Whether you're a larger family, or simply need an SUV that can seat six passengers if required, a seven-seater SUV can be the perfect option.
Here we take a look at seven of the best buys on the market, taking into consideration the pros and cons of each, as well as what type of driver each model is most likely to suit.
1. Toyota Kluger
Sharing a number of similarities with the smaller RAV4, it's little surprise that the Toyota Kluger is a spacious, powerful vehicle that's a firm, all-around favourite. The Kluger is available either in a hybrid variant or with a V6, coupled with an eight-speed transmission. The hybrid is coupled with a CVT.
- Spacious, well-equipped interior, including air vents and cup holders for third-row passengers.
- Toyota Safety Sense autonomous driving package in every version of the Kluger.
- The infotainment layout and functions are primitive for a vehicle of this calibre.
- Poor-quality rearview camera
Who Should Drive the Kluger?
This is a versatile 7-seater that is difficult to fault. Possibly other vehicles may offer more for your money in terms of features, but that needs to be set against Toyota's excellent track record for reliability. The Kluger is rightly a popular choice that's stylish, spacious and drives like a dream.
2. Kia Sorento
Currently, the 2021 Sorento is available in petrol or diesel variants. A 2022 plug-in hybrid version is due to hit the showrooms in October 2021, so if you fancy a hybrid option, it's going to be worth hanging on a few weeks.
The Sorento offers a good selection of features and some attractive tech. Drive "Car of the Year 2021" and Drive "Best Large SUV of 2021" winner, it's also won the Car Sales "Best Family SUV" award.
- Good selection of tech, including an automatic tailgate lift and 10.25" infotainment screen.
- Kia's seven-year warranty.
- Impressive suite of autonomous driving features.
- Petrol-powered options are quite heavy on fuel.
- Although the Sorento has a five-star ANCAP safety rating, the third row of seats don't have curtain airbag protection.
Who Should Drive the Sorento?
If you like tech and features, the Sorento is a great option. It also offers plenty of choices in terms of features, engine type, paintwork and upholstery. Kia doesn't command the premium resale value of a Toyota or Mazda. If you regularly take passengers in the third row, the lack of a curtain airbag may be of concern.
3. Mitsubishi Outlander
The seven-seater Outlander may not have quite as much space as some other seven-seater SUVs, but its entry price is significantly cheaper. A basic seven-seater 2WD Outlander comes in at $33,490 - significantly less than $46,850 for an entry-level Kia. If you only need seven seats on an occasional basis, the Outlander is worth considering.
- Excellent value
- Plenty of equipment and features.
- Extended ten-year warranty if all services are completed at an authorized Mitsubishi dealer.
- Some reviewers don't rate the handling highly.
- There are no side airbags for third-row passengers.
Who Should Drive the Outlander
If you're on a budget, the Outlander is a strong contender! It offers excellent value, as well as a comfortable drive. The lack of third-row airbags is a concern, which may make this a less attractive choice for drivers who regularly make use of the two rear seats.
4. Skoda Kadiaq
Skoda is gradually increasing its market share in Australia, with good reason! The Kadiaq won Carsales "Best Family SUV" award in 2020. It provides a sporty, exciting drive, plenty of features and consistently rates highly in reliability studies.
Looking ahead, the 2022 versions feature a revamped petrol engine that's billed as a Skoda "EVO" option. Given that Skoda is owned by VW, expect great things from this underrated manufacturer!
- Excellent drive, fuel-efficient.
- Plenty of tech and additional features.
- The exterior styling has been improved, but some people may still find it a little underwhelming.
Who Should Drive the Kodiaq?
The Kodiaq is a good, solid SUV that benefits from significant VW influence. Sharing a stable with Audi, Porsche and Lamborghini, Skoda has come a long way from its humble roots. A versatile, dependable SUV, it's hard to fault the Kodiaq. If you like a high-end look and feel to your vehicle, this may not be your ideal choice.
5. Mazda CX-9
Boasting a premium interior and sporty styling, the CX-9 has a performance vibe that's fully justified in view of the meaty 2.5l turbocharged petrol engine. Reviewers rave about the driving experience and are quick to praise the space, upmarket upholstery and comfortable ride.
- Excellent driving performance
- Premium interior
- Poor rear visibility.
- Tech glitches with phone mirroring
Who Should Drive the CX-9?
If you're prepared to spend a little more in order to get a premium interior and superior driving experience, without opting for a luxury brand, the CX-9 is a good choice. Mazda straddles the gap between prestige brands and everyday options, providing a car that's a great drive without breaking the bank.
6. Ford Everest
Offering exceptional off-road capabilities, the Everest shares many similarities with the Ranger Ute. Last year a 2.3l eco-boost turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine joined the traditional diesel option, but won't be available here until 2022. The ute heritage also shows in the Everest's strong towing capacity - perfect for families that want to tow a trailer.
- Very strong off-road.
- Strong suite of safety features.
- The ute roots of the Everest means it lacks the smooth urban handling of some other crossovers.
The Everest is arguably the strongest seven-seater when it comes to off-road capabilities. For families who like to travel off the beaten track, or who live in a rural area where there's a need to cope with sub-standard road surfaces, this seven-seater is ideal. It's also great for families who need to tow a trailer.
Its strength as an off-roader (which is what it's geared up to do) also makes it weaker as an urban runaround. If most of your usage is in urban environments, a Kodiaq or a Sorento is probably going to be more suitable.
7. Nissan Pathfinder
With news sources stating that the 2021 Nissan Pathfinder has already sold out here, it's probably time to take a look at what 2022 has in store for the Nissan's seven-seater offering.
Early indications are that the new version will feature a 3.5l V6, coupled with a nine-speed automatic transmission (which takes the place of the CVT). A fresh exterior is also on the cards, with the new Pathfinder having an updated, contemporary vibe and a welcome tech upgrade.
- The 2022 refurb has some promising upgrades.
- Reputation for reliability.
- Nissan Safety Shield autonomous safety system as standard.
- Using the third row significantly compromises the amount of boot space, which can make family outings where luggage is required quite a challenge.
Who Should Drive the Nissan Pathfinder
Older drivers tend to dismiss Nissan, thanks to reliability issues and poor performance way back in the 1980s. Times have changed, and the brand's alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi in 1999 has resulted in Nissan's vehicles improving significantly.
A contemporary Pathfinder isn't the flashiest SUV in the market, but if you want good value, sound all-around performance and sound reliability, the Pathfinder could be for you.