Best seven-seater SUVs 2020

  • Versatile, spacious cars designed for larger families
  • Often less practical than traditional, unfashionable MPVs
  • Many are also capable off-roaders, with four-wheel drive

If you have a big family, chances are you’re considering a seven-seat SUV as your next car. Time was, the need for seven seats forced you into a boxy people-carrier – and before that, the odds were your spare children were riding in the boot of an estate car on a pair of pop-out seats, or in a crude van-based minibus.

Times change, and nowadays there’s a multitude of choices for discerning buyers who want the style, rugged image and driving experience of a high-up SUV but also need a family-friendly interior and third row of seats.

>> The best seven-seater cars 2020

Such is the success of these seven-seat SUVs that the MPV sector – a market that was once enormous in Europe – has virtually dried-up, with only a few left on sale, with the vast majority of car manufacturers focusing their efforts instead on their more profitable SUV line-ups.

Land Rover Discovery third row

Parkers has, of course, driven every seven-seat SUV you’re likely to buy, so we’ve chosen our favourites. These cars range from wallet-friendly workhorses right up to some of the most luxurious vehicles on sale. All excel in different areas – some offer the flexibility of an MPV in a cleverly disguised skin, while others offer off-road capability far beyond your normal family motor.

Read on for our pick of the best, or you can click on the links below to jump straight to the model you’re interested in.

Best seven-seter SUVs for 2020

SEAT Tarraco 

SEAT Tarraco front three quarter

We can vouch for the versatility, capability and value of the SEAT Tarraco – we’re running one on our long-term fleet, and minor gripes aside have been very impressed with it. Though SEAT still builds a traditional MPV in the shape of the Alhambra, it’d be very hard to walk past the Tarraco in the showroom without paying notice.

The Tarraco sits on the same underpinnings as the latest Volkswagen SUVs, so you can be assured of the same solidity and bang up-to-date technology and engines as you’d get in closely related models, such as the excellent Tiguan. There are smooth petrols, efficient diesels and even a plug-in hybrid on the way, so there’s plenty of choice for potential buyers.

As for the third row of seats, they’re undeniably tight, and better-suited to children than adults – but they fold away easily, leave a big boot in five-seat mode and are definitely worth having. All these good qualities are rolled up in a package that’s an absolute steal for leasing or finance.

Price new: From £28,430
Lease this car: From £197 per month
Search for a used SEAT Tarraco on Parkers here

Volvo XC90 

Volvo XC90 front three quarter

It’s fair to assume a great number of seven-seat SUV customers will be families with children, and what’s more important to those kind of customers than safety? Volvo has always been at the forefront of safety technology, pioneering advancements such as the three-point seatbelt, and its XC90 SUV continues that legacy with a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating as well as bags of clever tech to not only protect occupants during a crash, but help them avoid having one in the first place.

Of course, what good is a safe SUV if it’s not practical to use? Thankfully, the XC90 offers seven adult-sized seats (as ever, the third row is a bit of a squeeze) and lots of practical storage solutions. The interior is a delight too, being of superb build quality and with a cool, calm, Scandinavian air to the styling.

The only real sticking point is its high price – but this is a premium machine and for many, it’ll be a cost worth bearing to drive one of the safest, coolest and most desirable family SUVs on the market.

Price new: From £52,980
Lease this car: From £550 per month
Search for a used Volvo XC90 on Parkers here

Peugeot 5008 

Peugeot 5008 front tracking

The current Peugeot 5008 takes all that was good about its predecessor – a rather staid MPV – and wraps it up in an SUV-shaped package that really stands out from the crowd. In fact, the 5008’s styling is one of its key selling points, as both inside and out this is one seriously good-looking car.

It’s not just form without function, though. The 5008 offers three totally separate seats across the middle row – a rarity in an SUV, and something that makes it totally feasible to fit bulky child seats three abreast.

Better yet, the 5008 benefits from the latest Peugeot engines and gearboxes, meaning it’s a very pleasant thing to drive indeed. We particularly like the punchy 1.2-litre petrol engine and impressively slick eight-speed automatic gearbox, though the diesels are also quiet, refined and economical. Forget fragile Peugeot MPVs of old – the 5008 SUV is a really impressive car.

