10 best seven-seaters
Seven-seat cars aren't just for families with five children – you may want one for transporting your kids' friends, or just for occasional trips with grandparents. Since many seven-seaters include a row of three same-size seats, they're also a good choice if you need to have three children in child seats within easy reach.
Below we give you the ten seven-seaters that are the most practical, most spacious, the safest or best to drive – and in many cases all four.
All of the cars here have curtain airbags that cover the middle-row windows, where the adjacent seats all have Isofix points; we point out when cars offer more of either feature. You'll also see that all but two of the cars here have load bays that are flush with the boot lip so it's easy to slide luggage in without having to heave it over anything first.
Fitting your child seat
Remember that not every child seat will fit every car. This depends partly on whether the shape of your child seat fits the shape of car's own seats; it needs to sit completely flush with both the base and back.
Check your child seat fits your prospective car by taking your seat along to the showroom – the dealer should be happy to let you try it out. Alternatively, consult the child seat expert at a major or specialist retailer. It may even be possible to persuade your car dealer to let you stop off at your child seat retailer during your test drive so that the expert can check for you that the seat fits; this may only take a few minutes.
Some car and child seat manufacturers hold a list of compatible seats, but these aren't always comprehensive or up to date.
Whichever way you confirm the fit, always refer to the car's manual when attaching a child seat to your car.
The What Car? Target Price given in these and every Mumsnet Cars review is the most you should have to pay for your car after the dealer has applied any discount available, based on research by What Car?'s undercover researchers.
performs rigorous crash tests to enable car buyers to make an informed choice about their next car. Each car receives a star rating out of five, with a percentage score separate areas of the test, including child safety. See www.euroncap.com
. We give results only since the testing system was updated in 2009.
Price from £17,495
Target Price from £16,725
Euro NCAP rating Not yet tested under post-2009 system
The Verso is a fairly compact MPV but it's spacious inside. The rearmost pair of seats are quite small but they do benefit from curtain airbags, among the Verso's many safety features.
With the rearmost seats up, the Verso's boot will comfortably take a slim-folding pushchair or a few bulging shopping bags; fold them down (which is a cinch to do) and the boot could just about manage a holiday for four. The middle-row seats slide, recline and fold individually, and though they’re a bit stiff to fold, you get a large, totally flat loadbay with all rear seats down.
The interior is a bit plain but the controls are easy to use, and the car is comfortable to ride in and composed on bends, which helps prevent motion sickness. The 2.0 diesel has enough oomph for most drivers. The Verso is affordable to buy and run, too.
Price from £18,345
Target Price from £16,341
Euro NCAP rating Five stars; child safety 79%
The 5008 makes great family transport. It's a quiet and smooth long-distance cruiser and it's good to drive round town, too, with responsive steering and pliant suspension. Its hushed cabin means you can easily chat with little ones, while a child-view mirror means you can also see what they’re up to. The rearmost pair of seats are limited on size though decent footspace helps and they’re a doddle to fold down to create a large, flat boot. Even when they’re in use there’s still space for a slim folded pushchair.
All passengers benefit from curtain airbags than run the length of the car. The three middle-row seats are the same size and individually slide, recline and have Isofix. Plenty of cubbies, including two under the floor, provide plenty of cabin stowage.
The lower-powered 1.6 diesel engine is a good choice, with enough power for most situations and decent running costs.
Price from £19,600
Target Price £15,899
Euro NCAP rating (for five-seat car only) Five stars; child safety 78%
Citroën’s Grand C4 Picasso is an excellent, if quirky, MPV. The panoramic windscreen doesn’t just aid forward visibility – it floods the cabin with light. Whatever you may think about its eccentric dashboard, there’s no denying that the impressive effect inside the cabin.
Like the Peugeot 5008 to which it is closely related, the Grand C4 Picasso is packed with child-friendly features, including rear seats that drop almost flat in an instant and a vast array of cubbies. There’s also the same child-view mirror that lets you keep an eye on both the kids and the road.
Also like the 5008, the C4's roomy middle-row seats are all the same size, move individually have Isofix; however, unlike the Peugeot, the Citroen's curtain airbags don't take in the rearmost seats. Even with all five rear seats in use there’s enough room behind for a narrow-folding pushchair.
Rather vague handling and floaty suspension means that the Grand C4 Picasso isn’t as good to drive as the 5008, but for many this won’t be a concern. Even the entry-level model provides most of the kit you'll need, and most families find the cheapest 1.6 diesel perfectly adequate.
Price from £19,785
Target Price from £18,408
Euro NCAP rating Five stars; child safety 83%
The Zafira Tourer (which is the new version of the old Zafira) isn’t the most spacious or versatile MPV, but it does have classy looks, generous equipment and some very economical engines, including the peppy 128 2.0 diesel. It also has big appeal for anyone concerned with child safety, having scored 83% in this area in Euro NCAP crash tests, even though it goes without airbags for the rearmost pair of seats. From our top ten seven-seaters, only the Hyundai Sante Fe beats this result, and its SUV style isn’t for everyone.
The Zafira has lots of head- and legroom for four adults, but fitting three across the middle row will be a squash and the rearmost seats are only suitable for children. That said, you can improve legroom in the very back by sliding forward a couple of the middle-row seats, the outer two of which have the car’s Isofix points. Raising and lowering the rearmost seats is a bit of a faff, but with them down the boot is a very practical large, square shape and completely flat, which makes the Zafira Tourer a particularly good choice if you’re regularly carrying large, fragile items. This means the Zafira is a bit like a great-value small estate car with good safety credentials, so it will appeal if these are your priorities.
