Best cars with independent rear seats

James Mills
Written by: James Mills
Posted on: 14 July 2016

If you’re fed up with listening to children squabbling over space in the back of the car, it could be time to start searching for a bigger model.

The good news is there are plenty of cars that have three individual rear seats.

I have three children and test all the latest new cars for a living. Here are my top six choices of the most practical cars with three separate back seats, spread across a variety of body styles and price ranges.

1. The affordable family car: Citroën Berlingo Multispace (2015)

CITROËN BERLINGO

CITROËN BERLINGO

Price: from £12,605
Best for: space on the cheap
Euro NCAP safety rating (out of 5): 3

Children have a habit of wearing out their clothes, toys and parents. So don’t expect the family car to be treated any better. The good thing about the Citroën Berlingo Multispace is that it’s one of the most affordable and spacious cars with three independent back seats that money can buy.

Those back seats all adjust independently of one another, there are three Isofix mounting points for child seats, and there’s a brilliant roof storage system. Called ‘Modutop’, this can hold 170-litres of stuff and comes with reading lights and ventilation ducts for those in the back. The Multispace isn’t that sophisticated to drive but in terms of space-per-pound, nothing beats it.

2. Power to the people-carrier: Volkswagen Touran (2016)

Volkswagen Touran

Volkswagen Touran

Price: from £22,240
Best for: quality finish
Euro NCAP safety rating (out of 5): 5

Much like the Golf with which it shares many of its mechanical bits, Volkswagen’s Touran betters everything in its class for quality of fit and finish. It’s also quiet and responsive to drive, offers a masterclass in designing a user-friendly dashboard and controls (Citroën’s C4 Picasso could learn a thing or 10 here) and is extremely practical for families.

Each of the three individual back seats slides and tilts its back independently of the others, and features Isofix anchoring points for child seats. Better still, behind them is another pair of seats, also fully adjustable and fitted with Isofix. These seats fold flush into the floor and the 633-litre boot should carry everything, including the kitchen sink.

3. The super-size MPV: Seat Alhambra (2016)

Seat Alhambra (2016)

Seat Alhambra (2016)

Price: from £24,485
Best for: leading the space race
Euro NCAP safety rating (out of 5): 5

Whether you’ve more than three children or need a car to help out others on the school run, the super-size Seat Alhambra has it covered. As comfortable and spacious as cars get, it’s not terribly desirable to look at. But who cares when you’re inside and it’s making family life easy?

The middle row of the three back seats is a doddle to get to, thanks to the Alhambra’s sliding back doors. Until you’ve tried them, you can’t appreciate how much easier it is to put kids in a car with sliding doors. The seats are big too, spacious enough for adults and great for fitting bulky child seats side-by-side. And if you slide the middle chairs forward a touch (there’s still plenty of legroom), adults can even sit in the third row of chairs.

4. The ice-cool adventurer: Land Rover Discovery Sport (2015)

Land Rover Discovery Sport (2015)

Land Rover Discovery Sport (2015)

Price: from £31,095
Best for: exploring the great outdoors
Euro NCAP safety rating (out of 5): 5

For all Land Rover’s smoothly peddled imagery of climbing boots, ropes and ice picks, the Discovery Sport is at its heart a sensible family car that does a great job of letting everyone travel in relative comfort as you explore the great outdoors.

The three back seats slide fore and aft, but not independently of each other, and they do all recline. And although the middle chair is a little narrower than the outer pair, it’s still comfortable enough on a long trip. There are two more seats in the boot and you can specify enough USB charging ports to keep kids occupied with their gadgets.

5. The SUV with Swedish style: Volvo XC90 (2015)

Volvo XC90 (2015)

Volvo XC90 (2015)

Price: from £46,850
Best for: soothing away long distance drives
Euro NCAP safety rating (out of 5): 5

In the Euro NCAP crash tests, no other car has scored as highly as Volvo’s latest XC90. It achieved 97% for adult protection in the front seats (beating any other model to date) and 87% for children in the back seats. And with a 100% score for electronic driver aids, it’s little wonder that this model does such a good job of putting parents’ minds at rest when it comes to choosing a safe family car.

The big SUV also oozes contemporary style (walnut trim, polished aluminium and hand-made crystal glass), comes packed with helpful technology and doesn’t forget the basics, such as seven comfortable, independent seats with generous room across all three rows.

6. The luxury SUV: Audi Q7 (2015)

Audi Q7 (2015)

Audi Q7 (2015)

Price: from £47,755
Best for: an executive SUV that can handle tricky terrain
Euro NCAP safety rating (out of 5): 5

It’s tempting to imagine that most large, posh SUVs shudder to a halt when they encounter anything more arduous than a gravelled drive. But having driven the latest Audi Q7 around a demanding off-road course, I can testify to its impressive abilities in tricky terrain. So if you need to tow a horsebox into a field, or like to head off on camping weekends with the kids, the Q7 shouldn’t let you down.

It’s also seriously spacious. In fact, it’s nearly as roomy as the Volvo XC90. But unlike rival Volvo, BMW, Land Rover or Mercedes SUVs, it is relatively understated and much more fuel-efficient than the model it replaces.

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