We have 3 kids aged 7, 10, 12 and a 2008 Ford S-Max which we've really liked (it's the most car-like MPV), but it's starting to get on a bit and we're looking to change to something newer (<18mo).
While the extra 2 rear seats have been useful when we've occasionally had extra school friends or cousins in tow, I'm thinking we could manage without them now. But one other good thing about the S-Max is that there are 3 individual seats in the middle row, which gives more space, comfort and less scope for fighting between the kids.
I've been looking around and there are lots of nice cars around, like big saloons/hatchbacks/estates or SUVs. But one thing I notice is that they all have a bench seat in the back with only two properly sculpted seats, typically also with a tunnel/hump in the floor, so the middle passenger will be severely compromised, and I can see lots of scope for moaning and squabbling.
So what medium/large family car provides decent, wide accommodation in the back for three growing passengers?
Or do only MPVs provide such?
To get you started, I had a look at the Skoda Superb. Nice car, with loads of space and a huge (too big) boot. But despite the size, when I sat the 3 kids in it, because of the bench seat, the one in the middle didn't seem to have much space and complained about the intrusion in the floor.
The Hyundai Sante Fe looks like it has a better middle seat, but they're really expensive. Seemingly over 40k for a 12mo.
The Insignia sports tourer has 3 isofix seats across the back which means each seat is quite wide. It is one of the few 5 seat cars that has this so it would be a good option. I know nothing else about the car however.
So pretty-much only MPVs then?
Note - I don't actually need ISOFIX, but I suppose the presence of 3 of those is a good indicator of decent middle seat space.
I'll look into the Insignia, but the missus doesn't really like estates....
Did you look at a Citroen C4 Picasso? I have a grand Picasso and the middle row has 3full size seats. I would imagine the 5seater version would too.
The (Grand) Picasso, contrary to (Grand) Scenic, has three identical seat in the back...
We looked at the older model Grand C4 Picasso back when we got the S-Max in 2009, but my wife didn't like the 'wacky' French styling. I do think the new range looks quite good though, and it's had great reviews.
I think it's less spacious than the S-Max though. Similarly, the Toyota Corolla Verso also has 3 individual seats, but is narrower then the S-Max.
So maybe a new S-Max is our best option after all (but rather too expensive) if MPVs are the only real option, based on my criteria. But I was hoping to find a more regular large family car with decent space for the middle rear passenger.
Which is why I was disappointed with the Superb. For such a huuuuuge car, the rear bench seat was a let down.
S-Max is great alright - but it's ridiculously expensive.
Check out the Peugeot 5008. Does not feel very MPV and is much less French in design than Citroen. Much more to the ground, with stiffer suspension. Not as fun to drive as S-Max, but still above the average. It has been recently face-lifted and comes with goods specs - but one can still get a very good deal on a new one. 5 year warranty too for the piece of mind.
The back is really designed for two people, not three... They should give you an option how you want the second row to be profiled though...
Quickly googling some images online, it looks like the non-Grand C4 Picasso has similar individual rear seats as the Grand. Also the non-Grand Scenic too. So they're less MPV-like cars, but with individual seats and without the 3rd row.
Dunno if herself would go for the French styling. Does the Peugeot 5008 come in a 5-seater, or only the same floor-plan as the Grand C4 Picasso?
Picasso has three identical seats. It has shorter wheelbase than the Grand Picasso and the 2nd row has less legroom than in the 7-seater. But it is a sound car - and low in demand, so even the fresh pieces can be grabbed cheaply. 5 year warranty is available on late 2015 models only though.
Scenic's middle seat is narrower than the other two.
Only 7 seats. But they fold flat, one hardly notices them. When boot lining is in place, nobody has to know
A Superb or similar was never designed to have 3 individual rear seats. If you want this setup then your more than likely going to have to go with another MPV. That's what they are mainly designed for.
Last model V70 was pretty much flat across the back. Outside seats do have a bit of a shape to them, but the centre seat is wider than most. I comfortably sat in between 2 car seats for a couple of hours when we had ours.
Still has the transmission tunnel stealing foot space though, and is more cumbersome than the S-Max for city driving.
Had to take the afternoon off to look after the kids, so did a bit of car shopping!
When I collected them off my wife, I pointed out a 5008 to my her, and she said "Too boxy..."
Stopped by the Hyundai dealer and tried the kids out in the back of a Tucson. Two of them use booster seats and the middle wasn't really suitable for one. Even the bigger 7-seat Santa Fe doesn't have three separate seats and again, a booster wouldn't really work in the middle.
Then went to the Citroen dealer to compare the C4 Grand Picasso with the non-Grand. Surprisingly, there was pretty much the same space in the back 3 separate seats in the 5-seater. While I quite liked the external styling, the kids didn't - perhaps it's too radical for them. However, I really don't like the central instrument cluster and some of the interior trim and panelling came across as pretty cheap. Plus I really didn't like the seat material.
So, back to the drawing board...!
S-Max it is then...