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Mpv Or Estate Car For 2+3 Family?

Greg Black

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This is my first post to this forum but I've been reading the site for ages and it's great. :thumbsup: Not owned a Toyota yet but my Dad's got a 1991 Camry that's on 150000 and fresh as a daisy.

We're thinking of upgrading the family saloon (406 HDI) for something with a bit more space. It's just about big enough for the three children and all the paraphernalia, but something bigger would be nice. I like the Avensis (particularly the estate) but we're toying with the idea of an MPV. We like the Previa but worry that a) it would be a bit pricey to buy and run and it would be a lot bigger than we would actually need 90% of the time. The Toyota Verso looks like it might be a good compromise but I'm a bit confused as I've heard of Corolla Verso, Avensis Verso - are there different ones? We might actually keep the 406 as it's reliable and well-maintained.

Whatever we go for it will have to be a diesel - the fuel economy is important. We are currently doing about 12000 miles a year and I don't change cars often (every 5-10 years). I don't really care about it being a bit on the slow side - I'm past all that now and comfort and reliability are much more important (yawn!).

Any advice would be much appreciated, and if anyone has any tips for good websites/dealers/independents that would also be most welcome.


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The Verso is based on the Corolla, IMO it's too small for serious family use. It may have 7 seats but there's not as much space in the seating area or in the boot as in an Avensis Estate. The Avensis Verso is bigger but is based on a previous generation Avensis. If you're going for a Toyota my tip would be to go for an Avensis. You'll enjoy more comfort, more space and better economy.

I'm also in the market for a new car, I have tried a few MPVs but didn't think they were as space-efficient as the adverts would have us believe. I also found that I didn't like the higher driving position/higher Centre of Gravity, this added to the feeling of discomfort when driving on twisty roads - just my opinion. ;)

With rear seat passengers I find effective ventilation is useful. My current car (estate) has no air vents for rear passengers and consequently my daughters do complain of the length of time the car takes to cool via the climate control after it has been parked in the sun. The Peugeot 407SW, VW Passat estate and Skoda Octavia Estate all have air vents for rear passengers.

I don't know how much this has helped but it may offer you some other options. :thumbsup:

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I too hated the driving position of the MPVs I tried, to me it was like driving a double decker bus. As for space most of them just have high ceilings and are no bigger than the cars they are based on. A big estate has plenty of leg room for 5 and a big boot. An MPV has a high ceiling smaller boot but handy little cupboards in the ceiling for sunglasses!!!


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TBH the difference in running costs for a Petrol and Diesel when your doing the low mileage your doing is negotiable when you take into consideration the extra cost of buying a Diesel in the first place although you do get some of that cost with the extended service costs on the Diesels.

An MPV will offer you extra interior space which will be more comfortable for driving distances and allow for growth over the 10 years your little ones will be driving, an estate will offer you a good comprimise as you well get the rear space on a large estate but give you much more boot space which will help.

Personally would opt for a Petrol Estate as you could save money on a new car and fulfil your requirements, it's always fun with littleones especially with pushchairs etc...

Make sure your new car has ISOFIX fittings if the young ones are still in baby seats!!

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I think the problem with child passengers in cars, also fuelling the rise of the MPV, stems from laws that firstly insist on child seats and secondly insist on them for increasingly older kids. The choice of car therefore comes down to the age of your kids since not many cars can accommodate three child seats in the rear, and if they can you may have trouble getting the kids in and out.

The Corolla Verso is OK and in some ways well sized – wider and longer that the standard Corolla – but for the money I found it a bit of a cheap looking minibus – note the skinny arm rests and general trim etc. It’s still a Corolla and so doesn’t have the trim and accessory level of the Avensis. The performance looked a little average too, so this compromise vehicle seemed too much of a compromise. I did look at the Avensis Verso but considered it way too costly for the few benefits it would deliver. In fact they’ve stopped supplying the Avensis Verso here in Finland altogether, because no one’s buying it.

I/we are a ‘2+2’ family with an Avensis 2.0 litre petrol estate (2005). The rear takes three adults pretty comfortably (though which adult would want the middle seat every day?) and carries 2 children in seats plus one adult in the rear nicely too. Three kids should have loads of room. Leg room is very good for people of all ages front and rear, and the boot really takes a lot of stuff. I think a key idea behind the Versos may be that you can turn them into transit vans, because my own experience is that my family needs haven’t once warranted the outlay for such ugly monster trucks, monster trucks, monster trucks, yeah!

(excuse the Little Britain)

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They've just introduced a new law in the UK to make it compulsory for a child under 135cm to sit in a car seat/booster. Our children are 8, 7 and 2 so we've got one big car seat and a booster seat. Can't get the three children in the back seat so one is up front and SWMBO is in the back. This has prompted SWMBO to decide that we need a big beasty. Having said that, we won't need to accommodate 2 car seats for that much longer. I haven't had a close look at any yet but from what I can see the 'smaller' MPVs (e.g. Zafira, Verso) don't offer much above a saloon or estate apart from the two small-ish seats at the back (with corresponding lack of boot space). Honda FR-V and Fiat multipla are possibles with the 3+3 seat arrangement but I'm not sure I like it.

I rather like the layout of the Citroen Picasso - seemingly lots of room in not too big a car, easy access, flat floor in the back. It's got the PSA HDI going for it and they're pretty cheap, but it's a Citroen so I guess lots of bits will fall off. If only Toyota could make something like that...

I think my head is telling me that a large estate is the thing to go for. I think we'd love a Previa, especially on long journeys/UK holidays, but I just worry that it will be far too bulky most of the time. I'll probably keep the 406 as it's over 70k miles and worth more to me than actually selling/trading.

Thanks for the opinions guys.

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