Cars for families with four kids

We explore which vehicles you can get for larger families with four or more children

Midsize SUV Megatest Group 2023 CX 5 Forester Outlander Rav 4 Sportage Tiguan Tucson X Trail E Dewar 221212 13

When one child comes along, the two-door or two-seater typically gets the flick.

Two kids? Well, that’s manageable in most cars with a decent second row.

When the third comes along, it’s usually time to explore even larger automotive alternatives. Expand the tribe to four or more kids, and the options are a bit more limited.

2023 Hyundai Palisade Highlander SUV Black 16

People-mover or SUV?

Three rows and a big boot are now a necessity, and many will tell you it’s time to upgrade (or, in the opinion of many a dedicated car enthusiast, downgrade) to a people-mover.

But all is not lost. These days, having four-plus kids does not automatically mean a people-mover/mini-van is first on the shopping list. These vehicles have come a long way – but for some active families, it may not be the best option.

SUVs can go further into the bush, can tow the caravan or boat, and depending on your budget and needs, a new SUV with three rows and a boot could still work.

2022 Mazda CX 9 Sport SUV Grey 9

What do I need to look for?

The key is to start at the back and move forward. The boot will most often be the deciding factor; particularly with four munchkins. The amount of stuff needed for even a basic family outing is tremendous – more so if their ages span several years. Throw scooters in with double prams and you will need every millimetre you can get.

Some assume that roof racks and/or a pod will solve the storage problem, but it shouldn’t be the solution to boot space. They’re great for trips on the open road, but in everyday life these options are hard to reach, difficult to pack, and gives parking in most underground garages – not to mention your own home carport – an added degree of unnecessary difficulty.

2023 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLS 4 X 2 7 Seater Grey Suv 1 Copy

Most – if not all – modern seven-seaters have two individual seats in the third row (rather than a bench seat), which means the split-fold can be utilised for a passenger on one side, and some extra boot space on the other. However, care must be taken to secure any items in and around the boot if a passenger is to be sharing the space with the luggage. This is where tie-downs and hook points come in very handy – be sure to look for them.

Accessing the third row

Access in and out of that third row is also very important, and not just for the person using it.

An older child may be able to clamber in unassisted – provided they aren’t so big as to be travelling with their knees near their ears given the footwell restrictions of third-row seating.

Midsize SUV Megatest Nissan X Trail Ti E Dewar 221213 E Dewar 221213 15

But many families will find the two hands needed for the folding mechanisms of the second row of seats can be too hard to manage if babes are still in arms.

With boosters recommended until the child is seven years of age, or 145cm in height, it’s highly likely that both the second and third rows will be full of them. This eliminates the ability of smart seats to fold at all.

Midsize SUV Mega Test 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed Tourer SUV White E Dewar 221212 8

The only alternative is to narrow down the car search, and, as you approach your final decision, measure how much space you will need to open up the third row with your current car seats. If you want, perhaps even drag your car seat to the showroom and physically see if it will work – or investigate whether a more compact car seat may be needed.

It’s vital that you check the anchor points to see if any fixtures or bars will need to be fitted as well. Life has been made far easier in this respect due to the easier Isofix system, but it's uncommon to find Isofix anchors in third rows, meaning you'll need to rely on using just the seatbelt and top tether to secure a seat.

4 X 4 Australia Reviews 2022 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 46

What are my options?

So, where to start shopping? While there are also plenty of high-end, luxury SUVs on the market, we've focused on the more affordable side – led by main players such as Toyota, Mazda and Mitsubishi.


ModelStarting price (drive-away)Engine and tranmissionFuel economyCargo space (with all seats up)
Toyota LandCruiser 300$100,9943.3-litre V6 turbo-diesel, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission8.9L/100km175L
Toyota LandCruiser Prado$68,3452.8-litre turbo-diesel engine that runs through a six-speed automatic transmission7.9L/100km104L
Toyota Kluger$56,1482.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol or a 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid, mated to eight-speed torque converter automatic8.3L/100km petrol, 5.6L/100km hybrid241L
Toyota Fortuner$57,0272.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission7.6L/100km200L
Mitsubishi Outlander$44,3202.5-litre four-cylinder, paired with a CVT automatic transmission7.5-8.1L/100km petrol, 1.5-1.9L/100km PHEV163L
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport$53,2402.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, coupled to an eight-speed torque converter automatic8L/100km131L
Kia Sorento$50,7903.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre turbo diesel options, or 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol HEV and PHEV, combined with an eight-speed automatic (petrol) eight-speed dual-clutch automatic (diesel) or six-speed automatic (HEV and PHEV)6.1-9.7L/100km petrol and diesel, 5.3-5.8L/100km hybrid, 1.6L/100km PHEV187L
Hyundai Palisade$72,0213.8-litre petrol, 2.2-litre diesel, mated to an eight-speed automatic7.3-10.7L/100km311L
Hyundai Santa Fe$50,6103.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre turbo diesel options, or 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol HEV, combined with an eight-speed automatic (petrol) eight-speed dual-clutch automatic (diesel) or six-speed automatic (HEV and PHEV)6.1-10.5L/100km petrol and diesel, 6L/100km hybrid130L
Mazda CX-8$63,9002.5-litre four-cylinder petrol, 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, mated to six-speed automatic6.0-8.1L/100km209L
Mazda CX-9$52,4782.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol, paired with six-speed automatic8.4-9L/100km230L
Ford Everest$59,0272.0-litre, bi-turbo diesel four-cylinder or 3.0-litre, single-turbo diesel V6, mated to a 10-speed torque converter automatic7.1-8.5L/100km239L
Nissan X-Trail$47,0772.5-litre four-cylinder petrol, combined with a continuously variable transmission7.4-7.8L/100km 135L
Nissan Pathfinder$77,5593.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6, paired with a nine-speed torque converter automatic10-10.5L/100km205L
Nissan Patrol$89,6495.6-litre naturally-aspirated petrol V8, mated to a seven-speed automatic14.4L/100km467L
Isuzu MU-X$66,8113.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, mated to a six-speed automatic7.8-8.3L/100km311L
Jeep Grand Cherokee L$82,750 (MLP)3.6-litre naturally-aspirated V6, matched with an eight-speed torque-converter automatic10.6L/100km487L
LDV D90$38,9902.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol or 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, with six-speed automatic (petrol) or eight-speed automatic (diesel)9.1-10.9L/100km412L
Archive Whichcar 2018 11 02 Misc Toyota Kluger Boot


ModelStarting price (drive-away)Engine and tranmissionFuel economyCargo space (with all seats up)
Hyundai Staria$53,6853.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre turbo diesel options, paired with eight-speed automatic8.2-10.5L/100km831L
Kia Carnival$51,6903.5-litre petrol V6, 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, mated to eight-speed automatic6.5-9.6L/100km627L
LDV Mifa$53,9902.0-litre turbo-petrol, with eight-speed automatic9.3L/100km466L
Toyota Granvia$75,0342.8-litre four-cylinder diesel, paired with six-speed automatic8L/100kmN/A
4 X 4 Australia Reviews 2022 Ford Everest Platinum Vs Toyota Prado Kakadu 110

Prices current as of March 2023.

News Editor
Samantha Stevens


Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.