Last updated December 21, 2022
British buyers have been purchasing 7-seater cars since around the early 80s and they are still a relatively popular vehicle choice for larger families.
7-seaters were pioneered in Europe by the original Renault Espace, but it took the best part of a decade for rivals to catch onto their genius. Also known as multipurpose vehicles (MPVs), these whopping cars offered a practical and comfortable way to transport big families and have since become a staple on the British road.
In recent years, the popularity of MPVs has waned due to the rise of the SUV, which can offer much of the 7-seater practicality in a more stylish and desirable package. SUVs generally support the same boxy shape as an MPV, which can help to make the most of interior space – yet the raised floor necessary for the SUV look tends to eat into the outright space inside, especially for those riding in the third row of seats.
However, there are still many spacious 7-seater SUVs on the market, as well as some great MPVs. In this guide, we explore the best 7-seater cars available in 2023 to help you make the right decision when buying your next car.
The needs of someone who wants to buy a 7-seater are different from most other car buyers.
Often, they are used by families with multiple children, so practicality, safety and running costs are decisive factors and driving dynamics can take a back seat. Additionally, be sure to check that any child seats can fit in – while some cars have three Isofix mountings across the middle row, you may not be able to squeeze three abreast.
The best advice when looking for a bigger car is to do your research, understand your finance options and work out the budget you have available. You should first decide whether an SUV or an MPV best meets your needs. MPVs offer more space, but SUVs can be seen as a more stylish option.
For most buyers, an SUV will offer more than enough room and most have the option of four-wheel drive, which can come in handy if you tow a caravan or drive in rural areas. However, MPVs generally have lower floors, higher rooflines and more room for the passengers inside. You should also consider how much boot space you require – if you consistently need all seven seats as well as good boot space, you will need to do some research to work out what size you need.
In terms of running costs, 7-seaters are larger and heavier than your regular car, so diesel might be the better choice due to having more torque in the lower rev-ranges. However, plug-in hybrids are becoming more common, so if you have a home charger or are interested in moving toward electric power you shouldn’t rule these out.
This isn’t the cheapest car on our list, with even the entry level 45 TDI Quattro Sport 5dr Tiptronic starting at £54,925, but it is a worthy one.
Despite its size, the Q7 is an exciting car to drive, especially when you kit it out with Audi’s optional four-wheel drive and air suspension. When you need it, the Q7 puts its power down well, yet when you don’t you can find yourself exceeding levels of comfort. In terms of engine choices, the line-up consists of two diesels and one petrol unit, all of which are 3.0 litre v6s with mild hybrid assistance.
The base-spec 45 TDi diesel generates 228bhp and 600Nm of torque, although you can step up to a 4.0 litre v8 capable of 429bhp and 900Nm by splashing out on an SQ7 instead. Aside from these options, there are two plug-in hybrid variants of the Q7, called the 55 TFSi E and the 60 TSFi E. The latter produces a whopping 449bhp and can drive for 26 miles on electric power.
As you might expect, the third row of seats isn’t as spacious as the middle row, with a higher floor and lower roofline restricting space somewhat. However, you still get 295L space in the boot, rising to 770L when the rear seats are tucked away
Find out more about the Audi Q7 here.
This is an MPV rather than an SUV, which is clear from its van-based exterior. The Berlingo is as practical as cars come, with a sturdy exterior and boxy shape. If you want a car that will look stylish then the Berlingo XL may not be for you, but what it lacks in exterior aesthetics it more than makes up for in space inside.
The standard version is the M model, but the XL version is 35cm longer and adds a third row of seats, making it a 7-seater. You can choose from a 1.2 litre petrol engine with either 108 or 128bhp, which can go from 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds (although figures have not been quoted for the 128bhp). A diesel is also available with 99 and 128bhp.
The latter of these options develops 300Nm torque, which can come in handy if you ever need to drive the Berlingo fully laden with passengers and luggage. For such a big vehicle, 0-62mph in 11 seconds isn’t anything to sneer at and the refinement is great too.
Find out more about the Citroen Berlingo XL here.
The Sorento is practical, comfortable and safe. The latest model has pushed the boat out further by adding incredible in-car tech and a premium interior. Power in the Sorento comes either from a 1.6 litre petrol hybrid powertrain, or 2.2 litre diesel which produce 226 and 199bhp respectively.
The diesel is the more logical choice, as it’s reasonably fast taking 9.1 seconds to get from 0-60mph, whilst remaining surprisingly quiet. The Sorento is far more reigned in than a lot of rougher diesel units more common in large SUVs.
Kia has particularly stepped up their game when it comes to the interior finish, which is worlds apart from some of the older cars they’ve produced. The infotainment system is slick with cutting-edge technology – even taking a leaf out of Tesla’s book, using sensors to scan the traffic in your blind spots and projecting the information onto the driver’s display.
7-seats are standard, and whilst the rearmost seats will accommodate adults at a push, it will be more suitable for children.
Find out more about the Kia Sorento here.
This is a relative newcomer to the 7-seater class and is similar to the Skoda Kodiaq from its sister brand, which we will discuss momentarily.
The engine range is near identical and the cars are almost the same size. You can choose from front or four-wheel drive and there is a choice of petrol and diesel engines. Seven seats come as standard and the boot can extend to a whopping 1775L with the rear-seats folded down.
