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7 seater US cars?

New user here and I am in the market for a new family roadster.

Riddle me this: There is Prius model sold outside the US with a third row of seats making it a seven-seater. Kia Canada sells a car called the Rondo which also seats seven. We had the Mazda 5, but it is being discontinued after safety ratings fell.

What gives? Why must US buyers be forced to buy a ginormous minivan or SUV to seat more than 5 people (really 4 people when you still are dealing with car seats and boosters)? This has to be more than market demand. Is this a MPG/regulation thing? Safety ratings? Or is it really just that US buyers only buy huge cars so there is no market?

What’s your take??

II sure as hell wouldn’t like to ride in the back of a 7-seater Pirus.

I don’t think there’s a huge market in the US for small 7-seater vehicles. I know I’d never buy one.

I had a minivan when my kids were little (a Toyota) and loved its utility. Have you checked out the Odyssey and the Toyota minivan (I forget the model name)? They aren as huge once you get used to them as they might seem at first glance.

This is just a wild guess, but perhaps a stretched Prius-style sedan won’t pass the side impact testing. The structural changes necessary would probably make the vehicle unfeasible.

There are several 3 row SUVs that aren’t that huge, the Toyota Highlander among them, along with the Hyundai Santa Fe. But nothing as small as the Rondo or the 5 that I can think of.

Because many car buyers in this country are looking for any excuse to get a large vehicle. “Hey, I had a baby, and he weighs like, 20 pounds and takes up less space than the dog. Gotta get a Suburban!”

We love large vehicles. I don’t understand it myself, but if given the choice between a low-profile, small-ish vehicle with 7 seats and an Expedition, they’ll go with the macho-mobile almost every time.

The OP might want to take a look at the Mazda CX-9.
While it is definitely larger than something like the old Mazda 5, it isn’t really huge–when compared to vehicles like a Suburban or an Expedition–and it is actually less massive than the Odyssey or the Toyota van (like mountainbike, I have forgotten the name of that Toyota model).

Or, if the OP is willing to wait a few months, Subaru is going to introduce their new 7-passenger replacement for the discontinued Tribeca. Based on the top-ratings in their class for both the Outback and the Forester, I think there is a good likelihood that their new 7-passenger model will also be a good one.

If you truly need all those seats . .you also need ‘‘a place for your STUFF’’ ( a la George Carlin )
If those seven are adults , you need a lot more butt / leg room.
If most of those seven are kids . .they each bring their stuff along and you need space for more than just people. THAT is why the mini vans are so practical . .space and accessability.
( I have an 08 Ford Expedition EL, the long one, and only a family of five. By the time the three kids bring all their stuff , or even a friend or two, and we go shopping too . . this beast can quickly become too small ! )
The Ford Flex is a good station wagon feeling car without going up to the big boys.

I think it’s market demand. People in many other countries prefer smaller cars to fit on their smaller roads or to keep fuel costs or taxes down, so they make sacrifices in order to do that. We really don’t have those concerns, so not many people are interested in jamming seven people (especially larger Americans) into a car that size or giving up the ability to carry much luggage along with those people.

OP here… we are a happy family of four. We don’t often need those other seats… but the weekly carpool with the neighbors kids and the occasional trip downtown with Grandma really makes them appealing. I wouldn’t want to sit back there either, but the ability to turn trunk space into seating when needed just seems logical.

I Drive a 2002 Honda CRV right now and I am looking to downsize into a wagon rather than upside into a minivan or SUV.

The Mazda 5 would have been perfect if it weren’t for that pesky 2016 safety rating.

Downsize from a CR-V? Not possible, given your needs. The 5 is the same length as the CR-V.

Just buy a minivan and be done with it.

You can get the Nissan Rogue with a 3rd row on certain trim levels but the market for these has shrunk somewhat,
Toyota used to offer a 7 pass Rav4 but stopped because the demand wasn’t there among buyers after the first couple years. The Prius V (in other markets the prius+) could be had in some markets with the extra row of seats but it likely would only be usable by small children.

