Best 7-seater SUVs & 4x4s

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

James Mills
Jun 8, 2018

Birthday parties; holidays; grandparents; the school run; lift-shares – there are many times that drivers might need a car with more than five seats. And when it comes to delivering a winning mix of practicality and comfort with desirability and style, a seven seat SUV is hard to beat.

It’s not that long ago that drivers who needed to carry a five-aside football team and their coach were forced to choose between unglamorous but hard-working people carriers, like the Ford Galaxy, or big, bulky 4x4s that often had benches for back seats and would drink more than jubilant fans on the terraces.

Now, there is a wide range of more modern sport utility vehicles – SUVs. Cars makers offer something for (nearly) everyone, with sensible Skodas and luxurious Land Rovers - and plenty more besides.

Although every car buyer will have different aspirations and wish lists, seven seat SUVs broadly fall into two categories – medium and large. Here, we steer drivers to the top five best in each.

 

Top 5 best medium 7-seater SUVs

Kia Sorento

Best 7-seater SUV for a long warranty

Our pick KX-2 2.2 CRDi auto Acceleration (0-62mph) 9.6sec
Fuel economy 43.5mpg CO2 170g/km

Owners rate their Sorento highly, scoring it 9.1 out of 10 on reviews website, Reevoo. What do they like about it – other than the reassurance of a warranty that lasts for up to seven years or 100,000 miles?

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 the finish, the style factor, is a little underwhelming given the Sorento costs from nearly £30,000.

 

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Best 7-seater SUV for the private school run

Our pick SE TD4 180 auto Acceleration (0-62mph) 9.9sec
Fuel economy 43.5mpg CO2 172g/km

For parents who care about blending in on the private school run, a Land Rover is almost as essential as the childrens’ striped school blazer and cap. 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…).

  

Peugeot 5008

Best 7-seater SUV for standing out of the crowd

Our pick Allure 1.6 THP 165 auto Acceleration (0-62mph) 9.2sec
Fuel economy 48.7mpg CO2 133g/km

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

Under the surface, it’s not 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 good petrol engine that delivers as much oomph as a diesel and can still manage close to 49mpg with an automatic gearbox.

 

Skoda Kodiaq

Best 7-seater SUV for feelgood factor

Our pick Allure 1.6 THP 165 auto Acceleration (0-62mph) 9.2sec
Fuel economy 48.7mpg CO2 133g/km

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.

The interior is equally impressive, partly because it comes with the rather lovely 9.2 inch touchscreen, a crystal clear, easy-to-operate screen that has some of the most intuitive menus of any car, and partly because it’s well made comes with fantastic sports seats.

  

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Best 7 seater SUV for no-nonsense types

Our pick SE Nav 2.0 TDI 150 4Motion auto Acceleration (0-62mph) 9.9sec
Fuel economy 47.9mpg CO2 153g/km

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.

  

Top 5 best large 7-seater SUVs

Audi Q7

Best 7-seater SUV for a smooth operator

Our pick S line 3.0 TDI 272 quattro Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.5sec
Fuel economy 47.1mpg CO2 158g/km

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 shed more than 300kg. Like a Weight Watchers case study, the car enjoyed a new lease of life.

It’s one of the most spacious seven seat SUVs money can buy. And as significantly, it’s one of the most smooth to drive, especially when fitted with optional air suspension. The diesel engine is quite 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.

 

Land Rover Discovery

Best 7-seater SUV for back seat space

Our pick HSE TD6 258 Acceleration (0-62mph) 8.1sec
Fuel economy 39.2mpg CO2 189g/km

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 costs the same as a six-cylinder Q7, for example.

But in the race for space, the Discovery wins it by 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.

 

Mercedes GLS

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

Our pick AMG Line 350 d 4Matic Acceleration (0-62mph) 7.8sec
Fuel economy 35.3mpg CO2 210g/km

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…

 

Tesla Model X

Best 7-seater SUV for electric dreamers

Our pick 75 D Acceleration (0-62mph) 5.2sec
Fuel economy n/a CO2 n/a

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 the petrol. 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.

 

Volvo XC90

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

Our pick Inscription T8 Acceleration (0-62mph) 5.6sec
Fuel economy 108.9mpg CO2 59g/km

The Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal has 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 to petrol power – which emits far lower levels of Nox emissions and particulates – 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, or charged during normal driving. It is capable of up to 108mpg, and has such low emissions that company car drivers can’t get enough of it.

 

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