Most cars claim to have three rear seats, but the reality is they have two seats with a chair in the middle that’s uncomfortable and not a spacious as the ones on either side of it. The cars on this list though, all offer at least three separate back seats. Keep reading for the best picks from a range of cars that have three separate rear seats.
(July 2018 update: The latest update sees the Peugeot Rifter replace the ageing Toyota Verso on our list of the best cars with three separate rear seats. The Peugeot isn’t the most sophisticated of cars, but it is easy to drive and gets you loads of space for a very reasonable price)
- 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
If you need a big practical family car and don’t give a monkey’s about image then the Volkswagen Touran is the car for you. Its upright, boxy shape translates into enough interior space to carry seven adults. That includes a centre row with a full-sized middle seat and its own separate adjustment. On top of that, the Touran is crammed full of useful storage spaces and has nice touches such as picnic tables (on the backs of the front seats) that lock in place so they don’t collapse the minute you hit a bump. That said, the Touran is comfy on poorly surfaced road and its slick controls make it easy to drive. Choose the 1.6-litre diesel for reasonable punch and fuel economy of more than 60mpg.
2. Audi Q7
If you need a car with three separate middle seats but want a car with serious presence, few are better than the huge Audi Q7. It has seven seats in total – including a middle row of three separate seats big enough to accommodate three adults. Fold away the back row and you’re left with a boot that’s big enough to go on holiday in and the Q7’s cabin is littered with smaller storage areas to help keep it tidy. Despite its size, the Q7 is surprisingly easy to drive, its automatic gearbox shifts smoothly and its 3.0-litre diesel engines are powerful and not too bad on fuel. Fit the optional air suspension and you’ll get yourself one of the comfiest cruisers in the business.
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 USP 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.