Which Car? 'Can you find a people-mover that's safe, spacious and reliable?'

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

Andrew Greenwood is a systems analyst from Bedfordshire. He has two children and a wife who want a Honda CRV and he wonders about the vehicle's qualities, fuel economy and CO2 emissions. He also asks if there is an MPV we would recommend and wants to know how the Peugeot 406 stacks against a new Skoda estate, Vauxhall Vectra estate or Mazda. He wants something reliable, safe and spacious for about £10,000.

The Honda CRV is a good vehicle. It is what's known as a soft-roader, behaving like a car on the Tarmac but with limited ability off-road despite being a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Although the CRV is practical, it is also something of a style statement rather than an outright family vehicle.

Andrew Greenwood is right to question the fuel consumption. The petrol engine fitted from 1998 delivers 29mpg overall which is not bad, but many other family cars can do so much better.

For £10,000, he can get a 2000 or 2001 ES model. Nut Mr Greenwood has made clear that with two children, after their seats are fitted in the back there is barely enough room for another adult, or their large dog, and he can almost forget about squeezing in any luggage. So these factors are crucial to us making a decision.

Buying into the peoplecarrying lifestyle does not make sense for every family, but it would seem that Mr Greenwood and his family have outgrown the traditional estate. In that case, there is little point investigating the estate options, and the compact people-carriers that usually make more sense than the full-sized carriers.

A car for the heart

The Kia Sedona is purely some space on wheels, but the Renault Espace has real style, quite an achievement for this class of vehicle. Obviously, it helps that Renault brought the people-carrying concept to Europe and gave it some flair. There may be more practical, better to drive and cheaper to run carriers, but none looks as good or is as satisfying to own.

The standard Espace is among the lighter and more compact of the large people- carriers, although there is a larger Grand model. Mr Greenwood will just have to see which suits his requirements the best.

A crucial part of his evaluation has to be taking the whole family for test drives. The V6 petrol-engined model will be cheap secondhand, but expensive to run. The 2.0 petrol is not bad, but the pick is the 2.2 turbodiesel. Inside, the Espace has the same room as a mainstream Ford Galaxy, but if Mr Greenwood wants a touch more boot space it has to be the Grand Espace.

A three-year-old example with the diesel engine and decent Expression or Privilege specifications will cost £10,000. Mechanically very reliable, Richard must avoid buying a hard-used Espace that could look scruffy.

A car for the head

If Mr Greenwood is honest, what he actually needs is a van. In today's market, the most amount of space you can buy is offered by the Kia Sedona. On the new market, it offers the space of a full-size people-carrier for the price of a compact one.

He could get a 2.9 diesel model on the road for £13,750 less a £1,000 cashback for £13,750. If Mr Greenwood can afford the petrol costs, a 2.5 V6 model is £11,995. But depreciation takes its toll and a 2002 model diesel should easily be within budget.

Although the rear bench- seat does not lift out, the interior is fantastically spacious and the creation of what is a gangway between the centre seats means access is easy throughout the cabin. The sliding rear door is great and perfect for getting people and loads in and out.

The big Greenwood dog can have the luggage compartment to himself. And air- conditioning and CD players are all part of the package with optional in-van entertainment systems that can include DVD players to keep rear-seat passengers amused.

Search for used cars