If you’ve got a lot of people to carry around, you’re well catered for these days. Seven-seaters have seen a huge upswing in popularity, as families cotton on to the idea that having room for two more might be useful for playdates, days out with friends, or longer trips with extended family.
It might seem strange, then, that against this backdrop, the market for seven-seat MPVs has dwindled. But that’s because buyers’ seven-seaters of choice these days take the form of the SUV, whose rugged looks hold more appeal than the van-like silhouette of the traditional seven-seater. Having said that, both body styles have their merits – which is why we’ve included both in our countdown of the best seven-seaters your money can buy you this year.
10. Volvo XC90
Volvo’s XC90 is getting on a bit now, but it’s still just as popular as ever, and it doesn’t take long to work out why. On the outside it manages to be more subtle than many of its big SUV rivals, while the lavish interior blends Scandinavian cool with serious comfort. Get it out on the road, and the XC90’s smooth-riding suspension makes it a lovely place to waft away a long journey, and the mild hybrid engines are powerful and reasonably fuel-efficient. In fact, the only real downside is that the XC90’s rearmost seats are a little cramped compared to its similarly-sized rivals’ – but if you’re in the market for a big, luxury seven-seater, it should still be on your list to test-drive.
Price from: £59,040
Our favourite version: XC90 Plus B5 (Diesel) AWD Mild Hybrid, £65,065
Need to know: Avoid models with 21-inch wheels – they do the ride quality no favours.
9. Citroen e-Berlingo XL
The Berlingo is now an electric-only model, and given its rather paltry maximum range of just 174 miles, it won’t suit everyone. But if you’ve a driveway on which to charge it up, and most of your passenger-carrying journeys are around town, it actually makes a lot of sense – it’s cheap to run, incredibly versatile, and relatively affordable to buy or lease. On the downside, the cheap interior plastics mean you’ll never mistake the Berlingo for a luxury car. But the seats are comfortable and the ride quality even more so, and with all that space and clever seating that folds and slides, you can customise the interior to carry whatever you need to.
Price from: £31,995
Our favourite version: e-Berlingo XL XTR, £32,995
Need to know: If you don’t need the third row of seats, the e-Berlingo can also be had in five-seat form for even less cash.
8. Land Rover Defender
It’s easy to dismiss the latest Defender as a bit of a fashion statement, but do so at your peril, because it still has the off-road chutzpah to really go anywhere. And in seven-seat form, you can do so with as many people as you need to, too. Stick the bikes on the roof and head off up a rocky hillside somewhere. Or make that surfboards and dunes, or skis and mountains – the Defender will take whatever you throw at it. Back on Tarmac, meanwhile, it’s heaps less compromised than the old model, with very respectable on-road handling and a surprisingly smooth ride. But crucially, with its rugged interior and eye-catching styling, it looks great, and from behind the wheel, it makes you feel great too.
Price from: £61,735
Our favourite version: Defender D250 SE 5+2, £61,735
Need to know: This isn’t a cheap car, but the base model gives you all the kit you need. Better to add options instead of spending more on posher versions or special editions.
7. Skoda Kodiaq
It’s never going to win any prizes for excitement, but the Skoda Kodiaq is one of the most popular seven-seat SUVs around for a reason. It’s sensibly sized, sensibly priced, sensibly equipped and, yes, pretty sensible to drive, too. It rides comfortably, handles tidily if uneventfully, and cruises pretty quietly too. There’s nothing here that will set bales of hay alight, in other words, but for many big families, the Kodiaq’s unassuming way of doing business is greatly appreciated. A diesel version with an automatic gearbox will, for most people, be all the car they ever need.
Price from: £32,080
Our favourite version: Kodiaq 2.0 TDI 150 SE Drive DSG, £35,845
Need to know: The Kodiaq is fresh from a facelift, which didn’t change much, although the range-topping vRS version switched from diesel to petrol power
6. Ford S-Max
Like most other MPVs, the S-Max is on borrowed time, but it’s a shame it has to be this way, as it’s roomier and more versatile than most seven-seat SUVs, with five rear seats that all fold flat to leave a van-like load bay. It’s more fuel efficient too; indeed, now that the S-Max comes only as a hybrid, it’s one of the most economical ways of moving this many people around. And while the extra weight of those electronic gubbins have dampened the S-Max’s famously sharp handling a little, it’s still a surprisingly composed and engaging thing to drive – and as comfortable as ever on a long schlep which, of course, is what really matters.
Price from: £36,530
Our favourite version: S-Max 2.5 Duratec FHEV 190 Titanium, £36,530
Need to know: It’s spacious for five adults, but the rearmost seats in the S-Max are best for kids only. If you need more room back there, try the vast Ford Galaxy instead.
