Best cars with reclining back seats

Looking for a spacious, comfy car with reclining rear seats for those lucky enough to sit in the back? Check out these affordable options

James Wilson
Oct 8, 2021

Driving a car with reclining back seats might sound like an unnecessary luxury, but this can make the difference between having a super-comfortable family car and having cries of 'are we nearly there yet?' from the back seats within minutes of starting every journey. Reclining rear seats are one of those features that you may not realise you want until you experience them for yourself.

Finding a car with reclining seats is no easy task, as the format of the seats isn't exactly headline-grabbing and can easily be missed out from manufacturers' brochures. Fear not, as BuyaCar is here to help. The main benefits of reclining rear seats are greater passenger comfort and potentially better practicality when it comes to carrying passengers and luggage.

If you regularly transport passengers with back problems, for instance, giving them the option of adjusting the angle of the seatback could make a big difference. On a more practical front, being able to make the rear seats more upright can help when squeezing large objects into the boot - for example, a new washing machine, giving you the option to bypass additional delivery charges by taking it home yourself.

Reclining rear seats come in numerous different forms. Some seats can only be adjusted to a small degree, so are quite limited in the amount of flexibility they offer. Other seats are more flexible in that they have a huge range of potential positions. Top of the reclining back seats tree are electronically adjustable rear seats. These are normally only found on high-end luxury cars like the Mercedes S-Class.

Although some of the cars below are upmarket models, those shortlisted tend to fall into the category of manually adjustable reclining seats with a wide range of positions. All models can be found second-hand for somewhere between £10,000 and £35,000 for models of up to six years old. Opt for PCP finance to pay for your next car and that equates to roughly £175* to £500* per month.

Best cars with reclining back seats

1. Peugeot 5008

Our pick Peugeot 5008 Allure
Used deals from £9,988
Monthly finance from £413*

Both the 5008 large SUV and the smaller 3008 are desirable, high-riding family cars. A large part of their appeal is down to the interiors. Focusing on the 5008, there are plenty of high-quality materials used and a dashboard design which is funky without coming across as gimmicky. There is one Marmite feature and that is the tiny steering wheel with driver's dials that you look at over the wheel, rather than through it - some people love it, while others hate it, so it's worth you thinking about whether this layout works for you.

Another reason for the 5008 being such a good large SUV is its practicality. There are two seats which fold up and down in the boot, making this SUV a seven-seater. They are a touch too cramped for larger adults to be comfortable on longer journeys but children should have no problems back there. The middle row of seats is big enough for three adults and the seats can have their backrest angle adjusted to make sure passengers are as comfortable as possible.


2. Jaguar XJ

Our pick Jaguar XJ Portfolio
Used deals from £17,991
Monthly finance from £535*

There are no two ways about it; the Jaguar XJ is a luxurious car and it really only takes one look at the sleek but dramatic styling to sense this. Driving an XJ reinforces the upmarket impressions further, as the engines are never short on power and the automatic gearboxes are very smooth. Surprisingly, the XJ drives exceedingly well for a big, heavy car.

Go for a luxury limo like the XJ and it makes sense to be driven somewhere rather than to drive yourself, if you want to get the most from the car - that way you can make use of the rear reclining seats. These weren’t standard on all XJ models, so be sure to check they are present and correct in any car you are considering. If you do plan to be a passenger more than a driver, we’d recommend finding a long wheelbase model as they have much better legroom.


3. Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer Flair
Used deals from £18,500
Monthly finance from £0*

Few cars are quite as well set up to handle the trials and tribulations of carrying lots of people as the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer. Starting with the engines, there is an excellent range to choose from. If you are a higher-mileage driver doing more than 12,000 miles or so per year, a 1.6-litre 'BlueHDI' diesel engine is well worth a look. Those who do fewer miles will be well served by one of Citroen’s 'PureTech' petrol engines. But whether you choose petrol or diesel, this Citroen is capable of lugging around all the family and their gear.

Of course to be a great people carrier the Grand C4 SpaceTourer needs a practical interior, which it very much has. There are acres of space up front, the middle seats are large enough to take three adults - the option to individually slide and recline each seat is a great bonus - and the rearmost seats are perfect for kids and adults, providing they're not too tall. The icing on the cake is that this Citroen looks much more distinctive than most cars of this type, which helps it to stand out, as people carriers often look a little drab.


4. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

Our pick BMW 2 Series Active Tourer M Sport
Used deals from £15,000
Monthly finance from £0*

The 2 Series Active Tourer was and still is the first people carrier to be sold by BMW. While the body might not be as sleek as some of BMW’s sporty two-door models, the 2 Series Active Tourer still features some of the German car maker's hallmarks. Namely, a well-built interior and efficient engines. It is also relatively enjoyable to drive on faster country roads, albeit not as much fun as the 3 Series.

A 3 Series, though, cannot match the Active Tourer’s practicality. As the 2 Series Active Tourer is a five-seater only, you will need to look at the 2 Series Gran Tourer if you want a seven-seater. In Active Tourer models, the rear seats recline in a 60:40 split, so if there are three passengers back there, two of them will have to agree on how much to recline the seatback. Most models also come with the ability to slide the seats forwards and back, which is helpful when trying to fit large items in the boot.


5. Mazda CX-5

Our pick Mazda CX-5 Sport Nav
Used deals from £9,000
Monthly finance from £330*

Mazda makes some truly great cars - and the CX-5 is one of them. Those who have no previous experience of Mazdas are likely to be impressed by the quality of the CX-5’s interior, as it is on par with the best that Volkswagen has to offer. Throw in the fact that the CX-5 is one of the few larger midsize SUVs which is actually enjoyable to drive and it becomes clearer why the CX-5 is so popular.

The good news doesn’t end there as standard equipment is plentiful. Even entry-level SE-L models come with dual-zone climate control - which allows the driver and passenger to set different temperatures for the air being blown in their respective directions - sat-nav and LED headlights. Reclining back seats are available and the boot is more than large enough to handle a typical family’s luggage or a dog or two. The boot floor is nice and flat, which makes loading heavier items a lot easier.


6. Toyota Camry

Our pick Toyota Camry Design
Used deals Limited stock

The Toyota Camry is an interesting proposition as it is a bit of a left-field choice in the UK. Typically, drivers who want an economical, spacious and upmarket saloon would look at something like a diesel Volkswagen Passat or a BMW 3 Series. Times are changing though, as diesel is falling in popularity due to concerns that older, more polluting diesel engines are especially harmful to the environment and human health.

This is exactly where Toyota comes in, as it has for a long time been the champion of so-called 'self-charging' hybrid cars. All Camrys are petrol-electric hybrids and come with an automatic gearbox, which helps to make them very comfortable and relaxing to drive. Additionally, Toyota has been generous with the standard equipment on all trims, so unless you want features like ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a larger touchscreen media system, entry-level Design models are the ones to go for.

7. Citroen C3 Aircross

Our pick Citroen C3 Aircross Flair
Used deals from £11,500
Monthly finance from £210*

Every now and then a car is launched that surprises people. The Citroen C3 Aircross did just that, impressing many drivers with its practical yet comfortable approach to motoring. As a result, it is an excellent option for those who appreciate family-friendly touches such as individual rear seats which can be slid and reclined to your heart's desire.

Citroen was brave with the styling of the C3 Aircross, what with its funky headlight design and option of vibrant colour schemes. It needs to look interesting, though, to stand out from the huge number of rival small SUV-style 'crossovers' it competes with - the Renault Captur, Kia Niro, Seat Arona and Peugeot 2008 are to name but four. As Peugeot and Citroen are part of the same company, many of the impressive engines that appear in other models, such as the 5008 SUV, also crop up in the C3 Aircross.


8. Volvo XC90

Our pick Volvo XC90 R-Design
Used deals from £27,000
Monthly finance from £689*

Have we saved the best to last? Possibly. The Volvo XC90 is a brilliant car - a testament to this is the fact it has been on sale since 2014 yet it still looks fresh as a daisy, both inside and out. Largely this is down to the Swedish brand's designers giving the XC90 a minimalist Scandinavian look. The fact there are so many similar models on sale since 2014 also means that there is plenty of choice and you can get the look of a brand new model for much less.

The XC90 really focuses on comfort and safety, but that is not to say that it is a slow, ponderous car, as the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid models, in particular, are faster from 0 to 62mph than many performance cars. However, Volvo realises that typical large SUV drivers value a smooth ride more than flying around corners on a country road. The rearmost seats are even large enough for the average-size adult and the middle seats can be reclined, too, making it a great large family car.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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