Seven-seaters: Family ferries for every budget

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For the average South African, a perfectly sensible hatchback, sedan or five-seat SUV will do family duty perfectly. Plenty of legroom for all, with a decently sized boot for luggage and equipment. Still, there are numerous families who require more than five seats for their offspring. We take a look at some of the seven-seaters for sale in SA - from the sensible and economical to the decadent and luxurious.

1. Toyota Avanza 1.5 SX - R285 700

It’s been around for more than a decade, but the Avanza remains a popular choice courtesy of its unburstable powertrain and reputation for reliability. We’ve chosen to go with the mid-range 1.5 SX - at R285 700, it may not represent value for money as well as the cheaper models, but the extra power afforded by the stronger 1.5-litre (77 kW and 138 N.m) is worth the extra outlay.

All Avanza models receive plenty of safety kit as standard. While just two airbags (driver and passenger) are supplied, the Avanza also has a raft of electronic safety systems, including stability control, traction control and ABS with EBD and Brake Assist. ISOFIX anchorages are also supplied. The SX may do without the alloy wheels, LED headlamps and Bluetooth of the pricier TX (R332 900) but offers all the necessary equipment for a large or growing family on a budget.

Interested in buying an Avanza? Click here.

2. Volkswagen Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI Trendline - R533 000

The Caddy is often overlooked by families shopping for a practical family car. Not because it’s a bad product - far from it - but rather because many have forgotten about the MPV as a whole. When looking for seven-seaters, most opt for the SUV route. The humble MPV has plenty to offer, though.

Take the Caddy Maxi, for example. Equipped with VW’s excellent turbodiesel, it produces 81 kW and a useful 250 N.m of torque. It’s a great cruiser for the long road, particularly when you factor in the (claimed) fuel consumption figure of just 5.2 L/100 km. Six airbags, ABS, traction and stability control round out the safety features, while numerous options can be fitted to the Caddy to make it more luxurious. One feature we feel should be standard is park distance control. A DSG-equipped model is available for R580 000.

Interested in buying a Caddy Maxi? Click here.

3. Ford Everest 2.0 BiT XLT 10AT 4WD - R759 400

Ford’s handsome SUV has found favour with myriad South African consumers, who value the Everest’s sheer breadth of ability. Not only is it a practical seven-seater, but a luxurious one, too. Equipped with four-wheel drive, it’s equally at home in the bush, exploring the harsh countryside of South Africa. We’ve chosen the XLT derivative, as it strikes a fine balance between value for money and standard equipment levels.

The turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel motor provides plenty of motivation, courtesy of 150 kW and a meaty 500 Nm of torque. The large Everest is fitted with front and rear parking sensors, as well as a reverse camera. Leather seats and a brilliant infotainment system are highlights of the interior, although some of the trim pieces feel rather cheap for what is a premium priced vehicle. Ford hasn’t skimped on safety features at least, making it a family fortress. The seven-seats are immensely practical, but if you don’t need them they fold into the boot floor - revealing 1050 litres of packing space.

Interested in buying an Everest? Click here.

4. Land Rover Discovery Sport D200 R-Dynamic S - R938 000

While not as dynamic as the BMW X3 or Mercedes-Benz GLC, the Discovery Sport counters with a seven-seat option and superb driving characteristics. While not sporty, it has wonderful refinement levels, doing a fine job of imitating the large Range Rovers it shares DNA with.

At R938 000, you’ve got a turbodiesel four-cylinder providing motivation. It may not be massively powerful, but 147 kW and 430 Nm of torque propel it sufficiently. Despite being the baby of the brand, the interior solidifies Land Rover’s reputation for building luxurious cabins. Everything feels solid and hefty, and in this sense, outclasses most of the competition. If we had to nitpick, legroom is limited in the third-row, but is perfectly fine for smaller children.

Interested in buying a Discovery Sport? Click here.

5. Audi Q7 45 TDI quattro - R1 375 000

Audi’s talented Q7 recently received a comprehensive facelift, revising the tasteful styling and modernising the first-rate cabin. A fabulous 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 produces 183 kW and 600 Nm of torque. It’s very refined, with barely a murmur permeating the luxurious cabin.

The seven-seater configuration remains an option, but is certainly one of the boxes we’d tick. The large Audi is all about sumptuous practicality, with 865 L of luggage space available with the third row folded down. At R1 375 000, there aren’t many cars (aside from the XC90, perhaps) that can rival the Q7’s blend of practicality, refinement, frugality and standard equipment.

Interested in buying a Q7? Click here.

6. BMW X7 xDrive 30d - R1 838 158

BMW’s largest SUV has, quite unfairly, received plenty of flack over its large radiator grille. We’ll admit that in pictures, it’s certainly polarising. However, when viewed in the metal, it works. As a whole, the X7 has an undeniable presence. It’s large (measuring over 5 metres long) and conspicuous.

Whatever your thoughts on the X7 may be, nobody can deny the sheer masterpiece which is the interior. Crafted with the finest materials, you would be forgiven for thinking you’re behind the wheel of a tall limousine. The ride is buttery smooth, dismissing bumps and potholes like they’re nothing. Even in the third row, legroom is plentiful. As standard, the X7 receives seven seats - an optional, more luxurious six seater configuration is available, but detracts from the practicality. The three-litre turbodiesel motor is an excellent engine - perhaps one of the best oil-burners out there. Smooth, economical and responsive, it is the jewel in a competent crown.

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