Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (2024)

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Family haulers aren't restricted to MPVs any more. These are 10 of the best seven seaters you can buy today

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Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (21)

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by James Disdale

1 min read

27 March 2024

Do you have people, and things, and people with things to move? A seven-seat car is the simplest, and best solution to your problem.

A decade ago this market may have looked slightly frumpy thanks to the MPV. But today, most seven-seaters are fashionable SUVs, meaning you won’t feel silly in the school car park.

Some cars on the list have a third row best suited for occasional use and massive boots, while others can carry a group of adults comfortably but sacrifice a bit of luggage capacity. Others manage to do both.

But every model on our list drives like a car, and not a bus, and is perfect for everyday life.

The best 7-seat cars

1. Volvo XC90

9

Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (22)

Pros

Roomy interior

Premium feel

Low running costs

Cons

A decade old

Not so sharp to drive

Outdated tech

We think the Volvo XC90 is the best seven-seater car you can buy today.

The fact it has been on sale for almost ten years is a testament to its compelling blend of space, practicality, comfort and class.

Some rivals are sharper to drive or offer more up-to-date tech, but the XC90 offers a great balance of performance, efficiency and low running costs, particularly for business users - and especially in its plug-in hybrid version.

The Volvo XC90’s greatest strength is its interior which is roomy, well-equipped and smartly finished with rich materials. More importantly, the XC90 delivers enough space for seven adults to travel in reasonable comfort, with the third-row seats serving up good head and legroom.

Even with all seats in use, there's a decent 316 litres of boot capacity. Interior flexibility is further enhanced by a second row that slides and reclines, plus has the option of an integrated child booster seat, while there's enough handy storage for most odds and ends.

Despite its age, the XC90 still stands out on the road, with a certain understated class that means it's not such a confrontational or aggressive presence as some of its full-sized SUV rivals.

All the engines are four-cylinder turbocharged units, with the mild hybrid B5 diesel serving up a decent amount of pace and parsimony.

There's also the T8 PHEV model (it remains a full seven-seater, unlike similar plug-in rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery, which is limited to five) that serves up the best part of 400bhp and claims up to 40 miles of EV running, helping drop it into the 8% Benefit in Kind (BiK) tax band for company car users.

Whichever powertrain you choose, the Volvo is composed and capable on the road, but the emphasis is on comfort and refinement rather than an uplifting driving experience, although that's perfectly in keeping with the car's remit.

Read our Volvo XC90 review

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2. Hyundai Santa Fe

9

Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (29)

Pros

Refined

Impressive boot

Modern tech

The vast, family-friendly Korean machine has always been one of our favourites, but the addition of efficient and tax-busting plug-in petrol-electric powertrains has lifted it to the top of our rankings.

Despite the addition of a large lithium ion battery pack and electric motors, the space in the Santa Fe's seven-seater interior has remained unchanged. That means third-row seats that are not only easy to access, they're also genuinely adult-sized.

And when you don't need to carry extra people, the Hyundai's boot is an impressive 571 litres, swelling to 1,649 litres with all the seats folded flat. On the move, it favours a relaxed approach, but that's just fine because it's a seven-seat SUV after all. The 262bhp 1.6-litre motor sounds a little strained when extended, but it does its best work in the mid-ranges, where the 90bhp electric motor can add some instant torque-fill muscle.

Speaking of which, the Santa Fe claims a decent 36 miles of all EV running on a full charge. There's also a less powerful 227bhp 'self-charging' petrol-electric unit, plus a 2.2-litre diesel for those who do big miles or tow (its braked limit of 2500kg is 1200kg more than the PHEV).

Elsewhere, the steering is light and precise, and provided you're not in a massive rush the Hyundai can be hustled along with satisfying precision. Refinement is also good, and while the ride can get choppy on really bad surfaces for the most part it's composed and comfortable.

At £50,000 for the plug-in version the Santa Fe ain't cheap, but look more closely and you'll find not many others provide a similar blend of talents for the cash.

Read our Hyundai Santa Fe review

3. Dacia Jogger

8

Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (30)

Pros

Incredible value

Frugal mild-hybrid

Charming design

Cons

Third row lacks space

Languid powertrains

Rolls in the corners

It's perhaps no surprise that the biggest breath of fresh air the seven-seater has seen for a while has been blown in by Dacia.

In the Jogger, the budget brand has delivered a nearly fully scaled and fully equipped people mover for less than the price of a mainstream supermini.

