Whether it’s the school run, ferrying players to a sports match or heading off to a party with friends, sometimes there’s nothing better than a seven-seater.
Back in the day you’d have to cram everyone into a big estate, van or minibus, but then in 1984 Renault launched the original Espace people carrier, or MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle).
Suddenly it was possible to carry seven people safely in a car in relative comfort. Other MPVs followed and then large SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) got in on the act, also offering space for three rows of seating.
We've chosen 10 new seven-seaters - a mix of MPVs and SUVs. With most, the third row of seats is only for occasional use by children or small people, but a few are able to transport an extra couple of adults comfortably.
Naturally, they're all big, and when the rear seats are folded down, they offer van-like load capacities. So here's 10 of the best seven-seaters.
The big Q7 is a premium seven-seater choice boasting sharp looks, a great driving experience and loads of tech.
Solid and made using quality materials, the Q7's third row seats are comfortable and fold and tip forward for easier access, but adults will need to have the second row pushed forward for a little extra legroom. Opt for the 3.0-litre 215bhp diesel engine and it's surprisingly frugal for such a large SUV.
The seven-seater people carrier previously known as the C4 Grand Picasso is stylish, spacious and superb value.
It's also blessed with a great range of efficient diesel and petrol engines. It's bright inside thanks to big windows and a panoramic sunroof. The outer seats in the second row fold away to give access to the third row, but as with most seven-seaters, these are more for occasional use - or very small people.
Ford's biggest people carrier isn't a favourite with taxi drivers and chauffeuring companies for nothing.
Spacious, surprisingly easy to drive and well built, the third row of seats is suitable for adults - unlike some MPVs. A good option if you're looking for a vehicle to carry seven people in comfort and safety, but go for the diesels if you're looking for decent fuel economy.
Refreshed for 2018, the Sorento is big, bold, spacious, and a lot of car for your money. And, of course, it also comes with Kia’s unbeatable seven-year warranty. More SUV than MPV, because of the high ride height and standard four-wheel drive, it's only available with a 2.2-litre diesel engine.
That said, it's a punchy unit with decent fuel economy that settles down nicely. Average-sized adults can even sit in seats six and seven if the second row is pushed forward a little. The Sorento has a 605-litre luggage capacity with the third-row seats folded and 1,662 litres with all the rear seats down.
Volvo’s acclaimed big SUV is every bit as good as it looks. A superb premium choice, it's oozing Scandi style inside and out, drives well and is more economical than you might think if you opt for the entry-level 232bhp D5 diesel engine.
The seats on the third row are the same size as those on the second (unlike some seven-seaters) and each row is slightly higher than the one ahead of it, boosting visibility. Even with all seven seats in place, the XC90 boot has a generous 451 litres of luggage capacity.
After the success of the 3008, which Peugeot transformed into an SUV from a people carrier, the same trick has worked on the mighty 5008. Launched in 2017, the 5008 SUV is a classy car with a quality feel. It's also distinctively styled, well made, versatile, surprisingly sporty to drive and economical.
As with most seven-seaters, the third row is best left to small people, but generally the cabin is spacious and modern. Just one tip: opting for the panoramic sunroof can eat into the headroom for taller rear passengers.
Launched in 2017, the fifth generation Land Rover Discovery is quite simply one of the world’s most capable cars. Not only is it seriously impressive off-road, but it's a comfortable cruiser on the road - and it’s spacious, safe and luxurious. It can even tow up to 3,500kg, so big caravans and horseboxes are no problem either.
There's room for seven adults inside. Yes, that’s rows two and three. With all seven seats in operation, there's 228 litre of luggage capacity available - expanding to a cavernous 2,406 litres if all the rear seats are flipped down.
Billed as “Germany’s most successful compact MPV” – some two million have been sold in Europe, Asia and Africa. Smaller than the Sharan, the Touran was launched in 2003 and is now in its second generation. Good to drive, well built and with a wide range of engines, it makes sense as a practical car for big families.
Unlike some seven-seaters, there's plenty of headroom throughout the cabin, though it's best to keep journey times low for adults travelling in the tighter third row. The second and third rows of seats both fold flat into the floor, creating a van-like load area of 1,857 litres.
Skoda's big Kodiaq SUV was launched in 2017 and has already won several awards including the Car of the Year title and Best SUV trophy at the Honest John Awards 2018. At 4.69 metres long, 1.88m wide and 1.67m high, it definitely has road presence. Add Skoda’s signature clean-cut lines, and it’s a substantial, yet stylish, value-for-money package.
There's a lot of space inside and there's even room for adult third-row passengers, especially if middle-seat occupants slide forward their seats slightly. Even in seven-seater mode a decent 270 litres of boot space is available.
Renault’s fourth generation people carrier is well equipped, spacious, safe, stylish and cleverly incorporates some SUV design elements. It's available with a good range of efficient petrol and diesel engines and it's very practical. Again, space is tight in the third row, but helped if the second row of seats is pushed forward a little.
In five-seat configuration, there's a generous 596 litres of space. The classy Grand Scenic is proof that there’s still plenty of life left in the MPV concept.
Want to upsize to a seven-seater but not sure if you can afford it? Admiral Car Finance might be able to help.