Full and mid-size SUVs and vans are often some of the most capable 7 passenger vehicles on the market, and not only can they haul friends and family, but they can also tow a trailer and stow a significant amount of cargo. Some of these vehicles tap into a rugged aesthetic via their off-road prowess, while others are content to flex their muscle as they obliterate hauling tasks with ease. In either case, it's hard to argue against the practicality of these high-capacity people movers. Let's take a look at 10 of the best 7 passenger vehicles and see what these rugged multi-passenger machines are capable of when the going gets tough.
1) 2016 Ford Flex
The 2016 Ford Flex, with its boxy styling, looks more like a tall wagon than a crossover, but it offers all of the utility of a 7 passenger SUV. The Flex boasts great handling for a vehicle of its size, as well as unusual options like a second-row refrigerator that sits between the available captain's chairs, and an available power-folding third row seat. On top of its 83 cubic feet of total cargo space, the Flex features a choice of two V-6 engines: a 287-horsepower, 3.5-liter unit, and a turbocharged EcoBoost version of that same mill that churns out a stout 365 horses. The latter model comes with standard all-wheel drive (a feature which is optional with the naturally-aspirated V-6).
2) 2016 Dodge Durango
The 2016 Dodge Durango mixes old-school SUV toughness with a unibody platform borrowed from its sibling, the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Dodge Durango manages to mix 7 passenger seating with 84.5 cubic feet of cargo space, and its standard rear-wheel drive configuration is rare in a crowd of front-wheel drive contenders (although it can be ordered with all-wheel drive). The base model 2016 Durango is powered by a 295-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6, although anyone looking to tow a load of up to 7,400 lbs will be more comfortable with its available 5.7-liter Hemi V-8’s 360 horsepower.
Photo Credit: FCA Media
3) 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan
The Dodge Grand Caravan, when equipped with the optional, yet highly desirable, Stow ’N Go seating feature, comfortably seats 7 occupants with plenty of space to stretch out and plenty of flexibility for packing in people and cargo. It’s fast and easy to stash away the seats or pull them back out, so it’s easy to move around the family and all their stuff. The Dodge Grand Caravan, for all its available options and configurations, offers only one solidly reliable drivetrain: a front-wheel drive 3.6-liter V-6 that puts 283 horsepower through a six-speed automatic. The 2016 model (which is now nine years old) doesn’t feature any updates, but that’s fine, because it’s still excellent at what it does.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Hunting
4) 2016 Land Rover LR4
The 2016 Land Rover LR4 is one of the poshest 7 seater vehicles around. Boasting more available passenger room than any other member of the Land Rover lineup, the LR4 is a family-friendly luxury choice that also happens to come with an appreciable spread of off-road goodies, making the LR4 one of the best 7 passenger vehicles on the market today. Of these, perhaps the most impressive is the Terrain Response system, which allows drivers to dial-in custom throttle, stability, and traction control settings in order to best deal with snow, mud, ruts, and sand. The LR4 also comes with a rock crawl feature that takes much of the anxiety out of negotiating a field of uneven boulders. Under the hood, the Land Rover is packing a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, for 340 horsepower.
Photo Credit: Ford Media
5) 2016 Ford Transit Connect Wagon
The Ford Transit Connect Wagon is a great alternative to pretty much every other high-capacity passenger vehicle out there. It doesn’t have the excess of an SUV, the bulk of a full-size van, or the stigma of a minivan. What the 2016 Transit Connect Wagon does offer, though, is a ton of flexibility. Initially designed as a commercial vehicle, Ford left plenty of thoughtful, utilitarian features on the options sheet to meet a wide variety of needs, and designed the driving dynamics so that it feels like a car. It’s powered by either a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that puts out 169 horsepower, or a 1.6-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder that offers just 9 more horsepower but better fuel economy.
Photo Credit: Mazda
6) 2016 Mazda CX-9
The forthcoming, all-new 2016 Mazda CX-9 proves that you don’t have to give up hope of a satisfying driving experience just because you’ve got a lot of people along for the ride. The Mazda CX-9 seats 7 comfortably, and the new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder that is standard with each and every CX-9 should do a good job of keeping acceleration in line with expectations. Note that the crossover’s specs change based on what it’s fed; premium fuel nets 250 horsepower, while regular produces 227 horsepower. In either case, Mazda claims best-in-class fuel economy ratings for its latest SUV. The updated 2016 Mazda CX-9 will also be available with all-wheel drive when it hits streets later this year.
Photo Credit: Scion
7) 2016 Nissan Quest
The 2016 Nissan Quest is another long-running and reliable minivan option that provides solid power and handling, good interior space, respectable towing capacity, and competitive fuel economy. Powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine paired to a continuously variable transmission, the 2016 Quest puts down a useful 260 horsepower. The second-row captain’s chairs fold forward, unlike some other minivans in the class, for superior flexibility and convenience.
8) 2016 Nissan Pathfinder
The Nissan Pathfinder sometimes gets overlooked, but the truth it, the Pathfinder is one of the more competitive options for people-hauling, with good fuel economy and drivability. The 2016 Pathfinder is powered by a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, and a CVT transmission helps the Pathfinder achieve fuel mileage of 19 mpg city and 25 mpg on the highway. The Pathfinder also boasts an upscale interior distinguished by comfortable seating, high-end materials, and a smart and intuitive layout. All-wheel drive is of course available as an option with the Nissan.
Photo Credit: General Motors
9) 2016 Cadillac Escalade ESV
Like several other models on this list, the 2016 Cadillac Escalade ESV full-size luxury SUV actually seats 8 in its standard configuration, but an optional set of second-row captain’s chairs trades capacity for comfort, reducing available seating to 7. This extended wheelbase version of the Escalade is Cadillac’s biggest sport utility vehicle, providing tons of extra legroom and very generous cargo capacity. It’s powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 engine that yields 420 horsepower, paired to a six-speed automatic gearbox. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the 2016 Escalade ESV, with an all-wheel drive upgrade available.
10) 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
When money is no object, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL series is a great way to cruise around with six lucky friends. It’s the biggest SUV in the Mercedes lineup, and its opulence matches its stature. This Mercedes provides three rows of seating with plenty of style, like real wood trim, leather upholstery, and high-end electronics. There are four distinct models under the GL badge, each featuring its own engine paired to a seven-speed automatic transmission. They range from the GL 350, which is a six-cylinder turbodiesel with 240 horsepower, to the top-of-the-line GL 63 AMG that boasts 550 horsepower. All four versions of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class come equipped with all-wheel drive.