Big families need big cars. But which is the best route to packeverything, do-anything seven-seat contentment? By Jake Groves

KIA SORENTO

Why does it look like this?
It’s meant to be a posh SUV that can do the rough stuf – think cheaper Land Rover Discovery. GT-Line S spec is ‘sporty’, so there are ‘ice cube’ DRLs, red calipers and an aggressive grille, to help pushy parents dominate after-school pick-ups.

What powers this family ferry?

A sturdy 2.2-litre diesel with big torque – engine is the biggest and most powerful here, hence the gruf din. Post-facelift eight-speed auto is smooth and responsive regardless of drive mode. Has electronic dif lock.

Resign myself to driving boredom?
More rolls than Greggs on a tricky road but ride is better than the crashy Peugeot. Big, and doesn’t get any smaller on the move – tight rural roads can be nervy. Sharp steering a welcome surprise and adds at least a veneer of enthusiasm to the dynamics.

SKODA KODIAQ

Why does it look like this?
It’s a Tiguan Allspace for a few grand less, and all the better for it. Skoda’s handsome seven-seater has a sharp nose and glam alloys in this SEL spec and a colour that Skoda insists is ‘Exclusive’ and charging £975 for, but which to us looks a lot like red.

What powers this family ferry?
148bhp diesel is the weakest engine here. This one’s friends with a positive manual, though you can get a seven-speed DSG. Slim torque band forces you to bring your shifting A-game; engine raspy when you cane it.

Resign myself to driving boredom?
Light steering regardless of drive mode but comfortable, even with the 19s. Roll is well controlled. The lightest on its feet in this group, cornering deftly if you fancy making your kids barf on back roads. Sport mode actually does sharpen throttle response and suspension – incredible.

CITROËN GRAND C4 SPACETOURER

Why does it look like this?
Citroën’s sticking with the proper MPV formula but doing it its own way – styling is greenhouseon- wheels meets Blade Runner. Top-spec Flair has swish turbine alloys, sweeping sunroof and enough chrome bits attached to rival an Xzibit-fiddled lowrider.

What powers this family ferry?
Diesel shove courtesy of the same engine family as the 5008, albeit less powerful here so progress is sluggish. Unit gargles a little more than its PSA cousin, possibly due to the echo chamber you sit in, but the gearbox makes swift work of keeping it schtum on the move.

Resign myself to driving boredom?
Woollier than your nan’s tea cosy, but then Citroën ignores sportiness by design. Built for long motorway cruises on those big family trips with its vague steering, floaty ride, spongey seats and mats full of crushed wine gums.

PEUGEOT 5008

Why does it look like this?
Remember the last 5008? No? Exactly. Fuddy-duddy MPV styling’s been replaced with a half-SUV look, in keeping with current trends. One part of Pug’s new age of actually-quite-goodlooking cars. GT spec means massive alloys and tech.

What powers this family ferry?
GT’s only powertrain is quick-ish 177bhp diesel and, despite SUV styling pretences, power goes to the front wheels only. Engine seems shrouded in insulation at a cruise but gets thrashy if you egg it on. Sport mode almost entirely useless other than bringing on a slightly snappier auto shift.

Resign myself to driving boredom?
A tale of two halves. Teeny steering wheel, darty handling and decent body control but the big wheels don’t like potholes and PSA’s trademark slushy pedals sweep away any expectation of brake feel or throttle response.


KIA SORENTO

USS Enterprise or Soviet gulag inside?
Sensibly laid out, if a bit drab, with details reminiscent of a US minivan: massive, thin-rimmed steering wheel, whopping gearlever and kit to rival some yachts. Touchscreen easy to navigate but looks low-rent. More cubbies than a hiker’s backpack? Cupholders for fat travel mugs and centre console storage deeper than an ocean trench. Door bins fit a litre bottle but at an awkward angle, while lockable glovebox is useful but small.

Can adults actually fit in the third row?
Headroom is tight but adults can fit – they even get their own air-con vents. Access easier from left side due to only one easy-to-reach lever. Rear sun blinds a handy extra, and parcel shelf is stowable in seven-seat mode. Middle bench only splits 60:40.

VERDICT
Armed to the teeth and genuinely useful, but when did Kias get so expensive?