Sure, the Romanian machine isn't the last word in style or sophistication, but it carries itself (and its many occupants) with such assurance and lack of pretension that it's hard not to be won over by its charms.

Straddling the line between estate, MPV and SUV, the Jogger is a car that almost manages to be all things to all people. As a people carrier, there's just enough space for seven adults, although the third row is best left to children on longer journeys while lowering or removing all the rear seats liberates a van-like 2094-litres of carrying capacity.

Speaking of which, the simple but thoughtfully designed cabin packs in 23 litres of useful storage, while clever additions such as the fabric trim inserts for the dash and doors mean it always feels more cheerful than cheap despite the use of some low-grade plastics elsewhere. Perhaps the biggest bugbear is that third-row seats don't fold flat when not needed, meaning you have to remove them completely if you want the luggage space.

On the move, there's a supple, languid gait to its ride, while the turbocharged 1.0-litre triple is a smooth and willing accomplice, although it loses some of its fizz when travelling seven-up. Light and accurate steering combines with a subtly raised seating position to make the Dacia easy to place on the road, and while the Jogger’s can roll like a drunk when cornering hard, the grip is strong and the handling always remains faithful.

Ultimately, it's not a scalpel-sharp street fighter, but there's enough character in the way the Dacia goes about its business that it's genuinely satisfying to steer. Its appeal has been broadened by the introduction of the mild hybrid 1.6-litre petrol from parent firm Renault, which adds weight and complexity but, the firm claims can undertake 80% of urban driving in pure EV mode.

Read our Dacia Jogger review

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4. Volkswagen Multivan

8

Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (31)

Pros

Flexible interior

Loads of room

Great long-distance comfort

Cons

EV-only range could be better

Relatively expensive

Fiddly infotainment

If you thought the traditional MPV was dead, then VW would like you to think again. With its Multivan, the German firm has helped revitalise the concept of a thoroughly sensible and spacious box on wheels that offers unrivalled space and versatility.

Mixing one of the most flexible interiors in the business with grown-up driving dynamics and dash of premium appeal, the people's car's people carrier makes brilliantly rational family transport.

Of course, the firm has always peddled big people carriers, but these Caravelle models have usually been based on the company's commercial vehicles, meaning they've often lacked a final sheen of sophistication.

However, the Multivan is spun of the now familiar MQB platform that underpins everything from the VW Golf to the Skoda Kodiaq, which means it steers with surprising precision and serves up the sort of cosseting ride refinement that would be unthinkable in the old car.

The use of this architecture also allows the use of the tried-and-tested plug-in hybrid that combines 1.4-litre petrol power with an electric motor for 215bhp and a claimed 31 miles of EV running. There are also traditional petrol and (whisper it) diesel options.

Yet it's the interior that's the real star, its space and modularity meaning it can be easily and effortlessly adapted to your needs. There's easily space for seven adults to sit in real, long-distance comfort, while all the rear seats slide, recline, fold and swivel.

Neat additions include the multi-use storage compartment that can be moved through the cabin and features a neat fold out table that's perfect for on-the-fly snacks and drinks. Oh, and then there's the sliding rear doors, which make loading kids and their clobber a doddle, even in the tightest of parking spots.

In fact, the only real fly in the ointment is that this sort of utility doesn't come cheap, with prices starting at a whisker under £50,000 and rising to the wrong side of £60,000.

Read our Volkswagen Multivan review

5. Land Rover Defender 130

8

Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (32)

Pros

Room for eight

Serious off-road ability

Engaging handling

Cons

Hefty price tag

Questionable reliability

It's huge

Land Rover's big Defenderought to have been a candidate for the top of this chart; because, while it's expensive, the car's cleverly configurable interior presents the option of as many as eight passenger seats.

Buy a longer-wheelbase, five-door Land Rover Defender 110 and the firm will offer you a choice of five-, six- or seven passenger seats, while the elongated 130 seats eight in a two, three, three formation.

Sadly, for legislative reasons, you can't order the latter with the jump seat in between the driver and front seat passenger, which would otherwise have made it a nine-seater (and, in the UK at least, in need of registration as a minibus).

However, that probably won't stop some people from retrofitting jump seats to secondhand examples (or even seven-seat 110s) in years to come.

Even without this as an official option, though, this car has impressive versatility. The seven-seat Defender has third-row chairs that are a little smaller than those of the related Discovery's, but still perfectly usable by children, teenagers and smaller adults. In the 130 you can have all eight on board and still have a very usable 400-litre boot, although the trade-off is the car's vast 5358mm length that makes it something of a squash and a squeeze in most parking spaces.

