There’s a total of 42 new seven-seat cars on sale in 2014, so how do you choose which one is right for your family?
You could do worse than to continue reading, as we’ve selected the ten best cars ranked by our very own wowscore – our rating system that aggregates scores given by professional car reviewers. It’s pretty simple – the higher the wowscore, the better the car!
Click on any of the cars’ highlighted names to be taken to that model’s full summary page, where you can read critics’ reviews, owner impressions, see photos, and check out each car’s vital statistics.
Fed up of seven-seater cars looking a bit “mumsy”? Don’t have the budget to stretch to some of the nameplates further on in this list? You could do a lot worse than look to the Hyundai Santa Fe, with its 7.9 wowscore. You could do a lot worse, in fact, as the Hyundai isn’t just a great car – it’s also a bit of a looker, as family off-roaders go.
In typical Hyundai style, it’s also relatively affordable (though by Hyundai standards it’s quite a sum of money!) and well-equipped. Reviewers love the interior, and you should too – it looks good, it’s well made and it feels like a high-quality environment. The sixth and seventh pews can be raised from the boot floor. They don’t suit adults, but a few children will get in there fine thanks to a seat on the middle row that tips and tumbles forwards. It drives well too, and you’ll get up to 47 mpg.
Price range £26,000-£35,030 / MPG 41-47
9 – Citroen C4 Grand Picasso
Make: Citroen Model: Grand Picasso
A new entrant in the top ten, Citroen’s C4 Grand Picasso is probably the most stylish seven-seater car on sale right now. It’s ranked highly by the experts too, who are all pretty positive about the styling too. The virtues don’t end there, of course – it also has a spacious cabin and a typically-Citroen soothing ride quality. Testers say it lacks the outright handling abilities of a Ford S-Max, but that may not be an issue on the school run…
Where the Picasso scores very well is frugality. The most efficient models sip a gallon of diesel every 74 miles, though those models are best left aside for those who occasionally find themselves in a hurry. Luckily, higher-power diesels are also available, if you don’t mind sacrificing a little economy.
Price range £19,205-£27,855 / MPG 44-74
SEAT has scattered some of its stereotypical latin flair on the Alhambra, but there’s a good dose of German sensibility in there too. It gets a wowscore of 8.0, and some very impressive reviews. There is not only plenty of room in the cabin, but also space for luggage. Unlike some here, it also has sliding doors, which make getting in and out of the car really easy.
The Alhambra is among the more traditional MPVs here, with full seating for seven people – many offer seats only suitable for children. That old-school nature is telling in the SEAT’s economy though, as the most miserly models only manage 50 mpg. Performance is more than respectable though, the top-end diesels whisking you to 60 mph in just 9.3 seconds. Petrol fans need not apply – SEAT slimmed down the range a while back.
Price range £25,345-£33,475 / MPG 47-50
The Peugeot 5008 is one of the best family cars on sale. It won a whole host of awards at launch, and the wowscore of 8.2 backs up the generally positive reviews. It’s not quite as stylish as the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso, with which it shares a platform, but the 5008 still rides high from its initial reviews and recent revisions have done nothing to diminish its talents.
Like the Citroen the two rear seats are a bit of a squeeze, but certainly usable for kids. The interior is great too, with a quality feel you’ll not be expecting if you’ve not driven a Peugeot in a while, good leg and headroom, and if you keep those rear seats stowed, a huge boot. Economy is great too – the recent addition of e-HDi diesels means a top figure of 65.7 mpg, and £30 yearly vehicle tax.
Price range £19,050-£26,460 / MPG 40-65
Several years after launch, the Ford S-Max is still one of our favourite seven-seater MPVs. It’s a stylish car, fun to drive and has plenty of space inside. It shares an 8.2 wowscore with the Peugeot 5008, but the Ford holds its spot as an incumbent – the Pug has gained a little since our last update! Once again, rear seat space isn’t brilliant, at least if you’re an adult, but for child duties or infrequent journeys it does the job in that regard.
Whoever you’re driving around, you’ll be having more fun than in most seven-seaters here – the S-Max has always been great to drive. It rides and handles well and the engines are punchy – the top Ecoboost petrols are quick enough to scare some of the slower hot hatchbacks on the market! What the S-Max can’t do now is match some of its rivals on economy – a 54 mpg max isn’t bad, but not spectacular these days either.
