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SUVs and MPVs Prowl in Pics | The best seven-seaters vrooming in India

The top-ten seven seater SUVs and MPVs that dominate one of the fastest growing and most competitive automotive categories in the market.

May 26, 2022 / 11:29 AM IST
SUVs have become the first order of business for all carmakers in the country, with sedans and hatchbacks having steadily lost market share to the SUV segment in the last five years. In a utility-conscious market like India, the next evolutionary step, particularly for mid-size SUVs is to go big or go home. Enter the seven-seater SUV. With the recent inclusion of cars like the Kia Carens, the Hyundai Alcazar and now the Jeep Meridian, it would appear that everyone wants a slice of the 7-seater pie. Here are the ones that provide the greatest value for money.
SUVs have become the first order of business for all carmakers in the country, with sedans and hatchbacks having steadily lost market share to the SUV segment in the last five years. In a utility-conscious market like India, the next evolutionary step, particularly for mid-size SUVs is to go big or go home. Enter the seven-seater SUV. With the recent inclusion of cars like the Kia Carens, the Hyundai Alcazar and now the Jeep Meridian, it would appear that everyone wants a slice of the 7-seater pie. Here are the ones that provide the greatest value for money.
MARUTI SUZUKI ERTIGA | Entry-level | Price: Rs 8.35 lakh onwards (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: 3 stars (2019) | Like: CNG options, practicality | Dislike: Competition offers more features | With a starting price of Rs 8.35 lakh, it’s no surprise that the recently updated Maruti Suzuki Ertiga is presently, the best-selling seven-seater UV in the country. Add to that a CNG-powered variant, and the Ertiga quickly becomes the people-mover of choice. The Ertiga benefits from MS’ extensive service network, easy serviceability and used car value. The facelifted Ertiga gets a 1.5-litre petrol motor with a mild-hybrid system paired to a 6-speed torque converter unit. Thanks to its DualJet engine technology, the new Ertiga is up on power by 2hp (103hp). Its safety quotient has also gone up, with dual airbags as standard and four airbags as optional. With its two issues addressed: power and refinement, coupled with the fact that it is the only CNG-powered option in this category, the Ertiga is unlikely to be dethroned anytime soon. (Image: Maruti Suzuki)
MARUTI SUZUKI ERTIGA | Entry-level | Price: Rs 8.35 lakh onwards (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: 3 stars (2019) | Like: CNG options, practicality | Dislike: Competition offers more features | With a starting price of Rs 8.35 lakh, it’s no surprise that the recently updated Maruti Suzuki Ertiga is presently the best-selling seven-seater UV in the country. Add to that a CNG-powered variant, and the Ertiga quickly becomes the people-mover of choice. The Ertiga benefits from MS’ extensive service network, easy serviceability and used car value. The facelifted Ertiga gets a 1.5-litre petrol motor with a mild-hybrid system paired with a six-speed torque converter unit. Thanks to its DualJet engine technology, the new Ertiga is up on power by 2hp (103hp). Its safety quotient has also gone up, with dual airbags as standard and four airbags as optional. With its two issues addressed -- power and refinement -- coupled with the fact that it is the only CNG-powered option in this category, the Ertiga is unlikely to be dethroned anytime soon. (Image: Maruti Suzuki)
RENAULT TRIBER | Entry-level | Price: Rs 5.76 lakh onwards (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: 4-star | Like: Price point, design, safety | Dislike: Cramped third-row, low on power | Serving as a cheaper alternative to the Ertiga, the Triber, in top-trim gets an optional AMT gearbox and a decently specced-out interior with an 8-inch touchscreen (the Ertiga only gets a 7-inch one). It’s also got a four-star adult occupant safety rating, although we reckon the new Ertiga will also rate significantly higher than the previous model, when tested. Where the Triber loses out is on power, with an anaemic 1.0-litre petrol engine making only 72hp of power – hardly sufficient for a 7-seater family car. It’s also shorter by nearly 400mm than the Ertiga which means a compromised third-row. That and the absence of a CNG-option permanently keeps the Triber from occupying the bestseller spot, despite its highly alluring price tag making it the most affordable seven-seater in the country, after the bare-bones Maruti Eeco. (Image: Renault)
RENAULT TRIBER | Entry-level | Price: Rs 5.76 lakh onwards (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: 4-star | Like: Price point, design, safety | Dislike: Cramped third-row, low on power | Serving as a cheaper alternative to the Ertiga, the Triber in top-trim gets an optional AMT gearbox and a decently specced-out interior with an 8-inch touchscreen (the Ertiga only gets a 7-inch one). It’s also got a four-star adult occupant safety rating, although we reckon the new Ertiga will also rate significantly higher than the previous model, when tested. Where the Triber loses out is on power, with an anaemic 1.0-litre petrol engine making only 72hp of power – hardly sufficient for a 7-seater family car. It’s also shorter by nearly 400mm than the Ertiga which means a compromised third-row. That and the absence of a CNG-option permanently keeps the Triber from occupying the bestseller spot, despite its highly alluring price tag making it the most affordable seven-seater in the country, after the bare-bones Maruti Eeco. (Image: Renault)
