We pick the best seven-seat cars that provide the best practicality across a wide range of price points
Over the last 40 years or more, UK car buyers have taken the idea of the seven-seater car firmly to their hearts. Today, seven-seat vehicles are hugely popular with families but the latest crop bear little resemblance to those on offer even a decade ago. Here we round off the top 10 best new seven-seater cars on sale in the UK, so if you’re in the market to carry a couple of extra passengers, look no further.
The concept of a 7-seater MPV was pioneered in Europe by the original Renault Espace that began production in 1984, but it took almost a decade for rivals to catch on in a big way. When they did arrive, these ‘multi-purpose vehicles’ offered a safe, comfortable and practical way to transport big families and names like Renault’s Espace and Scenic, Vauxhall’s Zafira and Ford’s C-MAX, S-MAX and Galaxy became regulars in the best-seller lists.
Today, things are a little different. The traditional MPV has fallen somewhat out of fashion and seven-seater car buyers have been flocking towards SUVs. This has caused the number of seven-seat MPV models on the market to dwindle, with many manufacturers having exited the mainstream MPV sector completely.
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While a few traditional MPVs remain, and have a lot going for them, the choices facing buyers who want a seven-seat vehicle today are mainly split between SUVs and van-based MPVs. Van-based models, such as the Citroen Berlingo, make the most of the space, robust design and low costs of their commercial vehicle base models to deliver flexible, family-sized utility on a budget.
On the SUV side, the choice continues to grow, with plenty of large and mid-sized SUVs, like the SEAT Tarraco and Skoda Kodiaq, offering seven-seat capability. For many buyers, the SUV is seen as a more stylish choice than the traditional MPV or the van-based alternatives but most struggle to match a similarly-sized MPV for outright utility and space. Some offer more of a ‘5+2’ layout where the rear seats are better suited to occasional use and the boot space remaining with all seats in use can be very limited.
Our list here focuses on the best new car choices for carrying seven people regularly, and covers a broad range of seven-seaters ranging from low-cost MPVs to a fully-electric SUV. It goes to show that if you need the space, there’s something out there for everyone.
Best 7-seaters cars to buy now
- SEAT Tarraco
- Skoda Kodiaq
- Kia Sorento
- Land Rover Discovery
- Peugeot 5008
- Citroen Berlingo XL
- Audi Q7
- Volvo XC90
- Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer
- Hyundai Santa Fe
Scroll down or click on the links above to read more about the best 7-seat cars to buy right now…
1. SEAT Tarraco
It may be a relative newcomer to the class, but the SEAT Tarraco has taken the top spot, just beating its Skoda Kodiaq cousin. There are lots of similarities between the two cars; both use the VW Group’s tried-and-tested MQB platform, feature a near-identical engine range, and are more or less the same size. However, we reckon the SEAT is better to drive, offers greater value for money and is a little more interesting to look at.
The Tarraco comes with two- or four-wheel drive and a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines. Seven seats are standard, although the 1,775-litre boot is shy of the Kodiaq’s maximum. Regardless, this is still a large family car – one that’s perhaps best suited to those who need five seats and a big boot most of the time, with occasional seven-seat capability.
Our preferred model is the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel with two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox for the best mix of power and running costs. SE Technology trim offers the best value, bringing an impressive kit list that means it’s a great all-round family car.
2. Skoda Kodiaq
Much like its SEAT Tarraco relative, the Kodiaq is a large family SUV that majors on practicality, space and value. There’s a very similar range of engines available, even lower trims bring a decent level of standard equipment and – while most won’t be able to tell a difference – the Skoda is slightly more forgiving on a bumpy road than its SEAT cousin. It’s a good choice if you favour comfort over outright poise.
There’s a little more space in the Kodiaq than you’ll find in a Tarraco, but it’s still best considered as a five-seater with the ability to carry two extra passengers when required. The middle row slides fore and aft to adjust passenger and boot space, and the latter peaks at 2,005 litres with all seats folded.
The manual Kodiaq can only be specified in conjunction with four-wheel drive, but it’s a strong system that works surprisingly well off the beaten track for a large family car. Those who need a faster seven-seater can try the Kodiaq vRS. It’s expensive, but has an interesting character and a 235bhp twin-turbocharged diesel.