This is also an expensive car, with even the very cheapest models starting from more than £70,000- but, unlike the old Defender, it drives nearly as well as almost any luxury SUV of its size and type, has a broad range of modern electrified powertrains, and has off-road capability to spare.

As a big, desirable family workhorse, you couldn't ask for much better.

Read our Land Rover Defender 130 review

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6. Kia EV9

8

Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (33)

Pros

Bold looks

Versatile interior

Strong electric range

Cons

Feels bigger than rivals on the road

Material quality slightly short of price tag

Electric power not suited to everyone

Electric cars are beginning to muscle in on the 7-seat act, and Kia’s EV9 is the best of the bunch.

You certainly won’t struggle to find it in a packed car park. It’s what the Americans wouldrefer to as a ‘full-sized’ SUV, meaning it’s roughly the same size as a Range Rover Sport. Certainlythe big, square, cutting looks are bold and bring a huge deal of presence to the car.

The sheer size of it, and the clever electric packaging, means it comes in six - and seven-seat cabin layouts. The former swaps the second row’s three-seat sliding bench for a pair of swivelling ‘captain’s’ chairs. A bit like you'd find in aMercedes V-Class.

Those third-row seats are big enough for small adults and kids with booster seats, which is useful as four of the five rear seats get Isofix points. The rearmost seats stow and deploy electrically. With all seats up the boot is big enough for a reasonable amount of shopping cargo. While five-seat mode makes it very generous.

The car comes with a 99.8kWh battery. In the 200hp single-motor rear-wheel drive model WLTP range is 349 miles. Kia quotes 3.0mpkWh and our testing achieved 2.8mpkW - impressive for a car with such a large, block-like frontal area.

The official WTLP range of the twin-motor is 313 miles. In cooler conditions, the top-of-the-line EV9 achieved 259 miles on our 70mph touring efficiency test and gave us reason to expect it would cover a little over 300 miles in exclusively urban and gentler out-of-town motoring.

Read our Kia EV9 review

7. Peugeot 5008

7

Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (34)

Pros

Eye-catching exterior

Refined diesel engines

Ergonomic quality

Cons

Fussy ride quality

Peculiar driving environment

It's getting on a bit

Peugeot's bigger 'double-oh' SUV option deserves special mention here for making the most of the space it affords. It's the only mid-sized SUV that makes the top half of our rankings, and so while it doesn't provide as much passenger comfort and space as the bigger options, it does give you more choice than rivals about where to fit in your bigger, bulkier child seats and how to comfortably arrange older passengers around them.

That's because the 5008 has three separate middle-row seats that all slide and fold individually, all with Isofix anchorages. Sliding the middle one forward by itself might make room to shoehorn in three fairly bulky moulded-plastic booster seats side by side although, because the 5008 doesn't have the widest cabin, this will always be a bit of a squeeze.

The third-row seats are only big enough to be used by children, but will just about take a smaller belted child seat and an occupant if you slide the seats in front of it forward to make space.

The engine range starts with 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol and 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel options of about 130 horsepower, ranging upwards to include more powerful 2.0-litre diesel- and 1.6-litre turbo petrol options for the flagship GT trim.

The car handles well, feeling a little smaller and more wieldy, and handling more keenly, than plenty of rival options. It's pretty good value, too; although fleet drivers may be disappointed to learn that there's no plug-in hybrid version as, once again, housing the petrol-electric gubbins would result in the removal of the third row seats.

Read our Peugeot 5008 review

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8. Land Rover Discovery

7

Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (35)

Pros

Luxury vibes

Seven seats as standard

Constant model improvements

Cons

Relatively expensive

Rivals more efficient

Electrically folding seats are an option

When Land Rover introduced the current Discovery, much fuss was made about the convenience added by its five rearmost motorised seats, which can be raised and lowered electrically - and even remotely via a smartphone app.

The idea is that, instead of having to wrestle with straps, latches, backrests and removable tonneau covers, you can configure the car for however many passengers you happen to be carrying before you even board.

The feature isn't standard equipment on lower-trim models, though - and isn't much use if you've got cargo in the boot that needs to be either moved or removed before you can convert the seats.

But get past the showroom gimmicks and this big, functionality-first Land Rover remains a fine, full-sized seven-seater, with a likeable charm and luxury vibe, that we would recommend for any big family with the means to afford it.

That's a pretty big caveat, of course, because you'll do very well indeed to escape a Land Rover showroom these days having bought one for less than £60,000.

