SUV comparison: Four of a kind seven-seat vehicles
Four of the top-selling seven-seat family SUVs, compared.
Growing families have a lot more choice these days when it comes to buying a vehicle with more than five seats. Thankfully, there are a lot more options than there were in the 1980s and ’90s when you had the choice of a generic people-mover-style van with zero personality, or another box on wheels.
Anyone in the market for a seven-seater – or in some cases an eight-seater – vehicle can now pick from a number of SUV models of varying sizes and capabilities, including serious off-roaders. Some SUVs offer a third row suitable for daily use that will comfortably sit kids of varying ages. Others have a third row that’s better suited for occasional use.
And then there are the traditional people movers. But even they are a bit sexier than they used to be. We’ve pulled together four very different, but very capable, seven-seat offerings in the market.
The Honda CR-V is just one of many family SUVs on the market.
Kia Carnival (from $42,990 to $63,290 plus on-road costs)
The Carnival nameplate goes back about 20 years in Australia and the early versions offered cheap, uncomplicated motoring for families requiring more space than a sedan or wagon could offer. Preceding the SUV boom, the Carnival was a sales hit for Kia.
In 2015, Kia launched the current-generation Carnival that, to this day, is one of the best fit-for-purpose people movers on the market. The Korean car-maker produced a spacious, reliable and visually appealing MPV that also offers a genuinely engaging drive experience. A major update in May last year further improved the Carnival, with a new automatic transmission and additional safety and in-car tech.
The Carnival shares many of its underpinnings with the equally impressive Sorento SUV, including the gutsy 3.3-litre V6 petrol and 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine – both excellent powertrains.
The Carnival’s main party trick is its clever use of interior space. It can comfortably seat up to eight people across three rows, but the cabin is so flexible that you can stow seats in the floor to increase interior space further. It can also swallow a huge amount of luggage – 960 litres in fact, with all three rows in place. Stow the third row and that increases to 2220 litres, and 4022 with both rear seating rows lowered.
It is also packed with standard gear, particularly in top-spec Platinum guise, which feels properly premium.
Thumbs up: Lots of car for the money and a super comfortable ride.
Thumbs down: Bus-like styling can put some buyers off, and it’s showing its age inside.
The Carnival’s main party trick is its clever use of interior space.
The CX-9 has developed a reputation as one of the best driver’s cars in the segment.
The Honda CR-V caters for those families who don’t need a third seating row all the time.
While the Ford Everest might be based on a ute, it has a well-appointed and comfortable cabin.