Looking for a station wagon that seats 7. Preferably import. Preferably used. Been really happy with Toyotas and Hondas in the past. My first love is the volvo xc90 but since we are in the budget category, not luxury, I don’t know if it’s wise to go with Volvo used.
If you really need seating for 7 there is not anything more practical than a minivan. Station wagons are almost a thing of the past.
Pilot or Highlander.
If you’re in the budget category, you probably want to be looking at a used Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Kia Sorrento, Hyundai Santa Fe, or Mazda CX-9. I don’t know enough about any of those cars to recommend one over the other, although I suspect the Kia and the Hyundai will offer the most features for the money. You’re correct to be wary of Volvo, as those can be very expensive as they age.
A minivan is such an obvious first choice…
Budget category + 7 seater + import = Toyota Sienna (used). No brainer. If you buy an SUV with a third row seat it will be much pricier and have less storage space than a mini-van. Mini-van is cheaper to maintain and insure and usually better on gas. Don’t hate on the mini-van.
If you can’t stomach a minivan, then I vote for the Highlander, It’s based on the same platform as the Sienna minivan, it has the same engine as the Sienna minivan, it has the same transmission as the Sienna minivan, it’s has the same AWD system as the one you can get in the Sienna minivan, and It’s built in the same factory as the Sienna minivan… But rest assured it’s definitely not a minivan with slightly higher ground clearance or anything.
You can buy almost two Dodge Grand Caravans for the price of one Highlander. And the Caravan has more interior space.
So, if money is not an issue, a Chevy Suburban, Highlander, or a similar expensive vehicle will meet your need.
@stationwagonmama has a truly emotional dislike for the soccer mom van I guess. It’s difficult for some people to allow good sense to interfere with their opinions.
Although not really on the ‘‘economy’’ price list . . the Ford Flex is a very practical . .and a very ‘‘station wagon’’ style car.
Its boxy appearence is exactly what gives it its utility and interior space. Most of these so-called station wagon crossovers are so steeply angled inside that I can’t fit but, maybe, one speaker cabinet in there and all the usable space is gone. The squarer vehicles actually fit square items inside and most multi passenger ones have folding seats for hauling too.
look for used cars to get the price down.
We had a Mazda CX-9, much more fun to drive compared to the Highlander or the Pilot and was reliable in 60K miles of ownership. The 3rd row is only good for kids or short adults and probably for short trips. You can get 18 MPG on it and the used prices are lower than the Toyota or the Honda.
@stationwagonmama, if you need cargo room at the same time. You need seating for seven, crossovers and SUVs are usually not good options. A used Chevrolet Traverse/Buick Eclave has more cargo space, as do the Chevy Surburban/GMC Yukon XL twins. The Surburban and Yukon XL are expensive, even as late model used trucks.
I wasn’t enthusiastic about minivans until we bought one. I wanted a Chevy Trailblazer, but my wife wanted a minivan. We bought the minivan, and I came to enjoy it. The was plenty of room inside for our family of five and there was enough room between the children that they weren’t in each other’s faces for a long trip. That made for more tranquil trips. The minivan (still have it 13 years later) rides like a limousine with its long wheelbase. You might get that rid in an SUV too.
Good luck with your quest. If you buy a used car, make sure to take it to a mechanic you trust for a pre-purchase inspection. Should cost about $100. The older the vehicle is, the more important this step is.
Sorry, but if you’re looking for a used 7-seater you’re simply going to have to do the legwork and search what’s available in your area until you get lucky. A Consumer Reports Used Car Review from the local bookstore can help you improve your odds considerably, and a good mechanic to look the car over will improve them even more.
I have always found it a bit funny. A person gives a list of requirements, apparently taken from the original design proposal for minivans, then says a minivan is simply not acceptable. Well, so be it, I guess But, it is comical.
My 2002 Sienna, now parked in McAllen, gets 24 mpg at 70 mph; 26 at 65, and on one trip across Mexico, around 30 mpg at a steady 50. Even though it spent 11 months a year in Mexico, virtually all repairs were done in the US, except when the battery failed.
I don’t care what it does to my ‘image’. It gets the job done.
Style is more important to some folks. It isn’t a bad thing, but might be different from the way some others think.
I bet if we all put our car choices under the microscope, there will be a number that aren’t ‘optimum’. I’m fine with somebody who, upfront, says no minivan. There are other reasonable options, like the Enclave, the Pilot, the Flex, the Highlander, the Santa Fe, and the Pathfinder. No problem with any of those.
“Style is more important to some folks. It isn’t a bad thing”
I don’t agree with this. But that’s me.
What’s the difference between a minivan and a small SUV? mostly an inch or two of ground clearance and the sliding rear doors. both trivial.
Is it important that the 3rd row of seats be able to seat adults comfortably and allow those adults easy access to them?
Many of the non-minivan options mentioned thus far are great for kids who can climb into that 3rd row on their own. Not so much for adults.
If adults need to sit in them, you should do a few dry runs in and out of that 3rd row to see if it works for you.