Yikes! But the good news is that even vehicles in entry-level S specification get seven seats as standard, with Isofix anchorages on four out of five of those back seats. You have to climb all the way to HSE grade to get access to those motorised, app-managed 'intelligent' folding seats, though, and even then you must order them as a cost option.

The engine range now is comprised purely of six-cylinder petrols and diesels, all with varying amounts of mild hybridisation.

There will be no plug-in hybrid version because Land Rover has concluded that buyers wouldn't want to sacrifice the necessary pair of seats for it.

Read our Land Rover Discovery review

9. Skoda Kodiaq

7

Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (36)

Pros

Efficient seven-seat packaging

Great value for money

Flexible diesel engine

Cons

Firm ride

Slightly misjudged handling

Cabin could be flusher

Skoda branched out into the seven-seat SUV market in 2016, launching a car that split the difference between full-sized and mid-sized options quite cleverly.

The Kodiaq has a big cabin and a generous boot for a car of its price and size, and all versions of it bar the bottom-rung variant get seven seats as standard; even the warm vRS performance version.

The one dimension in which the car is lacking a bit of space is cabin width, and because the middle second-row seat can't be slid into an offset position relative to both outer ones, it's tricky to get three child seats installed side-by-side.

Moreover, crash testing body Euro NCAP confirms that the rearmost seats aren't approved even for belted safety seats (although the Kodiaq isn't the only seven-seater to which that caveat is applied) and access to them can be a little bit tight when squeezing behind the tilted second-row chairs.

The Kodiaq's engine range is pretty broad, offering plenty of choice on both the petrol and diesel sides. It's the only one of the volume brands to offer a performance derivative, in the form of the 242bhp vRS, although it's not as quick as you'd think and quite thirsty with it.

All Kodiaqs are pleasant and easy to drive, if a little bit firm-riding in some trim editions.

Read our Skoda Kodiaq review

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10. Mercedes GLB

7

Top 10 best seven-seat cars 2024 | Autocar (37)

Pros

Comfortable

Tidy handling

Plenty of interior space

Cons

Unrefined diesel engines

Ride let down by hatchback underpinnings

Struggles in quicker corners

Mercedes has adopted an interesting design strategy with its new smallest SUV: to miniaturise much of the visual DNA of its largest (the GLS) and also to squeeze in seven seats as standard into a vehicle small enough that you probably wouldn't expect to find them. Both factors might just help to sell the car in an increasingly crowded market.

The GLB is available as a GLB 200 petrol, or a 200 d or 220 d diesel, plus an AMG-lite GLB 35 AMG that borrows its 302bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol from the Mercedes-AMG A35hot hatch.

Even the base petrol engine serves up ample performance for what's a fairly laid-back-feeling car on the road, with ride quality being impressive on adaptive dampers and body control a little soft and permissive but still good.

The all-wheel drive 4MATIC models are also impressive off-road, rivalling the Land Rover Discovery Sport for go-anywhere ability.

The middle-row seats slide fore and aft and offer decent space for adults although the rearmost chairs are much smaller and useful for children only. Only four out of five rear seats have Isofix child seat points, though.

Finally, Mercedes has broadened the GLB's appeal with a pure-electric EQB version, which retains the option of seven seats, making it one of only two electric seven-seater SUVs on the market, together with the much more expensive Tesla Model X (which has only just returned to sale after two years and which we've yet to drive, hence it doesn't yet appear here).

It's available in 225bhp and EQB300 and 288bhp EQB350 guises, both with a twin motor four-wheel drive set-up. It's comfortable and easy to drive, but with prices starting at just over £55,000, it's not cheap, while a range of up to 257 miles falls well behind cheaper, albeit five-seat, rivals.

Read our Mercedes GLB review

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James Disdale

Title: Special correspondent

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James is a special correspondent for Autocar, which means he turns his hand to pretty much anything, including delivering first drive verdicts, gathering together group tests, formulating features and keeping Autocar.co.uk topped-up with the latest news and reviews. He also co-hosts the odd podcast and occasional video with Autocar’s esteemed Editor-at-large, Matt Prior.

For more than a decade and a half James has been writing about cars, in which time he has driven pretty much everything from humble hatchbacks to the highest of high performance machines. Having started his automotive career on, ahem, another weekly automotive magazine, he rose through the ranks and spent many years running that title’s road test desk. This was followed by a stint doing the same job for monthly title, evo, before starting a freelance career in 2019. The less said about his wilderness, post-university years selling mobile phones and insurance, the better.

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Twickers 9 October 2023

Don't VW still do the Touran ?

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