Updated: (26th May 2021)
What can you get on the market right now that has the seating capacity for seven and, crucially, priced under our budget of $40,000? It’s a valid question.
For many families in Australia, this price point and what the car offers in return is the essential sticking point to whether or not a family brings it home with them.
Value for money is everything in this price segment and this writer couldn’t agree more with the premise. In this piece, we’re going to be exploring and discussing some of the best seven-seater options you can buy right now for less than forty grand.
But what would you be getting for your money? What might immediately comes to mind is some type of station wagon or van. It isn’t either of them but rather something we are all very, very familiar with – the SUV.
But whatever, who cares if it’s an SUV or a station wagon or a minivan. As long as it delivers on the things Australians want most: safety, practically and sheer value for money.
While the SUV’s lifestyle marketing maybe working on the young, wild and free, for many families around the nation the wide-scale adoption of SUVs mean a variety of things to them. For example, SUVs these days come with frugal petrol or diesel-sipping engines which squeezes the most from every drop of fuel. Or they try to at the very least. Don’t forget, SUVs mostly come with all-wheel drive and a commanding driving position. Which is nice.
By comparison, station wagons used to have big engines that could very well handle the long journeys and felt car-like to drive but it came at the hefty expense of fuel and running costs. Something most Australian’s want out from. Check out our piece on electric vehicles.
Safety is just as big a concern as the sticker price on a windscreen at a dealership. Safety often trumps other factors such as performance, looks, aftersales service etc.
But let’s get right to it. Here’s a list of cars with seven seats which you can buy right now for less than $40,000. The list below has been curated to show current prices ordered from least to most expensive. Prices exclude on-road costs.
- Mitsubishi Outlander ES 2WD 7 Seater - $31,790
- Nissan X-Trail ST 2WD 7 Seater - $34,265
- Honda CR-V VTI-E7 2WD - $34,490
- Mitsubishi Outlander LS 2WD 7 Seater - $34,590
- Mitsubishi Outlander ES AWD 7 Seater - $34,690
- Toyota Prius V - $35,400
- Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD 7 Seater - $37,190
- Honda CR-V VTI-L7 2WD - $38,990
- Mazda CX-8 Sport - $39,990
For many, the cars on this list are very recognisable and familiar. They are competitively priced and specified as well. But let’s try and put some space between and them and find out a bit more.
Right off the bat, let’s look at the cheapest offering here – the Mitsubishi Outlander ES 2WD. Firstly, the ES gets AEB Or Autonomous Emergency Braking along with a suite of active safety features such as Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning and Emergency Brake Assist just to name a few. It also gets six SRS airbags and two ISOFIX anchor points.
Inside, there’s an 8-inch infotainment screen upfront with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB+, USB input and a six-speaker stereo.
After the base ES comes the $34,590 LS 2WD. In terms of safety, the LS gets Blind Spot Warning, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert over the ES. On the outside, you’ll find roof rails, a rear spoiler, halogen fog lamps, electric folding side mirrors with heating and integrated turn indicators. Inside, it also gains a smart key, start/stop button and a retractable cargo cover.
Add $100 to the price of an LS and you’ll get an all-wheel drive version of the ES. Sadly, the $34,690 all-paws ES doesn’t get any additional features over the front-driven ES.
The ‘range-topping’ Outlander on our list, the LS AWD, priced from $37,190, gets a few mechanical upgrades over lesser-trimmed variants. The LS receives the Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) AWD system and Active Yaw Control (AYC) while the ES AWD only receives All Wheel Control (AWC) in comparison. Elsewhere, the LS AWD gets all the equipment seen on the front-driven LS fitted to it.
In our opinion, we’d get the all-wheel drive LS variant. It’s stocked up on active safety kit and sports a nifty all-wheel drive system.
The Nissan X-Trail ST 2WD, listed as the second cheapest on our list, brings the fight to the cheapest contender on our list, the Outlander ES. It trades punches with it on almost every level from active safety to standard equipment. The ST gets Intelligent Emergency Braking (AEB), Forward Collision Warning and SRS airbags just like the ES. However, the Outlander offers up an additional driver’s knee airbag while the X-Trail doesn’t.
The Nissan is even on-par (almost) with the Outlander ES on interior equipment as well, with a six-speaker stereo, smartphone mirroring, Bluetooth connectivity and DAB+ radio. The only standout being Nissan’s voice recognition feature. Yours for $34,265 or get the best deal here.
Moving onto the two offerings from Honda, namely the VTI-E7 2WD and VTI-L7 2WD. On the safety front, both cars come fitted with the Honda Sense safety suite including Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist and Road Departure Mitigation. The better-trimmed L7 variant adds Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow and High Beam Support System to its list of features.
