Seven-seat SUVs for $70K? Here's what we'd buy
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If you're looking for something with room for the whole family, but don't want to go down the minivan route, a seven-seat SUV should fit the bill perfectly.
Due to the nature of the seven-seater, prices can get steep quickly, so this week for Expert Car Picks, we're looking at everything you can get below the $70,000 mark.
We've landed on two Japanese crowd favourites, and a recently-updated Korean entry, but which one is best?
Like what you see, or don’t? Then vote in the poll below.
Editor, Dean Evans: Mazda CX-9
With 40 seven-seaters to choose from in NZ, but at $69,290 for the top-spec Takami model, it’s so difficult to look past Mazda’s CX-9. It offers so much, even considering the $59,990 GSX or $66k GSX models, the hardest choice for me is between the diesel CX-8 or petrol CX-9, and I’m starting to lean more towards the petrol model. Plus it has another kicker: not only is the interior packed with comfort, luxury and tech, the rear seat is perfect for its primary use as a seven-seater: needing regular access to the third row, we often find it’s a faster way to pop the tailgate and get child to climb in through the boot.
But with the CX-9, the second-row seats flip forward. Big deal you say? Yes, correct, but with seven-seaters there’s a good chance your family night have three children, and that also might mean that the second row has at least one or two booster or child seats of some form. And being fixed, by Isofix or by belt, the hassle involved removing that/those seats is certainly a mild PITA. Especially if jugging bags and other things that parents normally do.
But in the Mazda, the passenger side second-row seat flips forward with a booster seat still attached. It doesn’t make the seat disappear, of course, there are phsics still involved with the front passenger seat limiting some aspects, but it is a mild pleasure to use the CX-9’s flip-forward function enabling access to the third row as it should be: through the door.
And the other stuff: a 2.5 turbo engine serves up 170kW/420Nm it does just 8.8l/100km, has three-zone climate control, Bose audio, adaptive cruise and sweet Nappa leather.
A 360 degree camera make parking the 5m-long barge easy, and it has up to 810 litres of boot space and a decent turning circle. And it looks decent, too. Try and better it, guys…
Deputy Editor, David Linklater: Kia Sorento
So $70k is a lot of money, but it’s not necessarily a lot of money for a brand-new seven-seat SUV. It’ll get you something large and practical for the family and it’ll be nice. But it won’t be posh.
Or will it? The new Kia Sorento is a groundbreaker in bringing luxury-brand presence and quality to the mainstream SUV segment. There’s a definitely tip of the hat to Mercedes-Benz in the interior architecture, but what’s wrong with that?
It’s not like that’s just window-dressing, either. The Sorento is a genuinely clean-sheet model, with a new 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine and 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s smooth, frugal and offers a nice balance of control and compliance on the road.
It’s up for a bit of light-duty off-roading as well: on-demand AWD with a new Terrain Management System (snow/mud/sand modes) controller for the rough stuff.
Our $70k budget doesn’t quite get the all-singing-and-dancing Premium model, but the $69,990 Deluxe still gets a lot of the good stuff: Smart Cruise Control, the clever Blind Spot View Monitor (a high-res image appears in the main instrument cluster when you indicate), solar glass, full surround-view cameras, three-stage heated front seats and eight USB ports for the family iPads.
Third-row air-con is standard, you get four ISOFIX child-seat mounting points and the Sorento even has Rear Occupant Alert. Because in a really good seven-seater, the occupants in the back are just as important as the one behind the wheel.
Digital Writer, Andrew Sluys: Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
As a young man without any dependents, the seven-seat SUV segment is one I have never looked into. One, because I’ve never needed more than four seats, and two — I’ve only got three friends.
If I were to purchase a seven-seat SUV I’d probably go down the off-road-friendly route as I don’t see the point of buying a high-riding SUV that stays on the tarmac. For this reason I have gone with the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, which fits nicely into the budget, being priced from $58,990.
For its latest update, Mitsubishi pulled the Pajero Sport in line with its current bold styling, giving it a face that matches the Triton ute. Along the side, the flared wheel arches hint at the SUV’s off-road prowess, and the rear is very square. All up, this makes for quite a tough-looking SUV that can supposedly handle some serious terrain thanks to its ladder-chassis underpinnings.
Under the bonnet sits a 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine that makes 135kW/437Nm, and gets a claimed fuel economy of 8.0L/100km, which isn’t bad for an SUV of this size.
On the inside, the Pajero Sport gets most of the creature comforts that we’ve grown to expect in the SUV segment. A large touch screen infotainment display sits in the centre of the dash, which Is flanked by a multi-function steering wheel.
As a whole, the Pajero Sport seems to blend practicality and off-road ability very nicely, and with the current $10,000 discount off its regular price, it’s a very competitively priced package.