Found out how we got on with one in our long term review

Price new: From £28,265
Lease this car: From £306 per month
Search for a used Peugeot 5008 on Parkers here

Land Rover Discovery 

Land Rover Discovery front three quarter

Well-established as a brilliant family car, the Land Rover Discovery isn’t exactly cheap to buy or run but it does what it does incredibly well. A key selling point for those who love their Discoveries is their sheer size – these are one of a select group of cars that can actually fit full-sized adults in their third row of seats.

Another thing the Discovery excels at is its sheer breadth of ability. Here’s a car that can go effortlessly from ferrying the kids to school, to serious off-roading in challenging conditions, and then with a simple wash it’s ready once again to go to any event from a church fete to a black-tie ball.

We love its powerful and smooth diesel engines, its incredibly commanding driving position and the fact it’s inexplicably no harder to pilot than a regular-sized car. The premium Land Rover badge is just the icing on the cake.

Price new: From £48,165
Lease this car: From £579 per month
Search for a used Land Rover Discovery on Parkers here

Mercedes-Benz GLB 

Blue 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB front three-quarter

One of the newest entrants in the SUV market is Mercedes' GLB. Enthusiasts of the upmarket German brand will immediately work out that it slots into the range between the GLA and GLC, yet it manages to squeeze in a third row of chairs making this a seven-seater, although they are better suited for kids and occasional use by adults.

That's no bad thing as few SUV drivers either want or need to ferry six other people about with them all the time, and when you don't the back two rows easily fold down to create a long, flat boot area for carrying masses of stuff. 

Being based on the A-Class and related family of models, the GLB has a version of the minimalist-style dual-screen dashboard, plus an efficient range of 1.3-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel engines, with 4Matic four-wheel drive should you want it. Plus, if performance is your thing, there's also the option of the rorty Mercedes-AMG GLB 35, combining hot hatch speed with seven-seater flexibility.

Price new: From £34,530
Lease this car: From £338 per month
Search for a used Mercedes-Benz GLB on Parkers here

BMW X7 

Blue 2019 BMW X7 front three-quarter

If you're looking for a very high-end SUV with seven seats you'll soon discover you're not spoilt for choice. There's the very expensive Bentley Bentayga and Mercedes-Benz's GLS, but we'd take the X7 over both of them. There's absolutely no escaping that its styling is very divisive, from the enormity of its grille to the sheer, vertical surfaces of its bodywork. Regardless, there's no denying it has significant road presence and that enormous structure liberates a considerable amount of interior space.

Yes, there's genuine space for seven adults to sit comfortablly within the X7 - and even when you do, there's still a reasonably useful boot at the back for a few soft luggage bags. BMW even offers the option of making it a six-seater with a pair of individual, electrically adjustable seats in the middle row replacing the three-person bench seat.

Perhaps even more remarkable than the way the X7 looks is the manner in which it drives. Of course, you cannot ignore its width or its weight, but the way it handles is deeply impressive, with pace, good body control to prevent your passengers from feeling ill and high levels of comfort. 

Price new: From £74,265
Lease this car: From £878 per month
Search for a used BMW X7 on Parkers here

Hyundai Santa Fe 

Silver 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe front three-quarter driving

Hyundai's fourth-generation Santa Fe is one of our favourite seven-seater SUVs, thanks to its cavernous interior, an embarrassment of riches when it comes to standard equipment, bulletproof build quality and the reassurance of a five-year/unlimited mileage warranty. It might not be an immediately obvious choice, but it's a large family car that you should definitely not overlook.

Its range structure is nice and simple with just two well-appointed trim levels: Premium and Premium SE. So generously kitted out are they that extra-cost options are limited to metallic paint and a choice of grey or burgundy leather, the latter being far more appealing than it sounds.

Similarly, there's just a single engine available in the form of a 2.2-litre diesel with 200hp on tap. Given the size of the Santa Fe, it's more than ample to give the Hyundai a sensible turn of speed, with a sub-10-second 0-62mph time. It's got enough urgency to ensure you can easily keep up with traffic, without sacrificing the relaxed comfort of the driving eperience.

Price new: From £39,420
Lease this car: From £449 per month
Search for a used Hyundai Santa Fe on Parkers here

Further reading:

>> Best small SUVs 2020

>> Best SUVs for towing

>> Best hybrid SUVs