Best electric MPVs 2023
Practical, spacious, comfortable and reliable with enough kit to keep the whole family entertained. That’s what makes a good MPV (multi-purpose vehicle). But ‘people carriers’ have come a long way since we were first introduced to the spaceship-like Renault Espace in 1985.
We no longer have to settle for substance alone; we’re demanding more and more from our family chariots and rightly so – why can’t our family cars have a great driving experience and look fantastic, just because we need the extra space?
Manufacturers have cottoned on and now, with electric cars taking centre stage in the future of our transport, MPVs can be all things to all people, even those that want to go electric.
We’ll cover the cars’ real-world range*, power, boot space, price** and safety, as well as give you an insight into how they drive and what they come with.
*Real-world range taken from EV Database.
**Prices taken from manufacturer websites at time of writing.
What makes MPVs so good?
MPVs are an important sector in the automotive market because they’re such a necessity for so many people. Growing families need large, practical cars to cart everyone around in, with enough space for all their bits and bobs too. But they can’t be boring or sparce of tech (because long-journeys would be really dull) or similarly have high running costs (because we’re all watching our wallets right now).
So, we’re demanding a people carrier that’s got it all.
Modern seven seaters can’t just be functional; they need to drive well too. Comfort is usually priority, with power coming second – after all, with a crammed car and boot full, you need some oomph to get you up to motorway speeds and happily keep you there. Underpowered family cars are a struggle to live with.
That said, there’s also a demand now for them to be engaging to drive, too. With so many people considering becoming a one-car-household where possible, to save on the pennies, if we’re putting down a large sum of money on one car we all share it’s got to cover all bases. That means, yes, having the space for the kids in the back and their knick-knacks, but also keep Mum and Dad entertained behind the wheel when the little ones aren’t onboard.
Of course, that’s not a priority for everyone, but there is a market for it and manufacturers have noticed. That said, not all MPVs are geared for a fun driving experience.
The big one. Family MPVs need to be spacious and practical – that’s the whole point, right? “Multi-Purpose vehicles” inherently struggle to be ‘multi-purpose’ if they’re not big enough to start with.
But sheer space is not just the deciding factor here, it’s also how clever these cars are with the room on offer. The interior needs to have lots of clever storage solutions with cubbyholes and phone/cupholders for all the family. Seats have got to be flexible and easy to move, lift and clean with easy access ISOFIX points. Boots have got to be capacious, yes, but with handy features like an under-floor boot (for securing expensive items), or 12V sockets and hooks.
That’s what makes MPVs so useful – they can be all things to all people.
Safety & running costs
Finally, a couple of big and fairly obvious points: MPVs have got to be as safe as is possible and not cost the earth to run.
Cars continue to get safer by the decade with a whole raft of new technology making its way to our vehicles, keeping us safe. But this technology isn’t cheap and it’s pushing the initial cost of cars up.
This means it’s ever more important that our family-wagons are cheap to run. The good news is they’re safer and cheaper to run than ever before, especially now all-electric MPVs are in.
So, let’s take a look at the best MPV EVs us Brits can get our hands on.
The top 5 electric MPVs
We’re covering cars that were out in early 2023 as well as those which are coming throughout the year.
In no particular order…
A touch of class; families looking for a premium workhorse should look here.
What is the Mercedes-Benz EQB like?
It’s not especially big to be honest, the rear row of seats in particular are not massive (they’re only for kids, really) but it’s plenty big enough for most people. It’s a tall car, so rolls a little in bends when you push but, overall, it’s a very comfortable car (even on the larger alloys). All driving modes are good and there’s plenty of variation in the regenerative braking available meaning you can seamlessly switch on one-pedal-driving if that’s your bag.
EQB comes in: AMG Line, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus. All models have four-wheel-drive, with two power outputs – EQB 300 (225hp) or EQB 350 (288hp) – and can charge up to 112kW (meaning 10-80% in 29 minutes).
