Sometimes even the biggest and comfiest of family sedans just can't cut the mustard when it comes time to transport the entire family - or soccer team, or sailing crew - from point A to point B. This is where 8-passenger vehicles come in, people-moving behemoths that offer a variety of designs and driving experiences but which all share the common goal of maximizing interior space and cramming in as many occupants as possible. We've put together a brief list of the best 8-passenger vehicles currently on the market to help you try to decide which one might fit best in your driveway.
Photo Credit: General Motors
1) 2016 Chevrolet Suburban
The Chevrolet Suburban is a perennial people-moving leader. Three rows of seating in the 2016 Suburban define the passenger compartment. The third row can fold flat into the floor for additional cargo space, and the Suburban's 355-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 comes paired to a six-speed automatic transmission, and makes more than enough power to motivate the full-size sport utility vehicle. Four-wheel drive is available to transport passengers off the beaten path.
2) 2016 Honda Pilot
The 2016 Honda Pilot is a big, rectangular crossover that makes the most of its squared-off design in order to deliver eight passenger seating with better head room and cargo space than most of the competition. (Granted, the Pilot’s been updated for 2016, but it’s still pretty square.) One of the advantages of opting for the Honda Pilot is that its final row of seating doesn't lop off as much leg room as some of the vehicle's competitors, which means that it's more than possible for a couple of adults to spend time out back without any complaints. The Pilot's 3.5-liter V-6, paired to a six-speed or nine-speed auto transmission, delivers an adequate 280 horsepower, and front-wheel and all-wheel drive versions of the crossover can be ordered.
3) 2016 GMC Acadia
The Acadia is kind of an anomaly in the GMC lineup, as one of the brand’s only vehicles that prioritizes passenger comfort over utility. The 2016 GMC Acadia is offered in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel drive configurations, and is powered by a 281-horsepower V-6. The Acadia provides a well-balanced ride and safety scores that rank it among the safest vehicles on the market, thanks to plenty of standard safety features. The third-row seat folds flat to provide additional cargo space, enhancing the flexibility of the Acadia’s already-spacious interior.
Photo Credit: Toyota
4) 2016 Toyota Highlander
The 2016 Toyota Highlander is a crossover suv with three rows of seating that can accommodate up to eight occupants when properly equipped. This car-based vehicle has a rather aggressive appearance, even though it’s a lot more gentle than some of Toyota’s other SUV offerings in both driving experience and interior appointment. The Highlander comes with a 2.7-liter 185-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a 270-horsepower V-6. Only the V-6 is available with the optional all-wheel-drive system. The 2016 Toyota Highlander also boasts high federal safety test scores.
5) 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a van that’s endlessly configurable. Though the 2016 Sprinter, like its predecessors, serves well as a cargo and commercial truck, it’s also earned quite a following as a people-hauler, with a Passenger model that seats up to 12. The base Sprinter comes powered by a 161-horsepower 2.1-liter four-cylinder BlueTEC diesel engine, which comes paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. A 188-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 BlueTEC diesel is optional. The 2016 Sprinter is easy to drive, even with a full load, thanks to a thoughtful design that provides the driver with plenty of visibility. And the passenger area can be configured practically any way you can think of.
6) 2016 Ford Transit
The 2016 Ford Transit (which is different from the Transit Connect) was designed as an eventual replacement for the Ford E-Series vans. Most buyers will find that the Ford Transit 150 is sufficient for passenger-hauling duty; for more commercial purposes, an upgrade might be necessary. Transit passenger wagons are offered in 8-, 10-, 12-, 0r 15-passenger configurations. Most versions of the Transit come equipped with a 3.7-liter V-6 that provides 275 horsepower, although an EcoBoost and a turbodiesel engine are also available, and the cabin comes outfitted with more high-end electronics and creature comforts than could reasonably be expected from a commercial van, such as Ford’s SYNC 3 communications system, a backup camera, and map lights. (2015 model pictured.)
7) 2016 Toyota Sienna
The 2016 Toyota Sienna isn’t just one of the most popular minivans in America, it’s one of the few remaining that can still seat eight people when properly configured. It also comes with a traction advantage that is worth noting for those who dwell in the nation's snow belt: the Sienna can be ordered with optional all-wheel drive. All models are powered by a more-than-adequate, 266-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6. Fuel economy for the Sienna posts a respectable 25 mpg highway, and though this minivan hasn’t had a full overhaul since 2011, the interior got a welcome refresh for the 2015 model year.
Photo Credit: Nissan USA
8) 2016 Nissan NV3500 HD
The 2016 Nissan NV lineup represents the Japanese automaker's attempt to tap into the semi-commercial market that has traditionally been served by vehicles like the previously-mentioned Ford Transit series. Some NV models can, in fact, handle up to 12 passengers across four rows, and Nissan says that there are 324 possible seating configurations available thanks to its removable split seating design. Nissan makes a couple of engine choices available with the NV, including a 261-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 or a 5.6-liter V-8 that can produce 317 ponies, and a five-speed automatic transmission is matched with both.
Photo Credit: Ford
9) 2016 Ford Expedition
The 2016 Ford Expedition can be thought of as the Blue Oval's answer to the Suburban, and while it can't match it in total seating capacity, it does offer accommodations for as many as eight passengers - thus satisfying the requirements of our list. The Ford Expedition EL edition provides almost 15 inches of additional body length, which translates into a more comfortable ride for those riding in any of its rear two rows. The 2016 Expedition comes with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 and a six-speed automatic transmission. This combination provides 365 horsepower as well as decent towing capacity and fuel economy.
10) 2017 Nissan Armada
Nissan has finally redesigned the ancient Armada full-size SUV, but the new version still boasts traditional body-on-frame design. The Armada offers comfortable seating for up to eight passengers, along with best-in-class headroom and legroom for those sitting in the second row. The 2017 Armada features a 390-horsepower 5.6-liter V-8 engine, paired to a seven-speed automatic transmission, which allows it to two up to 8,500 lbs. All-Mode 4WD shifts power between the front and rear axles as the terrain demands, but powers just two wheels whenever possible to save on fuel. The 2017 Nissan Armada will be available in mid-2016, decked out with a long list of features and equipment.
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