If you want a car with seven seats, you're most likely going to be looking at getting an MPV or a large SUV. You then have to consider if you're going to need to carry seven people on a regular basis.
On top of that, are you going to need to carry luggage along? Would you prefer the raised driving height of an SUV? Do you want something that's not only practical but also fun to drive? There's lots of things to think about.
Whatever you're after from your 7 seater, you're sure to find a good buy in our round-up of the best seven-seat cars and we'll also give you the heads up on which ones to steer clear of.
Seven-seaters don't come much better than the Seat Alhambra. Not only is it comfortable, practical and incredibly spacious, it's also decent to drive and offers fantastic value for money.
The rearmost seats can accommodate adults and when not in use fold into the floor to leave a massive boot. It's also got twin rear sliding doors to make getting children in and out easier, especially in cramped car parks.
The Alhambra has won the MPV of the Year award a number of times and it continues to impress.
Pick of the Seat Alhambra range: 2.0 TDI 140 Ecomotive S
The best of the rest
Range Rover Sport
You probably weren't expecting to see the Range Rover Sport on this list, however, you can spec a third row of seats that folds into the floor at the touch of a button, so it meets the criteria.
It's worth noting that the Range Rover Sport earns its maximum five-star score for areas other than its seven-seat abilities, but if you only need to transport seven infrequently, it could be worth considering. Also, the rearmost seats aren't approved to carry children's car seats. If you can live with that, it makes the Range Rover Sport makes a great buy. If you can't, check out another offering from Land Rover below, which is much better suited to carrying seven people.
Pick of the Range Rover Sport range: 3.0 SDV6 HSE
Land Rover Discovery
The Land Rover Discovery is an incredibly capable car. Not only can it seat seven adults in comfort, it also comes with Land Rover's 'go-anywhere' ability. So if you need something that can handle the pressures of both off-roading and the school run, the Discovery could be a great choice.
Pick of the Land Rover Discovery range: 3.0 SDV6 XS
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
Citroen has put a lot of thought into the Grand C4 Picasso's cabin. It comes with seven individual seats and the middle three sold backwards and forwards independently. Access to the rearmost seats is also very easy because the outer middle seats fold forward.
The big Citroen offers best visibility of any MPV. All that glass gives the driver a great view of the road ahead and makes maneouvres that bit easier.
Our main quibble is that the majority of the car's features are controlled by an unintuitive touch-screen. If you can see beyond that, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso offers great family transport.
Pick of the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso range: 1.6 e-HDi 115 Exclusive
Prices for the Kia Carens start at less than £18,000. For that you get air-conditioning, Bluetooth, seven seats and a seven-year warranty.
On top of the competitive price, it's also remarkably practical. The Carens might be smaller than some of the cars on this list but it still has enough room in the rearmost seats for two adults, even if access isn't that easy.
Pick of the Kia Carens range: 1.7 CRDi 114 1 ISG
If you fancy an MPV that also offers a modicum of enjoyment for the driver, then the Ford S-Max is a good place to start. The steering is sharp and the S-Max is agile around corners, although it rides slightly more firmly than some of its rivals.
However, it is a practical family car. There is ample space for five, with plenty of width across the back in particular. The rear seats are not as ideal for adults, because they are quite low slung, which will be uncomfortable on longer trips. They are fine for smaller passengers, though.
Pick of the Ford S-Max range: 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec
The Ford Galaxy’s rear seats are that bit better than the S-Max’s, as they have a little more space. It also has room for a few bags with all the seats in place, and there is a good amount of space in the second row.
The Galaxy’s biggest issue, however, is the existence of the S-Max. While the Galaxy is very good, the S-Max is barely any smaller and a lot cheaper.
Pick of the Ford Galaxy range: 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec
As standard, the Nissan X-Trail has five seats, but buyers can choose to spec two extra seats in the rear if they wish. These two seats are best suited to children but adults will be fine on shorter journeys. Choosing them does decrease the size of the boot, but it is still a decent 445 litres when the seats are folded.
Pick of the Nissan X-Trail range: 1.6 dCi Acenta 2WD
The Santa Fe is another with seven seats available as an option, and we reckon it is an option box worth ticking. The seats are cramped if you are six-feet tall or above, but good for smaller adults and children.
They don’t impact on boot space when they are folded, because they go flat into the floor. Elsewhere in the cabin, the Santa Fe is classy and well equipped, and it comes with four-wheel drive as standard.
Pick of the Hyundai Santa Fe range: 2.2 CRDi Style 4WD 7st
The current Volvo XC90 might have been on sale – largely unchanged – for more than a decade but it's still a great way to carry seven. If you're looking to get three children's car seats side by side in the middle row, this is the car to go for. The XC90 has a great safety record and, because it's going to be replace by the all-new XC90 in 2015, is available with massive discounts. The XC90 might feel dated but it's still a very capable seven-seater.
Pick of the Volvo XC90 range: 2.4 D5 SE
Ones to avoid…
The Mitsubishi Shogun is great off road, but it is not a car to choose if you want to carry seven in comfort. It might have bags of space for five and a big boot, but the third row of seats is tight and nowhere near as clever as in other cars on this list.
The Shogun's bigger problems are elsewhere though; it is noisy, cumbersome, expensive to run and tax and handles poorly. It isn't one to go for if you are after a regular people-carrier.
The Land Rover Defender is another legendary off-roader, but it is very poor on it. There are many options in terms of seating, with seven-forward facing places just one of them.
However, comfort is really low on the list of priorities for the Defender. The interior is basic, the ride is bouncy and it is very noisy and slow.
The Mercedes Viano is very expensive, with prices starting at more than £37,260, and it fails to hide its van underpinnings.
Even though it is based on a van, the seats are not that practical. They are heavy to slide or remove and they don’t fold away into the floor like they do on rival MPVs. More practical alternatives are available for less.