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Best small van-based MPVs

Dan Powell

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Dan Powell

Peugeot Rifter rear

There are few cars that can match a van-based MPV for space, fuel economy and practicality. Indeed, when it comes to all-round versatility, these boxy family cars are the best value for money. 

What’s more, thanks to their raised driving position, these cars are comfortable and have easy access for older passengers. 

We’ve found the top five van-based MPVs you can buy right now from Citroen, Ford, Fiat, Peugeot and Volkswagen. Some of these models are available with seven-seats and the choice of petrol or diesel engines. You also get the option of a manual or fully automatic gearbox. 

Citroen Berlingo MPV

Year launched: 2018

Citroen Berlingo MPV Driving
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The Citroen Berlingo MPV is a comfortable and versatile MPV. All models are easy to drive, well-equipped and available with five or seven-seats. If you need a spacious family car with low fuel costs and lots of smart tech, the Berlingo MPV will be the car for you.

The five-seater model has a large boot and two side sliding doors, which makes it easy to get in/out when space is limited (like in a multi-story car park). If you need more space and seats the seven-seat Berlingo MPV (badged XL) will provide unrivalled versatility. Not only can you carry seven adults, but the third row of seats can be removed when not required. 

The Berlingo is offered with a punchy 1.5-litre diesel or 1.2-litre petrol. You also get the choice of a six-speed manual or a smooth eight-speed automatic. The diesel will return up to 69mpg, while the petrols are advertised with 50+mpg. All versions of the Berlingo are easy to drive, while the soft suspension and firm seats make it a comfortable car for long journeys. 

Peugeot Rifter

Year launched: 2018

Peugeot Rifter front static
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The Peugeot Rifter shares a lot of its tech and engines with the Citroen Berlingo. However, that said, you do get some upgrade with sharper styling and Peugeot’s i-cockpit system that places the instrument dials above (rather than behind) the steering wheel. 

Like its Citroen stablemate, the Rifter is a comfortable car to live with. The large seats are firm but supportive, which makes it excellent for older people who need a car with additional back and upper leg support. The elevated driving position also makes the Rifter easy for access, while the option of seven-seats will appease family buyers who need a driver-friendly car for the school run. 

The Rifter is really relaxing to drive, with its soft and laidback road manners making it stress-free to use in and out of the city. Mid-spec models are also generously equipped, with parking sensors, electronic handbrake and two side sliding doors. However, if you can, we’d recommend buying one of the range-topping GT Line models that add a full-length panoramic window and touchscreen navigation. 

Vauxhall Combo Life

Year launched: 2018

Vauxhall Combo Life Front View
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Well-equipped, good value and easy to drive, the Vauxhall Combo Life is a likeable and capable van-based MPV that ticks all of the family car boxes with the choice of five or seven-seats. 

The Combo shares a lot of its technology and mechanicals with the Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo MPV, which means it delivers class-leading comfort and value. Even the most basic version of the Combo has electric heated door mirrors, air conditioning and automatic headlights. You also get a smart speed recognition system, which reads local speed signs and displays them on the dashboard. 

Like its French stablemates, the Combo Life is offered with the choice of a petrol or diesel engine. The 1.5-litre diesel is the most popular, due to its low fuel costs, but the petrol version is worth seeking out if you don’t cover large mileages. 

Ford Tourneo Connect

Year launched: 2014

Ford Tourneo Connect rear
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Based on Ford’s award-winning small van, the Tourneo Connect is a practical and efficient MPV that delivers class-leading space, comfort and value. If you want a five or seven-seat family car with good driving dynamics, the Tourneo Connect won’t disappoint. 

The seven-seat Grand Tourneo Connect is one of the most versatile cars money can buy, thanks to its flexible third row of seats that slide backwards and forwards to allow the choice between extra legroom or increased luggage space. The rear seats also fold flat to return the Connect to its van origins, with 2620 litres of space.

Like the panel van, the Tourneo Connect is good to drive. The steering is nicely weighted and the body control is composed on rough road surfaces. The 1.0-litre turbo petrol is one of the best three-cylinder engines in this class, with sprightly performance and low fuel costs. The 1.5-litre diesel engine will suit drivers who cover long distances, with its quiet and refined motorway manners making it a comfortable motorway companion. 

Volkswagen Caddy Life

Year launched: 2015

Volkswagen Caddy Life front
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Roomy, simple yet brilliant, the Volkswagen Caddy Life is a popular family MPV that pairs premium car comfort with van-like raw practicality. Admittedly, you do pay extra for the Caddy’s upmarket class and comfort, especially for the seven-seater, but we think it’s a price worth paying. 

Upfront the Caddy Life has an impressive, car-like feel. The layout looks very much like the cabin in a Volkswagen Golf, but it’s all finished with hard-wearing plastic, rather than soft but more easily-marked materials used in Volkswagen cars. Even so, the Caddy has the plushest and most user-friendly cabin of any van in its class, with lots of storage and excellent all-round comfort. 

The Caddy Life feels similar to the Golf to drive, too, with its soft suspension providing good levels of cushioning to iron out potholes, drain covers and speed bumps. There isn’t much choice when it comes to engines - the Caddy Life is diesel-only - but the 2.0 TDI is smooth and powerful, which makes it rewarding to drive. 

The Citroen Berlingo MPV is the best van-based MPV with seven-seats. The M model is limited to five-seats but the long-wheelbase XL is a fully-fledged seven-seater and has lots of space for a large family to travel in comfort. Other MPV seven-seaters we rate highly include the Ford Tourneo Connect and Peugeot Rifter. 

You can buy a seven-seat MPV from a dealer for under £10,000. These cars tend to be over five years old and powered by petrol or diesel engines with a manual or automatic gearbox. Two-year-old seven-seat MPVs tend to start at £14,000 while nearly new models that are less than 12 months old can be bought from £17,000. 

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Ford Tourneo Connect

1.5 EcoBlue 120 Zetec 5dr

  • 2020
  • 5,733 miles
  • TrustFord Staines
  • Middlesex, TW184JQ
Price:£16,800
PCP: £304.60/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £304.60, Customer Deposit: £2,520.00, Total Deposit: £2,520.00, Optional Final Payment: £7,694.00, Total Charge For Credit: £4,075.00, Total Amount Payable: £20,875.00, Representative APR: 12.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 12.17%, Excess Mileage Charge: 4ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000

Ford Tourneo Connect

1.5 EcoBlue 120 Zetec 5dr

  • 2020
  • 78 miles
  • Stoneacre Ford York
  • Yorkshire, YO329GY
Price:£16,999
PCP: £272.06/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £272.06, Customer Deposit: £2,549.00, Total Deposit: £2,549.85, Optional Final Payment: £8,692.91, Total Charge For Credit: £3,765.86, Total Amount Payable: £20,764.86, Representative APR: 11.3%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 5.81%, Excess Mileage Charge: 5.27ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000

Ford Tourneo Connect

1.5 EcoBlue 120 Titanium 5dr

  • 2020
  • 5,651 miles
  • TrustFord Birmingham - Erdington
  • Birmingham, B249QB
Price:£16,990
PCP: £300.89/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £300.89, Customer Deposit: £2,548.00, Total Deposit: £2,548.50, Optional Final Payment: £8,083.00, Total Charge For Credit: £4,172.65, Total Amount Payable: £21,162.65, Representative APR: 12.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 12.17%, Excess Mileage Charge: 4ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000