Whether it’s the school run, ferrying players to a sports match or heading off to a party with friends, sometimes there’s nothing better than a seven-seater.
Back in the day you’d have to cram everyone into a big estate, van or minibus, but then in 1984 Renault launched the original Espace people carrier, or MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle).
Suddenly it was possible to carry seven people safely in a car in relative comfort. Other MPVs followed and then large SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) got in on the act, also offering space for three rows of seating.
We've chosen 15 new seven-seaters – a mix of people carriers and SUVs. With most, the third row of seats is only for occasional use by children or small people, but a few are able to transport an extra couple of adults comfortably.
Naturally, they're all big, and when the rear seats are folded down, they offer van-like load capacities. Fasten your seatbelts for 15 of the best seven-seaters…
A more recent addition to the seven-seater SUV sector, the Seat Tarraco is handsome, practical, safe, well-built and generously equipped. Delivering a surprisingly dynamic drive, it's closely related to its VW Group cousins, the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and Skoda Kodiaq, but is arguably the best proportioned of the trio.
Affordably priced, it's available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, plus optional four-wheel drive. With all the seats in use there’s 230 litres of boot capacity, rising to 700 litres with the third row folded down and 1,775 litres with just the front seats in play.
The big Q7 is a serene seven-seater SUV boasting sharp looks, a luxurious driving experience and stacks of tech.
Solid and made using quality materials, the Q7's third-row seats are comfortable and fold and tip forward for easier access, but adults will need to have the second row pushed forward for a little extra legroom.
Available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, there's also a sporty SQ7 version. With all seven seats in operation, there's 295 litres of luggage capacity available – expanding to a useful 1,955 litres if all the rear seats are folded down.
Hyundai Santa Fe
The Hyundai Santa Fe should definitely make your shortlist when it comes to seven-seat SUVs. Affordable, yet well equipped, it was treated to a facelift in 2021 and it's now almost as smart as its impressive little brother (the Tucson).
Crucially, the Santa Fe is kinder to the planet than most of its competitors because it’s available as frugal hybrids (self-charging and plug-in).
There’s a slight difference in boot space, but overall they have 1,625-1,649 litres. Four-wheel drive is also optional if you’re looking for extra peace of mind, while a great five-year Hyundai warranty is standard.
Citroën Grand C4 SpaceTourer
The seven-seater people carrier previously known as the C4 Grand Picasso is stylish and super spacious. Powered by a solid range of efficient diesel and petrol engines, it's bright inside thanks to big windows and a panoramic sunroof.
The outer seats in the second row fold away to give access to the third row, but as with most seven-seaters, these are more for occasional use – or very small people.
An effortless cruiser, the Grand C4 SpaceTourer is ageing well and is still great value. There's a 165-litre luggage capacity with all seven seats in place, rising to 793 litres in five-seat form. Fold down all the rear seats and there's a massive 2,181-litre load bay.
BMW's mammoth flagship SUV is an impressive piece of kit, offering luxury, practicality and safety with a surprisingly dynamic drive. Its distinctive front-end may be divisive, but this 4x4 hides its size well from behind the wheel.
With all seven seats up, it has a 326-litre capacity. Fold down the third row and there's 750 litres, and with all the rear seats flipped it grows to a van-like 2,120 litres, easily accessible via a powered split-tailgate.
More high-riding limo than SUV, it's available with powerful petrol and diesel engines. If you want a BMW seven-seater but prefer something slightly more modest, then consider the X5.
Tesla Model X
Tesla’s epic all-electric Model X is like no other seven-seater, thanks to its crowd-pleasing falcon-wing rear doors.
Though not the most dynamic handling electric SUV on the market, it’s capable of blistering speed (the fastest version can hit 60mph in 2.5 seconds!) and it's a supremely effortless cruiser with a claimed range of up to 360 miles.
Futuristically designed and minimalistic inside, it's effortlessly silent and loaded with technology. All versions are four-wheel drive thanks to its pair of electric motors (one driving the front wheels, the other driving the rears), while luggage capacity ranges from 187 litres to an enormous 2,180 litres.
If SUVs aren't for you, then Ford's two people carriers (the S-Max and bigger Galaxy) can both carry seven passengers and have proved to be solid buys over the years.
Both offer great value for money, and they now come with a self-charging hybrid option (marketed as an FHEV). Combining a 2.5-litre petrol engine and small 1.1kWh lithium-ion battery and electric motor, CO2 emissions are reduced by more than 10% compared to diesel, while claimed fuel economy is nudging the mid-forties.
Needless to say, both the S-Max and Galaxy deliver serious amounts of space for passengers and luggage.
An impressive newcomer, the boldly styled new Sorento SUV was crowned Car of the Year 2021 by leading motoring title Carbuyer.
Offering comfort, space, practicality, state-of-the-art tech, upmarket materials and great build quality, it's available as a self-charging hybrid, plug-in hybrid or diesel. Crucially, it also boasts a generous seven-year warranty.
