Top 10 best 7-seater cars to buy 2023
We pick the best seven-seat cars that provide the most practicality across a wide range of price points
Over the last 40 years or more, UK car buyers have taken the idea of the seven-seater car firmly to their hearts. Today, seven-seat vehicles are hugely popular with families but the latest crop bear little resemblance to those on offer even a decade ago. Here we round off the top 10 best seven-seater cars on sale in the UK, so if you’re in the market to carry a couple of extra passengers, look no further.
While a few traditional MPVs remain, and have a lot going for them, the choices facing buyers who want a vehicle capable of carrying seven people today are mainly split between SUVs and van-based MPVs. Van-based models, such as the Citroen e-Berlingo, make the most of the space, robust design and low costs of their commercial vehicle base models to deliver flexible, family-sized utility on a budget.
On the SUV side, the choice continues to grow, with plenty of large SUVs, like the Skoda Kodiaq and Kia Sorento, offering seven-seat capability. For many buyers, the SUV is seen as a more stylish choice than the traditional MPV or the van-based alternatives but most struggle to match a similarly-sized MPV for outright utility and space. Some offer more of a ‘5+2’ layout where the rear seats are better suited to occasional use and the boot space remaining with all seats in use can be very limited.
Then, seemingly in a class of its own, is our Family Car of the Year for 2023: the Dacia Jogger. The unconventional estate/MPV breaks the mould by taking an affordable supermini and stretching it to make room for a third row, becoming the most affordable 7-seater in the UK by some margin. It’s now offered with hybrid power, too, like many of the entries on this list, but there’s an EV or two here as well for those looking to ditch internal combustion altogether.
Best seven-seaters cars to buy now
Read on to find out more about the top 10 seven-seater cars you can buy in the UK…
- Dacia Jogger
- Skoda Kodiaq
- Kia EV9
- Kia Sorento
- Citroen e-Berlingo XL
- Nissan X-Trail
- Land Rover Discovery
- Peugeot 5008
- Volvo XC90
- Land Rover Defender
1. Dacia Jogger
Our reigning Family Car of the Year, the Dacia Jogger serves up genuine space for seven and the luggage capacity of an estate car, plus some SUV style, all for the price of a bog-standard supermini. It’s about as cheap to run as a compact-hatchback, too, thanks to the recent addition of a hybrid powertrain that doesn’t eat up cabin space. It returned around 50mpg during our own testing.
Despite its relatively compact dimensions, the Jogger’s third-row seats are surprisingly spacious, while the rest of the cabin is packed with thoughtful touches such as the fold-down, aircraft-style picnic tables for those in the second row. There are numerous cup-holders and cubbies dotted around, too, plus all but the entry-level model get a handy eight-inch infotainment touchscreen along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
At just 1,200kg, the Jogger is a lightweight in the seven-seater market, which helps with fuel economy, and makes the car feel more agile and manoeuvrable at low speeds than the larger and heavier SUVs further down this list. The Jogger Hybrid is at its absolute best around town, where it pulls away in EV mode, and the electric motors provide enough power to drive smoothly and quietly.
2. Skoda Kodiaq
The refreshed Skoda Kodiaq scooped our Large SUV of the Year award in 2022 and 2023, thanks to the versatile Czech machine’s winning combination of practicality, value, surprising agility and hushed refinement. It received some styling tweaks and a slightly more premium-feeling cabin as part of a facelift in 2021, but happily, the rest of the Kodiaq was left largely unchanged.
At the heart of the Kodiaq’s appeal is its spacious and versatile interior, with all but the base model fitted with seven seats. It’s also packed with lots of Skoda’s thoughtful ‘Simply Clever’ touches, including the umbrellas stored in the front doors, a double-decker glovebox and an ice-scraper behind the fuel-filler door.
Comfort and refinement are also excellent, while the big Skoda feels far more agile and precise to drive than its exterior dimensions suggest. There’s no electrified option, but the petrol and diesel engines are smooth, eager and efficient, plus four-wheel drive is available as an option. In short, the Skoda Kodiaq has all the family SUV bases covered.
3. Kia EV9
We were blown away by the all-electric Kia EV9 when we drove it in South Korea earlier this year, and have no doubt it’s going to be a smash hit when it reaches British shores in the coming months. Kia has been moving more upmarket in recent years, but the EV9’s interior quality and materials are the best we’ve seen from the brand, and it’ll be the most striking-looking car on the school run by far.
