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Best seven-seat SUVs

Gone are the days where Australian families defaulted to the station wagon as family transport.

SUVs are as popular as ever Down Under, and for many families bigger is better.

The large SUV class is constantly tussling with the Small SUV class for the title of Australia’s third most-popular vehicle segment, behind the ever-popular ute and medium SUV segments.

Here, we take a look at the best seven-seat SUVs you can buy right now. 

The added practicality of a third row is very appealing to Aussie families, offering the versatility to carry extra passengers without having to drive around a van or people mover.

These cars aren’t designed to go off-road, although you can buy more rugged seven-seaters like the Isuzu MU-X if exploring beaches and remote campsites is high on your priority list. 

People movers like the Kia Carnival and Hyundai Staria are also good options if you need to carry seven or eight people, but they don’t have the SUV good looks of the cars on this list. 

These are five of our favourites, in no particular order.

Kia Sorento

Rating
8.5/10
Price
$49,290 to $81,990 drive-away
Kia Sorento

Pros: Handsome looks and quality cabin, fulsome safety suite, punchy diesel option

Cons: Some cabin plastics feel cheap, busy ride on larger wheels, restricted supply on some variants

Price: Between $49,290 and $81,990 drive-away

Boot space: 187L/616L/2011L (7-seat/5-seat/2-seat)

The latest iteration of Kia Sorento impresses with its upmarket design, bountiful tech suite and spacious cabin.

It’s grown in about every dimension, and in more expensive model grades packs enough features to rival luxury brands. The top-spec GT-Line in particular is decked out with cool tech.

A total of four engine options will be available by early 2022: a 200kW/332Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol, a 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, a 169kW/350Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged hybrid and a 195kW/350Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged plug-in hybrid.

The V6 petrol is front-wheel drive only, the Diesel and Plug-in Hybrid are all-wheel drive only, and the self-charging hybrid (coming early 2022) will offer FWD and AWD.

Like all Kia models, the Sorento is covered by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

More on the Kia Sorento

Mazda CX-9

Rating
8.3/10
Price
$45,990 to $73,751 before on-road costs
Mazda CX-9

Pros: Luxurious cabin trimmings, powerful turbo engine, comfy and upmarket drive

Cons: Can get thirsty, higher grades are getting expensive, best tech isn't available across the range

Boot space: 230L/810L (7-seat/5-seat)

The Mazda CX-9 may be one of the older models in the segment, but it’s still a compelling car.

In typical Mazda fashion, it has a well-made cabin, offers plenty of equipment regardless of the model you choose, and its US-market focus means it’s one of the more spacious seven seaters in the segment.

High-spec models get a new 10.25-inch infotainment system running Mazda’s latest interface, and there’s the flagship Azami LE with its plush six-seat interior featuring second-row captain’s chairs.

All versions are powered by a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 170kW and 420Nm. FWD is standard on all grades bar the Azami LE, with AWD also available.

Mazda covers the CX-9 range with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

More on the Mazda CX-9

Hyundai Palisade

Rating
8.4/10
Price
$55,000 to $75,000 before on-road costs
Hyundai Palisade

Pros: Spacious cabin and unique eight-seat layout, plush on-road manners, distinctive design

Cons: V6 models are thirsty, on the pricier side, not quite as practical as a people mover

Boot space: 311L/704L (8-seat/5-seat)

Hyundai’s flagship SUV looks like a big American truck and seats up to eight – a key point of difference in a people moving segment.

Two engines are offered across three trim levels: a 217kW/355Nm 3.8-litre V6 with front-wheel drive and a 147kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel with all-wheel drive. Both engines get an eight-speed auto as standard.

Mid-spec Elite and top-grade Highlander trims offer a seven-seat interior with second-row captain’s chairs (in addition to the standard eight-seat layout), and flagship offers luxury appointments like nappa leather upholstery and Hyundai’s cool Blind Spot View Monitor camera system.

The Palisade is covered by Hyundai Australia’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

More on the Hyundai Palisade

Toyota Kluger

Rating
8.2/10
Price
$47,650 to $75,400 before on-road costs
Toyota Kluger

Pros: Efficient hybrid option, Comfortable and spacious cabin, Good feature inclusions regardless of variant

Cons: Infotainment feels dated, Interior design a little bland in higher grades, V6 can get thirsty in town

Boot space: 241L/552L/1150L (7-seat/5-seat/2-seat)

Toyota’s top-selling seven-seater has recently received a ground-up overhaul, bringing the option of hybrid power for the first time in Australia.

Like the CX-9 and Palisade the Kluger’s US-market focus means it’s a big, spacious SUV and there’s three trim levels with three drivetrain options – something for everyone.

A 218kW/350Nm 3.5-litre V6 with front-wheel drive is the standard drivetrain with all-wheel drive optional, while the 184kW 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid is AWD only.

The Kluger Hybrid’s combined fuel efficiency claim of 5.6L/100km is class leading, and better than diesel alternatives. The availability of hybrid power across the range is a key selling point, and isn't matched by any of its rivals.

Cheap servicing and a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty round out the highlights.]

More on the Toyota Kluger

Hyundai Santa Fe

Rating
8.0/10
Price
$44,700 to $65,200 before on-road costs
Hyundai Santa Fe

Pros: Comprehensive active safety suite, refined on-road manners, luxurious interior in higher grades

Cons: 3rd row is tighter than most rivals, more expensive than equivalent Kia Sorento, ride. can get busy in town

Boot space: 130L/571L/1649L (7-seat/5-seat/2-seat)

Like its twin-under-the-skin, the Kia Sorento, the Hyundai Santa Fe is a well-rounded car the combining high levels of equipment across the range with luxurious cabin appointments and three-row versatility.

The Santa Fe is arguably more plush inside than the Kia in terms of fit and finish, though its shorter body and wheelbase means it’s not quite as spacious inside. It’s more European in its packaging than American.

By early 2022 there will be three drivetrain options: a 200kW/331Nm 3.5-litre V6 with front-wheel drive, a 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel with all-wheel drive, and a 169kW/350Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged hybrid with AWD (coming early 2022).

We know already the petrol and diesel drive well, erring on the sportier side of things if that’s your preference.

Hyundai covers the Santa Fe with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

More on the Hyundai Santa Fe