For some buyers, a regular family car simply isn’t going to cut it. Seven-seat cars add a crucial third row of seats behind the usual five.
This can be incredibly useful, not just for people who have five children but for families who regularly ferry their own offspring and their friends to and from school. Some are best thought of as five-seaters that have an extra two occasional seats (sometimes called a 5+2), whereas others have seven fully-fledged seats.
When judging the seven-seat crowd we looked at how appropriate the car would be for families, how practical it was and how easy and relaxing it was to drive.
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
This large MPV is the swollen version of the regular Citroen C4 Picasso. It seats seven, though the third row of seats are only really good for occasional use by small people. What makes the Grand C4 Picasso such a compelling family proposition is the three individual middle-row seats – each can be moved forwards and backwards and recline independently of the others.
This means you get three individual Isofix mounting points to mount three individual car seats – useful if your children are all at different stages of development. Along with this, the ride is comfortable and the cabin feels good quality.
The SEAT Alhambra is the brand’s version of the Volkswagen Sharan MPV, but considering it undercuts the Volkswagen while still driving well and being well-appointed, it’s the model to go for. It’s a legitimate seven-seater so will fit a large family and their luggage with ease, or carry six adults and a designated driver to the pub.
Material quality is high throughout the cabin and the dashboard layout is ergonomically sensible. On the move, the Alhambra is cosseting and relaxing while having plenty of grip and stability when up at motorway speeds.
One of the original people-carriers, the Ford Galaxy will seat seven adults if needs be. It comes with a range of Ford’s great engines, but the 2.0-litre TDCI diesel is tried and tested and its torquey nature suits the Galaxy.
Inside, cabin quality is high and there is acres of room in which to lose keys, mobile phones, children or pets. What’s really impressive about the Galaxy is how well it drives – it has a grippy front end connected to direct-feeling steering that makes the big MPV almost fun to chuck down your favourite B-road, though your passengers probably won’t thank you…