Family with two children on a road trip.

9 Best 7-Passenger SUVs On The Used Market In 2022

Hanna Kielar9-minute read
March 18, 2022

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To look at the evolution of the family car in America is to take a nostalgic tour through some of the most iconic vehicles in history. But in the 1960s and ‘70s the station wagon was the vehicle of choice for families that could afford a larger vehicle. With its long wheelbase, low roofline, massive middle seat, and long rear cargo area, the station wagon moved parents, kids, dogs, and gear to the lake house or picnics. The best of them, though not all, did it in wood-paneled style.

In 1984 the Chrysler Corporation introduced the real competitor to the station wagon, the Dodge Caravan, which would come to be known as the first “minivan.” With its taller roofline, versatile interior, three rows of seats, sliding side entrance door, and rear cargo space, the minivan was an immediate hit for families. Soon, most car companies began producing competitive models.

While minivans are still popular today, especially for families with very young children, the vehicle of choice for families with somewhat older, active children is the large SUV. The DNA for today’s large SUVs can be traced back to the 1930s Chevrolet Carryall Suburban, and in such vehicles as the 1963 Jeep Wagoneer and the 1969 Chevy K5 Blazer. The first seven-seater SUV of the modern era was probably the 1990 Ford Explorer. For this article we will focus on the true seven-seat SUVs on the market, as opposed to the really large SUVs, such as the Nissan Armada and Lincoln Navigator, which can be far bigger, far less fuel efficient, and more expensive.

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What Matters Most For 7-Seater SUVs

The modern seven-passenger SUV features a raised chassis for better view of the road along with seven seats in three rows, usually in a two-three-two configuration from front to back. The best seven-passenger SUVs deliver an excellent combination of powerful performance, a spacious interior with high-tech safety and luxury features, ample cargo space, and solid towing capability. While these are excellent vehicles for family road trips, kid transport, or large grocery hauls, they are also fine for city commuting.

Seven-seat SUVs can be pricey when purchased new, particularly the luxury models, so savvy buyers will find some gems on the used car market if they know what to look for. There are dozens of great makes and models out there, but here are 10 that stand out depending on what is most important to different needs. For further help, be sure to brush up with this primer on buying a used car.

9. 2009-2012 Chevrolet Traverse

Chevrolet Traverse 2010.

Source: art_zzz - stock.adobe.com

Best for: Best Under $10,000

MPG: 17 city | 24 highway

Cargo capacity (all seats in place): 24.1 cubic feet

Towing capacity: 5,200 pounds

The first-generation models of the Chevrolet Traverse were greeted warmly by reviewers and consumers alike. A true seven-passenger SUV, the Traverse offered a roomy interior, midlevel towing capability, and inspired styling that competed with some luxury SUVs of the time – all at a very Chevrolet price. As with most “seven-seat” SUVs, actual seats may total six if the middle row has two captain’s chairs instead of a bench seat. The Traverse earned high marks for safety features, including six air bags (four side-impact airbags) and the StabiliTrak stability control with rollover mitigation technology as standard. The 3.6-liter V6 engine delivers 281 horsepower and all trim levels have a 6-speed automatic transmission. Chevrolet’s excellent all-wheel drive drivetrain was an option on these model years – buyers searching for better traction in ice and snow should narrow their focus toward a Traverse with AWD.

Find your best used Chevrolet Traverse by searching the Rocket AutoSM inventory.

8. 2018 Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento 2018.

Best for: Quality for the price

MPG: 21 city | 28 highway

Cargo capacity: 38.8 cubic feet

Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds

Named the #1 Most Affordable Midsize SUV by U.S. News and World Report, the Kia Sorento is one of the smaller seven-seat SUVs of recent years, but that might be just fine for people who enjoy better fuel efficiency and the ability to maneuver in tight spaces. The ’18 Sorento also was available in a five-seat package, leaving a larger rear cargo area (which is likely the configuration that yields nearly 40 cubic feet of space).

The base trim package, L, offers impressive standard features such as rearview camera, height-adjustable driver’s seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, USB port and a CD player – and can be found in the used car market in the mid-20Ks. Middle and upper trim levels offer all-wheel drive and the top engine is a 3.3-liter V6. If you seek luxury you can find it in the higher-end 2018 Sorento, which is selling near $40,000 in 2022.

