Good: genuine seven seater with a decent boot. (Optional) auto doors the height of convenience
Not so good: it's not cheap
SEAT's Alhambra is the best large MPV on the market. Full of novel features, packed to the gills with safety equipment and with seven genuine seats, it is the people carrier of choice.
I need a seven-seater! My wife is expecting twins and I have two young sons already so I need to replace my beloved SUV with some sort of people carrier. I want something that looks good, is decent to drive and offers the kind of comfort that I have become accustomed to.
Firstly congrats on the double bundle of joy. Secondly, your particular situation does seem to narrow down the options - you require a genuine seven-seater rather than one with occasional-use seats, which, excluding van-derived options as they fail to meet your other criteria, leaves you with the Ford Galaxy or SEAT Alhambra. Both offer full-size seats in the third row, a decent enough boot for buggies and the like when all seats are deployed and, in our eyes, both look the part - for a large MPV anyway.
Were it our money we would plumb for the Alhambra though. Even four years after being launched the big SEAT is still racking up awards, generally seen as the favourite in the large MPV category, and in the right spec is decent to drive and comes with the level of comfort that your beloved SUV currently offers.
That spec is the SE model, which starts from €43,860 - or €46,725 if you order it with a DSG automatic transmission, which we would, as you are likely to have enough distractions as it is. The SE specification features such niceties as a leather interior with heated seats up front, built-in sun screens for the rear doors, picnic tables on the back of the front seats, tri-zone climate control, cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels and a sportier suspension than the standard car. We would also opt for the electric sliding doors and tailgate function. That comes in at €1,134, but will prove invaluable when you are struggling with kids. A simple press of the key fob can open any of these three apertures ready for loading. In fact, the sliding doors layout is one of the reasons we would opt for the Alhambra over the Galaxy; the Ford has conventional rear doors that can be awkward to work around when you are trying to load a new-born baby into a child seat.
The Alhambra is offered with a 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine, which, save for the entry level model, offers up 140hp and 320Nm. While unlikely to challenge your SUV, this is enough for the big SEAT not to get left adrift. The 0-100km/h time is a shade over ten seconds, but that is likely to be of secondary importance to the fuel consumption figure of 5.7 litres/100km and road tax of €390 a year.
Up front are captain's chair style seats with ample room to rest your arms on long journeys. The seats themselves are cosseting, but offer just the right amount of support to keep you in place while cornering. Despite the SE model getting sports suspension this is not the kind of car to hustle just for the sake of it - its sheer size does lead to an element of body roll - but it is a very comfortable steed, well capable of riding roughshod over the bumps and ruts. The middle row of seats can be slid forward to give those in the very back a little more legroom. Unlike most other seven-seat cars, the third row is not an adult free place - the full-sized seats are comfortable and legroom not too tight. They should offer more than enough room for your brood. You can even order integrated child seats for the middle row, though we suspect that is where the babies will be going at first. Still the €219 outlay is not excessive and they will see use later in life.
With all seven seats in place the Alhambra offers a 276-litre boot, which should be enough for a double buggy. When you do manage to free yourself from the kids you can drop the last two rows of seats and take advantage of the 2,340-litre load space - perfect for when you need to take a trip to Ikea for new beds as the children grow older.
All in all the SEAT Alhambra SE 140hp DSG should suit your needs. Do let us know how you get on and don't forget, if you need anything else you can #AskUsAnything.