Best seven-seater cars

For large families, flexibility or just a big boot, it's hard to beat a seven-seater car

BuyaCar team
Jun 14, 2018

Buy a seven-seat car and a world of opportunity presents itself. Family days with friends and relatives, trips to Ikea for flat-pack furniture, long holiday drives with space to stretch out…

Time was when such cars were strictly people carriers, or MPVs as they’re called. These still exist in various sizes ranging from the compact Volkswagen Touran to the enormous Ford Galaxy; there’s also the sportier-looking Ford S-Max in between.

However, they’ve since been joined by a new breed: the SUV. They’re big, tall vehicles that offer some off-roading potential but which, as opposed to full-blown 4x4s, are really road focused. The exception is, as you’d expect, the Land-Rover Discovery. It has serious off-road capability. It’s also available with five seats, although its reputation rests on having seven.  

As a rule, space in the third row of seats tends to be greatest in the large MPVs. Even then, most are suitable only for children. And when they’re up, boot space tends to be at a premium. If space really is important to you, you’d be better off raising your sights to van-based people carriers such as the VW Caravelle, Mercedes V-class and Peugeot Traveller.

Ford Galaxy

This is the daddy of today’s people carriers (also called MPVs). It’s the most spacious seven-seater you can buy with enough room in the rearmost row for two adults to sit comfortably. This row folds up and down electrically, too, which is convenient. Meanwhile, the middle row, which is made up of three individual seats, can slide backwards and forwards to increase legroom or boot space as required. You can fold them down by pressing a button in the boot.

Even with all seven seats in place there’s 300 litres of boot space, or about as much as a Ford Focus. With all seats folded there’s 2339 litres, or more than a Mercedes E-Class estate. It’s possible to order the Galaxy with a powered tailgate, too.

Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer

The name may have changed (it used to be called the C4 Grand Picasso) but otherwise this large seven-seat people carrier (there’s also a smaller five-seater called C4 the SpaceTourer) is the same stylish and reasonably roomy car it always has been. We say ‘reasonably’ because the third row of seats is fit just for children. The boot is only 165 litres, too, although loadspace grows to a maximum of 2,181 litres with both rows of seats folded.

The SpaceTourer is a comfortable, quirky car filled with practical touches. It’s safe, too, especially in top-spec Flair trim. It features the Safety Pack comprising a driver attention alert warning system, traffic sign recognition and Active Safety Brake providing automatic emergency braking at speeds up to 49mph.

Seat Alhambra

The Alhambra is a genuinely large people carrier on the lines of the Ford Galaxy, but with one major difference: it has sliding doors. These are a boon in tight parking spaces. Electrically powered doors are an option, useful if your hands are full.

The middle-row seats are individual, and can tip and slide. They fold flush into the floor, too, as do the rearmost ones. A folding front passenger seat is an option. It's not quite as big as a Galaxy but it dwarfs something like the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer.

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Unlike the previous cars, the Discovery Sport is an SUV and not an MPV. But it’s also got more than a touch of the off-roader about it. This is because it has an intelligent all-wheel drive system, good wheel articulation (how much the wheels and suspension can move relative to the body) and high ground clearance, which allows it to leave the tarmac and venture into the kinds of places other SUVs, never mind MPVs, wouldn't dare.

In truth, the rearmost seats are suitable only for small children but they fold into the floor to create extra load space while the middle row slides backwards and forwards. They’re split 240/20/40 meaning the middle seat is quite cramped.   

The Sport is a very capable seven-seater but it’s expensive. If you don't plan to go off-road, it faces a number of seven-seat SUV rivals. However, none can match the Discovery’s premium badge and feel, and that promise of off-road adventure.

VW Touran

Next to the Seat Alhambra, the Touran is a tiddler. In fact, VW does make a larger seven-seat people carrier called the Sharan. It’s closely related to the Alhambra but not such good value. Back to the Touran. And despite its relatively compact proportions, it does have seven reasonably sized seats. In its heyday, before SUVs dominated the market, it was an extremely popular family car. Buyers liked its spacious middle row, that also slides to create more, or less, space as you require. The rearmost seats are small but then, it’s really meant for growing families with their eye on something larger in the future, such as the Sharan.  

The big downside is the small, 137-litre boot, which rules it out as a seven-person holiday vehicle, unless you fit a roof box. If you’re travelling five-up, you can lower the rear seats into the floor to create 927 litres of load space, which is more like it.

Skoda Kodiaq

For those who don't require the Land Rover Discovery Sport’s off-road capabilities, and who have less to spend, the Kodiaq is a good choice. It’s available in five and seven-seat form. There’s also a four-wheel-drive version. Being a Skoda, you’d expect it to be roomy, and it is. We’re used to criticising rear seat space in these kinds of cars but the Kodiaq is actually quite generous here – there’s easily enough for children of course, but also for teenagers. Slide the spacious middle row forward and even adults would be reasonably comfortable, although possibly not those in front of them. 

Even with all the seats in use there’s 270 litres of boot space, expanding to a maximum of 2,005 litres when middle and rear rows are folded. Underfloor storage compartments, seat-back tables and even an umbrella complete the Kodiaq’s convincing case as a family car.

Kia Sorento 

The Sorento is one of the roomiest seven-seat SUVs you can buy and it’s great value, too. Kias have a come a long way, and if this is your first acquaintance with the brand you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the interior and the specification. There are levers that allow you to fold the rear seats remotely, as well underfloor storage and ventilation controls for those in the rearmost seats.

Talking of these, they’re actually quite roomy with good legroom. Getting to them is a bit of a trial though because the middle row doesn’t slide far enough to aid access. All the seats are set quite low so there’s good headroom, even when the optional panoramic sunroof is fitted. The boot is a measly 142 litres, but the rearmost seats can be easily folded to create 660 litres of space.

Volvo XC90

At the opposite extreme to the Kia Sorento, at least from a price perspective, is the big Volvo XC90. Its rivals include premium models such as the Audi Q7 and Range Rover Sport. In many ways it’s strong enough in most areas to take the title of best seven-seater thanks to its impressive safety standards and an interior that’s so roomy even adults will be comfortable in the rearmost seats. It’s just a shame there’s a transmission tunnel that impinges on foot space in the middle row of seats.

We’ve come to expect a small boot in these big seven-seaters but the XC90’s is a generous 451 litres. Fold all the seats away and there’s 1,951 litres of load space on offer. The final touch? The powered tailgate has gesture control – useful if your hands are full of shopping.

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