and cost*: E and £130 for first year, £130 for subsequent years
  • Boot space: 267-2,297 litres (809 litres in five-seater mode)

Fiat 500L MPW

Fiat 500L MPW

The Fiat 500L MPW (Multi-Purpose Wagon) is the largest member of the 500 family and the only one capable of carrying seven passengers, despite its dinky exterior measurements.

That said, those rearmost seats are definitely suited to children, but considering how much space there is in such a compact car, you can forgive that.

All the other seats are spacious and airy, build quality is good and there’s a wide range of interesting options such as an on-board coffee maker.

You can also customise the exterior with contrasting roof colours.

  • Parkers pick of the range: 500L MPW 1.6 MultiJet 120hp Lounge 7-seater
  • Price: £21,705
  • Fuel efficiency: 67mpg
  • VED car tax band and cost*: C and £0 for first year, £30 for subsequent years
  • Boot space: 168-1,509 litres (638 litres in five-seater mode)

Read more family car reviews at Parkers

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