If you needed seven seats, MPVs used to be the cars to choose. Now, though, there are just as many SUVs as MPVs with a third row of seats. SUVs are the more fashionable option, but there's still a place for people carriers: they're hard to beat for practicality, and tend to cost less to buy used than the equivalent SUV. Whether you are looking for a seven-seater car with genuine off-road ability or simply the most practical family car, here's our pick of the best 7-seater cars on the market. And to make life even easier, you can search for great deals on all our chosen seven-seater cars, all at once, right here.
Audi Q7 (2015-2020)
While BMW and Mercedes also offer very good seven-seat SUVs, it's the Audi Q7 that we rate above all others. First of all, it makes a fine seven-seater: third-row space isn't quite as generous as that of the Land Rover Discovery, but otherwise the Q7 ticks all the right boxes. The second row of seats slides back and forth to create a little more legroom for those in the rearmost seats or more space in the second row for child seats or the tallest of passengers. There's loads of boot space when the third row is stowed away, too.
It's not just interior space and practicality that really sell the Q7 as a seven-seater, either. It's beautifully made, and sets the benchmark for interior quality among premium SUVs. The Q7 appeals to the driver as much as passengers, especially if you choose one with air suspension. This makes a big difference to ride comfort, and also allows the driver to firm things up for a sportier drive. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines with Audi's smooth-shifting automatic gearbox are the most sensible buys, although the e-tron plug-in hybrid model can be surprisingly cheap to run if you have a low daily mileage, and it can make the most of the electric range to increase overall fuel efficiency. The high-performance SQ7 is the one to choose if you don't mind giving your passengers a fright.
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Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer (2013-2020)
The Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer (or Grand C4 Picasso as it used to be known) has been around for a good few years, but you wouldn't know it to look at it. The striking styling still appears fresh, and it's far more interesting than you might expect an MPV to be. Function and form go together inside the Citroen, with generous interior space and lots of clever thinking to help make the most of the seven-seat layout.
There are three individual Isofix seats in the middle row that can slide back and forth or fold flat, plus two more folding seats in the third row. There's lots of storage throughout the cabin, and the extra mirror to keep an eye on the kids is a neat touch. As for the driving experience, the Grand Picasso majors on comfort rather than excitement, and we're all for that in car designed to get the family from A to B. It's quiet at speed, and will go a long way on a gallon if you choose one of the diesels.
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Ford Galaxy (2015-2020)
It's a tight call between the Ford S-Max and Ford Galaxy for a spot in this top 10 list. The S-Max is better to drive, but the Galaxy is a better seven-seater, so it gets the nod here. The Galaxy has one of the most practical cabins of any large SUV. There's room for adults to travel in all three rows, although tall people will be happier in the standard rear seats than the two extra seats that fold out of the boot floor. Even with every place occupied there's a reasonable amount of boot space, something you can't say of some other seven-seat cars such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport or the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer.
There are three individual seats in the middle row, and you can fold, slide and recline to strike the right balance between passenger and luggage space. From the driver's seat, there aren't many big MPVs to match the Galaxy. Ford's engineers have found a near-ideal balance between ride comfort and handling. This is a relaxing car to travel in, but fun to drive when the road starts to twist and turn. If you are looking for a used Galaxy, there's good news: MPVs aren't as popular as SUVs, which makes the big Ford a really affordable buy.
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Kia Sorento (2015-2019)
The fourth-generation Kia Sorento went on sale in 2021 and instantly became one of the best seven seater SUVs on the market. That said, if your budget does not stretch to a brand new car the previous mk3 Sorento is a great used buy in its own right, as is the mechanically similar Hyundai Santa Fe. Being a Kia, even entry-level versions of the Sorento are well equipped, and the top-spec models make the likes of Audi and BMW look stingy. And you forget any idea about the big Kia seeming like a budget car; it's well put together and the build quality is excellent.
The seating isn't quite as flexible as you'll find in the best MPVs, but the cabin is still very practical and there's ample load space with the rearmost seats folded flat. What's more, if you have a horsebox, a caravan or a trailer to tow, the Sorento is a good choice. The 2.2-litre diesel has loads of pulling power, while the hybrid version in the latest model is smooth and frugal, and the Sorento's bulk helps to make it a stable tow car.
You don't need to be a caravanner to appreciate the Sorento, though. This is a very comfortable and capable car, keenly priced, and with the bonus of a seven-year warranty from new.
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Land Rover Discovery (2017-2020)
If you need seven seats and the ability to go far into the wilderness, the Land Rover Discovery 5 is close to ideal. Even if you don't ever stray far from Tarmac, the Discovery is supremely practical and enormously relaxing to drive on long journeys, and as long as you avoid the entry-level model, the Land Rover has plenty of standard equipment.