SKODA KODIAQ

USS Enterprise or Soviet gulag inside?
A simple design adorned with classy touches like dark wood veneer, but it’s a little soulless in here. IMAX-like infotainment screen is crisp and responsive, and alcantara seats supportive. Boasts trademark Skoda brollies.

More cubbies than a hiker’s backpack?
Bottles intrude on your ratio-swapping. Centre console gets a removable cupholder tray and adjustable armrest. Double glovebox really useful, as are under-seat drawers and usefully-sized door bins. Ours even had a bag-lined bin for rubbish – stuf of dreams.

Can I actually fit adults in the third row?
Short journeys only, mainly due to their knees being at chest height. Middle row slides 60:40 and folds easily, with second-row legroom still good with the bench slid all the way forward. Parcel shelf can be stowed under the floor.

VERDICT
Strait-laced but best to drive, well-equipped and properly practical.

CITROËN GRAND C4 SPACETOURER

USS Enterprise or Soviet gulag inside?
Biggest attention grabber is the vast screen, operated by steering wheel controls, which eases some pressure on a naf infotainment panel. Huge glasshouse makes for impressive visibility, expanded by the roll-back sun visors.

More cubbies than a hiker’s backpack?
Star of the show is the removable centre console: keep it for the massive storage bin; take it out to slide long items through the middle without obstruction. Under-seat drawers, a fold-out cubby under the centre console and big door pockets help, but glovebox savaged by fuse box.

Can adults actually fit in the third row?
Middle row slides far enough forward for them to fit but they won’t be comfy. Individually tilting and sliding seats require strength and patience, and the sunroof cuts headroom. Tray tables handy for your sprogs on long trips.

VERDICT
Still an MPV trailblazer but an absolute stodge-fest from behind the wheel.

PEUGEOT 5008

USS Enterprise or Soviet gulag inside?
Latest-gen i-Cockpit looks awesome. Dinky wheel frames space-age configurable digital instrument cluster. Diamond quilting and metal switchgear really pop, while GT spec’s grey oak inlays look classy.

More cubbies than a hiker’s backpack?
Glovebox is huge and there are plentiful little spaces on the centre console into which you can throw your bits and bobs. Door bins are wide enough for several litre bottles, but the actual cupholders are designed for espresso cups.

Can adults actually fit in the third row?
Nope. The rearmost seat bases are the same height as the boot floor and the middle row doesn’t slide far enough forward to make full-size humans remotely comfortable. Elsewhere, the sunroof cuts into headroom and the low tailgate will give you a black eye.

VERDICT
Stylish and swift, but the third-row seats are for understanding children only. Know any?

KIA SORENTO 2.2 CRDI GT-LINE S AUTO AWD

> Price £42,925 (£43,540 as tested) > Engine 2199cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 197bhp @ 3800rpm, 325lb ft @ 1750rpm > Transmission 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive > Performance 9.1sec 0-62mph, 127mph, 43.5mpg, 170g/km CO2 > Weight 1953kg > Example insurance quote £454.89 > On sale October 2018 > Rating ★ ★ ★

SKODA KODIAQ SEL 2.0 TDI 150 4X4

> Price £32,325 (£35,350 as tested) > Engine 1968cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 148bhp @ 3500rpm, 251lb ft @ 1750rpm > Transmission 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive > Performance 9.9sec 0-62mph, 121mph, 51.4mpg, 144g/km CO2 > Weight 1630kg > Example insurance quote £361.58 > On sale October 2018 > Rating ★ ★ ★ ★

CITROËN GRAND C4 SPACETOURER FLAIR BLUEHDI 160 AUTO

> Price £31,985 (£33,965 as tested) > Engine 1997cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 158bhp @ 4000rpm, 295lb ft @ 2000rpm > Transmission 8-speed auto, front-wheel drive > Performance 10.1sec 0-62mph, 129mph, 64.2mpg, 127g/km CO2 > Weight 1710kg > Example insurance quote £395.04 > On sale October 2018 > Rating ★ ★ ★ ★

PEUGEOT 5008 GT BLUEHDI 180 AUTO

> Price £37,900 (£39,640 as tested) > Engine 1997cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 177bhp @ 3750rpm, 295lb ft @ 2000rpm > Transmission 8-speed auto, front-wheel drive > Performance 9.1sec 0-62mph, 131mph, 61.4mpg, 124g/km CO2 > Weight 1540kg > Example insurance quote £405.24 > On sale October 2018 > Rating ★ ★ ★

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