The E7 doesn’t even get rear parking sensors as standard but rather offered as an option. On the other hand, the L7 gets both front and rear parking sensors. Inside, the E7 misses out on the Garmin satellite navigation system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable driver’s seat and leather upholstery. Furthermore, the E7 does without a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass, powered tailgate, roof rails, front fog lights, LED head lamps and rain-sensing wipers.
Looking at the amount of trim omitted from the E7 over the L7, and with just $4,500 between them in price, we reckon the L7 is a better spend of money.
TOYOTA PRIUS V
Next, we come up to the odd one in the group – Toyota’s Prius V. Its looks and performance isn’t going to set the world alit but it does come with a bit of kit. As before, in term of safety the Prius gets Toyota’s Safety Sense suite which includes Pre-Collision Safety system with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam and Active Cruise Control. Additionally, it gets seven airbags – one more than most on this list.
Inside, the Prius receives a 6.1" colour touchscreen display with Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, JBL Premium Sound System, satellite navigation, DAB+, panoramic roof with power shade and Head-up Display. It does, however, miss out on offering smartphone mirroring, faux leather seats, heated front seats and LED headlights on the outside.
The Prius V is powered by a 1.8-litre Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder petrol engine which when combined with an electric motor produces 100kW. Fuel economy on the combined cycle is listed at just 4.4L/100km. Not bad at all.
If fuel economy is one of your biggest concerns and at the same time you want something a little different or quirky, then look no further than the Prius V.
Updated: (26th May 2021) In a statement, a spokesperson for Toyota Australia has announced that the Prius V will be discontinued from sale here in Australia from the 31st of August 2021. This is the second Prius model to be axed after the Prius C.
The automotive behemoth says the decision to pull the Prius from the sales floor was due to poor customer demand, with just 63 units sold in 2021 thus far. No more orders will be placed for the seven-seat hybrid wagon. Customers will have to choose from the remaining stock.
The Prius nameplate will still go on with Prius hatch. The Prius V will be indirectly replaced with the Toyota Kluger hybrid SUV, priced form $47,650.
Finally, we arrive at the most expensive option on our list – the Mazda CX-8 Sport. Mazda’s have come a long way and it really does show, from build quality to product quality. Prices have also been on the rise, reflecting their premium position in the market.
Hence, the only Mazda with seats for 7 to barely make onto the list is the Sport, which is the entry-level variant to the CX-8 range. Fret not though. There’s nothing bad about getting the base variant (in this case). Remember, the CX-8 is only one tier down from the brand’s flagship cruiser. Which means there’s plentiful equipment and space for the money.
In terms of safety, the Sport gets a raft of active safety measures similar to the ones we’ve seen in other contenders. But the ones that stand out are ones like Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Traffic Sign Recognition, Trailer Stability Assist, Roll Stability Control, Forward Obstruction Warning, Driver Attention Alert and Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go just to name a few.
On the outside, its gets a rear spoiler, roof rails, power adjustable auto-folding and heated side mirrors along with LED lighting front and back. Inside there’s a tri-zone climate control system along with one-touch power windows and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Further, while the seats maybe upholstered in fabric, the steering wheel and gear shifter are leather wrapped.
The one thing we wished was different is the engine. The unit powering the CX-8 Sport is a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder atmospheric petrol engine rather than the more desirable turbocharged mill of the same displacement. The direct injection naturally-aspirated engine kicks out 140kW and 252Nm of twist, while consuming 8.1L/100km on the combined ADR cycle.
It’s a bummer if we’re honest but not necessarily a deal-breaker. The cars on this list were never meant to break speed records or rearrange your innards every time you stomped your foot on the accelerator pedal, but rather be a comfy and practical way to haul seven people about. Which is precisely what the Mazda CX-8 Sport is.
Which leads us to the conclusion of this piece and the part where we tell you what our top three picks would be.
Taking the crown here is the Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD. In LS trim, it offers up plenty in the way of active safety equipment and, crucially, it’s the only model to offer all-wheel drive and yaw control. All yours from just $37,190.
The runner up with the most equipment, space and perhaps best looking even, it’s the Mazda CX-8 Sport. Given that the Mazda sits at the bottom of our priced-arranged list, it stretches out the value-for-money sentiment right to the end. It also doesn’t get the more desirable turbocharged engine. But money and performance aside, it’s definitely one of the best contenders on this list.
The second runner up position belongs to the Honda CR-V VTI L7 2WD, priced from $38,990 – which is the second most expensive on our list. But for the money, Honda is making it a value proposition when compared against the others on this list including the E7 variant. Worth the spend if you’ve got your eye on a CR-V.
We hope you found this piece insightful in helping you choose the best seven-seater SUV in the market right now. For more information on any of the cars you see here, please visit our Showroom for more information and the best deal on your next brand-new car.