Best seven-seater electric and hybrid cars 2021
Family cars must be practical – fortunately there are lots of seven-seat electric and hybrid models that offer exactly that
If you need a seven-seater family car, but want to move with the times and embrace electric technology, the good news is that there are now plenty of choices. More and more manufacturers are bringing out new hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric cars that can seat seven people, and while it's not a mainstream type of car, the niche is growing.
From no-nonsense affordable transport to more luxurious options that will still cost relatively little to run, there should be something to suit you. Most seven-seater cars are SUVs these days, rather than MPVs, because of changing customer tastes. A hybrid SUV with seven seats means you can feel like you're keeping up with the Joneses while still having room for the whole family. Yet there still aren't all that many electrified seven-seat SUVs – yet.
Should you go electric or hybrid? That's largely decided by the kind of driving you do. If it's mostly shorter trips, like shopping or the school run, then electric is ideal, particularly if you have a home charging point. You could save a lot of money with this kind of transport, but it doesn't necessarily work for those who can't charge up at home.
If longer-distance runs are called for more regularly (hundreds of miles rather than tens) then a plug-in hybrid may suit better – but even here, regular home charging is essential in order to enjoy the lowest running costs. A traditional hybrid is best if you can't park close to home and charge up every night, as you can still use electric power, but don't need to charge.
What follows is our pick of the best seven-seater family cars on sale now that employ electric or hybrid technology to reduce both emissions and ongoing running costs. Make sure to check out our list of the best electric family cars, too.
The Citroen Berlingo is a van-based people carrier that has an absolutely huge interior. It's not just a seven-seater, but a proper 'people mover' because even adults can get comfortable in the rear seats, so it's great to see a fully electric version on the way very soon; it's called the e-Berlingo.The Berlingo is a sister model to the Peugeot e-Rifter and Vauxhall Combo-e Life (see below), and all of these models use the same 134bhp electric motor, 50kWh battery and have an estimated 170-mile driving range. Read more about the Citroen e-Berlingo here.
Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
A new Hyundai Santa Fe is on the way, and it'll be available as a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid, like its sister model the Kia Sorento above. The normal hybrid uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a small 59bhp electric motor and a 1.49kWh battery. The plug-in hybrid also has the 1.6-litre petrol engine, but gets a larger 13.8kWh battery and a 90bhp electric motor which allows for a 36-mile all-electric range.
The former will work best for families who don't have a driveway or a way to charge at home, while the latter will be great for those who can charge up, or company-car drivers who'll benefit from lower tax for plug-in models. Read more about the Hyundai Santa Fe here.
Kia Sorento Hybrid
The latest Kia Sorento is a large, practical SUV with a bold look all of its own. There's a plug-in hybrid version on the way, but for now the only choice is the pure-hybrid. It's powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine and uses a 1.49kWh battery; total power is 227bhp and four-wheel drive is standard.
There aren't may hybrid seven-seater SUVs to pick from, so it's good that the Sorento is one of the best large SUVs we've tested. Practicality is particularly impressive, with a huge 813-litre boot with the third row folded. And remarkably, those rearmost seats are just big enough for adults to get comfortable in. Read our full Kia Sorento Hybrid review here.
Derived from the combustion-engined GLB and sitting between the smaller EQA and larger EQC in the three-pointed-star brand's line-up, the EQB is the first Mercedes electric SUV to be offered with the option of seven seats. Its boxy styling ensures no shortage of passenger space inside, although Mercedes does admit that the third-row seats "can be used by people up to 5ft 4in tall". Under the metal it gets the same electric drivetrain as the EQA 250, but more powerful versions with four-wheel drive will follow in due course. Read more about the EQB here.
A more luxurious take on the van-with-windows recipe, the Mercedes EQV is the electric version of the Mercedes V-Class. Available configured to seat six, seven or eight people, the V-Class is largely aimed at the private-hire market, but could well make for a very spacious family car.
Performance is decent enough thanks to a 201bhp electric motor, while the battery offers enough charge for a 200-mile range. We're particularly fond of the car's whisper-quiet operation and excellent refinement: perfect for a relaxing airport transfer or family getaway. Read our review here.
Lexus RX L 450h
The seven-seat Lexus RX L sounds exciting on paper, with a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine working in conjunction with a pair of electric motors to produce 308bhp. However, this hybrid is more about smoothness and refinement than performance and power.
With prices starting above £50,000, luxury is the name of the game, and an extra 110mm in length of the standard RX boosts boot space accordingly. It’s still a bit of a squeeze with all seven seats in use, mind. Read our full review here.
The Peugeot e-Rifter is an electric MPV that uses the same technology as the Citroen e-Berlingo (above) and Vauxhall Combo-e Life (below), with the same 134bhp electric motor, 50kWh battery and 170-mile driving range.
The e-Rifter is set to go on sale in the UK later in 2021, and it gets rapid charging capability at up to 100kW, allowing a 0-80% top-up in just 30 minutes. As it's based on a van, it has a massive interior with more room than just about any SUV. Read more about the Peugeot e-Rifter here.
Tesla Model X
The electric Tesla Model X is one of the most futuristic vehicles on the road right now, and like the Tesla Model S it’s ludicrously fast in top-spec Performance form: 0-60mph takes all of 2.7 seconds. The seven-seat version of the Model X is an optional extra that costs £3,400, and the novel ‘falcon wing’ rear doors make getting in and out both easy, and a spectacle.
Long-range driving is possible in the Model X, too: the Long Range variant should manage around 300 miles and a Tesla Supercharger will have the battery back to 80% full from flat in as little as half an hour. Read our full review here.
Vauxhall Combo-e Life
If the Vauxhall Combo-e Life looks like the Citroen e-Berlingo and Peugeot e-Rifter above, that's because it's virtually the same car. All of these models use the same 134bhp electric motor, 50kWh battery and have a 170-mile driving range, and they're all ultra-practical people carriers with more room inside than some much larger cars.
The Vauxhall goes on sale later in 2021, has rapid charging technology and is available with five or seven seats. Even with seven on board, there's tonnes of room in the normal Combo Life, so we expect the same from the electric version – plus near-silent running, of course. Read more about the Vauxhall Combo-e Life here.
Volvo XC90 Recharge T8
The Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 is another seven-seater that’s surprisingly quick when you put your foot down: an electric motor supports a 2.0-litre engine that’s both supercharged and turbocharged, resulting in 385bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds.
As a plug-in hybrid, it’ll do up to 28 miles on electric power only thanks to a 11.6kWh battery, meaning that you can feasibly run errands without using any petrol at all. With all seven seats in operation there’s 262 litres of space in the boot, rising to 640 litres in five-seat mode. Read our full review here.
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