Top ten best seven-seat MPVs
Often used as the shining example of a car-lover having to trade in that sporty coupe as the family grows, famed for practicality over any sort of discernible style and now derided by downsizers leaping on the crossover bandwagon, the MPV is a much maligned mode of transport.
But we're here to change all that. Well not exactly, but there comes a point when some people need an affordable, practical seven seat car to get large groups of people from one place to the next.
So when five seats just won't do, enter the humble seven-seat MPV. Now more frugal and cheaper to run than ever, some can even be classed as a good looking car.
If you're looking for a seven-seat car, see this guide on some of the best people carriers on the market today.
Although the Chevrolet Orlando is an MPV, it is sometimes mistaken for an SUV because of its muscular and sporty-looking front-end. But this 'hybrid-esque' styling means you benefit from sporty appeal and MPV practicality.
The Orlando ticks all of the boxes in terms of on-the-road performance as it handles the bumpy British roads with ease and comes with a decent choice of engines - including a punchy 161bhp 2.0-litre diesel.
When it comes to interior space and family car qualities the Orlando offers ample storage space of up to 1,487-litres, as well as offering a range of different luggage compartments and cubby holes.
The entry-level Orlando also comes well equipped with tinted windows, air conditioning, an adjustable steering column and side airbags, which adds a little 'family peace of mind'.
Chevrolet Orlando price start from £16,825.
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Read our Chevrolet Orlando review.
Vauxhall Zafira/Zafira Tourer
The biggest car in Vauxhall's range will be refreshed in 2011 with new more frugal engines, styling tweaks and extra equipment.
It will remain, however, one of the most flexible MPVs on the market today. Rear sliding doors will remain despite the smaller Meriva introducing Vauxhall's new rear-opening doors, but the Zafira will boast a huge range of seating options as part of Vauxhall's Flex seating system.
This includes seating seven, and the large dimensions of the Zafira make this possible with ease.
You've probably seen a Zafira recently on your morning drive to work. The popularity comes down to three things; practicality in terms of seating arrangements, a comfortable and quiet drive and finally, the amount of Zafira's on the road means parts are easy to find.
For a more stylish and equipped package go for the brand new Zafira Tourer model. Although it is the same car in essence, the new Zafira Tourer gains a stylish 'boomerang' styled front-end and a more efficient 2.0-litre diesel engine - emitting just 119g/km.
Vauxhall Zafira prices start from £14,995 and Vauxhall Zafira Tourer prices start from £19,785.
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Read our Vauxhall Zafira review.
Away from planet-friendly hybrids made famous by the decade-old Prius, Toyota also produces a very sturdy and spacious MPV in the shape of the Verso.
As so often in the seven-seat segment, the back row of seats are more for small children or people who enjoy resting their chin on their knees during long car journeys.
However, what you do get is a very sharp-looking MPV with tonnes of safety kit, a practical interior and low running costs.
The 2010 upgraded Verso offers competitive CO2 emissions and fuel economy in keeping with the manufacturer's push to be seen as 'green'.
On the road, it handles fairly well, and although it can get a bit noisy at high speeds, the ride is above average for a car this size.
Where it really stands up to scrutiny is in terms of equipment, where even standard specification models are generously sprinkled with bells and whistles.
Toyota Verso prices start from £17,765.
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Read our Toyota Verso review.
We're resisting the temptation to put 'see Citroen C4 Grand Picasso' in this description of the Peugeot 5008, which shares engines, platform and similar equipment with the other PSA Group-owned car.
It also boasts the huge amount of interior space, inherent practicality and good quality materials of the Citroen model.
However, there are some noticeable differences. The Peugeot feels more responsive on the road and boasts different exterior styling to the Citroen.
It's also newer and as such has a host of (slightly) more efficient engines to save drivers a few pennies.
In conclusion: It's big, practical, spacious, and quite a bit like the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso.
Peugeot 5008 prices start from £16 495.
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Read our Peugeot 5008 review.
Time to break out that book of motoring clichés, because the VW Touran fulfils every one.
The VW Touran is well-built, something the German manufacturer is justifiably keen to promote. There is good quality materials used throughout and the interior feels classier than many volume rivals.
On the road, the Volkswagen underpinnings make for a controlled and refined ride - ideal for the driver and all six passengers, who should be seated in comfort.
However, it is not as new as some rivals and even Volkswagen's excellent engine technology is less frugal than some of the newer MPVs entering the market.
The Volkswagen Touran is a safe and practical MPV with that extra touch of class to the interior to make it feel much more premium.
Volkswagen Touran prices start from £18,920.
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Read our Volkswagen Touran review.
No, it hasn't been hit by another car, the strange wave-like styling on the Mazda5 is the Japanese manufacturer's bizarre decision to incorporate the flowing, stylish but ultimately doomed Nagare design language on a seven-seat MPV.