Price from £22,800
Target Price £22,758
Euro NCAP rating Not yet tested under post-2009 system
The S-Max explodes the myth that driving an MPV means giving up on driving enjoyment. As well as being extremely spacious and practical, it’s so nimble that it feels like a much smaller car to drive. The rearmost seats are a bit awkward to raise and lower but they’re pretty roomy, although adults may find their low-slung position a bit awkward; bear in mind, too, that there are no airbags back here (meanwhile, you'll need to pay extra for the option to switch off the front passenger airbag).
The front five seats are wide and spacious, however, and in five-seat mode the boot is huge. Even with all seven seats up its cargo capacity rivals that of some small family cars. The three middle-row seats, which are virtually the same size, slide and recline independently. They each have Isofix, though unusually without top-tether points.
The S-Max is otherwise very well equipped, and all engines bar the smallest diesel are strong and quiet. Note that S-Max’s sporty edge means the suspension is a bit firm.
Price from £23,770
Target Price £21,991
Euro NCAP rating Five stars; child safety 80%
The Seat Alhambra is a brilliant family MPV. To start with, it’s massive inside: the rear seats can fit five adults in genuine comfort, with the three individually-sliding and reclining seats across the middle row all being the same generous size. All the rear seat have Isofix, and there are curtain airbags along the full length of the cabin.
With the rearmost seats folded flat, the boot is incredibly long and wide. Even with the seats in use it beats most rivals for space. Collapse all five rear seats and you get a flat-floored van. There’s also loads of cabin stowage for the messiest family’s bits and bobs.
The Alhambra is a big car, but its sliding rear doors mean access to the cabin is always easy, even in the supermarket car park.
The Alhambra is a pleasure to drive, with smooth, economical engines, a comfortable ride, responsive and a hushged habin. It's also cheaper than its Volkswagen counterpart, the Sharan – and it’s our 2013 MPV of the year.
Price from £24,955
Target Price from £22,269
Euro NCAP rating Not tested under post-2009 system
Like the Seat Alhambra, the Ford Galaxy majors on people space, with enough room for seven adults to sit in comfort. With seven seats up, the boot is a short but very tall and wide space; drop the rearmost seats, though, and it’s vast. The procedure is a bit convoluted and can require a bit of strength, but it’s simple enough.
While they don’t have Isofix points, the rearmost seats do benefit from curtain airbags that run the length of the car. All three middle seats individually slide and recline and have Isofix. Bear in mind, though, that your dealer may charge you £200-£300 for the option to switch off the front passenger airbag, but otherwise every model of Galaxy is very well equipped.
Go for one of the stronger diesel engines if you’ll be carrying seven adults often; this will also add to the pleasure of driving the Galaxy, which is surprisingly nimble around town, and smooth and quiet on the motorway.
If you drive seven-up only occasionally, consider the Ford S-Max, which is only a bit smaller and over £2500 cheaper.
Price from £26,695
Target Price from £24,857
Euro NCAP rating Five stars; child safety 89%
It’s worth paying the extra £800 to turn the Santa Fe from a five- to a seven-seater; this significantly increases its versatility and makes no difference to the huge boot space when the third row of seats is folded. The space that remains the rearmost seats are in use is only just enough for a folded pushchair, but that’s par for the course even among large seven-seat MPVs.
The Santa Fe’s extra seats are best suited to smaller adults and children, but they do get curtain airbags. The Hyundai also has the best Euro NCAP rating for child safety of all the seven-seaters reviewed here, and you can choose a 4x4 model for extra peace of mind. The front five seats give loads of space and there are Isofix points on the two outer middle-row seats.
The Santa Fe won’t be the choice for keen drivers – it tends to wallow around corners and the steering is a bit slow – but it’s pretty comfortable and quiet, and automatic versions change gear smoothly.
Decent running costs and a five-year warranty make up for the Santa Fe’s slightly high purchase price.
Price from £38,825
Target Price from £36,409
Euro NCAP rating Not yet tested under post-2009 system
The Land Rover Discovery is big on both size and ability. As well has having full-time four-wheel-drive and off-road programmes that will keep you moving through the toughest conditions, it’s incredibly refined and comfortable to ride in.
It’s also extremely practical. Five adults can sit very comfortably in the rear, and seating which is set increasingly higher as you move back through the rows means that everyone will have an excellent view out. Curtain airbags extend right to the back, too.
There’s not much boot room left when you’re carrying seven people, but while folding and raising the rearmost seats is a bit of a convoluted process, you do get a genuinely cavernous loadbay without them.
Only the outer two middle-row seats have Isofix but, while the centre seat isn’t quite as wide as the outside ones, it may be roomy enough for some families to fit three child seats across it.
The Discovery isn’t sharp to drive its still pretty responsive and fabulously smooth on motorways, and the classy cabin is fairly hushed. Bear in mind that the Discovery both expensive both to buy and run, but it still feels as good to own as any other cars here.
Price from £46,955
Target Price from £43,069
Euro NCAP rating Not yet tested under new system
If you love driving, you'll love the BMW X5's strong engines, brilliant handling and rock-solid stability. You will have to pay £1410 to have the extra pair of seats fitted in the back, and they don’t get curtain airbags. However, they’re comfortable for children and smaller adults, and all five front occupants get loads of space.
All the rear seats fold flat individually, making a versatile interior that you can adapt for your needs. Dropping the rear pair is easy and they leave a huge boot; even with them in use, the boot will take a narrow folded pushchair.
The cabin is quiet, and although some of the car's high-tech dashboard controls can take some getting used to, they also add to the car’s slick overall style
BMW’s impressively economical Efficient Dynamics engines and strong resale values help to offset the X5’s high purchase price, but make sure you fork out for Adaptive Drive if you want suspension that's forgiving enough for British roads.