5. BMW X7
The X7’s huge grilles won’t be beloved by everyone, but if you don’t mind its looks (or you can see past them), you’ll find a luxury SUV of immense talent. Yes, it’s a vast car, but that means proper seating for seven inside, with plenty of space even in the third row. Up front, there’s the sort of smart, slick cockpit you’d expect from a modern BMW, but what really sets the X7 apart is the way it drives. At motorway speeds it’s as hushed and cosseting as any luxury saloon, which means it’s a joy to cover big distances in, even seven-up. The only catch is that a car this big and this luxurious doesn’t come cheap – so it goes with the territory that the X7 is hugely expensive, both to buy and to run.
Price from: £79,720
Our favourite version: X7 xDrive40d, £79,720
Need to know: Avoid the top-spec M50i – it might be fast, but its big petrol engine will struggle to hit 20mpg even when driven carefully
4. Volkswagen Touran
This is surely the zenith of head-over-heart car buying. The Volkswagen Touran is about as sensible as motoring gets, squeezing space for seven into a relatively compact MPV body whose superior aerodynamics make it more fuel efficient than any seven-seat SUV. Granted, it’s dull to look at, and the Touran isn’t very exciting to drive, either. But it is comfortable, spacious, and incredibly versatile – all five rear seats have Isofix points, and all can fold flat to leave a cavernous load bay for trips to the tip. So while it probably won’t make your heart leap, what the Touran offers is an easy, fuss-free life – and when you’re travelling with a large family in tow, that’s really all you ever want.
Price from: £32,735
Our favourite version: Touran 1.5 TSI 150 SE Family, £33,940
Need to know: Versatile it may be, but with all seven seats upright, the Touran’s boot is rather small – so be prepared to fork out for a roof box if you need to carry luggage too.
3. Kia Sorento
One of the biggest problems with buying a big SUV to haul around your family is the environmental footprint it leaves. Happily, Kia has found a way to minimise this effect, because it’s equipped its latest Sorento with both hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. As a result, the Sorento’s emissions are less onerous than most of its SUV rivals’. And because Kia’s hybrid setup is snappy and smart, the Sorento is good to drive, too. What’s more, it’s clever inside – all three rows of seats get their own individual ventilation controls, while there are enough USB sockets for every occupant, so everyone can charge a device while they’re on the move. There’s a huge boot, too – big enough that even with all seven seats in place, there’s a usable amount of luggage space. And the Sorento is even a decent tow car, with enough capacity in hybrid form to pull a medium-sized caravan. Need more? Well, there’s a diesel version, too – and that has a whopping rating of 2,500kg.
Price from: £40,590
Our favourite version: Sorento 1.6 T-GDI Hybrid 3, £43,020
Need to know: Like all Kias, the Sorento comes with the benefit of a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty – one of the best in the business
2. Peugeot 5008
The secret to the Peugeot 5008’s success is clever disguise. For while the 5008 might be dressed up to look like an SUV, look a little closer and you’ll see its low ground clearance and boxy tail give it away as an MPV wearing an SUV costume. That’s no bad thing, mind you, because it means the 5008 is better packaged than most seven-seat SUVs, with more space inside, and a much more versatile interior. All three of its middle-row seats can be slid and folded individually, for example, while the rearmost row can be folded into the floor or removed entirely. And with Isofix connections in all three middle-row seats and enough room to fit three child seats side by side, it’s no wonder it’s become a family favourite. It just so happens that the 5008 is rather good to drive, too, and with frugal petrol and diesel engines, it’s cheap to run. Also in its favour is its rather swish-looking interior, which makes you feel like you’re driving something rather more interesting than ‘just’ a big family wagon.
Price from: £31,780
Our favourite version: 5008 1.5 BlueHDi 130 Allure, £35,600
Need to know: The 1.2-litre petrol engine feels a bit gutless in the 5008; the mid-range torque of the diesel therefore makes it a much better bet.
1. Audi Q7
It might be getting on a bit now, but this second-generation Audi Q7 is still one of our favourite family cars out there. And while it’s quite expensive, if you can stretch to it, we don’t think there’s a better way of carrying seven people at once. For one thing, it’s immensely comfortable thanks to the standard air suspension; then there’s the fact that all five rear seats get Isofix points. And if you need to carry adults, even the rearmost row has enough room. The mild hybrid engines are impressively economical given the amount of power they kick out, and the comfortable, quiet cockpit is beautifully finished. And in the context of similarly sized luxury SUVs, the Q7 actually doesn’t look bad value, coming in quite a bit cheaper like-for-like than a BMW X7 or a Volvo XC90. What’s not to like?
Price from: £60,570
Our favourite version: Q7 S-Line 45 TDI Quattro, £63,720
Need to know: Don’t be tempted to upgrade beyond the S-Line; the pricier Black Edition and Vorsprung’s huge wheels mean they don’t ride quite as nicely, and the latter in particular is very costly to buy.
This article has been updated with the latest information.
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