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.
1) 2015 Chevrolet Suburban
The Chevrolet Suburban is a perennial people-moving leader. Three rows of seating in the all-new 2015 Suburban define the passenger compartment. For the 2015 model year, Chevy changed up the third row so it can fold flat into the floor for additional cargo space, and the new exterior design offers improved aerodynamics (and slightly better fuel economy) over the previous generation. 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) 2015 Honda Pilot
The 2015 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. 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 five-speed auto transmission, delivers an adequate 250 horsepower, and front-wheel and all-wheel drive versions of the crossover can be ordered. Fuel economy for the Honda checks in at 25 mpg on the highway, which puts it near the front of the pack amongst high capacity haulers, and it is consistently rated one of the safest vehicles on the market.
3) 2015 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 2015 GMC Acadia is offered in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel drive configurations, and is powered by a 288-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.
4) 2015 Toyota Highlander
The 2015 Toyota Highlander is a crossover suv with three rows of seating that can accommodate up to eight occupants when properly equipped. After the 2014 model year redesign, 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 in a few different configurations, including a 280-horsepower hybrid, a 2.7-liter 185-horsepower four-cylinder, and a 270-horsepower V-6. Only the V6 is available with the optional all-wheel-drive system. The 2015 Toyota Highlander also boasts high federal safety test scores.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz Media
5) 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
The Merdeces-Benz Sprinter is a van that’s endlessly configurable. Though the 2015 Sprinter, like its predecessors, serves well as a cargo and commercial truck, it’s also earned quite a following as a people-hauler. For 2015, there’s a new four-wheel-drive system with a low-range function, which is available only with Mercedes’ 3-liter V6 BlueTEC diesel. Otherwise, a 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel sits under the hood. The 2015 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) 2015 Ford Transit
The Ford Transit is an all-new model for 2015, designed to help phase out older and less efficient truck-based commercial vans. Keep in mind that the Transit lineup is not the same as Ford’s existing Transit Connect, though. Rather, the Transit 150, 250 and 350 will be sold alongside the Ford E-Series vans until those models are eventually put to rest. Most buyers will find that the 150 is sufficient for passenger-hauling duty; for more commercial purposes, an upgrade might be necessary. Most versions of the Transit come equipped with a 3.7-liter V-6 that provides plenty of horsepower, and the cabin comes outfitted with more high-end electronics and creature comforts than could reasonably be expected from a commercial van.
7) 2015 Toyota Sienna
The 2015 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.
8) 2015 Nissan NV3500 HD
The 2015 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, but the NV3500 HD is configured for nine occupants and offers three doors for comfortable and convenient access. 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.
9) 2015 Ford Expedition
The 2015 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. For 2015, Ford dropped the Expedition’s V8 engine, instead focusing on the EcoBoost turbo V-6, which maintains the vehicle’s previous towing capacity while improving drivability and fuel economy. Ford has also made some welcome comfort and cosmetic updates to this long-running full-size SUV.
10) 2015 Nissan Armada
For the 2015 model year, the Nissan Armada stands nearly alone as one of the last traditional, full-size, truck-based SUVs on the market. And that means some things about the Armada might seem a little dated. The 5.6-liter 317-horsepower V-8 has been left behind by much of the recently-redesigned competition, but it still sounds great and provides fast throttle response. And the traditional exterior styling still looks good. The best thing about the Armada, though, shines through when it comes to hauling around passengers. The vast interior design may be aging, but it still holds up to scrutiny, and remains one of the best organized and most comfortable ways to travel in a pack.