It's not easy to find a 7-passenger car that offers decent fuel economy. In fact, when looking at 7-passenger cars with good gas mileage, you are for the most part restricted to the crossover segment, with the occasional minivan poking its head in, as no passenger sedan can carry that many people and most large suvs simply can't match the frugality of their lighter cousins. Technology is constantly marching forward, however, and you might be surprised to discover which vehicles are capable of meeting your cargo and passenger needs without breaking the bank at the fuel pump - and which SUVs stand out as exceptions to the gas-guzzling rule. Let's take a quick look at 10 7-passenger cars with good gas mileage.
Photo Credit: Toyota
1) 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid — 27/28 MPG
The 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a standout on our list of 7-passenger cars with good gas mileage, and it's also the only battery-assisted vehicle to make the cut. The 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid achieves lofty fuel mileage of 27 MPG city and 28 MPG highway thanks to a trio of battery-powered electric motors that work alongside its 3.5-liter V6 engine to produce 280 horsepower. A continuously variable automatic transmission manages that output, with one of the electric motors occasionally diverting power to the rear wheels should additional traction be needed. Inside, the Highlander Hybrid can swap 83.2 cubic feet of cargo hauling space in place of its rear two rows.
Photo Credit: Mazda
2) 2016 Mazda CX-9 — 22/28 MPG
The 2016 Mazda CX-9 is a fully redesigned 7-passenger crossover with a reputation for providing more engaging handling than many of its competitors. A single engine option is offered with the Mazda CX-9, a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder unit that can be relied on to produce 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard, and fuel economy for the CX-9 checks in at 22 MPG in stop-and-go driving and 28 MPG on the highway when the vehicle is delivered in front-wheel drive trim. Folding down the rear rows in the Mazda reveals 71.2 cubic feet of space for hauling luggage and other oversized items.
Photo Credit: Acura
3) 2017 Acura MDX — 20/27 MPG
The 2017 Acura MDX continues to rule the luxury roost for those seeking a premium crossover that provides plenty of practicality. The Acura MDX earns its solid reputation as a comfortable option by providing additional interior room for its seven passengers and up to 90.9 cubic feet of total cargo space. Despite offering a powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine (290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque), the MDX returns fuel mileage of 20 MPG in stop-and-go driving and 27 MPG on the highway when equipped with the Technology and Advance packages. This is partly due to the fact that all-wheel drive is not standard, improving efficiency by a substantial amount. A new 9-speed automatic transmission is added for this year.
4) 2017 Nissan Pathfinder — 20/27 MPG
The updated 2017 Nissan Pathfinder looks every bit as large and heavy as Pathfinders of years past, but its specs are about the same. As a result, the Nissan Pathfinder manages to hold its own in the annals of fuel economy, boasting 20 MPG around town and 27 MPG on the highway in front-wheel drive trim. The Pathfinder also benefits from a continuously variable automatic transmission that is bolted to its 3.5-liter V6 (which is rated at 284 horses and 259 lb-ft of twist). The Pathfinder still provides comfortable seating for up to seven passengers as well as 79.8 cubic feet of total interior storage space.
Photo Credit: Ford Media
5) 2016 Ford Explorer — 19/28 MPG
The 2016 Ford Explorer, until fairly recently, wouldn't have come up on a list of efficient vehicles. In the last few years, though, Ford brought its well-regarded EcoBoost engine to the platform as an optional upgrade. The Explorer's version of the EcoBoost is a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 280 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. An EcoBoost-equipped Explorer returns fuel economy figures of 19 MPG in city driving and 28 MPG on the highway and is only available with front-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission. In addition to its 7-passenger capacity, the Ford Explorer can haul up to 80 cubic feet of cargo.
Photo Credit: Honda
6) 2016 Honda Odyssey — 19/28 MPG
The 2016 Honda Odyssey is the first minivan on this list of 7-passenger cars with good gas mileage, and it makes it here based on the fact that it's the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its class. The Honda Odyssey can actually transport as many as eight passengers if desired, and it features a robust 3.5-liter V6 engine good for 248 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for the minivan, and fuel mileage is listed at 19 MPG in city driving and 28 MPG on the highway. As an added bonus, the Honda can haul a hefty 148 cubic feet of cargo with the rear rows out of the picture.
7) 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC — 19/26 MPG
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC offers all-wheel drive as standard equipment, and it also tips the scales as one of the heavier fullsize luxury SUVs available. The presence of its 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6, however, goes a long way towards mitigating the efficiency-sapping effects of those particular characteristics. In fact, despite offering a generous 240 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque, the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 BlueTEC can be counted on to return 19 MPG in city driving and 26 MPG during highway cruising. The 7-passenger, 3-row SUV also features a 7-speed automatic transmission, as well as 93.5 cubic feet of total cargo space.
Photo Credit: Audi
8) 2017 Audi Q7 — 19/25 MPG
The Audi Q7 is fully redesigned for 2017, and although it loses its TDI option, it’s still one of the more efficient SUVs available, losing only a few MPG in highway driving as compared to the old turbodiesel model. Although the Audi Q7 is a big and heavy vehicle — like most luxury SUVs in its class — the use of a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine is the great equalizer. In addition to producing 333 horsepower and a stump-pulling 325 lb-ft of torque, the Audi's engine is rated at a frugal 19 MPG in stop-and-go driving and 25 MPG on the highway, even with its standard quattro all-wheel drive system along for the ride. An 8-speed automatic transmission is included free of charge with the Q7, and it can hold up to 71.6 cubic feet of cargo behind the two front positions.
Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
9) 2017 Chrysler Pacifica — 18/28 MPG
Chrysler’s replacement for the getting-on-in-years Town & Country, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, storms on in with an upscale new design, competitive fuel economy, and seating for seven. The all-new Pacifica features 287 horsepower courtesy of its 3.6-liter V6, which comes paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission. The Pacifica also has up to 197.3 cubic feet of cargo space, thanks to the Stow ’n Go seats that have been carried over from its predecessor. If you need more fuel economy from your new minivan, you can wait a few months more for the Pacifica Hybrid, which will feature a plug-in hybrid drivetrain — the first in a minivan — that will have a 30-mile range and squeeze out a projected 80 MPGe.
Photo Credit: Hyundai
10) 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe — 18/25 MPG
The refreshed 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe is another model that has added an extra row of seating to its list of standard features in order to increase total passenger capacity to seven. The Hyundai Santa Fe also comes with a well-styled interior that imparts a more premium experience than one would expect given its affordable price point. All versions of the seven-passenger Santa Fe are equipped with a 290-horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 engine. Also capable of generating 252 lb-ft of torque, this motor's fuel economy is listed at 18 MPG in city driving and 25 MPG on the highway when found in front-wheel drive trim (thanks in part to its 6-speed automatic transmission). All-wheel drive versions give up only a single highway MPG to the front-puller, and 80 cubic feet of total cargo space are available across the board.