Search the Rocket Auto Inventory for a Kia Sorento today.

7. 2015 Honda Pilot

Honda Pilot 2015.

Best for: Durability

MPG: 18 city | 25 highway

Cargo capacity: 18 cubic feet

Towing capacity: 4,200 pounds

There is something to recommend in any model year of the Honda Pilot, which has been an extremely popular midsize seven-seat SUV for 20 years. For a great budget SUV try a first-generation (2003-2008) Pilot. For the latest in communications and safety technology, a third generation (2016-present) will have all the goods. For the best of both worlds, we’ll take the 2015 Pilot, widely considered the best Pilot of all. One reason for that distinction is that 2015 was the last model of the second generation, and Honda has a reputation for sharpening quality with each successive model year before introducing a new generation.

While falling short of some competitors in terms of performance and handling, one area where the truck-like Pilot excels is its roomy interior, particularly in the third row which easily accommodates adult passengers – unlike some seven-seat SUVs.

Find a 2015 Honda Pilot by searching the Rocket Auto inventory.

6. 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Jeep Grand Cherokee L 2021.

Best for: Off-road capability

MPG: 19 city | 26 highway

Cargo capacity: 84.6 cubic feet (seats folded down)

Towing capacity: 6,200 pounds

Because the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L was the first Jeep ever with three rows of seats and has only existed for two model years, there are a limited number of them available on the used car market. On the other hand, those that are out there will have state of the art technology, relatively low miles, and will have absorbed the hefty first-year depreciation that all new cars experience.

Because it’s still a Jeep and has an optional V8 engine, this longer wheelbase Grand Cherokee is the king of this class for eating up off-road terrain. And the staggering 6,200-pound tow rating rivals most of the titanics in the large SUV class. The 2021 L comes with two different engine options, three different drivetrains, and optional air ride suspension. The cabin space on Grand Cherokee is typically well-appointed, and the package for the 2021 L rivals that of its luxury competitors. This outstanding seven-seat SUV has a suite of the latest safety features, including collision warning with active braking, lane-keeping assist with lane departure warning, brake assist, and blind-spot monitoring.

Search for a 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee in the Rocket Auto Inventory.

5. 2013 Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlander 2013.

Source: Konstantin - stock.adobe.com

Best for: Under $20,000

MPG: 17 city | 22 highway

Cargo capacity: 94.1 cubic feet (seats folded down)

Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds

A quick look at the current used car market turns up several 2013 Toyota Highlanders priced under $20,000, some with significantly less than 100,000 miles. For buyers on a sub-$20K budget looking for a reliable family vehicle with up to eight seats, this could be an ideal choice. While the 2013 Highlander may not do anything spectacular, it does everything very well, especially its quiet and smooth ride and handling, which is almost car-like. As is common with Toyota, the interior is subtly refined, with a conservative yet effective configuration. There is an all-wheel drive option for the ’13 Highlander, which can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly configured. A recent study by Kelley Blue Book found it to be the #1 Best Used Three-Row SUV Under $20,000. 

Search the Rocket Auto inventory for a used 2013 Toyota Highlander.

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4. 2018 Lexus GX 460

Lexus GX 2018.

Best for: Luxury 7-seat SUV

MPG: 15 city | 18 highway

Cargo capacity: 64.7 cubic feet (seats folded down)

Towing capacity: 6,500 pounds

A bit of an anomaly among midsize luxury SUVs, the 2018 Lexus stands out in its class due to its stout, truck-like body-on-frame construction. What this four-wheel-drive drivetrain sacrifices in ride and handling, especially in comparison to its all-wheel drive competition, it more than makes up for with outstanding towing capacity and off-road capability. And despite its rough-and-ready reputation for heavy lifting on road and trail, the GX 460 is also a true luxury vehicle with all of the technology, interior amenities, and safety features one would expect from Lexus, especially in its premium packages.

As the luxury brand for Toyota, Lexus carries the same sterling reputation for quality that has earned Toyota top marks for reliability for decades. A survey for J.D. Power tracked a 91/100 reliability rating for the GX. As an exceptionally practical yet comfortable SUV, the GX has won the Best Resale Value Award for Luxury Mid-Size SUV from Kelley Blue Book.

Shop for a used Lexus GX 460 in the Rocket Auto Inventory today.

