Seven factors to weigh up when choosing a 7-seater

As any parent knows you don’t need a big brood to consider a more generous car, and the new breed of 7-seaters allows families to drive in style, comfort and safety. We explain what to look for.

Seven-seaters can be very attractive even for smaller families. After all, even if you have only two kids, by the time they each bring a friend on a family outing, a sedan isn’t going to cut the mustard. And once you include essentials like a picnic basket, must-bring toys and the family pooch, you’re going to be seriously pushed for space in anything but a 7-seater.

With a decent selection of 7-seaters on the market, it can be hard knowing which one is right for your family. Of course, price matters, but we take a look at seven factors to help narrow down the choice.

1. Safety

When you’ve got kids on board safety is a top priority, and the best indicator here is the star rating system used by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

ANCAP rates the safety of makes and models from 1 to 5, with a 5-star rating being the highest available. A number of 7-seaters such as the latest models of Toyota Kluger, Honda Odyssey and Nissan Pathfinder all have very high safety ratings.

Check out the ANCAP rating of your car here.

2. Space

Interior space is one area where you’ll find plenty of variation among 7-seaters. The seating configurations vary widely. Some models have two seats that can be folded down into the far rear of the floor, others can accommodate three car seats across the middle row.

The far-rear seats can be snug so be sure you can accommodate your family today – and in the future, when the kids have grown taller. If a baby is on the way, check out the number and positioning of ISOFIX mounts and consider taking along a child’s car seat to see how well it fits.

3. Economy

Families are often on a tight budget, so it’s important that your new 7-seater doesn’t guzzle fuel faster than a 5-year-old wolfing down a Paddle Pop.

Thankfully, you don’t have to take the dealer’s word on fuel efficiency. All new light vehicles sold in Australia are required to display a Fuel Consumption Label. This indicates the vehicle’s fuel consumption in terms of litres of fuel used per 100 kilometres. It’s not a firm figure of how much fuel your car will use as road conditions vary, but it helps you compare vehicles.

Check out the Green Vehicle Guide for an online comparison of the fuel efficiency of different makes and models.

4. Passenger access

Few things can be more frustrating than trying to squish toddlers into a hard-to-reach seat, or shoehorn an elderly relative into the rear of the car. So take a close look at passenger access – especially for the rearmost seats.

In some models the middle row of seats can slide away to create easier access, and this could be worth looking for.

5. Technology

It’s amazing how much tech gear is incorporated into new cars these days, and it’s really a matter of shortlisting what’s important for your family.

DVD players for instance may sound handy but chances are your kids will be more interested in listening to the latest tracks or audiobooks downloaded from iTunes, and that makes Bluetooth essential.

6. Ventilation

Pack seven people in a car and it’s bound to get a little stuffy. When you’re driving with kids that can easily lead to plaintiff cries of “I think I want to be sick…” from the back seat.

This makes decent ventilation a must-have – especially in the third row of seats. If the second row has individual control for heating and cooling, so much the better.

7. Service costs

In many cars the standard time between services is 10,000 kilometres (or six months, whichever comes first). However, some manufacturers, like Volkswagen, now specify 15,000 kilometres between services – and this can significantly lower your vehicle’s maintenance costs. It certainly is something to enquire about.

Make your next car loan easy

Choosing the right car can be the hard part of the buying process. Finding the right loan for your needs can be easy. Call your local Mortgage Choice broker today to discover just how hassle-free it can be to organise a car loan for your 7-seater.

You might also be interested in:

Posted in: Asset finance