Best and worst seven-seat cars

If you need to a car that can carry seven people there are a fair few options these days. We run through the pick of the bunch, and the ones to avoid

If you want to carry seven people, there are many options out there. Things to look out for include seats that are easy to get into and out of, a boot that isn't compromised by the extra seats and a car that doesn't drive like a small bus.

Here are the best, and worst, cars for transporting a large family.

The best

Seat Alhambra

If you want to carry seven in comfort the Seat Alhambra is the best all-round car for the job.

It is incredibly spacious, practical and even adults will be able to travel in the third row without too many problems. It is just as good to drive as its Volkswagen Sharan equivalent, but it is cheaper to buy so represents better value for money.

The only real downside for some will be its size – it is a very large car, and you are aware of this around town. On bigger roads this isn’t an issue though, and it is a well-deserved multiple winner of our MPV of the Year award.

Pick of the Seat Alhambra range: 2.0 TDI 140 SE

The best of the rest

Range Rover Sport

You can spec this luxury SUV with a third row of seats, which can be folded into the floor electronically when not needed.

To be honest, the Range Rover earns its maximum five-star score for areas other than its seven-seat abilities, but it is a luxurious way to only take one car on the few occasions when the kids have their mates around.

Pick of the Range Rover Sport range: 3.0 SDV6 HSE

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Not only does the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso have seven seats, the cabin is really well thought out. The seats in the middle row slide back and forward individually, and they clamshell forward to allow easy access to the two seats in the back.

The big Citroen has about the best visibility of any MPV, with a large amount of glass around the front of the car, making it easy to see out. Our main quibble with it is how you control most of the functions in the cabin – you have to do most of it through the touch-screen, and it is a bit fiddly.

Pick of the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso range: 1.6 e-HDi 115 Exclusive

Kia Carens

The Kia Carens has competitive pricing and a decent amount of equipment on its side, and it's also a practical family car. The third row of seats offers enough space for a pair of adults, although it is not as easy to get in there as it is in some rivals.

The boot is big, but it is even better when you drop the seats – they fold totally flat and give you a long, flat loading bay.

Pick of the Kia Carens range: 1.7 CRDi 114 1 ISG

Ford S-Max

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

Ford Galaxy

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

Nissan X-Trail

The new Nissan X-Trail is one of the few cars on this list that has five seats as standard, but which has two extra seats as optional extras.. The rear seats, when fitted, are fine for adults on shorter journeys and are easy to fold down. Choosing them does affect the amount of boot space you get, but it is still a decent 445 litres when the seats are folded.

The middle row of seats is not as flexible as in some of the models featured here (it's a bench rather than three individual seats, although the backs fold on a 60/40 split).

Pick of the Nissan X-Trail range: 1.6 dCi Acenta 2WD

Hyundai Santa Fe

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

Ones to avoid…

Mitsubishi Shogun

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.

Land Rover Defender

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.

Mercedes Viano

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.


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