At the very least, it stands out from the crowd of drab, box-like MPVs traditionally offered with seven seats.
The waves are not just for show. Instead, they help to improve the aerodynamics and complement two new petrol and a single 1.6 diesel engines offering improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions offered with refreshed 2010 models.
And, while it can sometimes get a bit noisy when up to speed, the handling and precise steering of the Mazda5 are impressive.
There's also a practical aspect to the car; it was one of the first to embrace rear sliding doors and inside the materials feel relatively upmarket and durable.
Mazda5 prices from £18,175
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Read our Mazda5 review.
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
Cheap and practical, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is the one to choose if you're looking to get the most space for your cash.
Unfortunately, style and refinement aren't two things necessarily included in the price. The massive amount of space inside - 2,500 litres with the rear seats down - lends itself to a massive box-like car.
However, it doesn't look terrible, and the practical interior is of a higher build and material quality than the price tag suggests.
There's also a willing range of engines to power the load-lugger about and you can get CO2 emissions as low as 129g/km - one of the best around.
There's plenty of room for passengers, luggage and anything else you can think of inside, but on the road you may have to wrestle with unresponsive steering and plenty of body roll around corners.
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso prices from £17,950.
Browse our Citroen Grand C4 Picasso prices.
Ford Grand C-Max
The new Grand C-Max for 2011 arrives on an all-new Ford platform. It is essentially a bigger version of the C-Max, one of the best drives you'll find in an MPV.
As expected the Grand C-Max has a touch more body roll around corners than its smaller brother, but for driving dynamics, there are no cars this size capable of matching it.
It also has a retouched exterior and some new fabrics and equipment inside. Under the bonnet, Ford's new EcoBoost engine technology keeps power up and emissions down, while the diesel engines are frugal and willing.
There's not much to fault the C-Max on, if you're after a seven seat car which is a great all-rounder, this could be the one.
Ford C-Max prices start from £17,665.
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Read our Ford Grand C-Max review.
Seat is better known as the 'Spanish Alfa'. As compliments go, it isn't a bad one, but it doesn't say much for the prospects of its biggest car ever, the 4.9 metre long Seat Alhambra people carrier.
Luckily for Seat, the comparison to the Italian manufacturer best known for style over practicality is unfair in the case of the Alhambra.
If you're looking for seven seats for people with legs - something many seven-seat MPVs are not built for - the Alhambra is the car for you because it offers plenty of leg and head room.
In terms of practicality, gone are the infuriating removable seats to be replaced with simple and effective folding second and third rows, while the new sliding rear doors mean you can actually park in a parking space and get out of the car as well.
The interior is built to a high quality and a solid level of standard equipment includes climate control, parking sensors and electronic handbrake are features you'll wonder how you did without.
Above all else, the Alhambra does look good, with an exterior designed to be good to look at and aerodynamic to reduce fuel costs. It drives well too, although it doesn't reach Ford S-Max levels of handling.
Seat Alhambra prices start from £23,535.
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Read our Seat Alhambra review.
If you're an MPV-sceptic but have the unavoidable task of carting around a big family, this could be the equivalent of the segment meeting you halfway.
It's big, practical and spacious as expected from a seven-seat MPV, but the car-like handling, impressive refinement and lack of nerve-shredding corner role make the S-Max a best of both worlds kind of car.
The refreshed model for 2010 has been marketed as a sporty model capable of lugging skis, surfboards and plenty of sportsmen and women to their destination and Ford has even gone as far as labelling it a seven-seat coupe.
To match this image, the petrol engines are quick of the blocks and as capable as you could ask for from a larger family car while business users have been given a few new lower CO2 diesels to play with.
The only downside? It's not really a seven-seat car. While five seats are spacious enough, the back two are really only likely to be used by children.
Ford S-Max prices start from £22,600.
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Read our Ford S-Max review.
If you're not happy with our choices, why not take a look at some other suggestions below. These are primarily based on practicality and family-life functionality:
Two rows of three seats is an unusual combination in the Multipla. As well as offering plentiful interior space, its exterior design is a little 'different' to the common car - which is always a bonus.
On top of its useful interior space, the Sedona's headlining credential is its £19,965, which for a car of its ferocious size is really cheap. The only downside of the Sedona is its boxy size, but if convenience is your prerogative then it won't be a problem.
Peugeot Partner Tepee
The Peugeot Partner Tepee is another example of convenience of style. Although it is essentially a 'van with windows' the Tepee delivers excellent storage space and is great for family trips.
Citroen Berlingo Multispace
The Berlingo Multispace is the French brother of the Peugeot Partner Tepee and, like its brother, is essentially a van with windows. However, storage space and general interior convenience is delivered with ease.