- AMG Line comes with heated front seats, automatic climate control, various safety features (like active brake assist and blind spot assistance), two 10” displays for infotainment, cruise control, a reversing camera and rain sensing wipers
- AMG Line Premium adds an electric panoramic sunroof, large AMG alloy wheels, keyless go, an augmented reality navigation system, wireless charging for your phone and an advanced sound system with 10 speakers.
- AMG Line Premium Plus takes it that step further with electrically adjustable sport suspension, even larger AMG alloy wheels, electrically operated front seats with memory function, a 360 degree parking camera and heads up display.
Others on our list may offer more boot space, but you can’t deny the general presence and all-round versatility Mercedes have given this MPV.
Don’t snigger at this car – if you’re looking for the cheapest way into a practical, seven seat EV, this is where you should start.
What is the Peugeot e-Rifter like?
The e-Rifter, or one of its copycat sisters the Citroēn e-Berlingo or Vauxhall Combo Life Electric, is one to watch.
Want as much space (and as many seats!) as possible in an electric car with little fuss? Aren’t bothered about looks or fancy-pants tech and just want a reliable, sturdy machine that can cope with all that family life has to throw at it (and more)? Start with this Peugeot.
e-Rifter comes in: Standard or Long variants (which refer to the size of the car – you can have a “standard” boot or “long” one), each with Allure or GT trim. All models are front-wheel-drive with 134hp and can charge up to 101kW (meaning 10-80% in under 30 minutes).
- Allure comes with air conditioning, electric handbrake, rear parking sensors, an 8” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, flexible seating layout and USB ports for the passengers.
- GT adds automatic climate control, keyless go, a 180-degree reversing camera, alloy wheels, a 10” digital instrument cluster and leather steering wheel.
Yes, the range is far from amazing, but it charges quickly and running costs would be incredibly low if you just need a family runabout for the city with the odd longer journey here and there, especially if you can charge from home.
And, yes, it’s not “stylish”. But sometimes there’s great joy in things that are designed from the ground up to do a job, over and over again, in the easiest possible way. It’s boxy shape massively helps with that, which is what makes the e-Rifter the electric MPV to go for with your head.
Woah man! Retro is well and truly in and it’s looking good!
What is the Volkswagen ID.Buzz like?
You’d definitely be the coolest parent in the year group if you dropped your kids off in one of these.
A heads up! The seven seat version of the ID.Buzz is due in late 2023.
Being again, based on the van philosophy of ‘boxy is best’, this Volkswagen feels positively massive inside. Because it is. The shape is particularly important though because it means any and all awkward shaped objects fit no problem. What does that mean for driving? Well actually, you’d be very surprised.
The ID.Buzz is faster than petrol powered VW SUV equivalents like the Tiguan and being electric, it means there’s no worries doing hill starts or pulling away at busy roundabouts with a van full. Even on the motorway it’s more than competent. It also gives a ‘floating’ impression the suspension is so supple, but also being firm enough to mean a B road blast won’t have you feeling seasick. You can see why Volkswagen are one of the biggest manufacturers in the world when you understand how good the ID.Buzz is… for a van.
ID.Buzz comes in two trims: Life and Style. All have a 77kWh battery with a max charging speed of 175kW (which is really very good). 10-80% charge (or 145 miles of range) is added in just 30 minutes. All ID.Buzz EVs crammed full of kit:
- Life comes with heated front seats and steering wheel, a 10” infotainment system and 9 loudspeakers, wireless phone charging, 8x USB-C ports, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and a host of other safety features and Park Assist Plus with Park Distance Control (it’ll park for you!).
- Style add lots of interior styling upgrades for the pedals, seats and so on, 30-colour ambient lighting inside the cabin, automatic advanced LED Matrix headlights and LED rear lights, and larger 20” alloy wheels.
Of course you’re paying for all of this though, with quite a high price tag on-the-road. Some would argue it’s all very gimmicky and pointless paying that much, others would say it’s actually got a lot going for it.
