Need Seven Seats, 4WD & Towing
This year, drivers enjoy a range of seven seaters that they perhaps could not even have dreamed about just a few years ago. Many manufacturers have leapt on the needs of increasing numbers of motorists who need to be able to carry at least seven people in comfort, style and efficiency.
The traditional supply of large SUV and van-style seven seaters has recently been complemented by some amazingly compact little runabouts that merge city-car practicality with real people-carrying ability. At the other end of the amazing scale, we will soon see the Prius+ hybrid seven seater from Toyota on European roads, giving European drivers the chance to ferry lots of people while minimising their carbon footprints.
** Toyota Prius Plus **
However, some people still need that old adjective, ‘workhorse’, included in the descriptions of their seven seaters. With enough money, this particular nut is easy enough to crack using a slick luxury off-roader from Mercedes-Benz or Volvo.
** Volvo XC90 **
At the top of the list sit the Volvo XC90 and the Mercedes GL. The Volvo, despite its rugged external appearance, is in reality the less ostentatious of the two. Well known for typical Volvo practicality, with an added dose of go-anywhere power, the Volvo brings luxury four-wheel drive, (4WD) seven-seater motoring to a select few.
** Mercedes Benz GL **
The Mercedes GL certainly comes with seating for seven people and four-wheel drive. Whether you really want to chuck something so expensive at muddy fields and squishy paddocks is a decision best left to someone with at least £58,270 to spend on a large SUV.
Sitting between these two luxury mud pluggers, though closer in price to the Volvo (unless you opt for the surreal V-12 monster), is the Audi Q7. The basic Q7 weighs in at £40,875 and 2,200kgs. Should you decide to go totally über the top, however, you can easily spend more than £100,000 on the king of luxury crossovers.
** Audi Q7 **
A word of warning, however: the ability to fling mud and rocks with the full force of Audi’s monstrous 6.0-litre V-12 engine, as much fun as it might sound, won’t have any effect on the number of seats inside or the cargo capacity.
Let’s just stop and consider the options if you don’t have unlimited financial resources. You could do worse than look at the Santa Fe from Hyundai. With prices starting at £22,840, you could buy two for less than the cost of a single Benz GL. This could give you a total of 14 seats.
** Hyundai Santa Fe **
Alternatively, you could keep one pristine for city use and not worry so much about sliding the other one down muddy country tracks. In fact, even if you choose every single option available, you won’t be able to get the Santa Fe to cost even half what you would spend on the entry-level MB GL.
Another fine option from Asia is the Kia Sorento. The latest versions even offer relatively slick styling, something many people do not associate with the Hyundai. The Sorento used to be available with some bigger engines than found in the Santa Fe but Kia UK now only offers 2.0-litre and 2.2-litre engines.
** Kia Sorento **
As a result, the Sorento is a pretty even match, engine wise, for the Santa Fe. Pricing, however, puts the Kia a definite notch above its competitor from Hyundai. You’ll fine yourself paying close to £23,000 for the cheapest Sorento but this rapidly rises towards and into the £30,000s. There is a 7 year guarantee with any new Kia purchased.