MPV, SUV or Crossover: Which is truly the best family car

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Crossover-styled MPVs are intriguing. This trend was kicked off in India by the Maruti XL6 which is based on the popular Ertiga.

BHPian Arsenic recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

The above video had me thinking - which truly is better as a family car, an MPV or an SUV/Crossover?

This discussion has become interesting in recent years due to the rise of the 7-seat mid-size (US: compact) crossover segment thanks to cars such as the MG Hector Plus and Tata Safari, which means that no longer are we just comparing Innova vs Fortuner, but we can now also make a comparison for lower segments, such as Carens vs XUV7OO.

So, let's begin.



  • Sometimes, the third row may end up being better than an equivalent SUV/Crossover. (case in point: my Innova Crysta vs my friend's Fortuner)
  • Usually better road manners due to the lower ground clearance.
  • Generally, easier to manoeuvre and park on narrower roads. (larger vans like the Carnival and Vellfire are exceptions)


  • Less ground clearance makes MPVs less rough-road friendly.
  • Limited to no off-road capability. That being said, the RWD Crysta is probably better off-road than the FWD Safari/Hector+.
  • No options between 45-85L. It's a straight jump from the Carnival to the V220d/Vellfire.

The Interesting Middle Ground: Crossover-Styled MPVs

Crossover-styled MPVs are intriguing. This trend was kicked off in India with Maruti's XL6, based on the popular Ertiga. In 2022, Kia threw their hat into the ring with the Carens, which was effectively a stretched version of the Korean automaker's highly successful Seltos compact (US: subcompact) crossover. Globally, examples include the Toyota Veloz, based on the Ertiga-sized Avanza and the Geely Okavango pictured above. These are a decent choice if you want the practicality and versatility of an MPV with the height and road presence of an SUV.

7-seat SUVs


  • Some SUVs (like the MG Gloster pictured above) actually do offer decent third-row space for adults.
  • Amazing off-road capability! All body-on-frame SUVs currently on the market are RWD, if not 4x4.
  • More abuse-friendly than monocoque MPVs. (but not any tougher than a BOF Marazzo/Crysta)


  • A lot more body roll compared to a monocoque MPV.
  • Expensive for a properly refined model! Even the top-end Scorpio-N breaches the 30L mark in some regions.
  • Larger SUVs are trickier to pilot on narrow roads compared to smaller MPVs.

7-seat Crossovers


  • Monocoque construction means that ride quality is comparable to a Carens/Ertiga/Carnival.
  • Ingress/Egress is closer to an MPV than a big butch SUV.
  • Generally cheaper than large body-on-frame SUVs.


  • There is still some amount of body roll due to the ground clearance.
  • Not as good off-road as a body-on-frame SUV, since most crossovers are FWD.
  • 3rd row comfort usually isn't as good as a body-on-frame SUV or an MPV.

Do share your thoughts on this matter, BHPians!

Here's what BHPian Nilesh5417 had to say about the matter:

If the definition of a family is 5 and more than occasionally 5+2 (kids), nothing beats a proper MUV. I shopped around a lot before I decided to finally accept it and got a Marazzo. Family trips with 5+2 at least till Kolhapur from Pune have never been more fun and comfy. Sometimes even Goa (usually with 5) with a stop on the return leg. Marazzo has also been exceptionally car-like when I drive it alone for work or within the city and great FE is the icing on the cake.

Recently, travelled a lot around Rajasthan in the Kia Carnival and my belief is only more firm.

With all its compromises around GC, FE, road manners when loaded, relatively lower set of features, low luggage space unless you get a roof rack or pack light etc, it is still your best bet for a comfortable family trip IMO.

Here's what BHPian Shreyans_Jain had to say about the matter:

As of today, the best cars in the Indian market to ferry 7 people comfortably with their luggage are:

  • Kia Carnival
  • MG Gloster

Honourable mention to the Innova Crysta and Tata Hexa. A family car needs to carry 6 or 7 adults in adequate space and comfort along with their weekend luggage. No other car fits the bill.

Everything else is a compromise. You’ll have to make do with a super cramped and/or poorly positioned third row or zero boot space or inadequate powertrains or bouncy ride for the third row or lack of width for seating 3 abreast in the middle. Every other car, be it XL6 or Carens or Kodiaq or Fortuner or XUV700… they all suffer from some combination of this.

All talk of body style is redundant as far as the end customer is concerned. As long as the product meets the requirements at a fair price, it will be in business.

Here's what BHPian sunikkat had to say about the matter:

It depends on what constitutes a family - is it a mix of elderly + kids, no.of family members etc. For my family of 2 adults, 1 elderly and 1 kid, I feel my Octavia is a family car.

And big SUVs cannot be a good family car, at least for mine. My mom has arthritis and climbing up those big SUVs like Fortuner, Endeavour etc. is definitely not an option.

So one size wouldn’t fit all. But in general, an MPV or a 7-seater crossover seems to be a good fit for most as a family car.

Here's what BHPian rakesh_r had to say about the matter:

I'd go for a traditional MPV like the Crysta, any day. The one thing that I hate about Monocoque is the way the car squats down when fully loaded. The Crysta in turn gets more comfortable when fully loaded and perfectly tackles bad rods. Sadly it's a dying breed, with the Crysta Diesel axed, what do we have now?

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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