Regardless though, when the seven-seat version comes out later this year, if you have an ever-growing family and want something that everyone will adore – from relatives who want comfort and quiet to kids who want funky and cool – this is the large barge to get.
One of the best family cars on sale, electrified.
SOURCE: Volvo Cars
What is the Volvo EX90 like?
The EX90 is the first in Volvo’s soon-to-be long list of all-electric cars and it’s the flagship model.
A heads up! This seven seater doesn’t arrive until late 2023.
The EX90 is so high-tech, Volvo (owners of Polestar) are claiming it’s essentially a computer on wheels with the ability to “create an invisible shield of safety around itself”. Cameras and radar build a real-time, 360 degree image of the outside world, even when it’s travelling at motorway speed, to keep you and your family safe. We don’t know an awful lot yet about what it’s like to drive, but if the XC90 (the petrol equivalent) is anything to go by, it’ll be supremely quiet and comfortable but with a serious enough turn of speed to get you to your destination swiftly.
From launch, EX90 comes with two power options: a standard Twin Motor variant or a Twin Motor Performance (the latter being the more powerful car). Only one trim is available from launch too:
- Ultra gives you the Safe Space Technology (including 8 cameras and 20+ sensors to keep you safe while driving), HD LED automatic lights, four zone climate control including third row air-con, a 14.5” infotainment system with 5G connectivity, active air suspension, adaptive cruise control, a heads-up display, Park Pilot assist (meaning it’ll parallel park for you), rain sensing wipers, a panoramic sunroof, an app to turn your smartphone into a car key, front massage seats with lumbar support, wireless phone charging, a 25 speaker Bowers & Wilkins HD audio system and 22” alloy wheels.
- In short, quite a lot! A lower spec, more affordable EX90 will join this one in the line-up later in 2024.
In short yes, it’s an expensive SUV come MPV. But as it’s a Volvo, you just know it’ll be built expertly well, extremely safe and overall, a joy to own. You could argue it’s an investment well made.
Tesla Model X
Mad speed, mad rear doors and mad fast to charge. This is an MPV that’s got an awful lot going for it.
What is the Tesla Model X like?
Tesla have made a name for themselves as EV pioneers. Their ability to create vehicles that are not only supercar quick, but also comfortable and usable everyday too is something that left the more mainstream manufacturers with a lot of catching up to do.
A heads up! The seven seat EV isn’t out until mid 2023.
With fast charging and a whole host of technology built-in – like their flagship Autopilot for example – they’re one of the most advanced range of cars you can buy.
The Tesla Model X is no exception, and this updated 2023 variant is sure to rock the boat once more. Especially as the rear doors are still, delightfully, bonkers.
Model X will come in: Dual Motor and Plaid variants, which refer mostly to the power of the motor. Each Model X is all-wheel-drive and can be designed uniquely to your tastes with various options. Choose from 5, 6 or 7 seat layouts (max 6 seats for Plaid) and different alloy options too.
- As standard Model X comes with 20” alloy wheels, panoramic windshield, three displays (one digital instrument cluster, one 17” central tilting tablet and one for rear passengers (which you can use to watch films or game), tri-zone climate control, a 22 speaker audio system, automatic opening front doors and tailgate, wireless phone charging and USB-Cs.
- You can add larger 21” wheels, enhanced autopilot (automatic lane changing, autoparking and a summon feature meaning you can call the car out of a parking space using your mobile phone), full self-driving capability and a premium connectivity package (for internet browsing).
Want a family car that can show off (and proudly so)? This is it.
Fancy a Tesla but don’t want to wait? You can get a Tesla Model 3 on subscription.
Some noteable mentions…
Vauxhall Vivaro Life Electric & Combo Life Electric
Yes, another couple of van-turned-passenger cars but that just adds to the multi-purposeness of it all!
A high quality, solid MPV-come-van with a touch of class. This is the car luxury taxi companies use…