- Volkswagen Touran
- Audi Q7
- Volvo XC90
- Ford S-Max
- Citroen Grand C4 Space Tourer
- Ford Grand C-Max
- Seat Alhambra
- Toyota Prius+
- Mercedes V-Class
- Peugeot Rifter
You don’t buy a Volkswagen Touran for its desirability but if you need a no-nonsense family car, few can compete with its formidable skill set. Of particular relevance here is its three separate seats in the middle row. They give your passengers plenty of shoulder, elbow and hip room – they won’t feel like they’re wedged in like sardines in a can. All three seats also slide forwards and backwards to give your passengers extra room if they need it and the Touran’s flat floor means no one gets shortchanged when it comes to foot room, either. Upgrade from basic S to a mid-range SE version and you even get a couple of picnic tables that fold down from the backs of the front seats. And because they lock in place, they, and their contents, won’t collapse onto your knee at the first sniff of a bump. The Touran is a comfortable car to drive and comes with a good choice of cheap-to-run engines. That’s why it tops our list of the Best Cars with Three Separate Rear Seats.
2. Audi Q7
The Audi Q7 is a great choice if you’re looking for a huge SUV with three separate rear seats. Its middle row has loads of room for three people, all the seats slide backwards for more legroom and can recline so you can really stretch out on a long journey. The Q7’s not cheap, but the extra money it’ll cost does buy you some nice extras. That means even basic models get leather upholstery that looks posh but is also easy to keep clean. Move up to S line trim and you get separate heater controls for the left and right-hand side of the back seat and if you go one step further to the top-of-the-range Vorsprung model you get heating for the outer seats. There’s more to the Q7 than its ability to carry five in limo-like luxury, though, you’ll also love the effortless performance and surprising fuel economy of its six-cylinder diesel engines.
3. Volvo XC90
The Volvo XC90 is another huge SUV that has three separate middle seats along with a third row of two seats. The Volvo has lots of room for people and stuff, but its interior is also one of the nicest you can get for the money thanks to being crammed full of leather and unvarnished wood. The XC90 isn’t quite as comfortable as other large SUVs and its four-cylinder diesel engines can be a little wheezy, although they don’t cost the earth to run. That said, the XC90’s reputation for excellent safety is arguably much more relevant in a car that is going to spend most of its time carrying your family.
4. Ford S-Max
The Ford S-Max’s wedge shape and big chrome grille make it look surprisingly sporty for a large family car. This is still a sensible family car, though, so the middle row’s three separate are roomy and have their own adjustment to help everyone get comfy. The back row isn’t as spacious, but when its folded away the S-Max has a boot big enough for several suitcases. Surprisingly, the Ford S-Max is a hoot to drive too, and the 1.5-litre 160bhp petrol engine is cheap to run and willing.
5. Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer
The Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer is a very practical car that manages to also be good looking thanks to the wraparound grille, piercing headlights and huge panoramic windscreen. The Citroen’s middle row of three separate seats mean three adults have plenty of room and all the SpaceTourer’s back seats fold flat into the floor to give you a load bay big enough to rival a small van. It’s far from van like to drive though, the Citroen’s quiet and comfortable and, while not very quick, the 1.6-litre diesel engine is cheap to run.
6. Ford Grand C-Max
The Ford Grand C-Max’s main selling point amongst cars of its type is its two sliding rear doors, which give you brilliant access to the three separate seats on the middle row. Its other boast is that the centre seat in the middle row can be folded away giving you excellent access to the extra pair of seats in the back. The Grand C-Max has soft suspension that soaks up bumps well, and all its controls are light and easy to use. The 150hp 2.0-litre diesel engine is a good match for the car, giving it plenty of punch when the Ford’s fully loaded, while also offering decent fuel economy.
7. SEAT Alhambra
MPVs (Multi-Purpose Vehicles) like the SEAT Alhambra were very popular, but then trendy SUVs came along to spoil the party. If you’re not fussed about image, though, the Alhambra still makes a lot of sense if you have a family. It has seven seats – including three separate seats in the middle row – and has room for a couple of suitcases in the boot when all its seats are in use. The Alhambra is an easy car to drive and its 150hp diesel engine is punchy and cheap to run. The SEAT Alhambra actually shares its parts with the Volkswagen Sharan, but the SEAT’s cheaper price makes it the cannier purchase.
8. Toyota Prius+
The Toyota Prius+ is one of the few seven-seater hybrids that doesn’t cost a small fortune to buy. Its combination of a 1.8-litre petrol engine and a small electric motor means its economical on fuel and can run on electric power alone for up to three miles – perfect for getting through city centres. It’s an easy car to drive and reasonably comfortable over bumps, although the engine roar caused by the CVT gearbox when you’re accelerating gets wearing. In terms of practicality, the Prius’ three separate middle seats recline and fold individually giving you a decent amount of versatility. That said, the back row of seats is only really suitable for kids and with it in place, you’ll only have space in the boot for a suitcase.
9. Mercedes V-Class
The Mercedes V-Class is a huge people carrier that’s based on the Mercedes Vivaro van. Its dashboard design could have been taken from a Mercedes saloon and the rest of the interior feels surprisingly plush given the V-Class’ humble origins. But it’s the interior space that makes it feel truly luxurious, it has seven full-sized seats – including three separate seats in the middle row – and even with all its seats in use you’ve got a huge boot that’ll swallow four big suitcases. Choose the 250d model and its 190hp 2.2-litre engine delivers plenty of power when the car’s fully loaded and will return more than 40mpg on the motorway.
The Peugeot Rifter offers little style and is in no way interesting to drive, but it’s hard to beat if you want a practical family car at a very reasonable price. Top-of-the-range models come with three spacious, separate rear seats in the back and lots of storage spaces including overhead cubbies and a huge lidded box between the two front seats. Its huge sliding rear doors and flat floor give all your rear-seat passengers brilliant access and you also get a boot that’ll easily swallow everyone’s luggage and is a cinch to load. The 110hp diesel engines gives you all the power you need to shift the Rifter when it’s fully loaded and will also return fuel economy of more than 60mpg.