Price range £23,110-£32,885 / MPG 34-54
5 – Volkswagen Sharan
Make: Volkswagen Model: Sharan
If the Sharan looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve taken a good look at the SEAT Alhambra further up the page. They’re essentially the same car, though Volkswagen’s take gets a slightly higher wowscore of 8.2. In reality, the cars are similar enough that each is equally worthy of purchase, though Volkswagen’s offering wins out on image.
Strip it to the core and you’ll find the same benefits – this is a proper seven-seater (none of that child-seat nonsense) with enough space for people and luggage. It’s also built well and easy to drive. Like the SEAT, it’s partly let down by economy – 50 mpg is all you get here – and while the VW badge has some kudos, the styling is very much of the MPV old-school. This is a car designed for carrying your ever-growing family, and people will know it when it’s sitting on your driveway…
Price range £25,060-£34,530 / MPG 33-50
4 – Volkswagen Touran
Make: Volkswagen Model: Touran
VW’s Sharan a little too charismatic for you? May we introduce the Touran – a smaller MPV that fills a gap between the Sharan and VW’s upcoming Golf SV. Like the Peugeot and Citroen offerings here, the rear row of seats is a little more cramped than in the bigger MPVs, but pricing is lower than the bigger cars too.
The wowscore, on the other hand, is higher – 8.3. That’s the mark of a car that’s practical, comfortable and very well built, with cubby holes scattered throughout the cabin. The car’s seating arrangements aren’t as good as some rivals though – they can be tricky to fold up and down without considerable effort. Better is the driving experience – it’s got good steering and a compliant ride – while 61 mpg economy potential should save you pennies at the pump.
Price range £19,565-£28,125 / MPG 41-61
3 – Ford Grand C-Max
Make: Ford Model: Grand C-Max
The Grand C-Max clearly got the attention of European Car of the Year judges in 2011, when it was the only big MPV that made the list. Since then it’s remained near the top of the 7-seater charts, with a wowscore of 8.3. Although fine for young families, you may want to give it a miss if your children are older, the back seats aren’t too spacious. It’s also a little ungainly from some angles, so if you want a little style, look to one of the French duo.
Like most Fords though, it gains ground on the driving front. There’s good steering, a cossetting ride and minimal body roll. There’s a wide engine range too, with a strong mix of petrols and diesels. Ford’s excellent 1.0-litre Ecoboost joined the range not so long ago and promises economy in the 50s, while 1.6 TDCi diesels manage over 60 mpg. Usefully, Ford also offers some higher-power options, including a 163 PS 2.0 TDCi that hits 60 in little over 9 seconds. Most families should find a C-Max they’ll like.
Price range £19,745-£27,000 / MPG 44-60
2 – Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Make: Land Rover Model: Range Rover Sport
And so begins the Land Rover whitewash at the top. The Range Rover Sport is new to our list and with a sixty grand starting price – yes, that’s where it STARTS – it probably won’t top your list for affordable family cars.
It is, however, a truly excellent vehicle in many respects. It’s almost half a tonne lighter than the old Range Rover Sport, which has transformed the way it drives, the way it performs and the amount of fuel it uses. Amazingly, the thriftiest diesels manage mid-40s economy, yet all models are powerful and perform with verve. If you’re feeling truly silly with your seven-seat options, a 510 PS supercharged V8 tops the range – but realistically, the SDV6 diesels are all the car you’d ever need. Oh, and the sixth and seventh seats? Kids-only, this time.
Price range £60,005-£83,175 / MPG 22-44
1 – Land Rover Discovery 4
Make: Land Rover Model: Discovery 4
The Discovery 4 is an outstanding car, beating even its Range Rover stablemate with a wowscore of 9.2. It’s well built, excellent off-road and a very comfortable way to travel. Not only that, but adults can actually use the rearmost seats – a rarity in the off-road class. Getting to them is a little more tricky, but the utility is there – and the cabin is huge whether the seats are up or down.
Though not cheap, many of the reviews say it feels like a car that ought to cost a lot more. If you have the cash and don’t mind the 35 mpg thirst (the Range Rover Sport has a newer engine and weighs a great deal less, hence its better figures), it’s still the best seven-seater option available.
Price range £40,005-£64,805 / MPG 35
For more information, head over to carwow’s Car Chooser – you can select various options and price ranges to help you choose your next car, seven-seater or otherwise. Once you’ve selected a model, you can then head over to its dedicated deals page, where you could save thousands on the list price!