The Renault Espace offers an air of sophistication, but isn't the most easily accessible car
The Land Rover Discovery offers plenty of character
Toyota's Previa is spacious and reliable
Volvo's V70 proved that the ability to carry seven people could be packaged into an estate shape
Chrysler's Voyager is durable, and offers plenty of space
The Zafira offers decent space, but looks ordinary on the road
You'll need a lot of car to transport your large family and all their luggage, but that doesn't mean you need to spend a lot of money finding the perfect transport.
1 - Toyota Previa (1992-2002)
Toyota’s people-carrier was never exactly lovely to look at, especially when new in the early 1990s, but it has plenty of other virtues. Space is one and extreme durability is another. No other car in the patch copes so well with high mileages and just keeps working. Better still, Previas are eight-seaters, so you can take granny wherever you and the family want to go.
For Spacious, reliable, economical and plenty of torque
Against Ugly and the interior trim collapses eventually
2 - Vauxhall Zafira (1999-2007)
The Zafira, related to the Astra saloon family, is better to drive and more compact than many seven-seaters, because Vauxhall has always been good at designing space-saving retraction systems for the rear row.
There are many hundreds for sale, so decent ones will be available near you. Diesels are probably the best bet for economy and long life.
For Good space for its compact size
Against You won’t stand out in a crowd
3 - Land Rover Discovery 2 (1992-2002)
It’s mainly an off-roader, of course, but many are available with seven viable seats and the sixth and seventh perches face forward, rather than sideways as in the original Disco model. Weirdly, it’s second-row passengers who are rather cramped for space, but the view from every seat is panoramic.
Ultra-thirsty 3.9-litre V8s are available from £500, but TD5 diesels are the better choice.
For Airy, plentiful and characterful
Against Not the most spacious
4 - Renault Espace (1997-2006)
The Espace is the closest thing to a luxury car in this group. It’s almost limo-like in its ride if you choose a post-2003 third-generation model. It handles well, too. There’s an airy cabin, with offbeat design features that please many but annoy others.
The floor level is unusually high and compromises seating positions for some. There are 2.0 petrols, but a 2.2 dCi turbodiesel is far better for torque.
For A bit of sophistication in this class
Against Access and seating position
5 - Volvo V70 (1997-2004)
Seven-seaters don’t have to be MPVs and SUVs; they can be big estates, too. Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have been the big exponents of these, and the spacious Volvo V70 was probably the most popular, although you’ll also find petrol Mercedes in this price bracket. Owners say the petrol models are sluggish, so go for a diesel automatic if you can.
You’ll struggle to find one that has covered less than 100,000 miles but, fortunately, most are still fit.
For Kids seem to like looking backwards
Against Third row limits luggage space
6 - Chrysler Voyager (1999-2006)
The Voyager is a bit of a wild card but a good choice if your priority is space and you don’t care too much about great economy or fine handling. It’s big, tough and durable but fell foul of Euro NCAP safety standards in the early 2000s.
Most cars at this price are diesel manuals — a shame, because the auto better suits the car’s leisurely gait. It can be harder than some to find expert service, though, because Chrysler specialists are thin on the ground.
For Space, durability, Yankee character
Against Ordinary dynamics
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