The best cars for young families – SUVs and MPVs compared

The best cars for young families – SUVs and MPVs compared
The best cars for young families – SUVs and MPVs compared

New research has found that MPVs remain the best choice for young families, despite the rising popularity of SUVs among family buyers.

Motoring title What Car? carried out tests on 16 popular models to find which were best at accommodating multiple child seats and found that traditional people carriers remain far more suitable than SUVs, even those offering seven seats.

Read more: Are booster seats illegal?

(Picture: What Car?)

Three child seats

The investigation took seven mainstream SUVs, five luxury SUVs and four MPVs, all of which except two are marketed as seven-seaters. Testers then tried to fit three child seats into them using a combination of Isofix and seatbelt restraints.

The test also took into account the Euro NCAP advice on whether a seat was suitable for the fitment of a child seat, which instantly ruled out certain positions in several of the vehicles.

What Car?’s best vehicles for three child seats

Category                     Make and Model
Large SUV Peugeot 5008
Electric car Tesla Model X
 Large MPV   Seat Alhambra
 Small MPV Volkswagen Touran
Luxury SUVs Audi Q7

Of the seven mainstream large SUVs tested, What Car? was able to fit all three child seats into just two models – the Peugeot 5008 and Kia Sorento. The use of a child seat in the second or third row was prohibited in four of the large SUVs tested, and the one that could take a third seat in the second row wasn’t wide enough to do this.

Luxury step up

Four of the five luxury SUVs tested, including the all-electric Tesla Model X, were able to accommodate three child seats.

In contrast, of the four MPVs tested, all were able to accommodate three child seats with ISOFIX points. The latest Seat Alhambra and VW Touran models both feature ISOFIX points in all five of their rear passenger seats – a record matched by only one of the luxury SUVs; the Audi Q7.

The Seat Alhambra was among the MPVs that could easily take three child seats

Read more: Child car seat law in the UK – everything you need to know about current safety rules

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: “This just goes to show how important it is for new parents, especially those with multiple kids, to do their homework when buying a new car. A vehicle may feature seven seats, but if only two can accommodate a child seat, it may not be the ideal choice.”

The What Car? test used an infant carrier with seatbelt and Isofix fitting options, a seat suitable for a toddler and one for an older child. The two larger seats can be secured only by Isofix mounts. Previous tests have revealed that a different combination of fitting types can give different results.

What Car? reckoned the Peugeot was the best of the mainstream SUVs for accommodating child seats

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