Buying a 7-seater

By Luke Caesar - General Manager - July 29, 2017

Buying a 7-seater

When it comes time to transport your whole family, you can get away with having one car while the kids are young, if you have 3 they can fit right across the back seat.

When your children get a bit bigger and a bit older, though, you’ll find that they are going to want some more space!

To prevent fights breaking out in the back seat and make your drive more peaceful, you’ll have to find a way to give everyone enough personal space.

This is where you have 2 options. You can choose to buy a second car for the family, if you have 2 adult drivers who are generally around. Or you can take the leap and buy a real family car with 7-seats.

Buying a 7-seater

Buying a 7 seater SUV is something many families will consider at some stage, whether you have 2 children or more. The extra seats up the back give you the flexibility to take additional passengers, which is perfect if you spend weekends with relatives and friends because you might get them all into one car.

But will you realistically be able to fit adults in the back seats?

The answer to this question depends on the make and model of the vehicle that you’re looking at. To begin narrowing down your options, the best place to start is to look at:

  • how much you are willing to spend on the car
  • Whether you must have 7-seats, or its an option you’re exploring for convenience
  • What type of driving you’ll do in the car.

Knowing the answer to these questions will very quickly narrow down your 7 seater car options. If you’re mainly driving on highways and in the city, then a standard or luxury 7 seater car will be the most appropriate choice.

You might even go for a comfortable suv, developed by car manufacturers who’ve realised that families want something more attractive than a van or people mover for those who stay within paved areas.

Set your budget

Setting a guide to how much you’re going to spend is super important when you start looking at SUV’s, particularly 7-seater SUV’s.

The options range from basic, very affordable models, to super-comfortable luxury models that feel so good you’ll barely remember you’re driving. This extra level of comfort comes with a significant price tag though, which is why it’s so important you know your budget going into the car sales search.

To work out what type of car you need, you will need to know exactly what you're going to use the car for, whether you need off-road capability or not.

Buying a 7-seater SUV

SUV’s have become really popular on Australia’s roads in the last 10 years, with the options ranging from a car you’d never take off the bitumen, to something that will withstand any challenge you can throw at it.

Usually the more heavy duty the SUV, the less comfortable it will be for the passengers and for the driver to drive. If you’re staying on the tarmac, and you need to fit the kids in comfortably, then an SUV with more comfort and tech features is going to be more suitable in the long term.

Once you’ve set yourself a price bracket, you’re ready to start comparing different models of 7-seater. There’s tons of options - front wheel drive, all-wheel-drive, 4-wheel drive. 7-seater options come in a huge range of different body styles too.

Buying a 7-seater peoplemover

Choosing to buy a people mover will almost always be a cheaper option, and more comfortable for for the passengers of the car too.

There’s just a lot more space, and room for luggage behind the third row of seats. (find a picture) The only real disadvantage is that if you ever need to tow, or drive off-road, a people mover generally just isn’t up to it.

And then there’s the aesthetics. People-movers are notoriously ugly.

Features you want in a 7-seater:

Here’s what you’ll need to consider to make your family car choice:

• Flexiblity

Split third row

A split third row give you the option to have 6 or 7 seats, not just 5 or 7 seats. You’ll need this if you have to pack in a lot of luggage one day.

• Practical luggage space

Fold down third row

The third row of seats should be able to fold into the floor, rather than up against the walls.

When the seats fold up against the walls you have reduced visibility, as well as less cargo space when you aren’t carrying passengers in every seat.

Flat floor space once the third row of seats is folded.

This makes carrying loads easier when you don’t have all the passengers in the car.

Cargo tie down points

When you have enough well positioned cargo tie down points the journey will be much smoother, plus you don’t have to scramble all over the boot to locate the luggage.

Space behind the third row

With seven people in the car, it’s more than likely you’ll need at least some luggage, even if you're just taking a day trip. This is one situation where a people mover has the space advantage over an Suv, when all the seats are in use.

Cargo net

A cargo net allows you to fill the space in the back and not worry about it falling forwards.

Lights

With at least 3 lights on the roof and one in the boot, unpacking on a dark night will be a lot easier.

• Kid friendly features

Child restraint points are easily accessible.

Ideally you want them to be on the back of the seat, near the top. If they are on the roof, or at the base of the seat, they are hard to reach.

Easy to use

The seats should be easy to fold up and down so that a child can do it, and it’s not difficult, for example, on a dark, rainy night when you want to get everyone into the car as quickly as possibly.

Electric tailgates and seats

especially for families with very small children who can’t set up the seats on their own.

• Passenger comfort

Storage and drinks holder for every passenger

You won't find storage and drink holders for every passenger in many vehicles, but if you do, in the future it will make life a lot easier for everyone as hot drinks and water bottles all have a natural home and don’t end up all over the car.

USB/12v charge options

Ideally, there will be charge points in the back so the kids can stay busy with their games on a long road trip.

Adjustable rear seats

When you can adjust the position of all the seats it means everyone can get comfortable.

Ventilation

You need effective ventilation through the whole vehicle, including the rear seats. Ideally you’ll have air cooling and heating vents at each row of seats too.

Sound system

With rear speakers strategically located you'll have an even distribution of stereo sound throughout the whole car.

Visibility from the back

Being able to see the road is one of the best ways to minimise car sickness, and with good visibility the driver will be able to see the passengers up the back too.

• Safety features

Reversing camera

A reversing camera is an absolute essential in a 7 seater, there’s just too many place creating blind spots in a large car like this.

Third row airbags

Most new 7 seaters have ‘curtain’ airbags that extend down the side of the car to the rear seats. It pays to double check the model that you’re considering for this life-saving safety feature.

Making a final Decision

With this information, you can now make a list of what’s important for your family, and the person who’ll be doing most of the driving. This will make narrowing down your options much easier.