3. 2016 Ford Expedition

Ford Expedition 2016.

Best for: Towing

MPG: 16 city | 22 highway

Cargo capacity: 42.6 cubic feet (behind the 3rd row)

Towing capacity: 9,200 pounds

While the Ford Expedition technically belongs in the Large SUV class, we’ll include it here because it does have three-row seating and because it’s a towing monster. Most SUVs, even small and midsize vehicles, have some towing capacity even if it’s just for hauling a jet ski or small boat. But for hauling a large RV or maneuvering a very big boat in and out of a steep boat ramp, you will want a vehicle with large towing capacity. A search for a quality used SUV comfortably around $40,000 or less produced a particular standout – the 2016 Ford Expedition.

Among large SUVs, this model year of Expedition topped its class for towing capacity at 9,200 pounds, enough to pull a large RV filled with all the gear needed for a long vacation. The 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged engine delivers 365 horsepower and 420 ft-lb of torque, plenty to pull a big boat out of the water. The EL (Extra-Large) Expedition has an expanded 42.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row of seats, more than any vehicle in this class.

Search the Rocket Auto Inventory to find the right Ford Expedition for your needs.

2. 2018 Dodge Durango

Dodge Durango 2018.

Best for: Power

MPG: 18 city | 25 highway

Cargo capacity: 84.5 cubic feet (seats folded down)

Towing capacity: 6,200 pounds

Of the third generation of Dodge Durangos (2011-present), there are plenty of used ones at varying price points for buyers to choose from. Of these, the 2018 is a solid choice because it received some significant upgrades (standard rearview camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay) but can be had for significantly less than newer models. 2018 also was the year Dodge introduced the Durango SRT performance edition, which included a 6.4-liter Hemi engine.

In the seven-seat SUV class, Durango stands for one thing: power. Even its standard 3.6-liter V6 engine gets a very respectable 295 horsepower and excellent towing capacity, but an upgrade to the optional 5.7-liter or 6.4-liter Hemi V8 achieves 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, which increases towing capacity to a staggering 8,700 pounds. This vehicle could not only take the whole family to Yellowstone, it could haul the RV you would all stay in once you got there.

Shop the Rocket Auto inventory to find a used Dodge Durango today.

1. 2020 Kia Telluride

Kia Telluride 2020.

Best for: Value

MPG: 19 city | 24 highway

Cargo capacity: 21 cubic feet (behind the 3rd row)

Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds

After debuting in the spring of 2019 as a 2020 model year vehicle, the Kia Telluride took car buyers and reviewers by storm. Dealers could not keep them in inventory and by the time the actual year 2020 came around the Telluride was named World Truck of the Year and Motor Trend’s 2020 SUV of the Year. The styling and execution of this seven-seat SUV were as flawless as the pricing was aggressive. Since it’s a relatively new car, buyers can get a Telluride that has driven down all of its new car depreciation and still has low miles. Depending on the trim level, buyers can find a ’20 Telluride from around $40,000 and up. On the road the Telluride exhibits a very smooth, quiet ride despite its more than adequate 291 horsepower, 3.8-liter V6 engine. The real impression, however, comes from a roomy interior that is as luxurious as any SUV in this class.

Start your search for the perfect 2020 Kia Telluride at the Rocket Auto inventory.

The Bottom Line: 7-Seat SUVs Are Sporty And Versatile For Active People Of All Kinds

There is good reason why the seven-passenger SUV has become one of the most popular vehicles on American roads. While it’s great for families that take road trip vacations or need to ferry kids and their friends to activities around town, these midsize SUVs are also extremely versatile for single people or couples who rely on their car for more than just commuting to work or trips to the grocery store. In fact, most of these three-row vehicles have fully collapsible second and third-row seats, which increases cargo space greatly. As opposed to the really large SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade, these seven-passenger vehicles are usually a bit smaller with better handling and a smoother ride for urban driving. They also get better fuel efficiency. Finally, these vehicles offer a sportier and often more luxurious alternative to the minivan, also a popular vehicle for families but less so than when it was introduced in the 1990s.

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Hanna Kielar

Hanna Kielar is a Section Editor for Rocket Auto℠, RocketHQ℠, and Rocket Loans® with a focus on personal finance, automotive, and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.