Gone are the days when anyone in the market for a seven-seater had to choose a boxy MPV. Now there are plenty of 4x4s and SUVs that give you the same sort of practicality but a lot more style. And they often have the added bonus of being able to tow a caravan or boat, or traverse a muddy field.
True, they’re big cars, so you need to choose the right engine to avoid frightening fuel bills. But third-row passengers won’t feel second class, and there’s certainly no need to put up with an uncomfortable ride, clattery engine or spartan interior.
The best seven-seat SUVs:
10. Hyundai Santa Fe
You can specify the Santa Fe with either five or seven seats, and in seven-seat form it's a genuine alternative to a traditional people carrier. Okay, third-row head room is tight for adults, but children will be fine. The second and third-row seats fold almost flat, too, and the Santa Fe offers a comfortable ride. The biggest downsides are its below-par refinement and fairly high price.
Our pick: 2.2 CRDi 200 Premium 7st
If you want a spacious and practical SUV and care more about a low price than an engaging driving experience, the Nissan X-Trail is worth a look. Even our favourite seven-seat version, the 1.6 dCi Acenta, is priced well below £30,000. Just bear in mind that it suffers from sloppy body control and poor over-the-shoulder visibility.
Our pick: 1.6 dCi Acenta 7st
8. BMW X5
The original X5 was one of the first road-focused 4x4s, and this third-generation model sticks to that formula, meaning it handles much better than many rivals. You can even specify it with two-wheel drive, although the extra traction of four-wheel-drive variants in wet conditions makes them preferable, whether or not you plan to venture off road. The interior is classy and features just about the best infotainment system around.
Our pick: xDrive25d SE 7st
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