Best 7-seater SUVs & 4x4s

Transport the extended family in rugged style: these are the best 7-seater SUVs and 4x4s

Simon Ostler James Mills
Mar 24, 2020

Are you in need of a car that offers seven seats? The trouble is they all tend to be rather cumbersome and uncouth people carriers, and we understand they aren't the most enticing of cars. Luckily, nowadays you have options that might be more agreeable.

Where in times gone by you'd have had no choice to go for something like a Vauxhall Zafira - some may wonder what the problem is - but if you are averse to the Zafira, you may be pleased to know there are now other alternatives that offer a little bit more panache to your mini-bus in disguise.

In general terms, the easiest way to tick all the boxes when it comes to car ownership is to opt for an SUV. They're comfortable, hugely practical and capable in virtually all conditions and relatively fun to drive. But most importantly, in the case of the cars listed here, they also offer seven seats.

We're fairly sure you wont get a more stylish and well-rounded list of options as what we've put together here, read on to find your perfect seven-seater SUV.

Best medium 7-seater SUVs

1. Kia Sorento

Best 7-seater SUV for a long warranty

Used deals from £10,600
Monthly finance from £200

One thing that really lifts the Kia Sorento is its renowned reliability. Aside from the fact every model will come with Kia's seven-year warranty, owners gave it a score of 95% in this years' Driver Power reliability survey.

It offers a spacious cabin and good-size rearmost seats, which are comfortable enough for children on a long journey and adults on shorter trips. They’d be better still if the middle seats tumbled forward; as it is, they just tilt and slide out of the way. The interior’s fit is impressive but its style and finish are a little underwhelming given the Sorento costs almost £30,000 from new.

KIA SORENTO BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Land Rover Discovery Sport

Best 7-seater SUV for the private school run

Used deals from £15,880
Monthly finance from £244

For parents who care about blending in on the private school run, a Land Rover is almost as essential as the childrens’ striped school blazers and caps. But you don’t have to break the bank and buy a Range Rover, a Discovery Sport does the job just as well for half the price.

It’s a good demonstration in fitting a lot into a compact body, and the team that created the car’s fundamental packaging deserves a pat on the back. With the TD4 180 diesel engine and nine-speed automatic gearbox driving all four wheels, the Discovery goes well and has reasonable road manners, but some competitors offer a more sporty drive or do a better job of smoothing out bad road surfaces (of which there are plenty).

If you're looking for a new car and can afford to wait, the Discovery Sport is due to be updated in the summer, and will gain a hybrid option for improved fuel efficiency and lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Peugeot 5008

Best 7-seater SUV for standing out of the crowd

Used deals from £6,666
Monthly finance from £130

If you want to stand out of the SUV crowd, head for your nearest Peugeot showroom. The 5008 successfully avoids resorting to generic design, with a look that’s modern and fresh.

Under the surface, it doesn't have four-wheel drive, which could put some drivers off. But the car’s road manners are well suited to motoring with a family aboard. The suspension gives a supple ride, smoothing out poorly surfaced roads, and the roadholding is stable if not as responsive as Skoda’s Kodiaq. What’s refreshing is to find a good 1.6-litre petrol engine that delivers as much oomph as a diesel and can still manage close to 40mpg with an automatic gearbox in real-world conditions.

Bear in mind that the cheapest used versions of the 5008 are from the previous generation, which has a very diferent design that won't appeal to all buyers.

PEUGEOT 5008 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Skoda Kodiaq

Best 7-seater SUV for feelgood factor

Used deals from £15,495
Monthly finance from £230

If your budget will stretch and you configure a Kodiaq wisely, it can look better than the much more expensive Audi Q7. Pick the Sportline trim and Business Grey metallic paint (dreadful name, great colour) and you’ll get complimentary comments from other drivers.

This specification also makes the interior more impressive, as it includes a large 9.2-inch touchscreen. It's a crystal clear, easy-to-operate display that has some of the most intuitive menus of any car. The dashboard and fittings feel well made and the Sportline sports seats are fantastically comfortable.

SKODA KODIAQ BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Best 7 seater SUV for no-nonsense types

Used deals from £23,899
Monthly finance from £343

Volkswagen scored a hit with the previous Tiguan. In fact, one of the few criticisms that drivers could level at it was the lack of a seven seat version. For that reason, the second generation Tiguan introduces a longer, seven-seat model called Allspace.

