7 seat vehicle with good MPG?

Anyone have any suggestions for a vehicle with good MPG (say mid-20’s or better) that has a 3rd row seat option or other ‘extra seating’ option? I drive 500+ miles a week for work (95% hwy driving) and have 3 elementary age kids with friends to cart around…yet want to stay away from a minivan if possible.

Kia Rondo 4cyl (19/26 mpgs) is only thing that comes to mind. Anything else will be bigger and thirstier (minivan or SUV).

Those 7 people better all be kids…and not full grown adults. I can’t see a 4-cylinder hauling around an extra 1200 lbs easily.

True. Only other vehicle is a Highlander Hybrid, but that’s big $$, and probably 22 mpg.

Personally I would buy a used Caravan (dirt cheap with low miles) and wait till something decent appears on the market. It does not exist yet for seating/mileage combo you desire. I have a feeling it will be a diesel vehicle when it does.

You did not mention budget but there are two vehicles that will suit you,

Toyota Highlander Hydbrid or Lexus RX400h(ybrid) , the egress is not wonderful in the way rear but its kids and not a regular thing. Expect mid 20’s overall with these but a hefty price tag too unfortunately.

Hate to say it, but a mini van is about your best option, unless you want a full sized van or one of those Sprinters Dodge makes, those are diesel and come with several different configurations.

We have a 2003 Olds Silhouette that got 25.7 MPG on the highway this weekend at 70 MPH. It has a 3.4L 6-cylinder engine and seats 7. If you mean mid 20s in mixed driving, good luck. The Highlander hybrid costs about $7000 more than the FWD version. It will take quite a while to pay the difference in gas savings.

I always laugh when someone reports a need for a mini-van, which was invented solely for their needs, then adds they do not want a mini-van.

I assume they do not wish to accept the fact that they are parents with a house full of kids, or something like that.

Sort of like the guy who is bald, and he had his hair really long on one side, then combs it across the bare skin hoping no one will notice he is bald.

A high percentage of them will have mini-vans by the time those kids hit high school. Small kids with a few items is one thing, but when they get musical instruments and they weigh 160 pounds and their friends need rides and they need to take band uniforms for trips to away games, reality sets in.

I sympathize with the aversion to minivans. When our kids were starting school, I said the same thing. “I may drive this road only once, I’ll be darned if I will drive it in a mini van.”

Our option at that time was a Volvo station wagon. Rear facing third seat is kids-only (up to about 5’2") but it has a 6’ flat cargo bed that will haul a full size sofa home from the store, more towing and weight capacity than many light trucks, and it gets 29 mpg at 70 mph with a load of kids and sports equipment. (less if you load up the roof rack as well). We got a 5 speed manual transmission, as the 4 cyl engine was a bit marginal for heavy loads with an automatic.

It was far safer than any minivan of its day (1991) and - it was NOT a minivan.

Also, 270k miles and 18 years later, I am still driving it every day. When was the last time you saw a 1991 model minivan?

My nutty aunt who like buying $1500 vehicles has a 1990 minivan (Aerostar AWD). She drives them far beyond the regular life into the 300k-400k range.

I believe it still runs but her goats took it over this past summer when she left the hatch up.

Thanks for sharing your ‘wagon’ experience - helpful to know someone who’s had luck with a non-minvan option. Interestingly, the volvo wagon is at the top of our list right now so maybe we’ll keep looking into that as a good option…I’m stuck between needing more room for kids (with saftey) and better MPG since I commute long distances for work. We’ve looked at minivans but they don’t get MPG that other options have, the layout doesn’t really work for how we’d use it and I just don’t like the feel of how they drive.

That said, I did get kick out of the aunt story below with the zillion mile bargin minivan…too bad about those goats - we’ve raised goats and they can (and will) get into everything!

Although a mini-van is a great option for many (my elderly parents have one actually because it’s very easy to use and get in an out of). But for me actually, a mini-van does not meet my needs for a number of reasons. I would guesss that is the case for others with families as well given all the new cross-over vehicles coming out that seem to serve many more purposes than a minivan. Really depends on how a person or family needs to use their vehicle.

Just be aware that you will have almost no interior cargo room when you use all three rows of seats. You will have to put your luggage or other cargo on the roof. That’s not the case with a minivan. We can fit a week’s worth of winter clothes, Christmas presents for 7 in-laws, and birthday presents for at least 2 in-laws in out minivan without any trouble. I can even see out of the rear window.

A 4 banger that gets only 19 city and 26 hwy?

There must be a serious problem there.

My 2000 Olds Silhouette with a 3.4L V6 gets that mileage. Mine has averaged a solid 24 mpg (combined city/hwy) ever since I bought it.

I’d suggest getting a Consumer Reports New Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore and spending a weekend test driving all those that look good to you.

Vehicles are such personal choices, the 7pp van I might like might be the entirely wrong vehicle for you.

Good point and we had thought of that but I’m pretty certain we’d never need the cargo room and 3rd row seat at the same time. But I am curious what you get for MPG on your minivan? Thanks for sharing!

Just curious - what needs does a minivan not meet for you? And what does a crossover do that a minivan can’t?

You say a mini-van doesn’t meet your needs, yet all the needs you list seem to say “mini-van.” The typical new mini-vans seem to get around 25 MPG highway in real world conditions. If that’s not good enough, then let me suggest a different approach.

Do you need to haul kids on the same days/trips when you are commuting? If not, how about 2 vehicles? One small car for high mileage commuting, and one mini, or even full sized, van for around town local kid hauling.

The only other suggestion I have is the Mazda 5. It think it only seats six though, but it’s small and should get good fuel mileage. I like wagons, too, but they just don’t seem to make them like they used too, and I don’t care who makes it, rear facing seats in wagons are not very safe.

Amy, I rented a 8 passenger Sienna for a week and half vacation with a few hundred miles of highway and otherwise very short hops on some islands and city. It got 23 MPG according to the mileage computer and this was with 7 passengers(two family’s) + all our luggage with AC on full tilt front/rear/mid.

When replacement time comes (aka another baby) I will likely pickup a used 2004+ Toyota Sienna. Boring to drive but beyond comfortable and very roomy coupled to decent fuel mileage.

Especially if you’re talking about gas savings in relation to the 4-cylinder Highlander, since the hybrid generally gets worse mileage!