The best 7-seater cars for families in 2022

The Kia Carnival is a popular seven-seat vehicle in Australia.

Toby Hagon

Posted January 27, 2022

There’s no getting around it: if you’ve got a big family, you’ll need a big car. Here are seven of the best to get you and the family moving.

Having more seats is the only way to fit more kids and the gear they inevitably drag along for the ride.

While there are lots of vehicles on the market that have three rows of seats, some do the kid-carrying-thing a lot better than others.

Beyond size, you need to see if seats are easy for the little ones to fold, whether air flows to all three rows and if there’s enough visibility to keep stomachs from churning on that big adventure.

With that in mind, here are the best cars on the market for big families.

The Kia Carnival is a popular seven-seater

The Kia Carnival is the most popular people-mover in the country.

Kia Carnival

Suck back the hit to your ego might get from driving a people mover, and the Kia Carnival nails the family car brief. There’s acres of space across three rows and sliding rear doors that make kids less likely to restyle the paintwork on the car parked alongside.

With an unusually deep boot means you can utilise all eight seats and still have loads of luggage space, something no other SUV can deliver.

Plus, in its latest iteration, it’s a classy-looking machine (especially inside) - without the occasionally awkward proportions we’ve seen previously in people movers.

The V6 is the most affordable engine option, but the four-cylinder turbo diesel better suits the nature of this big bus.


The Hyundai Staria is a van-based people mover.

The Hyundai Staria is a van-based people-mover.


Hyundai Staria

There’s a thoroughly futuristic flavour in Hyundai’s replacement for its iMax. The radical lights front and rear team with spaceship-like lines to create a modern aesthetic that promises to stand out at Saturday sport.

The Staria also forms the basis for Hyundai’s van range, one reason its body is so tall. But that height creates an airy cabin feel that extends to excellent vision all round.

There’s the choice of V6 and four-cylinder turbo diesel propulsion, the latter teamed with all-wheel drive for added traction on slippery surfaces.


Toyota LandCruiser ANCAP testing

Toyota LandCruiser

If you just need a car for ferrying the kids to school and around the suburbs then the LandCruiser is not for you. There’s a lot of hardware underneath that makes it an excellent off-roader. If you’re not going to be using that extra grunt, then there’s no point dragging it around – along with all the weight that compromises how the car drives and the space it eats away from the cabin.

But if you are planning to explore some more remote areas or need a car to do some beach driving or towing, then few will do it effortlessly and comfortably as the latest 300-Series LandCruiser. A new V6 engine makes light work of 2.6 tonnes of SUV and the towering ground clearance and excellent 4WD systems make it one of the most capable off-roaders on the market.

There’s a range of LandCruiser models on offer but we reckon the $113,990 VX hits the sweet spot for families, with enough luxury gear – including quad-zone ventilation and a clever multi-terrain monitor – and seven seats.

The Landcruiser recently received a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, but parents are advised against fitting child seats/capsules in the third row of seven-seat versions.


Mazda's CX-9 is a stylish and well-handling family vehicle.

Mazda's CX-9 is a stylish and well-handling family vehicle.


Mazda CX-9

The CX-9 is one of the larger of the mainstream SUVs on the market. As well as adult-friendly space for those ready to climb into the third row, there’s an elegance to the cabin that’s a step above many contenders.

Top-shelf safety and a healthy smattering of standard gear blends with excellent driving manners to make the CX-9 an easy SUV to live with. While some SUVs don’t cater for child seats in the third row, the CX-9 has that covered.

The 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo engine is also nicely suited to the job of shifting the family, although it can be thirsty in the suburbs.


The Hyundai Palisade is a smart option for big families.

The Hyundai Palisade can be bough in seven or eight-seat versions.

Hyundai Palisade

Hyundai’s largest SUV comes with one big step up on most high-riding wagons: it can seat up to eight people (a seven-seat layout is also available).

Taking the thinking of the popular Santa Fe and stretching in every direction, the Palisade also adds enough bling and American influenced boldness to have serious road presence.

Three-zone ventilation and a healthy spread of USB ports set the scene for this family-friendly SUV.

And in diesel guise it’s a muscular tourer that also drives reassuringly.


BMW's X7 is spacious enough to take adults in the third-row seats.

BMW's X7 is spacious enough to take adults in the third-row seats.



If you’re looking for big family luxury, then the X7 does it beautifully. Many of the learnings of the X5 have been adapted to this sizeable SUV, which also shares plenty of its luxury thinking with the 7-Series limousine, right down to its plush headrests.

Plus, whereas the X5’s third row of seats is best left to the little ones, the X7 will welcome most adults. Like all SUVs, though, with a full house luggage space is seriously limited.

If big bumps attack the rear suspension with seven people aboard things can get ugly, but it’s deceptively athletic and makes most sense with the more affordable 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder diesel.


The Land Rover Discovery SUV combines luxury and off-road ability.

The Land Rover Discovery combines luxury and off-road ability.


Land Rover Discovery

Few cars have the breadth of ability of the Land Rover Discovery. It’s one of the better driving large SUVs available and also nails the luxury brief with beautiful finishes and attention to detail. Yet it can also traverse some seriously challenging terrain in what is a proper off-roader.

None of which is particularly cheap to the point where Discos are now well into six figures.

The D300 3.0-litre V6 is the pick of the engines and works nicely with the cruisy nature of the Discovery.

Land Rover still has questions about reliability but a five-year warranty at least gives some peace of mind.


The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.

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