The seven best MPVs for modern family life

The seven best MPVs for modern family life
The Baker-Lancaster ensemble, namely four boys under the age of nine and a modern-day blended family in the making, is shortly off (like so many others) on its annual staycation to Cornwall.

You’ll have noticed immediately the fly in the ointment... 

Not the most pressing one, of Henry, aged eight, George aged six, Josh aged six and Max aged three, all trying to entertain themselves for six hours in a car, which normally means hitting one another until the first one cries, then the one that gets told off crying in turn, then the younger one writing over the middle one’s face with a Biro, then the two adults arguing, then everyone needing a wee.

No, not that one.

The most pressing problem for anyone who cares a jot about cars is the need for a seven-seater.

Unless your budget stretches to six figures for a car, or a monthly payment on a finance deal of about £500, the only attractive seven-seaters, i.e. premium SUVs, are out of bounds.

At which point, you’ll be left with nowhere to go but the humble MPV.

I have accepted my automotive fate well enough, and so we will shortly be driving west in a Ford S-Max.

The kids couldn’t be happier - what’s not to like about plastic flip-up trays in the back of the front seats?

But having run the full gamut of seven-seaters, not in a motoring journalist sort of way, but in a proper I-might-have-to-buy-this-car sort of way, here are my top, magnificent seven, multi-seat vehicles of all time.

1. The Range Rover

Costing from £74,545

OK, this is a very expensive car, especially in 5.0-litre supercharged form, but it is the most beautiful car to drive and to sit in, that God created for large families…with large budgets.

Read the full review

Find a Range Rover for sale

2. Volvo XC90

Costing from £45,550

This runs the Rangie a close second.

It actually beats it hands down for space inside - with the third row of seats up, there’s still an ample boot, and those three rows will carry seven adults in comfort, let alone children. Just staggering.

Read the full review

Find a Volvo XC90 for sale

Car valuation

​Find out how much your car is worth with the free car valuation tool at RAC Cars.

3. Hyundai i800

Costing from £22,995

Whoa, I hear you cry. Quite a leap eh? But what is essentially a van, with room for eight, drives and handles surprisingly well. If you were foolish enough to have a family bigger than ours, you could do no better…

Read the full review

Find a Hyundai i800 for sale

4. SsangYong Rodius

Costing from £they’ll be begging you to take it away...

…Except for this monumental nine-seater. Cheap as chips, which is just as well given the flimsy plastics and somewhat sub-par drive. It’s an old model now, but if you like cars as ugly as they come, you’ll love this, and it is the ultimate people carrier - cheap, robust and spacious.

Find a Rodius for sale

5. Kia Carens

Costing from £17,995

I ran one for six months and it was magnificent, an absolute tardis of a car. Small footprint for easy parking, but a genuine third row of seats. The 1.6 diesel takes care of most eventualities; the suspension is very soft but the kids love that.

Read the full review here

Find a Kia Carens for sale

6. Land Rover Discovery Sport

Costing from £30,640

Another tiddler from the outside, with an optional third row. This is the posh Carens really, for those with a bigger budget - great looks, the brand’s capable off-roading systems.. in many ways the ideal compromise.

Read the full review here

Find a Land Rover Discovery for sale

7. Ford S-max

Costing from £23,075

Yes, this has got to be in the list - as long as it’s the electric blue colour we have, according to the boys.

Titanium spec gives you all the bings and bongs and the chassis is amazing for a long wheelbase. A true driver’s MPV.

Read the full review here

Find a Ford S-max for sale