Seven-seaters SUVs used to be the preserve of parents bestowed with many children, but more and more people are buying them for the extra space they offer over regular five-seater models, as well as for the prestige that comes with that extra size.
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[2018 update: Bigger still means better in the world of seven-seat SUVs, with the cavernous Q7, Kodiaq and Discovery occupying the top three places on our list. The updated Kia Sorento bags sixth place while the new Tiguan Allspace comes in just behind in seventh. Despite its age, the BMW X5 still manages to scrape a top-10 finish.]
- Audi Q7
- Skoda Kodiaq
- Land Rover Discovery
- Volvo XC90
- Range Rover Sport
- Kia Sorento
- VW Tiguan Allspace
- Hyundai Santa Fe
- Land Rover Discovery Sport
- BMW X5
1. Audi Q7
If you want to get somewhere quickly, smoothly and in comfort, you should definitely consider the Audi Q7 if your budget stretches to it. The interior is sublime – it’s filled with Audi’s best tech, including the brilliant Virtual Cockpit digital driver’s display, and you also get lots of sumptuous soft-touch materials. The engines – especially the diesels – are notably economical for such a large car, and smooth too.
We took the Q7 on a road trip to the Austrian ski resort of Saalbach, and it was the perfect companion – it was great on the motorway, roomy enough for five adults and their clobber, and the four-wheel drive certainly helped in the snow. The third row of seats is only really suitable for children though – but otherwise it is an outstanding all-rounder and family hauler.
2. Skoda Kodiaq
The Skoda Kodiaq is like a half-price Q7. If the Audi wasn’t quite so polished, the Skoda might’ve come out on top in this list. It does everything you need a family car to do and, if you go for a four-wheel-drive version, it’ll go almost everywhere the Audi can. There are fewer fripperies, as you might expect for a car that costs from £22,000, but the Kodiaq still has everything you need from a family car.
It comes with roomy middle-row seats, a decent touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone mirroring, and wraps it up in a well-designed and well-built interior. Okay, the rear seats will only be comfy for kids, but a pair of adults can tolerate them for short trips.
3. Land Rover Discovery
If you want a seven-seater SUV that can go almost anywhere, then you need the Land Rover Discovery and its off-road technology. This may be a premium vehicle, but it doesn’t mind getting its wheels dirty and traversing some serious terrain. Inside, your passengers are swept along in luxurious surroundings – provided you avoid the entry-level models which come without leather seats and satellite navigation – and the driving position is nothing short of commanding.
There’s plenty of room for seven fully grown adults inside – unlike many seven-seaters – and, even with all seats in place, you’ll still have a reasonable amount of boot space at your disposal. Flip all five rear seats down and you’re left with a huge van that could probably get most of IKEA most of the way up Mount Everest.
4. Volvo XC90
The Volvo XC90 is a stylish, handsome and luxurious SUV that’s good enough to rival the Discovery and the Q7 – if you’re considering these three, read our XC90 vs Discovery and Q7 comparison guide. The big Volvo offers a relaxing, smooth drive and a beautifully made interior, and seven seats. The third-row seats are only really suitable for children because legroom is tight, but the middle row is certainly spacious enough for three adults and all the seats are among the comfiest you’ll find.
Alternatives offer more refined six-cylinder diesel engines than the XC90’s four-cylinder options, but the XC90 is the only car on this list that can glide through London without being subjected to the Congestion Charge. To do that you’ll need the expensive – and fast –T8 hybrid version, which gets a claimed 134mpg and can travel for almost 30 miles on electric power alone.
5. Range Rover Sport
The Range Rover Sport looks as elegant as a bowler hat, yet will take you over the harshest terrain. That versatility makes it a great choice as a family car – and that’s before you consider it can come with seven seats. The interior’s adorned with soft leather seats, leather on the dashboard and Land Rover’s newest digital tech.
The 2018 Range Rover Sport uses the same dual-screen infotainment setup as the Velar, which is far slicker and easier to use than the previous Sport’s infotainment system. You can add the extra two rear seats as an option and, so long as you only put kids in the back, there’ll be no complaints.
6. Kia Sorento
Value passenger space over boot space? The Kia Sorento has more space in the rearmost seats than either the Discovery or Kodiaq, but with all seven seats in place, the boot is tiny – far smaller than in the Land Rover or Skoda. However, the Sorento costs from under £29,000 before carwow discount, and there are few cheaper seven-seaters.
There’s also a lot of space in the front and middle rows, with space for three adults to sit abreast and plenty of headroom, even with the optional panoramic roof. The interior is also smart and relatively plush-feeling, and it’s very comfortable on the move.
7. VW Tiguan Allspace
The five-seat Tiguan is one of the best family SUVs because it feels premium and well-built, with a range of great engines and a comfortable driving experience. None of this is diluted in the Tiguan Allspace, which adds two extra seats to the Tiguan’s recipe. In fact, it’s even hard to tell that the Allspace is any bigger.
Despite appearances, there’s almost as much room as the cavernous Kodiaq back there, and adults can squeeze in the rearmost seats and will be fine on shorter journeys. Passengers in the middle row will have more real estate than in the five-door Tiguan too. Check out our guides to the Tiguan vs the Tiguan Allspace and the Allspace vs the Kodiaq for more information.
8. Hyundai Santa Fe
The Hyundai Santa Fe might be a bit older than many of the cars on this list, and the price has crept up a bit, but the big Hyundai is still a competent and popular family SUV. It’s reasonably well-equipped and you can add two, child-friendly rear seats as an option. While middle-row passengers will have a lot more room than those behind them, all the seats are comfy and the Santa Fe irons out most bumps without any hassle. The 2.2-litre diesel engine is reasonably economical and smooth, and it earns more points by having a large boot.
9. Land Rover Discovery Sport
It may be the smaller relation to the Discovery above, but the Discovery Sport still manages to fit in a third set of seats. Again, they’re available as an option and only really suitable for little ‘uns, because headroom is pinched by the lowered roofline.
However, there’s no denying that the Discovery Sport feels plush and the suspension is supple, making long-distance trips much less of a chore, and of course it’ll go over almost any surface you point it at. The Land Rover’s versatility is one of its main selling points, even if you might never venture off the beaten track.
10. BMW X5
Take the BMW X5 in isolation and it’s a very fine car with a smart-looking interior, but it’s starting to feel a bit long-in-the-tooth against newer opposition such as the Audi Q7 or Volvo XC90. The brilliant, easy-to-use iDrive infotainment system doesn’t need replacing though, keeping pace with even the newest infotainment systems.
The X5 is a brilliant long-distance cruiser with refined and economical engines, and plush, expensive-feeling seats, but it loses some points with its cramped, dark and optional third row of seats. They are only suitable for small children, so if you need to transport larger folk you’ll want the Land Rover Discovery.
Save money on your next car
Whichever SUV you decide is right for you and your lifestyle, you will be able to save lots of money through carwow. Read our guides to the best family cars and the best hybrid SUVs if you would like a few more options.