With 3 children under 3 years old, it didn’t take long for our family to grow from 5 to 6 to 7! The news of our 4th child meant that we had a matter of months to replace our 5 seater car and get one that seats 6 or 7. Looking back now, we definitely rushed without looking any further than the number of seats each car had to offer. I know what you’re thinking. What does it matter? Well let’s just say that our first 7 seater car was OK when we were a family of 6 but when we were expecting our 5th child (family of 7) we had to replace our car for an even bigger one. I’ll explain more below.

For those of you that don’t know, many 7 seater cars are classed as ‘compact 7 seaters’, what this means is that they are primarily a 5 seater car with the option for an additional 2 seats if needed. The problem with this is that the 2 rear seats unfold from the boot area which means that when they are up, you lose alot of boot space.

Our first 7 seater car was a Vauxhall Zafira where we quickly realised that the boot was not big enough for the buggies when all of the seats were up. At this point, we were a family of 6 so we got round this by keeping one of the rear seats down, allowing extra boot space. Although one of the older children were not particularly happy about being in the back by themselves and sat besides buggies and anything else you might find in the boot of a car, as a whole the Vauxhall Zafira was adequate for what we needed.

Fast forward a few months and having found out that we were expecting our 5th child, we knew that the compact Vauxhall Zafira just wasn’t going to be big enough for a family of 7. A quick Google search showed me a list of 7 seater cars with a large boot space and so we decided to go for the Chrysler Grand Voyager which is what we still drive today. For us, the Chrysler is perfect. It offers a 2-2-3 seating layout which means that the children sitting in the back can walk between the 2 seats (middle row) to get to the the 3 seats in the back row. In the Vauxhall Zafira we had to manually slide the middle row of seats forward to gain access to the back seats which meant always having to put the babies in last (since the car seats would be in the middle row and closest to the doors). As you can imagine, this was not ideal. As well as the ideal seating layout, we had other benefits too such as a huge boot space which is exactly what we were looking for and being the stow and go model means that the seats fold under the floor, perfect for those trips to the dump! The downside however I that it’s 2.8 diesel, a far cry from the 1.6 petrol Vauxhall Zafira and trust me, we notice how much more we spend on fuel!

That’s the thing with cars, you’re unlikely going to find one that ticks all the boxes and that’s certainly the case when choosing the best 7 seater car for your family! A bigger car means more space but these cars likely come with a bigger engine meaning less miles per the gallon. Below I hope to help you find the best 7 seater car for you and your family.

Are compact 7 seater cars good for a familiy of 7?

Despite the compact 7 seater Vauxhall Zafira being too small for my family as it just didn’t have enough boot space for our buggies etc., this doesn’t mean that this is the case for everyone. Mostly, it depends on how old your children are. For example, if your children are that little bit older where no buggies are needed, then you might find the smaller 7 seater car a better option, especially if your not one to drive larger cars. My sister however, who also has a family of 7, up until recently owned the Volkswagon Touran which in my opinion looked about the same size as my Vauxhall Zafira. Her children are older than mine and although the boot space wasn’t as much of a necessity as what I needed, she still found it an inconvenience to slide the seats forward each and everytime her 2 older boys climbed into the back 2 seats of the car. Not only this but they weren’t particularly happy with the amount of leg room they had either!

Ultimately, my opinion of a compact 7 seater car such as the Vauxhall Zafira or Volkswagen Touran is that they aren’t great as an everyday car for a family of 7. As a 5 seater car, they would make excellent cars with large boot space. If you only occassionally have 7 people in your car then ofcourse a compact 7 seater would be absolutely perfect! Small enough to nip around town in whilst offering a large boot space with the additional 2 seats when needed. For the occasional 7 seats, compact 7 seater cars are great. For an everyday car carrying a family of 7 and especially when some of those children are still very young then I would recommend going for something bigger. If you’re still unsure on what a compact 7 seater car is, I have included a list with some examples below.

