The best 7-passenger SUVs are those which are able to replace not just a family sedan but also a minivan via their people-moving and cargo-hauling capacity. With one more row of seating than a traditional fullsize car, and with greater ground clearance and available all-wheel or four-wheel drive - a rarity on the minivan market - 7-passenger SUVs straddle the line between several segments. This makes them amongst the most versatile high capacity vehicles available, and explains their stunning popularity in the United States. Let's take a look at 10 of the best 7-passenger SUVs that money can buy.
2017 Audi Q7
Audi’s glam SUV, redesigned for 2017, is a mechanical sibling to both the Volkswagen Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne. As of launch, the 2017 Q7 comes with a single powertrain, a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 333 horsepower. The Q7 features Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system and an 8-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. Historically, the Q7 has offered a choice of several different engines, so new options are likely in the near future. The Q7’s passengers are treated well, with 3 rows of seating, a sophisticated cabin design and high-quality materials, as well as a thoughtful list of standard and optional safety features.
2016 Mazda CX-9
The Mazda CX-9 is the 7-passenger SUV of choice for drivers who don't want to sacrifice handling and fun in the name of high capacity hauling. The redesigned 2016 Mazda CX-9, which also offers generous interior storage space, is one of the few large crossovers that truly feels in touch with the road. Its handling complements its sporty styling, and the 250-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that is standard with each and every CX-9 does a good job of keeping acceleration in line with expectations. All-wheel drive can be ordered with the Mazda suv, and fuel economy shows as 20 mpg in stop-and-go driving and 28 mpg on the highway.
2016 Mercedes-Benz GL
When money is no object, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL series is a great way to cruise around with 6 lucky friends. It’s the biggest SUV in the Mercedes lineup, offering 3 rows of seating wrapped in plenty of decadence, like real wood trim, lots of leather, and high-end electronics. There are 4 distinct models under the GL badge, each featuring its own engine paired to a 7-speed automatic transmission. They range from the GL 350, which is a 6-cylinder turbodiesel with 240 horsepower, to the top-of-the-line GL 63 AMG that boasts 550 horsepower. Every 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL comes equipped with all-wheel drive.
2016 Acura MDX
The 2016 Acura MDX almost seems like it was specifically designed to be a minivan alternative. It offers spacious and convenient transportation for a large family, and it’s powered by a newly direct-injected version of Acura’s steadfast and reliable 3.5-liter V6 engine, putting down a competent 290 horsepower. A 9-speed automatic transmission is new for 2016. The MDX comes standard with front-wheel drive, but there’s an all-wheel drive system available as an upgrade for better control, handling and comfort. Inside, the MDX provides some cool little features on all 3 rows of seating for great flexibility and accessibility.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Hunting
2016 Land Rover LR4
The 2016 Land Rover LR4 not only delivers the kind of high end luxury that buyers have come to expect from the British brand, but the 7-passenger SUV also features off-road chops that are simply missing from the vast majority of its premium competitors. The Land Rover LR4 comes with full-time 4-wheel drive as well as the Terrain Response system that matches the SUV's traction control, engine, transmission, and other system parameters to the surfaces that the vehicle is traveling over. The LR4 is powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V6, paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission, for 340 horsepower. It’s almost as quick as the recently discontinued V8 LR4, and gas mileage is a little better at 15 mpg city and 19 mpg on the highway.
Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
2016 Dodge Durango
The 2016 Dodge Durango mixes old-school SUV toughness with a compliant unibody platform borrowed from the lauded Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Dodge Durango's 7-passenger seating is complemented by 84.5 cubic feet of cargo space, and its rear-wheel drive layout is rare in a crowd of front-wheel drive contenders (though all-wheel drive can also be ordered with the Durango). Those who plan on using the Durango primarily for passenger purposes will be content with the 290-horsepower, 3.6-liter base V6, while anyone looking to tow a load of up to 7,400 lbs will be more comfortable with its available 5.7-liter Hemi V8's 360 horsepower. The Durango features an 8-speed auto transmission borrowed from the Jeep lineup, and for 2016, V6 models are offered with a fuel-saving stop/start system. Fuel mileage is understandably stronger with the V6, and is listed at 19 mpg around town and 27 mpg on the highway.
2016 Nissan Pathfinder
The 2016 Nissan Pathfinder is one of the more competitive options for people-hauling, with good fuel economy and drivability. The Pathfinder is compliant over rough pavement, and it also provides close to 80 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear rows out of the picture. The 2016 Pathfinder is powered by a 260-horsepower V6 displacing 3.5 liters, and thanks in part to a continuously variable automatic transmission, the vehicle returns fuel mileage of 20 mpg city and 25 mpg on the highway, which is very good for this class. All-wheel drive is, of course, available as an option with the Nissan.
2016 Hyundai Santa Fe
Don’t mistake the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport for the Santa Fe; while the latter has the coveted third row of seating, the former offers only 2. The 2016 Santa Fe is a popular midsize SUV that’s known for its long list of standard equipment. The Santa Fe is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine that provides 290 horsepower, which is paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and it’s available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. Add in Hyundai’s solid warranty, and the 2016 Santa Fe looks even more like a really good option for family travel.
Photo Credit: Ford
2016 Ford Flex
The 2016 Ford Flex offers all of the utility of a big 7-passenger SUV wrapped in a package that looks far more like a tall wagon than a crossover. The Ford Flex's box-like styling isn't for everyone, but it definitely stands out from the rest of the sport utility pack. The Flex also happens to come with excellent handling for such a large vehicle, as well as unusual options like a 2nd-row refrigerator that sits between the available captain's chairs. On top of its 83 cubic feet of total cargo space, the Ford features the choice of two V6 engines: a 287-horsepower, 3.5-liter unit, and a turbocharged version of that same mill that churns out a stout 365 horses. The latter EcoBoost model comes with standard all-wheel drive (a feature which is optional with the naturally-aspirated V6), and fuel mileage for the entry level motor is listed at 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
Photo Credit: Infiniti
2016 Infiniti QX80
The Infiniti QX is a behemoth of a luxury SUV, a vehicle that looms over other 7-passenger options with its ostentatious styling and its sumptuously appointed and recently upgraded interior. The Infiniti QX80 can be had in both rear-wheel and 4-wheel drive versions, and is powered by a 400-horsepower, 5.6-liter V8 engine. The towing capacity of this giant shows as 8,500 lbs. The Infiniti delivers fuel economy of 14 mpg in stop-and-go driving and 20 mpg on the highway.