Large SUVs have almost superseded the old-fashioned MPV (people carrier) and estate car for bigger families in need of that bit more space and seating.
Not only do SUVs offer a greater sense of safety than a smaller car, but many also provide A large, square luggage compartment as well as seven usable seats.
Not all large SUVs are seven-seaters, but those that can seat seven (or five plus two children in the third row) make a very compelling argument for themselves as family all-rounders.
Here are a few of the better ones currently on sale.
The Skoda Kodiaq is a bit of a plain-Jane inside and out — even more so than the closely-related and sharper-looking Seat Tarraco. That said, we pick the Kodiaq for its quality and sense of solidity, which make it feel that bit more upmarket.
Impressive practicality is there, too. The Kodiaq is packed full of Skoda’s “Simply Clever” touches such as umbrellas in the doors, an ice scraper behind the fuel cap and underfloor storage in the large boot.
And it is a large boot: there’s a useful 270 litres of room in the rear with all seven seats in place and a whopping 2,005 litres with the second and third row seats folded down.
Under the bonnet, the Kodiaq is powered by a choice of 148bhp engines — one a 1.5-litre petrol unit, the other a 2.0-litre diesel. Of the two, the diesel is the better choice on the grounds of both efficiency and pulling power.
Hyundai Santa Fe
The Hyundai Santa Fe has long since cast off its cheap-and-cheerful workhorse image and has evolved into a properly upmarket family car. It looks high-end for one, and the interior fit, finish and equipment levels are excellent, as is the fact that it’s a seven-seater. We’d go so far as to say that the Hyundai could happily hold its own in the comfort and luxury stakes against rivals from premium German brands.
Using the same underpinnings as the Kia Sorento (another strong contender in the large SUV category), the Santa Fe isn’t quite as spacious as the Skoda Kodiaq, but the seven seats will accommodate adult-sized passengers in reasonable comfort.
For those covering higher mileages or who need to tow, the 2.2-litre 193bhp diesel model developing 325lb ft of torque is the best option. For everyday family duties though, the plug-in hybrid model with its 13.8kWh battery pack and 36 miles of electric-only range should prove the sweet spot.
There’s no getting away from the pure-electric BMW iX’s challenging looks, but most buyers will spend more time inside it than staring at it and the interior is a really lovely place to be, especially when trimmed in lighter-coloured materials. It’s a spacious and airy cabin, packed full of tech and comforts with BMW’s ergonomically-designed Curved Display dashboard ahead of the driver.
For a car weighing 2.5 tons, the iX feels surprisingly nimble on the road and even at speed it’s remarkably refined, soaking up bumps and whooshing along with a minimum of fuss and noise intrusion.
The 610bhp M60 model with its twin motors and all-wheel drive is the most performance-focused but the xDrive50 model, with its 105.2kWh battery, delivers the most range: more than 370 miles between charging stops, officially.
For those who can do without the xDrive50’s price tag, there’s the xDrive40 with a smaller 76.6kWh battery and a still-useful range of up to 257 miles.
Even though there’s a new all-electric replacement for the XC90 on the way in the next year, it still acquits itself wonderfully as a luxurious and practical family car.
Although it’s a seven-seater, the rear-most seats are quite cramped and only really suited to occasional use, but it makes up for it in myriad other ways. The cabin is exceedingly comfortable and packed full of kit to keep everyone entertained. There’s the XC90’s enviable reputation for safety, too, with the oft-repeated claim that there has not been a single person killed while driving or travelling as a passenger in an XC90 in Europe since the model was launched in 2002.
For the broadest range of uses, the 232bhp mild-hybrid B5 diesel model is the best in the line-up, although the T8 plug-in hybrid with its 31-mile range and 445bhp is very quick and reasonably economical if — and only if — the batteries are kept charged.
The Peugeot 5008 is in roughly the same price bracket and has similar practicality as the Skoda Kodiaq but it has a slightly more daring design. It may not have the same sense of tank-like solidity, but it’s a well-equipped car with tons to recommend it.
With seven seats inside and a strong 702 litres of boot space if the rear-most seats are folded down, it’s certainly practical. Ahead of the driver is Peugeot’s complex-looking (and slightly fiddly) “i-Cockpit” interior with its weirdly small steering wheel (fine to use once the driver gets used to it), with dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera and loads of safety kit all as standard.
There’s little to excite anywhere in the engine range, so the 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel engine with its 128bhp should prove ample in most scenarios.
- If you were interested in the best large SUVs to buy, you might also like to read our extended test in the Volvo XC90 Recharge
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