List of 7 seater compact cars

  • Vauxhall Zafira
  • Volkwagen Touran
  • Peugeot 5008
  • Nissan Qashqai +2
  • Ford Grand C-Max
  • Kia Carens
  • Mazda 5
  • Peugeot 308SW
  • Toyota Verso
  • Dodge Journey
  • Fiat Doblo
  • Nissan X-Trail
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport
  • Skoda Kodiaq
  • Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
  • Seat Tarraco
  • Cheverolet Orlando

What’s so great about large 7 seater cars?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of the ‘look’ of most large 7 seater cars. I mean, no one likes a bus! Or at least that’s what my wife calls our Chrysler Grand Voyager but there comes a point in one’s life that practicality has to come before looks. If you’re reading this article titled ‘how to choose the best car for your family of 7’ then I’d feel confident in saying that most of you reading this will have reached that point in their lives. If it were all about looks then sure, I’d go for a sporty compact 7 seater. Maybe a Vauxhall Zafira VXR for the added power too but I’ll be the first to say that the difference in practicality when going from a compact 7 seater to a large one is like night and day.

Let’s look at my Chrysler Grand Voyager as an example. With all 7 seats up, it offers the largest boot space I’ve ever had in a car. The seating plan is 2-2-3 which means that you can literally walk between the 2 seats in the middle row to get to the 3 seats in the back row and being the ‘stow and go’ model all of the 5 seats in the rear literally fold underground, turning the car into, well, a van I suppose! I almost feel like I’m cheating when taking waste to the local dump with a ‘van full’ of waste when smaller ‘actual’ vans aren’t even allowed to go, or need a permit at the very least. Of course, not all large 7 seater cars offer these luxuries but you certainly get more options to choose from compared to when buying smaller, compact 7 seater cars.

At the very least, a large 7 seater car should offer a larger boot space for your buggies, shopping etc. as well as offering a spacious, comfortable seating plan for all of your family. For me, I would say that these are the most important factors when choosing the best car for your family of 7. Any other optional benefits are just a bonus at this point.

List of large 7 seater cars

  • Chrysler Grand Voyager
  • Volkswagen Sharan
  • Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer
  • Volvo XC90
  • Land Rover Discovery
  • BMW X7
  • Audi Q7
  • Mercedes GLS
  • Kia Sorento
  • Mercedes GLE

What’s more important when choosen the best 7 seater car for you? Economy or Space?

I’ve given my opinion on whether it’s more important to choose practicality over looks when choosing the best 7 seater car for you and your family but there is one more factor you should consider if you are stuck between choosing a compact 7 seater or large 7 seater family car and that’s whether you value economy over comfort and space.

If you need an everyday car for your large family of 7 then ofcourse you’re going to want something large. What’s the point of having a car that seats 7 people if you can’t fit the buggies in the back for your days out? If however your children are grown up (although the 2 seats in the back row will likely be very cramped if going for a compact 7 seater car) then you might prefer a smaller 7 seater car, especilly if having all of you in the car at once is getting less and less frequent as your children grow up.

A larger car obviously weighs more than a smaller car and so it will typically need a bigger engine to comfortably carry the extra weight. A bigger engine and more weight to carry obviously means a worse fuel economy, or less miles per gallon. Even if a larger, heavier car did share the same engine as a smaller car, the heavier car will still gain less miles per gallon since the engine has to work harder to move the extra weight. Not to mention how painfully slow your everyday family car would be! This is why a larger vehicle will typically have a larger engine.

Let’s compare my compact 7 seater Vauxhall Zafira to my large Chrysler Grand Voyager as an example. My 1.6 petrol Zafira offered 39 miles per gallon whilst my 2.8 diesel Grand Voyager offers just 29 mpg. That’s a big difference, made even bigger when I check my on-board computer which shows my actual mpg as actually being just 21.5! This is obviously a mixture of town and motorway mileage.

How to choose the best car for your family of 7

I would love to have just pin pointed the absolute best 7 seater family car for everyone but the truth is, there is no right answer! I would recommend to start by making some notes of what it is you need from a 7 seater car. Do you need an everyday car for your family of 7 where babyseats and buggies are still in constant use? Or maybe your children are all grown up and you’re looking for something smaller since seating 7 people in your car on a daily basis is a thing of the past. Economy or Space? Looks or comfort? Manual or automatic? fwd or 4×4? Petrol or Diesel? Have you thought about electric? It’ll be hard to find a car that ticks all of the boxes but start by making a list of what you need (essentials) and what you want (bonuses) and just having a look around. I think that once you’ve decided whether it’s a compact or large 7 seater you need then choosing the best car for your family of 7 should be easy and come naturally.