3. Kia Sorento
Of all the seven-seater SUVs on sale right now, the Kia Sorento is one of the very best. It’s practical, comfortable and safe, and the latest model has pushed the boat out even further by bringing incredible in-car tech and a premium interior finish to the table.
Power comes from either a 1.6-litre petrol-hybrid powertrain or 2.2-litre diesel, good for 226bhp and 199bhp respectively. The torquey diesel makes the most sense to use, as it’s reasonably fast (0-60mph takes 9.1 seconds) and surprisingly quiet too: it’s way more refined than a lot of the rough diesel units that are common in large SUVs.
The interior finished is a world apart from Kia’s of old. The infotainment system is slick and the technology is cutting-edge: it even takes a leaf out of Tesla’s book, using sensors to scan the traffic in your blind spots and projecting it onto the driver’s display.
Seven seats are standard, and the rearmost seats can accommodate adults at a push, although children will be far more comfortable.
4. Land Rover Discovery
This is one of our favourite cars on sale, seven-seater or otherwise – and with good reason. The Discovery’s modern styling, impressive practicality and unparalleled off-road ability all appeal, along with its impeccable road manners, plush ride, excellent refinement and upmarket image.
It’s expensive, but all models get a good level of standard kit. We prefer SE trim, though, which features leather upholstery, LED headlights and a suite of upgraded tech. Stepping up the range brings more luxury, while an extensive options list adds driver-assistance and safety systems together into logical packages.
There is a range of petrol and diesel engines, but most will be best served by the entry-level 237bhp 2.0-litre SD4 diesel. It’s relatively frugal, given the Discovery’s size, yet still offers good performance.
With its third row folded away, the Land Rover has a cavernous 1,137-litre boot. But crucially the Discovery is the best car in its class for seating seven adults in comfort; even those in the very back shouldn’t find much to complain about.
5. Peugeot 5008
Blessed with the eye-catching style of Peugeot’s latest line-up, the 5008 seven-seater has plenty of kerbside appeal. The attraction is more than skin-deep too, as the biggest Peugeot SUV is practical, comfortable and great to drive.
It shares its engineering platform with the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer MPV, but can’t quite match its Stellantis stablemate for roominess. The third row of seats in the 5008 are really child-focused, but you can slide the middle row forward to make knee-room for grown-ups. They also fold flat into the boot floor or can be removed altogether when you need more space.
The interior is a definite 5008 highlight, with a stylish wrap-around dashboard and large infotainment touchscreen, as well as a digital instrument display that gives the car a very contemporary feel.
The driving experience is very comfort-focused, with a beautifully compliant ride, but the trade-off is more body roll in corners than rivals like the Skoda Kodiaq or SEAT Tarraco. The engines are highly efficient and provide adequate performance too.
6. Citroen Berlingo XL
The Citroen Berlingo XL is an MPV rather than an SUV, but the two classes share so many traits that it’d be foolish to consider one and not the other. The Berlingo is as practical as cars come, as it’s based on a van platform. The issue here is that it looks like a van too, so if style matters to you then you best look elsewhere.
The standard version is the M model, but the XL version is 35cm longer and adds a third row of seats, making it a seven-seater. And it’s not as limited as some seven-seat SUVs: adults of an average build will be able to fit into that third row without any issues.
You can choose from a 1.2-litre petrol engine with either 108bhp or 128bhp, while a diesel is available with 99bhp and 128bhp respectively. The latter of these develops 300Nm of torque, which will come in very handy if you ever drive the Berlingo XL fully laden with passengers and luggage. 0-62mph of 11 seconds isn’t horrendous either, while refinement is good too.
7. Audi Q7
The Audi Q7 shares its DNA with the Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Volkswagen Touareg, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its own set of distinct characteristics. Despite its size the Q7 is an exciting car to drive, especially when kitted out with Audi’s optional four-wheel steering and air suspension. This means you get rapid performance when you need it and exceedingly good levels of comfort when you don’t.
The engine line-up consists of two diesels and one petrol unit, all of which are 3.0-litre V6s with mild-hybrid assistance. The most basic 45 TDI diesel generates 228bhp and 600Nm of torque. In addition there are two plug-in hybrid variants of the Q7, called the 55 TFSI e and the 60 TFSI e: the latter produces a whopping 449bhp and can drive for 26 miles on pure-electric power.
As you’d expect, the third row of seats in the Q7 isn’t as spacious as the middle row, with the higher floor and lower roofline restricting space somewhat. However, you still get 295 litres of space in the boot, rising to 770 litres when those rear seats are tucked away.
