It’s funny that not many Australians aspire to owning a people mover, especially in the face of the SUV onslaught that has naturally delivered far more visually appealing machinery. But those spacious multi-row vans that are often keenly priced represent the best way to move lots of people.
Carrying people and luggage is something people movers do very well; SUVs tend to be compromised on the luggage bit.
The condensed field includes a mix of more value-focused Korean models up against boxier European contenders – and a rogue Toyota (the Granvia) that replaced with once popular Tarago that no longer exists.
It’s a mass of seats, cupholders, sliding side doors and occasionally innovative interior thinking – often with value-packed results.
GOLD – Honda Odyssey VTi
In many ways, the Honda Odyssey is the quiet achiever of the people mover market.
Rather than looking and feeling like a van full of seats, the Odyssey has more of a car-like flavour right down to its elegant interior and driving position.
As our analysis shows, it’s also fantastic value for those needing lots of space for lots of people.
MORE Honda Odyssey review
Priced just below $40K ($39,140) in its most affordable VTi guise there are eight seats with easy flipping and folding for easy access; the third row even folds in a 40/20/40 configuration, allowing for easy packing of longer items such as skis or surfboards.
Sliding side doors reduce the chances of kids flinging them open onto carpark walls or a car parked alongside.
It’s a basic level of kit that includes dual-zone ventilation and Bluetooth, but not Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. A camera provides a virtual overhead view for reversing and the mirrors are heated and automatically fold when parked.
Advanced active safety features are only available on the more expensive VTi-L, which fits individual captain’s chairs in the second row, in turn reducing the seating capacity to seven.
Under the bonnet is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder, one that can be respectably frugal considering how much car it has to move. But load the Odyssey with people and you’ll have to work it harder.
One area that helped the Odyssey to the top spot in this contest is its above-average predicted resale of 61 per cent after five years.
While people movers aren’t high on the must-have list for many buyers, it seems there is demand for second-hand Odysseys. That’s important when it comes time to sell.
SILVER – Kia Carnival S
Space, space and more space. That’s a large part of the sales pitch for the Kia Carnival, which is due to be replaced shortly by an all-new model.
It’s a very big vehicle, one that not only comfortably carries eight people but can also carry a lot of their luggage at the same time.
That’s a rare talent not many people movers can achieve, but the space under the floor that holds the third row of seats when folded is very deep and useful if all seats are in play.
At $43,190 the Carnival also represents terrific value, incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, active cruise control and autonomous emergency braking AEB).
A trio of USB charging points is a nice touch to keep gadgets running.
The seven-year warranty is a handy addition, too, no doubt helping its respectable resale value that contributes to that value proposition.
And while there’s no shortage of go from the 3.5-litre V6, the engine hurts the Carnival’s running costs.
BRONZE – Volkswagen Caravelle Trendline
The Caravelle is one for big families, with four rows of seats providing accommodation for nine. Seating flexibility allows you to trade off luggage space, too.
It’s a big vehicle, stretching the Multivan architecture to increase the focus on carrying lots of people.
At $58,990 it’s no outright bargain, with the emphasis on solid driving manners and a frugal diesel engine.
Indeed, low fuel use is something that helped it climb the value ladder.
While there are no curtain airbags in the rear, blind spot warning and auto braking helps with avoiding an impact in the first place.
Triple-zone ventilation and smartphone connectivity are among the trinkets for a car focused on fitting lots of people in.