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 full-size 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.
Best 7 Passenger SUVs - 01 - 2013 Toyota Highlander
The 2013 Toyota Highlander consistently earns a starring role on almost any list of the best 7 passenger SUVs due to its uncanny combination of easy-to-drive comfort with enviable practicality. The Toyota Highlander provides the choice between a 187 horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine and a much more capable 270 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. Given the small difference in fuel economy between the two mills, it's worth paying more for the more robust six-cylinder mill, which offers 18-mpg in city driving and 24-mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive is also restricted to the V-6 model. In addition to its ample seating, the Highlander delivers 95.4 cubic feet of total cargo space.
Best 7 Passenger SUVs - 02 - 2013 Chevrolet Traverse
Redesigned for the current model year, the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse can actually be configured to seat as many as eight adults, if desired. However, many choose to replace its second row bench with a pair of captain's chairs in order to make it a true 7 passenger SUV. Folding down those last two sets of accommodations reveals 116.4 cubic feet of total storage space.
The full-size Chevrolet Traverse is another big sport-utility vehicle that is blessed with sedan-like handling, and it also features the option of snow-beating all-wheel drive. A 3.6-liter V-6 pulls duty under the hood of the Chevrolet, where it produces a healthy 288 horsepower when paired with an available dual exhaust system. Fuel mileage for the Traverse is listed at 17-mpg around town and 24-mpg on the highway.
Best 7 Passenger SUVs - 03 - 2013 Mazda CX-9
The 2013 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 Mazda CX-9, which also offers a generous 101 cubic feet of total 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 273 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 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 17-mpg in stop and go driving and 24-mpg on the highway.
Best 7 Passenger SUVs - 04 - 2013 Ford Expedition
The 2013 Ford Expedition is the first traditional SUV on this list of 7 passenger chariots, and it rides on the same ladder frame design found underneath the rugged Ford F-150 full-size pickup. This means that the Ford Expedition - which can seat eight passengers, if necessary - can tow a hefty 9,200 lbs if required. When ordered in EL trim, the extended-wheelbase version of the Ford is also good for 130.8 cubic feet of total cargo space. Each and every Ford Expedition is matched with a 5.4-liter V-8 engine which generates 310 horsepower, and four-wheel drive (complete with an independent rear suspension system) is also available. Fuel economy for the Expedition checks in at 14-mpg in city driving and 20-mpg during highway cruising.
Best 7 Passenger SUVs - 05 - 2013 Land Rover LR4
The 2013 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 four-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. In addition to its 90 cubic feet of total cargo space, the Land Rover LR4 features a 375 horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8, 7,700 lbs of towing capacity, and fuel mileage of 12-mpg city and 17-mpg highway.
Best 7 Passenger SUVs - 06 - 2013 Dodge Durango
The 2013 Dodge Durango mixes old-school SUV toughness with a compliant unibody platform borrowed from the lauded Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Dodge Durango's seven 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 (don't worry - all-wheel and four-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 V-6, while 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. Fuel mileage is understandably stronger with the V-6, and is listed at 16-mpg around town and 23-mpg on the highway.
Best 7 Passenger SUVs - 07 - 2013 Nissan Pathfinder
The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder is all-new, and it brings with it not just 7 passenger SUV goodness but also a huge upgrade in fuel economy and drivability compared to the model that it replaces. The Nissan Pathfinder is more compliant over rough pavement, and it also provides close to 80 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear rows out of the picture. A fresh engine - a V-6 displacing 3.5-liters - is between the Pathfinder's front fenders, and thanks in part to a continuously-variable automatic transmission the vehicle returns fuel mileage of 19-mpg city and 25-mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive is of course available as an option with the Nissan.
Best 7 Passenger SUVs - 08 - 2013 GMC Yukon XL
The 2013 GMC Yukon XL - like the Ford Expedition - is a 7 passenger SUV in its classic form, a truck-based tough guy that swallows cargo, people, and rough off-road trails with abandon (when equipped with optional all-wheel drive). Actually capable of handling as many as 9 passengers, if desired - and also sold in the luxury-laden Denali trim level - the GMC Yukon XL makes the most of its extended wheelbase design, boasting 137.4 cubic feet of total cargo space. A 320 horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 engine is standard with the Yukon XL, and fuel mileage for the SUV is advertised as 15-mpg around town and 21-mpg on the highway.
Best 7 Passenger SUVs - 09 - 2013 Ford Flex
The 2013 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 second-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 available of two V-6 engines: a 285 horsepower, 3.5-liter unit, and a twin-turbo version of that same mill that churns out a stout 355 horses. The latter EcoBoost model comes with standard all-wheel drive (a feature which is optional with the naturally-aspirated V-6), and fuel mileage for the entry-level motor is listed at 18-mpg city and 25-mpg highway.
Best 7 Passenger SUVs - 10 - 2013 Infiniti QX
The 2013 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 interior. With enough room inside to handle as many as eight occupants or 95 cubic feet of gear, the Infiniti QX can be had in both rear-wheel and four-wheel drive versions. All QX models come with the same 400 horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8 engine, and the towing capacity of this giant shows as 5,500 lbs. The Infiniti delivers fuel economy of 14-mpg in stop and go driving and 20-mpg on the highway.