Best seven-seater hybrid cars

Seven-seat plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars with a decent range are thin on the ground. Here are our six recommendations.

Craig Hale
Jul 22, 2022

While more and more manufacturers are embracing electrification, there’s still a relatively limited selection of hybrid and electric seven-seaters available. If you want to carry the maximum amount of people with the minimum amount of impact on the environment, the choice of models is small.

But that does mean there are a handful of capable seven-seaters on sale with strong green credentials, whether you're looking for an out-and-out electric model with a decent electric-only range - how far the car will travel on a single charge, that is - or an efficient seven-seater hybrid with the added insurance of a petrol engine if you need it.

Conventional hybrids such as the Toyota Prius+ and the Lexus RX L - which have much smaller battery packs - constantly alternate between petrol and electric power, so can’t really offer any significant electric-only range, while big PHEV SUVs from the likes of Land Rover, Audi and Mercedes come with five seats only, because of the space the hybrid tech takes up.

Of course, you could just dispense with conventional fuel completely and run an seven-seater electric car. As technology advances, the range of electric cars is getting greater and greater - some can now cover in excess of 200 miles per charge - and it is these we have considered here.

With more electric cars likely to arrive on the market in the next couple of years, you may wonder why there is a need for plug-in hybrids at all - with their typical range of up to 30 miles on a full charge before the battery runs out and the petrol or diesel engine kicks in.

But their relative affordability compared to fully electric options - and the fact that some people are not yet ready to make the jump to pure electric cars - should ensure that PHEVs still have a significant role to play.

Hybrid cars with seven seats

1. Volvo XC90

Our pick Volvo XC90 2.0 T8 R-Design
Used deals from £33,250
Monthly finance from £634*

If it’s desirability, comfort and refinement you are after in your seven-seater, then look no further than the plug-in hybrid version of the Volvo XC90. Yes, electric cars such as the Tesla Model X offer much greater acceleration, but the XC90 is head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to execution - it feels far more upmarket inside than the others here - plus it is more affordable than the likes of the Model X.

Perhaps more importantly for those looking to transport many passengers, the forward-facing rearmost seats are large enough for adults to travel in relative comfort – although those nearing six feet tall and above may struggle with headroom.

It will travel for around 30 miles on electric power alone, fairly standard for a plug-in hybrid, but test its 5.5-second 0-62mph time and it will become far less efficient. Charge it regularly, and drive economically, and you could be knocking on the door of 100mpg.

VOLVO XC90 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Kia Sorento

Our pick Kia Sorento 1.6 T-GDi PHEV '3'
Used deals from £40,990
Monthly finance from £668*

While the latest Kia Sorento gets a 2.2-litre diesel engine - much like the car it replaced - it's the 1.6-litre petrol engine we're interested in today. It's coupled with an electric motor and is available as a regular hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. The hybrid manages a mile or two cruising with little input from the engine, helping the heavy SUV achieve around 40mpg - similar to the diesel model.

The plug-in hybrid uses a much larger battery, though, which means an electric range of up to 35 miles should see many people through their daily commutes. Charge it at every opportunity, and Kia reckons over 170mpg is possible, but fail to keep the batteries topped up and you could see this plummet below 40mpg thanks to the added weight of the batteries.

Charging the plug-in hybrid takes 3.5 hours from a dedicated home charger or a little over five hours using a standard domestic socket. It's worth noting that the maximum supported charging speed is 3.3kW - in comparison, most electric cars charge at 7kW or more.

READ MORE ABOUT THE KIA SORENTO

3. Hyundai Santa Fe

Our pick Hyundai Santa Fe 1.6 T-GDi PHEV Premium
Used deals from £38,999
Monthly finance from £507*

The Hyundai Santa Fe is built on many of the same mechanical parts as the Kia Sorento, so it's no surprise then that it, too, can run for around 35 miles with little to no input from the 1.6-litre petrol engine. Hyundai has fitted its version of the seven-seater SUV with a 7.2kW charger, which means faster charging (if you have access to a fast enough charger, that is).

Much like the Sorento, standard kit is more than reasonable in the Santa Fe, and things begin to feel luxurious higher up the trims with treats like cooled seats. Both models also share their engines, so a 1.6-litre self-charging hybrid is also available, alongside a 2.2-litre diesel.