The Mazda 5 being an older design wouldn’t do very well in the new crash tests since it wasn’t really designed around those standards. Would have been great to see a new generation with the current 3’s engines but it’s not to be.

My older brother is waiting for Subaru to bring out a 7 seater but the one thing that has been bugging him is how close to the tailgate the 3rd row is on basically every midsize suv (how safe in a rear impact) being a ICU nurse and now a father of 3 brings these considerations to mind.for him. They’re making do with their '06 legacy wagon but had to get slightly different child seats to fit 3 in the back.

Wht don’t we have 6 passenger sedans anymore? why do they put a console and shift lever in our 4 door sedans, it is silly. Why did we get 7 seat VW buses when the rest of the world got 9 seat ones the exact same dimensions as our 7 seat ones. The automakers think we don’t like practical cars but it is hard to tell if they are right because we can only buy what they offer.

My brother has a Highlander with the 3rd row of seats

That 3rd row supposedly seats 2 “people” . . . but they better be small

I’m not big, but I’m definitely not small enough to sit back there comfortably

That back row is only suitable for bad boys that need to be punished, for some reason(s) :tongue:

+1 to db4690’s comment.
And, the Highlander is not the only one with that type of miniscule 3rd seat.

The bottom line is that the OP needs to visit a lot of showrooms in order to see exactly how big or small the 3rd row seats are in each vehicle that is being contemplated. The norm is that leg room is almost non-existent in those seats, in all but the largest vehicles.

The Honda Odyssey gets 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. You won’t get much better with a smaller vehicle that seats 7 but is cramped, like the Kia Rondo. The Rondo has almost no cargo room when the third row is used. My sister in law has a Rondo and 5 children. The seats are all full of people and cargo because almost none of it fits behind the back row. We are a family of 5 and have had two minivans. That was the best move we made care-wise for the family. We have never needed to put cars in the seating area unless someone wanted a backpack with their stuff in it. Once y have the van, you will wonder why you waited so long.

Toyota mini-van is Sienna in the US and Mexico. I am trying to buy a used Sienna to comply with new laws restricting importation of US cars by those with permanent resident status. The one I am looking at is an 8 seater.

The last row is pretty small, but in my experience when you have a full car there will be several small, young people. Mexican birth rate is way down, but not like in the USA. A lot of babies and young people yet.

“Seven-Passenger” And “Car” Do Not Belong Together In The Same Sentence.

A car that will hold upwards of 1/2 ton of people and a little cargo is not a safe configuration (think “Clown Car”).

I own several cars and one of them is a seven-passenger Dodge minivan that I bought new when my now adult age children were into different sports and activities as young kids and we used it to haul lots of people and equipment out of town and used it for family vacations.

It is still like new (parked in winter) and has been virtually trouble-free for nearly 2 decades.
It is designed for 7 passengers and luggage. It is safe roomy, and comfortable and gets great MPG.

I just can’t imagine a car with 7 people onboard being what I would describe as safe, comfortable, roomy, or practical.

I have often said that our minivan is very easy to drive. It continues to be an asset to us. I have removed seats and hauled building materials, a piano, and a side-by-side refrigerator in it (not all at one time). Even though the kids are grown and out of the nest, when the time comes (if it comes) to replace it, I’d consider replacing it with a minivan.

"Seven-Passenger" And "Car" Do Not Belong Together In The Same Sentence.

I would say a MODERN car. Remember those HUGE station wagons of the 60’s and 70’s? My dad owned a 72 Caprice Wagon which had those Rear facing seats. That vehicle wouldn’t fit in my garage.

#MikeInNH A Ford Flex looks like the old style station wagon and can be had with 3 rows of seats. Other than being ugly and expensive, it is about the only CAR type vehicle that can seat 7. If the Checker Marathon was still on the market, it would fit the bill but the center seats are just jump seats.

Which brings us back to the minivan with 3 rows of seats.