Bored of mumsy MPVs? It’s okay, we understand. Sometimes you want the practicality of a people mover but a little more style. You need the space, but without the “overactive loins” image.
That’s where large seven-seat SUVs like the cars below come in. You may not win the hearts of environmentalists with the cars below (though some are impressively frugal), but you’ll always get where you’re going come rain or shine. And as is the way these days, there are toys and options aplenty – well, unless you pick the Defender.
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. To see what other seven seat vehicles are for sale, check out the other seven-seat cars using our Car Chooser.
10 – Toyota Land Cruiser
Make: Toyota Model: Land Cruiser
Head out to the deserts of the Middle East and you’ll see more Toyota Land Cruisers than virtually any other car. It’s tough and reliable and while it lacks the sophistication of European rivals, few vehicles are better suited to the job of getting you to your destination without a hitch. Literally, if you’re in the desert.
Deserts are harder to come by in the British Isles and here the Land Cruiser’s unimpressive 35 mpg combined rating counts against it. At a minimum of 35,000, it also looks expensive next to the Korean offerings further down this page. The rear seats are also a bit cramped, but they do fold away to reveal a large boot.
9 – Land Rover Defender
Make: Land Rover Model: Defender
The Land Rover Defender is something of an odd one out here, but then that’s always been the case. Seven-seat Defenders no longer require you to sit on a small padded bench facing those on the other side of the cabin – nowadays, the 110-inch wheelbase models give you a full three-seat second row and foldable two in the rear. It isn’t, however, a comfortable car for long distances – though the same could be said for those in the front seats.
It’s tough and wonderfully rugged though, and while no model breaches the 30 mpg barrier, few will go quite as far when the going gets tough. And frankly, if you’re planning to take kids anywhere in those rear seats, the Defender’s boxy lines and rough’n’ready nature make the whole car feel like a playground.
8 – Mercedes-Benz GL
Make: Mercedes-Benz Model: GL
Like its Audi Q7 rival, the Mercedes-Benz GL is more like a block of flats than a car. Realistically, reviewers say it’s too big for UK roads, and while it drives well and always feels planted to the road, negotiating it around tight city streets or supermarket car parks can be a nightmare.
The size also puts paid to any thoughts of low running costs. If a 60,000 entry tag doesn’t concern you, then maximum economy of 35 mpg (with a 285 yearly VED bill) isn’t likely to help. What it does do well is accommodate – access to those rearmost seats isn’t great, but once ensconced they offer a lot more space than most other 4x4s on this list.
7 – Volvo XC90
Volvo’s XC90 isn’t long for this world – there’s a new one on the way in the next year that’s sure to redefine the class standard. It’s had a spectacular run though, changing little since its introduction in 2003. That’s because it’s really very good at what it does. If you want a 7 seater with lots of room in the very back then the XC90 is still one of the ones to go for.
The boot is huge as well, even when the back seats are folded up. All the seats are comfortable and supportive, its as safe as any Volvo (and always feels it from the wheel) and it’s perfectly pleasant to drive. The biggest problem with the XC90 is that its looking a bit old now, both inside and out. It’s sole engine is old too – the 2.4-litre D5 unit may produce 200 PS, but its 34.4 mpg combined economy rating is poor these days. We’d recommend hanging on for the new XC90…
6 – Audi Q7
A car the size of Audi’s behemoth Q7 ought to have a decent rear seat row, and thankfully the back row of seats is fairly generous in size. Even adults will find them ok for shorter journeys. The boot is massive, and theres room for a couple of bags even with the rear seats up.
As ever with Audi’s vehicles, the interior is excellent. It feels of high quality and though the design is now getting a little dated (the same can be said for the Q7’s vast exterior) it’s a comfortable space to be. It’s actually pretty good to drive too, despite a firm ride. Economy is less competitive these days, the Q7’s size and age counting against it with maximum MPG ratings in the high 30s. And at 44,000-64,000, it isn’t cheap.
5 – Kia Sorento
You’d be forgiven for choosing Kia’s Sorento for one reason and one reason alone – Kia’s outstanding seven-year warranty. That’s hard to beat for peace-of-mind, but the Sorento has other talents too. It’s a big, understated SUV with plenty of interior space. That all-important seventh row isn’t huge, but a facelift in 2012 liberated some extra room – realistically, there’s more space for kids than in Kia’s own Carens MPV.
We’ve driven the Sorento on two occasions, each time taking people and luggage to the Le Mans 24 Hour race. It’s excelled on both occasions, helped us negotiate depressingly muddy campsites, and returned just under 40 mpg despite carrying plenty of people and luggage, and sitting at 80 mph on French autoroutes. And at 26,700, it’s one of the cheapest 7-seat SUVs available.
4 – BMW X5
BMW has prioritised typical BMW values over rear-seat space with the X5 – that is to say, it goes and handles much better than it accommodates on that final row of seats. But as occasional child pews they do the job, and the rest of the time you’ll be enjoying one of the best-driving SUVs on sale. It’s also frugal, with some models breaking into the 40 mpg range, but quality and performance are up to typical BMW levels too.
3 – Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai’s Santa Fe edges out its Kia cousin here with an excellent wowscore of 7.9 out of 10. Its a handsome car, has a comfortable ride and all the reviews are impressed with the standard 2.2-litre diesel engine. That diesel is capable of up to 47 mpg in the right spec – i.e. with a manual transmission – but even the automatic manages 41 mpg and testers say it’s a relaxing drive.
The rear seats arent too roomy, in common with its Kia Sorento cousin. But as with most other 7-seaters here, younger children – those of primary school age – should be fine. Pricing starts at 26,000, which makes it the cheapest car on this list. Hyundai also grants you a useful 5-year warranty.
2 – Range Rover Sport
Make: Land Rover Model: Range Rover Sport
A sixty-grand starting price means our second-place finisher is over the twice the price of the Hyundai above – but most Range Rover Sport pilots will tell you that it’s worth the outlay. Kids sitting in that seventh row may not agree though – the seats are mostly after-thoughts, but do endow the Sport with extra practicality when they’re required.
The rest of the car though is fabulous. 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. An SDV6 diesel gets close to becoming all the car you’ll ever need.
1 – Land Rover Discovery
Make: Land Rover Model: Discovery
It’s no surprise to see the Land Rover Discovery topping our list of the best 7-seater SUVs – after all, it already beat every other car in our list of best 7-seaters of any sort! To reiterate, it tops this list thanks to its wowscore of 9.2, granted for its excellent built, typically Land Rover off-road abilities and high levels of comfort.
Not only that, but adults can actually use the rearmost seats – a rarity in the off-road class, as you’ll see from the vehicles above. 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. It’s not cheap, and it’s thirstier than the newer Range Rover Sport, but it really is the best car out there for the job.
You can find more 7-seat SUVs by heading over to carwow’s car chooser and selecting your options from the menu to the side.