Finding an electric SUV with seven seats is still something of a hardship, and even plug-in hybrid versions of seven-seaters often ditch the last row of seats in favour of battery space. The Hyundai Santa Fe isn’t one of these, but be aware that the plug-in version costs around £5,000 more than the self-charging hybrid version.

HYUNDAI SANTA FE BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Volkswagen Multivan

Our pick Volkswagen Multivan 1.4 eHybrid

Although the Multivan is a direct successor to the Caravelle, it also picks up where the Touran now discontinued Sharan left off, so it has big boots to fill as a people carrier.

We think the Multivan is one of the most car-like van-based people carriers out there, with many parts of the dashboard including the touchscreen media system and digital driver’s display lifted out of other new Volkswagens, like the Golf and ID.3.

There’s a pair of petrol engines, a 136hp 1.5-litre unit and a 204hp 2.0-litre model, but the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel is probably better suited to this van. A 218hp 1.4-litre plug-in hybrid is the pick of the bunch, but with its higher price tag it could be harder for many to justify it.

5. Toyota Highlander

Our pick Toyota Highlander 2.5 VVT-h Excel Premium
Used deals from £48,297
Monthly finance from £679*

Toyota has been building hybrid cars for many years now, and doing it well. Piggybacking on the success of the Prius, we have seen the Yaris, Auris, Corolla, C-HR, and RAV4 just to name a few. While the Highlander may be expensive - at £55,000 new - there are some bargains to be found on BuyaCar.

Fortunately, the range is simple: entry-level Excel comes with a premium sound system, a panoramic sunroof, three-zone air-conditioning, all-round parking sensors, a reversing camera, heated seats in the front and a heated steering wheel. Step up to Excel Premium for heated outer rear seats, cooled seats in the front, and a slick digital rear-view mirror.

It's strictly a hybrid - no option to plug in; the 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor combo promises a little under 40mpg.

READ MORE ABOUT THE TOYOTA HIGHLANDER

6. Lexus RX L

Our pick Lexus RX 450h L Takumi
Used deals from £33,297
Monthly finance from £414*

The Lexus RX L is a slightly longer version of the standard five-seat RX. ‘Slightly’ is the keyword here and, as a result, the rearmost seats are best suited for children as adults will likely find the back a touch cramped.

Aside from that, the RX L promises to deliver the same high-quality interior, decent performance and strong reliability as the regular RX. On that last point, the RX was voted the 5th best car to own by UK motorists in the 2019 Auto Express Driver Power survey.

If fuel economy and low emissions are important to you, however, this is not the car for you, as claimed fuel economy is a low 34mpg, which is far less than many conventional diesel alternatives. Having said that, CO2 emissions are relatively low at 138g/km.

LEXUS RX BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Ford Galaxy

Our pick Ford Galaxy 2.5 FHEV Titanium
Used deals Limited stock

The Galaxy has long been a favourite of large families and taxi firms, thanks to the spacious independent rear seats and the fact that you can fit two adults in (relative) comfort in the rearmost pair.

More recently, Ford has stopped selling petrol and diesel versions of its seven-seater MPV. The only choice - a 2.5-litre petrol-powered self-charging hybrid - uses a similar setup to what we’ve already seen in the latest Kuga, but it’s not as efficient as you may expect, with Ford claiming around 44mpg.

It’s only available in high-spec Titanium form, with a price tag of more than £40,000. If you need something cheaper, and slightly less spacious, the hybrid S-Max is around £2,000 cheaper like-for-like, and cheaper used.

FORD GALAXY BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Toyota Prius+

Our pick Toyota Prius+ 1.8 VVT-h Excel
Used deals from £24,499
Monthly finance from £402*

The final word in driving pleasure it is not, but comfortable and cheap as chips to run it is. Thanks to a well thought out interior there is even enough space in the rearmost seats for your average adult - just about.

Economy for a Prius+ is claimed to be around 47mpg under the most recent fuel economy testing procedure. That's lower than some diesel alternatives, but not bad for a car with a petrol engine.

Maybe of particular interest is Toyota’s warranty, which, providing the car is serviced annually at a participating garage, can extend to 10 years or 100,000 miles.

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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