MBN

NEWS

We should abandon SUVs and return to people carriers – here are six of the best

Nikki Haley writes ‘finish them’ on IDF shells during Israel visit
Published Time: 16.05.2024 - 19:40:26 Modified Time: 16.05.2024 - 19:40:26

Manufacturers may prioritise more lucrative 4x4s, but renewed interest in practicality means there’s never been a better time to buy an MPV The clamour to control the inexorable rise of large 4x4s will only increase with the news that a one-year-old girl died after being hit by Land Rover in a church car park in Aberdeenshire

Manufacturers may prioritise more lucrative 4x4s, but renewed interest in practicality means there’s never been a better time to buy an MPV


The clamour to control the inexorable rise of large 4x4s will only increase with the news that a one-year-old girl died after being hit by Land Rover in a church car park in Aberdeenshire. But what is the alternative? The less glamorous, but far more practical, people carrier or MPV.

Most millennials will remember these vehicles when sales were at their height 30 years or so ago. Growing up in the Nineties meant spending quite a lot of time in the back of one, or at least a similar “people carrier” – the Renault Espace, Volkswagen Sharan, Ford Galaxy and Chrysler Voyager were favoured middle-class mum-mobiles on the run-up to the turn of the century.

And then Volvo changed everything. Land Rover had been building the Discovery for a decade, but it didn’t capture the school run’s imagination as much as the XC90 from Sweden. This muscular, upmarket SUV was the must-have car for affluent, safety-conscious parents – after all, who wouldn’t want to cocoon their children in a huge, heavy 4x4 with a five-star safety rating?

It’s now 20 years since the XC90 appeared and look what’s happened since. With a handful of exceptions, every manufacturer followed Volvo into the segment, prioritising these wildly profitable but dynamically compromised products over smaller, cheaper and more price-conscious hatchbacks. Volvo, once famous for its estate cars, stopped selling them altogether in the UK, choosing instead to focus on the ubiquitous sports utility vehicle or SUV. Britain’s streets teem with these large, bloated trucks.

That’s true even in cities, where an SUV’s off-road capabilities (or pretensions) provide little practical benefit and where their sheer heft compromises overcrowded car parks and narrow streets. The higher fuel consumption of these heavier, less-aerodynamic vehicles also has a negative impact, even as we pivot towards an electric future; manufacturers are struggling to keep family cars light, especially if they have to add batteries, with some relatively mainstream models now weighing two tonnes. A number of high-profile accidents involving SUVs have prompted questions about whether such hefty, powerful vehicles should be normalised in civilian life.

SUVs are still wildly popular, with new models being launched every month. But there’s growing unease around their ongoing role in family motoring, and something of a taboo surrounding their use in cities.

MPVs over SUVs

But there’s an antidote to all of this. Multi-Purpose Vehicles, or MPVs – also known as people carriers – are still around, and despite being neglected by their manufacturers (or, like the Espace, reinvented as SUVs) have enjoyed something of a renaissance post-pandemic. 

They have a great deal of advantages over SUVs – they’re often roomier on the inside, they tend to be more efficient, they’re usually much better to drive and, crucially, your neighbours won’t be annoyed with you taking up two parking spaces. In almost every measurable way, the MPV is superior to the SUV; it’s only ride height and styling that make SUVs more attractive. 

Take the Ford Tourneo Connect, for example. It’s one of my favourite cars, with a huge, versatile interior that can accommodate an astonishing amount of cargo. Its five-star Euro NCAP rating includes an 84 per cent adult occupant score and an 82 per cent child occupant score, while its lower centre of gravity and good all-round visibility make it feel safer, too. Its seating arrangement is far more flexible than the often slightly compromised format of an SUV, and while it’s not the swishest thing on four wheels, at least no one will take umbrage and let your tyres down at night.

The MPVs to buy

But the Tourneo Connect is just an example. It’s a real buyer’s market for MPVs at the moment, with prices starting at £20,000 and even the best models only costing a little more. The Ford costs £31,000, so about the same as a Nissan Qashqai family SUV but with considerably more versatility – and none of the social stigma. 

And while design-led and highly desirable models like the Volkswagen ID. Buzz cost closer to £60,000, that’s still on par with high-end SUVs like the Volvo XC90. SUVs have their benefits, but they also have considerable downsides – and there’s never been a better time to buy a people carrier.

Vauxhall Combo Life, £21,000

: Vauxhall

Volkswagen Multivan, £48,000

: Uli Sonntag

Ford Tourneo Connect, £31,000

: Ford

Volkswagen ID. Buzz, £59,000

: Volkswagen

Citroen Berlingo, £23,000

: William Crozes

Dacia Jogger, £17,500

: Luc Lacey

Comments

More stories

More from Cars

More from The Telegraph

Halfords discount codes

KwikFit discount codes

Sky discount codes

Chain reaction discount codes

Audible promo codes

Go Outdoors promo codes © Telegraph Media Group Limited 2024

NEWS