The plug-in is our pick of the range. Powered by a 1.6-litre petrol T-GDI engine, combined with an electric motor and a 13.8kWh battery pack, it has an electric-only range of up to 35 miles. In theory, fuel economy is up to 177mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 38g/km.
In short, the Sorento is a class act.
Volvo’s acclaimed big SUV is every bit as good as it looks. A superb premium choice, it's oozing Scandi style inside and out, drives well and is more economical than you might think, especially if you opt for the plug-in hybrid option (badged Recharge). Powered by a 2.0-litre petrol turbo and an 11.6kWh battery (giving a combined 385bhp), it can travel for up to 42 miles in electric mode, while CO2 emissions are as low as 60g/km.
The seats on the third row are the same size as those on the second (unlike some seven-seaters) and each row is slightly higher than the one ahead of it, boosting visibility.
Luggage capacity is 262 litres with all seven seats in place, 640 litres with rear seats folded and 1,816 litres with all rear seats flipped). Add all-wheel drive and Volvo's reputation for safety and the XC90 is a compelling premium proposition.
After the success of the 3008, which Peugeot transformed into an SUV from a people carrier, the same trick has worked on the mighty 5008.
Launched in 2017, the 5008 SUV is a classy car with a quality feel. It's also distinctively styled, well made, versatile, engaging to drive and economical.
As with most seven-seaters, the third row is best left to small people, but generally the cabin is spacious and modern. Just one tip: opting for the panoramic sunroof can eat into the headroom for taller rear passengers.
Offered with efficient diesel and petrol, the rearmost seats can be removed if not needed and easily stored in a garage. Loading capacity is impressive.
Land Rover Discovery
Launched in 2017, the fifth generation Land Rover Discovery is quite simply one of the world’s most capable cars. Not only is it seriously impressive off-road, but it's a comfortable cruiser on the road – and it’s spacious, safe and luxurious. It can even tow up to 3,500kg, so big caravans and horseboxes are no problem either.
There's room for seven adults inside. Yes, that’s rows two and three. With all seven seats in operation, there's 228 litre of luggage capacity available – expanding to a cavernous 2,406 litres if all the rear seats are flipped down.
Other seven-seaters in the superb Land Rover range include the Discovery Sport and Defender.
Billed as “Germany’s most successful compact MPV”, more than two million have been sold in Europe, Asia and Africa. Smaller than the Sharan, the Touran was launched in 2003 and is now in its second generation.Good to drive, well built and with a wide range of engines, it makes sense as a practical car for big families.
Unlike some seven-seaters, there's plenty of headroom throughout the cabin, though it's best to keep journey times low for adults travelling in the tighter third row. The second and third rows of seats both fold flat into the floor, creating a van-like load area of 1,857 litres.
If you want a VW badge but prefer an SUV, then consider the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace.
Skoda's big Kodiaq SUV was launched in 2017 and has already won several awards. At 4.69 metres long, 1.88m wide and 1.67m high, it definitely has road presence. Add Skoda’s signature clean-cut lines, and it’s a substantial, yet stylish, value-for-money package.
There's a serious amount of space inside and even room for adult third-row passengers, especially if middle-seat occupants slide forward their seats slightly. Even in seven-seater mode a decent 270 litres of boot space is available (2,065 litres with all the rear seats folded).
A selection of efficient petrol and diesel engines are on offer.
Vauxhall Vivaro Life
If you're looking for a jumbo people carrier that can carry up to eight, then the Vauxhall Vivaro Life could be right up your street.
Almost identical to the Peugeot Traveller, Citroen SpaceTourer and Toyota Proace Verso (they were developed together), it's derived from the Vivaro van and available in two lengths (standard and long).
It also offers multiple configuration options thanks to seats that slide on rails, or can be removed. So, apart from a regular 'minibus' arrangement, you can also have a 'lounge' configuration with pairs of seats facing each other and centre tables.
New for 2021 is the 100% electric Vivaro-e Life which has a claimed range of up to 143 miles.
The big Rexton SUV was one of revelations of 2017 when it was launched. Keenly priced and boasting a seven-year warranty, it was crowned 4x4 Magazine’s 4x4 of the Year 2018.
The Rexton is a real step-up for South Korea's SsangYong and represents a lot of car for the money. Boldly styled, well built and easy to drive, it makes light work of towing and can take on terrain many big-name SUVs twice the price would shy away from.
Talking of seats, the third row is not for children only, like some so-called seven-seaters. And if it’s luggage space you’re after then the Rexton is a practical package.
Rear boot space with all the rear seats down is 1,977 litres – or 820 litres with the second row up.
Other seven-seaters that are well worth considering include:
- Peugeot Rifter
- Citroen Berlingo
- Vauxhall Combo Life
- Nissan X-Trail
- Toyota Highlander
- Mercedes-Benz V-Class
- Nissan e-NV200
- Ford Grand Tourneo Connect
- Ford Tourneo Custom
Want to upsize to a seven-seater but not sure if you can afford it? Admiral Car Finance might be able to help.