Make no mistake, the Discovery is a very big car, and Land Rover has made the most of the space inside. Even with all seven seats upright, there's useful boot space, and there's more head- and legroom in the third row than you'll find in an Audi Q7 or a Volvo XC90. The 2.0-litre diesel performs strongly, but the 3.0-litre's greater pace and refinement make it the pick of the range if your budget stretches far enough, unless the limited electric car range of the plug-in hybrid version appeals. So far so good, but there is one reason we hesitate to give the Discovery our unreserved recommendation, and that's reliability. Land Rover still struggles to build consistently trouble-free cars. But go in with your eyes open, and the Discovery is as luxurious as it is practical.
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Peugeot 5008 (2017-2021)
Renault's largest cars were once the default choice if you wanted a stylish seven seater and loved French cars. However, Peugeot has since taken over that crown by creating a car that offers the style of an SUV with the practicality of an MPV: the latest generation 5008.
Peugeot may market the 5008 as an SUV, but there's no four-wheel-drive version. You can buy the 5008 with a fancy traction control system to improve the Peugeot's ability on slippery surfaces, but you're really buying an MPV with SUV styling, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. You get a modern, rugged and handsome design, but with the low running costs of a practical front-wheel-drive car.
Inside, the 5008 looks stunning, with Peugeot's signature small steering wheel and digital instruments that you view over the steering wheel, rather than through it. There's lots of space in the middle row, and there's no transmission tunnel in the floor to get in the way of your feet. The third row of seats has enough room for adults on short trips. Just be wary of any 5008 with a panoramic sunroof, because it makes headroom very tight in the middle row of seats.
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Seat Alhambra (2010-2020)
Proper seven-seat MPVs like the Seat Alhambra are becoming rare, because buyers want SUVs instead, but there are good reasons to turn your back on fashion. The Alhambra is a very practical car. There's good head- and legroom in all three rows, with enough space for adults to ride in seats six and seven without too much complaining. With every seat in place, boot space is acceptable rather than generous, but fold the back seats away and there's loads of room for bags.
There's more to the Alhambra than sheer space, too. The sliding rear doors (electrically powered on some models) are a definite plus when herding kids in and out in a tight parking space, and there's lots of storage space dotted around the cabin. Through its decade on sale, Seat offered the Alhambra with a variety of TSI petrol and TDI diesel engines. Although the market has shifted away from diesel, these engines cope better with a fully-loaded car and return better mpg figures. Whichever engine you go for, though, the Alhambra handles well for a big MPV.
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Skoda Kodiaq (2016-2021)
The Skoda Kodiaq comes in both five- and seven-seat versions, and most buyers go for the seven-seater. Space in the third row can't quite match the Kia Sorento or the Peugeot 5008, but kids will be fine. Adults? Well, it'll be cheaper than an Uber. If you save seats six and seven for giving lifts at closing-time, you'll find the rest of the Kodiaq is very roomy, more so than a Nissan X-Trail, for example.
There's lots of head- and legroom in the middle row, and a commanding and comfortable driving position up front. Boot space is huge as long as the third row is in the floor. Skoda has offered the Kodiaq with a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines. The 148bhp 2.0 TSI is a good all-rounder, although the 148bhp 2.0 TDI will be more economical. The 187bhp 2.0 TDI offers a worthwhile step-up in performance, especially if you have a big caravan or horsebox to tow. Whether you go petrol or diesel, the Kodiaq drives well and comes with a reassuring five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
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Volkswagen Sharan (2010-2020)
The Volkswagen Sharan is one of the veterans of the MPV class, having been around since 2010. It's a testament to how good the Sharan was that it's still one of the best seven-seaters you can buy a decade later.
Spacious and clever, the Sharan's cabin puts versatility first. There's lots of space in the middle row, with three individual seats that slide back and forth and fold flat when they're not needed. They move out of the way so passengers can clamber into the back, and sliding doors help make getting in and out even easier. There's enough room for lots of shopping bags, even if you are brave enough to drag the whole family with you to the supermarket. With the third row folded into the floor, there's loads of space for trips to the tip or taking the eldest and half their possessions to university.
The Sharan isn't the most exciting car to drive, but it handles tidily and rides comfortably over all but the worst surfaces. There's a broad choice of petrol and diesel engines. The TSI petrol units are smooth and responsive but the TDI diesels are more economical, especially with seven on board.
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Volvo XC90 (2015-2021)
If you want a seven-seat SUV and you have a healthy budget, the Volvo XC90 deserves a place on your shortlist alongside the likes of the Audi Q7 and the Land Rover Discovery. The second-generation big 4x4 marked a significant move upmarket for Volvo – and the price was hiked to go with it – but the XC90 justified its premium billing with a beautiful cabin. The quality is of the highest standard, and the clean and uncluttered design makes rival cabins seem fussy.
The downside to doing away with so many buttons is that lots of systems are controlled through the Sensus touchscreen, which can be fiddly to operate on the move. The XC90 has lots of room for those in the first two rows. Seats six and seven aren't as spacious as those in a Land Rover Discovery, but they're fine for kids or short trips. For performance, the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid is the pick of the range. It's pricey, though. We'd pick the D5 (or later B5 mild hybrid) as the best buy for most buyers, with strong performance and impressive fuel economy.
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