The cabin looks equally modern, but it appears plenty of family-friendly thinking has gone into the design, too. Visibility is excellent, there’s storage everywhere and myriad USB ports so everyone from the first to the third row can keep their devices topped up. There’s acres of legroom, too, thanks in part to a completely flat floor, with enough space in the rearmost seats to accommodate six-foot adults.
You get 333 litres of boot space when all seven seats are in use, or 828 litres when the back row is folded down. There’s also up to 90 litres of extra storage space under the bonnet. Kia says the EV9 can cover up to 336 miles on a single charge, and when the battery runs low you can add 149 miles of range in just 15 minutes using a 350kW ultra-rapid charger. Put simply, this is the all-electric seven-seater all others will now have to beat.
4. Kia Sorento
If you’re not quite ready to make the switch to electric, then Kia’s other seven-seater is another exceptional contender in this class. Featuring distinctive looks, an upmarket interior, more tech than a Currys superstore and a selection of efficient powertrains, the big Korean is a firm Auto Express favourite.
Of course, the Sorento is a family SUV first and foremost, which means a roomy interior that can comfortably seat seven adults. Yet the cabin is also a cut above mainstream rivals in terms of look and finish, with high-grade materials and wall-to-wall screens. The infotainment system looks great and is easy to use, plus you get all the latest driver aids.
It’s not as sharp to drive as its Skoda Kodiaq rival, but refinement and comfort are first rate. All versions have four-wheel drive and there’s also the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain that’ll deliver 35 miles of EV running. The Sorento is only available in one trim level now, but it still comes laden with kit. If there is a catch, it’s the fact that Kia’s aspirations are matched by its prices.
5. Citroen e-Berlingo XL
The Citroen e-Berlingo is an MPV rather than an SUV, but the two classes share so many traits that it’d be foolish to consider one and not the other. The e-Berlingo is as practical as cars come because it’s based on a van platform. The issue here is that it looks like a van, too, so if style matters to you then you’d best look elsewhere.
Petrol and diesel-powered versions of the Berlingo are available again in the UK, but only in the standard M body length equipped with five seats. The fully electric e-Berlingo on the other hand comes with M and XL sizes, with the latter 35cm longer and fitted with a third row of seats, making it a seven-seater.
It’s not as cramped as some seven-seat SUVs, though; adults of an average build will be able to fit into that third row without any issues. A 134bhp electric motor drives the front wheels, so even fully laden with passengers and luggage it still feels fairly brisk thanks to the instant torque on tap, while it also brings a noticeable boost in refinement.
6. Nissan X-Trail
The latest generation X-Trail is the best yet, delivering more passenger space and better cabin quality than its predecessor, and features excellent safety features and Nissan’s unique e-Power hybrid set-up. This brings EV-like smoothness and performance without the range anxiety, although it’s not as efficient as other hybrids on this list.
It’s also worth noting that the entry-level mild-hybrid and range-topping all-wheel-drive e-4orce versions of the X-Trail come with five seats as standard, but are available with seven seats for an extra £1,000. However the front-wheel-drive e-Power model is five-seat only. Even so, only kids will really feel comfortable in the back row, because of the limited knee and headroom. Boot space isn’t the best in the large SUV class, either.
At least the X-Trail is comfortable out on the road, with the suspension only really troubled by the worst of the UK’s pockmarked routes. The big SUV is a decent cruiser at motorway speeds, too, with little wind or engine noise able to infiltrate the cabin. The ‘e-Pedal Step’ mode, which allows some one-pedal driving, is also particularly handy in urban traffic.
7. Land Rover Discovery
If there was a Swiss Army knife on wheels, then it would probably look something like the Discovery. With its blend of luxury, comfort, practicality and off-road ability, this is a family car for all seasons. Better still, recent revisions have delivered slightly sleeker looks, the latest Pivi Pro infotainment and an interior that rivals Range Rover models for club-class appeal.
The mild-hybrid six-cylinder engines are as smooth and unobtrusive as an expert butler, while the Disco remains as composed and capable on the road as it is in the rough. Granted, the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7 are more adept in the bends, but the Disco is impressively refined and very comfortable. It also has a huge boot and can tow up to 3,500kg.
There’s still plenty of room in the middle row even when it’s slid all the way forward, which opens up enough space to accommodate two fully grown adults in relative comfort in the rearmost seats. The back seats are mounted slightly higher than the ones in front of them to give a better view forward, but the stepped roof means headroom is still decent. Of course, such excellence isn’t cheap, with prices now starting from more than £70,000.