8. Volvo XC90
No other car does sophistication quite like the latest Volvos, and the XC90’s distinctive exterior styling is backed up by a Scandinavian-inspired interior and a technology package that makes it a truly appealing choice.
You get three rows of full-size seats in the cavernous interior, and a very large boot, but it’s the tranquil nature of riding in the Volvo that really gets our vote. The interior designers have ‘decluttered’ the cabin by moving most of the ancillary controls to the touchscreen, while superbly comfortable seats and a distinctive leather and brushed metal decor give the car a genuinely luxurious ambience. The effect is amplified by an impressive technology package including digital instruments, and the lavish level of standard equipment.
Although it offers standard four-wheel drive, the XC90 is another SUV designed with road use in mind, and it offers a smooth drive with more than enough performance. The four-cylinder only powertrains offer reasonable economy, and there’s a hybrid model for the efficiency-conscious owner too.
9. Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer
Another MPV, but one that definitely holds its own in the 7-seater category. The Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer (which used to be called the Grand C4 Picasso) offers strong performance, excellent fuel efficiency and top-notch fuel efficiency.
The Grand C4 SpaceTourer is a seven-seater, making it ideal for large families. Meanwhile there’s 165 litres of space in the boot, rising to a much more useful 793 litres with that third row of seats folded down. Flatten the middle row and you’re looking at a whopping 2,181-litre space with a flat load deck.
You can have a 1.2-litre petrol making 129bhp with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox, or there’s a 1.5-litre diesel that generates the same amount of power. There’s also a 2.0-litre diesel with 161bhp, and understandably this is the fastest in the range, hitting 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds.
10. Hyundai Santa Fe
The Santa Fe is a handsome, fine driving and well-equipped large SUV that’s loaded with standard features that more prestigious brands charge extra for. Adaptive cruise control and smartphone connectivity are included on all models, but while affordability has long been a Hyundai strength, the arrival of competitively priced rivals like the Skoda Kodiaq has put the Santa Fe under pressure.
There may be a lot of standard kit but there’s only one choice under the bonnet. You must go for the 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel or shop elsewhere, so it’s fortunate that this is an engine that performs its role with aplomb. You can pick two- or four-wheel drive, and automatic or manual gearboxes, but where the Santa Fe really performs is in the amount of space provided for passengers and luggage – although here again the Skoda Kodiaq performs better.
All versions of the Santa Fe come with a standard seven-seat set-up, although like the Kodiaq children will fare best in the third row.
7-seat SUVs vs 7-seat MPVs
If you’re looking for a seven-seat car it’s fair to say you’re probably a car buyer with a family. Practicality and running costs generally come ahead of driving dynamics for those seeking family transport, but the same basic car buying rules apply whatever you’re buying: do your research, understand your finance options and work out your budget, however you’re paying for it. From there, think about what you need the car to do.
The first thing for seven-seat car buyers to decide is whether you want an MPV or an SUV, or to establish which is best for your needs. Generally, MPVs offer more space for the money but SUVs are more stylish. For most buyers, an SUV will offer more than enough room, and most also have the option of four-wheel drive – ideal if you tow a caravan or live in a remote area. On the other hand, MPVs usually provide better head and legroom for passengers in all seats thanks to lower floors and (mostly) higher rooflines. Plus, the seating systems are usually more easily adaptable to different passenger- and luggage-carrying configurations. If you do plan on carrying a full complement of 6 or 7 passengers a lot of the time, it’s worth bearing this in mind.
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Another important consideration is which fuel type to go for. Here the decision is a little more clear-cut – seven-seaters are generally larger and heavier than your regular car, so diesel will be the better choice for most. Plug-in hybrids and fully electric models are changing the equation, but there aren’t too many seven-seaters to choose from at the moment, fully loading the car may affect range and you’ll need a home charger to make the best use of the vehicle.
You should also check the cars’ interior design and build quality. If you have young children, soft leather trim might not be the best idea. Make sure all your child seats can fit in; while some cars have three Isofix mountings across the middle row, you may not be able to squeeze three abreast in others. Make sure that the rear seats give your kids enough space and light as well as a decent view out and be sure to check that the boot is big enough with all seven seats in place.
If you’re looking to carry the most people while reducing your carbon footprint, click here to check out our list of the best 7-seat electric cars
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