Whilst this is a large family car, it may be best suited to those who need five seats and a big boot, only occasionally requiring the full seven seat capacity.
To find the best mix of power and running costs, the 148bhp 2.0 litre diesel with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox is the way to go. The SE technology trim offers the best value, bringing an impressive set of kit to make it a great all-round family car.
Find out more about the Seat Tarraco here.
Like the Tarraco, this is a large family SUV that excels in practicality, space and value.
Even the lower trims bring a decent level of standard equipment, with entry-level SE trim including LED headlights and 18” alloys. On the SE L versions and above you can find VW Group’s Virtual Cockpit and heated electrically adjustable seats are fitted to the Sportline cars.
Space wise, it’s a good choice if you favour comfort over outright poise on the road. Like the Seat, it would work best as a 5-seater with the ability to carry extra passengers when required.
With the Kodiaq, the middle seats slide to adjust passenger and boot space, and the boot peaks at 2005L with all seats folded.
The manual Kodiaq can only be chosen in conjunction with four-wheel drive, but it’s a strong system that works surprisingly well off the beaten track - which is why the Kodiaq also made our list of the best cars for camping.
Those who need a 7-seater car capable of a bit more speed should consider the Kodiaq vRS – it’s expensive, at £43,160 compared to the SE’s £25,750, but has an interesting character and 235bhp twin turbocharged diesel engine. You can find out more about the Skoda Kodiaq here.
The Santa Fe is a truly handsome vehicle from the outside, but also incredibly well equipped and offers a fine driving experience for a car of its size. It’s a large SUV that is loaded with standard features that more prestigious brands can charge extra for.
Adaptive cruise control and smartphone connectivity are included as standard in all models. However, this plethora of kit is counteracted with only one choice under the bonnet – a 2.2 litre turbodiesel, which is fortunately an engine that performs exceptionally well.
With the Santa Fe, you can choose front or four-wheel drive, as well as automatic and manual gearboxes, but the volume of space for passengers and luggage is what really sets it apart – the boot is 547 litres, and with the seats down this almost triples to 1625.
Find out more about the Hyundai Santa Fe here.
This is another MPV, but one that holds its own in the 7-seater category.
It offers strong performance alongside excellent fuel efficiency with 71mpg, making it a great choice for families on a budget.
The boot is 165L, rising to 793L with the third row of seats folded down; flatten the middle row and you have 2181L space on the load deck.
You can choose a 1.2 litre petrol which produces 129bhp, with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. A 1.5 litre diesel will generate the same amount of power, but the best choice and fastest in the range is a 2.0 litre diesel with 161bhp.
The Spacetourer houses no less than four storage areas in the cabin, including two lidded cubbyholes right on top of the dashboard. It’s also well equipped, with even entry-level Live versions coming with 16” alloys, DAB radio, a 12” display screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Find out more about the Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer here.
The Volvo XC90 provides distinctive exterior styling with a beautiful Scandi-inspired interior.
It has three rows of full-sized seats in its cavernous interior, and a very large boot – yet the nature of riding is still very tranquil. The interior design of the cabin is decluttered, with most ancillary controls moved to the touchscreen, and the distinctive leather and brushed metal décor give the car a luxurious ambience.
The impressive technology package even includes digital instruments, and a lavish level of standard equipment – standard equipment across all models is comprehensive, with sat-nav, auto-dimming mirrors, two USB ports and a powered driver’s seat with heated front seats.
This SUV is designed with road use in mind, with four-wheel drive offering a smooth drive and strong performance. The four-cylinder-only powertrains offer reasonable economy figures and there’s a hybrid for the efficiency-conscious owner.
Find out more about the Volvo XC90 here.
This is an eye-catching car, but the attraction should run more than skin deep – this is the biggest Peugeot SUV and has the practicality and comfort to match. The 5008 shares an engineering platform with the Citroen C4, but can’t quite match it in terms of size.
However, this is still a big car; the third row of seats are more child focused, but the middle row can be slid forward to make more legroom.
The interior is one of the biggest highlights of the 5008, with a stylish wrap-around dashboard and large infotainment touchscreen, as well as a digital instrument display that gives the car a contemporary appeal.
The driving experience is very comfort focused, with a beautiful compliant ride The engines are highly efficient and provide adequate performance figures.
Find out more about the Peugeot 5008 here.
Whilst the Discovery is among the more expensive cars on our list, this is a truly impeccable car.
With modern styling, impressive practicality and unparalleled off-roading ability, that isn’t any less appealing as a 7-seater. Aside from this, the Discovery has great road manners, a plush ride, excellent refinement and an upmarket image.
Even entry level S models get a good level of standard kit – however, choose the SE trims and you will get leather upholstery, LED headlights and a suite of upgraded tech. When you step the range up further, you get a more luxurious interior and exterior extras. In addition, there is an extensive options list that brings together driver assistance and safety systems into logical packages.
There is a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, but most people will be best served by the entry level 237bhp 2.0 litre SD4 diesel. Given the Discovery’s size, it’s relatively frugal, but it still offers good performance figures.
With the third row folded away, the land rover has a massive 1137L boot. One thing that the Discovery is unmatched for is that it can fit seven adults in comfortably – even those in the very back.
Find out more about the Land Rover Discovery here.