In isolation, the Allspace is a good car. But against competitors here, the rearmost seats are cramped and you get less boot space when five seats are being used. However, the dashboard layout is a model of clarity – this is how you do it, says VW to other car makers – and the levels of quality aren’t that far off an Audi or BMW. Those that need four-wheel drive should probably plump for the 4Motion with the 2-litre diesel engine and automatic gearbox.

VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN ALLSPACE BUYERS' GUIDE

Best large 7-seater SUVs

1. Audi Q7

Best 7-seater SUV for a smooth operator

Used deals from £19,898
Monthly finance from £295

The original Audi Q7 was a bit of a beast, dwarfing most other cars and weighing almost as much as a tank. Happily, the designers and engineers realised something had to be done, so the latest model looks less bulky and has shed more than 300kg. Like a Weight Watchers case study, the Q7 enjoyed a new lease of life.

It’s one of the most spacious seven seat SUVs money can buy and, just as significantly, it’s one of the smoothest to drive, when fitted with optional air suspension. The diesel engine is quiet and the more powerful version gives the car impressive performance. Few cars will make such light work of a family holiday to the ski slopes or the beaches of the Cote d’Azur.

AUDI Q7 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Land Rover Discovery

Best 7-seater SUV for back seat space

Used deals from £22,380
Monthly finance from £364

In many ways, the Land Rover Discovery is not terribly good. It is too heavy, slower and noisier than rivals, thirsty and overpriced – especially the version with the four-cylinder diesel engine, which still costs almost £50,000 from new.

But in the race for space, the Discovery wins it in a photo finish. Its cabin is particularly wide, and the third row of seats are actually bearable for adults to use on a long trip. It goes without saying that the Discovery makes a good workhorse, particularly when towing. Capable of hauling 3,500kg, and with one the best all-terrain capabilities of nearly any 4x4, it can do a lot more than just ferry the kids around.

The new model remains expensive as a used car; the previous generation Discovery is much cheaper and has an altogether different, boxy design which remains popular.

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Mercedes GLS

Best 7-seater SUV for those who believe biggest is best

Used deals from £35,500
Monthly finance from £488

The GLS is a giant, measuring in at 5.16 metres long, which may present problems when trying to fit into the average parking space. But it means that the interior offers almost as much space as a modest house.

This is a car that will carry seven adults in comfort and hold a handsome amount of luggage too. However, you have to make compromises in other areas. It feels big and a little cumbersome to drive, and the fuel economy of the V6 diesel (35mpg) is nothing to write home about. However, it’s a lot better than the 20mpg (at best) that the GLS 63 achieves.

The GLS is an expensive model from new, so makes more sense as a second-hand model, particularly as a new version of the car is due to be launched later this year, bringing improved technology and increased comfort.

MERCEDES BUYERS' GUIDES

4. Tesla Model X

Best 7-seater SUV for electric dreamers

The back doors open like a pelican flapping. The interior more closely resembles an Apple Store than a car. The driving experience is an event in itself for most owners. And the potential savings on fuel bills are huge.

Before rushing to place that order, however, it’s important to determine whether an electric car is for you. Some of the diesel-powered SUVs here can travel for more than 500 miles between visits to a fuel station. At best, the Model X in its most affordable, 75 D specification (which costs from more than £70,000) can only drive for a maximum of 259 miles between charges – which is more like 200 miles in day to day driving, and it takes about 90 minutes to fully charge it again, using a public Tesla Supercharger, assuming it’s able to operate at its maximum capability.

TESLA MODEL X BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Volvo XC90

Best 7-seater SUV for a plug-in hybrid instead of diesel

Used deals from £12,499
Monthly finance from £230

The Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal and subsequent diesel tax increases have given many drivers pause for thought. Many of those will own large, heavy SUVs, and will wonder how on earth they can afford to switch from diesel to petrol power – which usually emits lower levels of harmful emissions – when it will see their fuel bill shoot up dramatically.

The answer could be to change to a plug-in hybrid, like the Volvo XC90 T8. It has a petrol engine and a large battery that can be charged from the mains. Fuel economy is spectacular on short journeys with a fully-chargd battery, but drops significantly once the electricity runs out and the car relies on petrol power. Carbon dioxide emissions are low, cutting the cost of company car tax.

VOLVO XC90 BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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