8. Peugeot 5008
Peugeot’s most family-friendly model is also one of its best. Essentially a stretched version of the 3008, the 5008 has similarly distinctive styling and its interior blends thoroughly modern design with the latest tech. However, Peugeot’s i-Cockpit set-up is not for everyone, because you need to be able to look over the steering wheel to see the instrument panel. We recommend you test it for yourself to make sure you can find a comfortable driving position that lets you see the dials.
There’s loads of handy storage throughout the cabin, and we found climbing into the third row is easier than in the Skoda Kodiaq because the 5008’s middle row pushes forwards. The rearmost seats are perfect for kids and fine for adults on short trips. With all seven seats in place, there’s just 167 litres of boot space available – about as much as a Fiat 500’s boot offers – but you get 952 litres to play with in five-seat mode.
On the move, the Peugeot’s combination of neat handling and decent ride comfort makes it good to drive, while in wintry conditions the clever Grip Control system is a good substitute for four-wheel drive. Unfortunately, the 5008 isn’t available with its smaller sibling’s efficient plug-in hybrid engines, but Peugeot is due to add mild-hybrid tech to its largest SUV later this year.
9. Volvo XC90
It’s difficult to believe the handsome second-generation Volvo XC90 is more than eight years old now. A raft of newer rivals have arrived on the scene since the stylish Swede’s debut in 2015 – when it was Auto Express Car of the Year – and its all-new all-electric successor, the EX90, is due to hit the street in 2024. And yet the XC90 is as desirable now as it ever was.
Not only is there genuinely enough space for seven adults inside, but the minimalist interior also looks a cut above. That sets it apart from rivals such as the Audi Q7 and BMW X7, while its seats are some of the most supportive around.
What’s more, the Volvo’s laid-back driving experience and class-leading safety equipment help lower your blood pressure after a long day. Better still, the recent addition of a larger 18.8kWh battery for the plug-in hybrid T8 model has boosted its EV range to 40 miles, which translates to a wallet-friendly BiK rate of just eight per cent.
10. Land Rover Defender
In the blink of an eye, the Land Rover Defender has gone from a utilitarian workhorse to one of the best large premium SUVs on the market. Its charming boxy style will win over many buyers’ hearts, but its looks are backed up by impressive levels of comfort, a smart cabin and incredible off-road ability.
The Defender is available in three forms: three-door 90, the 110 model that offers seating for five to seven people, and the even larger 130, which offers space for up to eight occupants. In Defender 110s fitted with seven seats, the middle row provides ample space and can slide forward to make the third row passable for taller children, if not adults.
There are cup-holders, power outlets and air vents for all, while the 231-litre boot with three rows in place expands to a van-rivalling 2,233 litres if you fold down of the rear seats. Unfortunately, you can’t get the Defender with seven seats and plug-in hybrid power, and the regular mild-hybrid petrol and diesel engines don’t offer astounding fuel economy. This is a bluff, upright box that weighs well over two tonnes, though, so that’s hardly surprising.
7-seat SUVs vs 7-seat MPVs
If you’re looking for a seven-seat car it’s fair to say you’re probably a car buyer with a family. Practicality and running costs generally come ahead of driving dynamics for those seeking family transport, but the same basic car buying rules apply whatever you’re buying: do your research, understand your finance options and work out your budget, however you’re paying for it. From there, think about what you need the car to do.
The first thing for seven-seat car buyers to decide is whether an MPV or an SUV is the best fit. Generally, MPVs offer more space for the money but SUVs are more stylish. For most buyers, an SUV will offer more than enough room, and most also have the option of four-wheel drive – ideal if you tow a caravan or live in a remote area. On the other hand, MPVs usually provide better head and legroom for passengers in all seats thanks to lower floors and (mostly) higher rooflines. Plus, the seating systems are usually more easily adaptable to different passenger- and luggage-carrying configurations. If you plan on carrying a full complement of six or seven passengers a lot of the time, it’s worth bearing this in mind.
Another important consideration is which fuel type to go for. Here the decision is a little more clear-cut because seven-seaters are generally larger and heavier than your regular car, so diesel will be the better choice for most. Plug-in hybrids and fully electric models are changing the equation, but there aren’t too many seven-seaters to choose from at the moment, fully loading the car may affect range and you’ll need a home charger to make the best use of the vehicle.
You should also check the cars’ interior design and build quality. If you have young children, soft leather trim might not be the best idea. Make sure all your 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 in others. Make sure that the rear seats give your kids enough space and light as well as a decent view out and be sure to check that the boot is big enough with all seven seats in place.
Want to carry the most people while reducing your carbon footprint? Check out our sister title DrivingElectric’s list of the best seven-seat hybrid and electric cars…