Best premium seven-seat SUV? Here's what we'd choose
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The seven-seat SUV segment is something that we have discussed a lot, as almost every single brand now has an option. But this week we're raising the bar.
Our resident radio personality Sam Wallace has just welcomed a pair of twins, which now brings his total child count to three alongside little Brando. Because of this, he's now looking into what spacious seven-seaters he can get into on his lavish radio salary.
He's currently in a Hyundai Palisade courtesy of Hyundai New Zealand, but doesn't know if that's the perfect candidate in the $80-$120K region. Here are three options that sit right alongside the Palisade in terms of budget, and can fit the whole Wallace tribe in with room to spare. Also, don't forget to vote for your favourite pick below!
Editor, Dean Evans: Mercedes-Benz GLB250
It’s reasonably new and relatively compact, which are two things I like about the Mercedes-Benz GLB. Sure the AMG version is coming, but if it’s my money, I’d likely opt for the GLB250, with a 2.0-litre turbo four good for 165kW/350Nm and 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds. That’s also a rung up from the entry level GLB200, which is still good, but a little soft where it counts.
The GLB is fast enough for the family, and with the third row also on the slightly compact side, that suits us and our five passengers perfectly, especially with the appeal of ISOFIX mounts in the third row to get the irritating child (depending on the day) waaay back as far away from the front seats as practical.
Add a few factory dress-ups, and it’ll look just as AMG-aggressive as the forthcoming GLB 45, while keeping it all with a premium feel. The MBUX dash takes a little getting used to, but once familiar, offers lots to look at, monitor and change at your fingertips, plus there’s the ‘Hi Mercedes’ voice control system that learns and gets better the more you use it – and like Apple’s Siri, or Google Alexa, there’s a seemingly no end of stuff to ask it/her/their, relating to the car or not.
Plus at 7.7l/100km, it’s rather thrifty, too, which is somewhat of a contradiction for a $92,900 SUV, granted.
It’s a little boxy, which I don’t mind at all, being a little ironically stylish, and on big 19- or 20-inch alloys, it balances out the family transport intent nicely. In fact give me another $20k to spend and I’d still stick with the GLB250, thanks to its size, style, speed and practicality
Deputy Editor, David Linklater: Land Rover Defender D240 S
The genius of the new Land Rover Defender is that it’s just as off-road authentic and therefore enthusiast-centric as any of the classic models that came before it, but it’s gained the look, refinement, quality and technology to work perfectly as premium family SUV.
That authenticity thing means I really do prefer the Defender in a more functional specification. You can’t have the seven-seat layout in the entry version, but you can add it to the S for $4550: grand total $112,450. That’s fairly costly for two chairs, but you do also get an Air Quality Sensor and three-zone climate control and something called “rear cooling assist”, which sounds like it wpuld make third-row occupants very happy.
The S only comes with the 177kW/430Nm D240 engine and that’s fine with me: a turbo diesel just seems right for the Defender. And it’s still got the important safety, comfort and convenience stuff like Adaptive Cruise Control, 12-way power adjustable front seats and Land Rover’s Interactive Drive Display in the infotainment system.
At the risk of veering off into irrelevant detail, I’d definitely go for the 18-inch painted-white steel wheels (a no cost option) and probably the hero hue of Pangea Green – although Gondwana Stone (okay, it’s basically brown) would also be in the semi-final.
Digital Writer, Andrew Sluys: Toyota Land Cruiser 200
If I’m being perfectly honest, I think that David has the best pick in this segment. But in saying that; what do you call a more reliable Land Rover? A Land Cruiser.
Just like the English off-roader, Toyota’s Land Cruiser has been around for longer than I can remember and is known for being the toughest thing on four wheels.
Starting at $112,990, the 200 Series is pretty close to the budget cap, but you get a lot of off-roader for that price. Power comes from a twin-turbo 4.5-litre diesel engine that makes 200kW and 650Nm of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to all four wheels as it makes use of a permanent four-wheel drive system.
Due to the hard-working nature of the Land Cruiser, there are less flashy options to be had across the range, but who really needs flashy wheels when you can go anywhere? It’s got a ground clearance of 230mm, and a wading depth of 700mm, which is a lot of water.
Like all the double-cab utes on the market, it comes with a towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes, meaning that it’s going to be hard to find a boat that’s too big to tow.
On the inside, the Land Cruiser blends luxury with practicality with a full leather interior and seating for up to eight occupants.
What more could you want? Practicality, reliability, and enough torque to reverse the Earth’s rotation.
It’s also worth noting that we should see the next-generation Land Cruiser revealed in a couple of months, which is set to gain hybrid power alongside a petrol V6, and even offer a plug-in hybrid variant.