MAHINDRA XUV700 | Mid-size SUVs | Price: Rs 16.53 lakh onwards (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: 5-star | Like: Drivetrain refinement, electronic features | Dislike: Prolonged waiting period | The Mahindra XUV700’s extensive waiting period is all the proof you need of its ever-increasing popularity. The XUV700 captured the nation’s attention by offering segment-first features such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, heads-up display, flushed door handles, 360-degree camera etc, albeit on top-end trims only. Still, the XUV700 isn’t an afterthought that followed the XUV500. It gets a new monocoque shell and a punchy, 2-litre petrol engine making nearly 200hp along with a torquey 2.2-litre diesel option both of which are available across a mind-bogglingly long list of variants divided between 5 and 7-seater options. Between all the 7-seater variants, from the AX3 diesel to the top-end AX7 diesel Luxury Pack AWD, you get a robust, powerful and considerably more premium SUV that has the tech, refinement and space (it’s wheelbase is only 32mm shorter than that of the Jeep Meridian) to go up against much more expensive competition. Add to that its high safety credentials (five stars for adult occupant and four for child occupant safety) and the XUV700 becomes the 7-seater of choice for a wide variety of SUV buyers. (Image: Mahindra)
MAHINDRA XUV700 | Mid-size SUVs | Price: Rs 16.53 lakh onwards (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: 5-star | Like: Drivetrain refinement, electronic features | Dislike: Prolonged waiting period | The Mahindra XUV700’s extensive waiting period is all the proof you need of its ever-increasing popularity. The XUV700 captured the nation’s attention by offering segment-first features such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, heads-up display, flushed door handles, 360-degree camera etc, albeit on top-end trims only. Still, the XUV700 isn’t an afterthought that followed the XUV500. It gets a new monocoque shell and a punchy, 2-litre petrol engine making nearly 200hp along with a torquey 2.2-litre diesel option both of which are available across a mind-bogglingly long list of variants divided between 5 and 7-seater options. Between all the 7-seater variants, from the AX3 diesel to the top-end AX7 diesel Luxury Pack AWD, you get a robust, powerful and considerably more premium SUV that has the tech, refinement and space (it’s wheelbase is only 32mm shorter than that of the Jeep Meridian) to go up against much more expensive competition. Add to that its high safety credentials (five stars for adult occupant and four for child occupant safety) and the XUV700 becomes the 7-seater of choice for a wide variety of SUV buyers. (Image: Mahindra)
KIA CARENS | Mid-size SUVs | Price: Rs 8.99 lakh onwards (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: N/A | Like: Top-notch interior finish, great head and legroom, twin-clutch AT gearbox | Dislike: Base-level engine can feel underwhelming | Arriving hot on the coattails of the best-selling Kia Seltos is the oddly-named Kia Carens which makes it to this list with a scarcely believable starting price of Rs 8.9 lakh. For this, you get a base-level 1.5-litre petrol motor, while the more expensive 1.4 turbo-petrol option starts at Rs 10.99 lakh (going up to Rs 16.99 lakh for the top-end petrol AT). All variants get a standard seven-seater configuration (except a top-end 6-seater featuring two captain seats in the middle row). With the Seltos’ wheelbase stretched by a good 160mm, the Carens is a considerably roomier alternative to the Seltos, opting for an MPV look with a few SUV-ish embellishments. (Image: Kia)
KIA CARENS | Mid-size SUVs | Price: Rs 8.99 lakh onwards (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: N/A | Like: Top-notch interior finish, great head and legroom, twin-clutch AT gearbox | Dislike: Base-level engine can feel underwhelming | Arriving hot on the coattails of the best-selling Kia Seltos is the oddly-named Kia Carens which makes it to this list with a scarcely believable starting price of Rs 8.9 lakh. For this, you get a base-level 1.5-litre petrol motor, while the more expensive 1.4 turbo-petrol option starts at Rs 10.99 lakh (going up to Rs 16.99 lakh for the top-end petrol AT). All variants get a standard seven-seater configuration (except a top-end 6-seater featuring two captain seats in the middle row). With the Seltos’ wheelbase stretched by a good 160mm, the Carens is a considerably roomier alternative to the Seltos, opting for an MPV look with a few SUV-ish embellishments. (Image: Kia)
TATA SAFARI | Mid-size SUVs | Price: Rs 14.69 lakh (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: N/A (Although smaller Tata cars have consistently rated very high in terms of safety) | Likes: Third-row seats, interiors | Dislike: Absence of petrol option, multimedia interface not contemporary enough | While struggling to hold a candle to the XUV700, the Tata Safari is still a formidable offering. Based on the Harrier’s platform, the Safari may not have the charm of its predecessor, but it does have a third-row that does not require amputation. It also has a 2.0-litre diesel engine that feels less agricultural than before, a spruced-up interior with brushed surfaces and white leatherette seats. (Image: Tata Motors)
TATA SAFARI | Mid-size SUVs | Price: Rs 14.69 lakh (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: N/A (Although smaller Tata cars have consistently rated very high in terms of safety) | Likes: Third-row seats, interiors | Dislike: Absence of petrol option, multimedia interface not contemporary enough | While struggling to hold a candle to the XUV700, the Tata Safari is still a formidable offering. Based on the Harrier’s platform, the Safari may not have the charm of its predecessor, but it does have a third-row that does not require amputation. It also has a 2.0-litre diesel engine that feels less agricultural than before, a spruced-up interior with brushed surfaces and white leatherette seats. (Image: Tata Motors)
HYUNDAI ALCAZAR | Mid-size SUVs | Price: Rs 16.44 lakh onwards | Global NCAP rating: NA | Like: Space, Fuel efficiency, well-equipped interiors | Dislike: Inadequate power levels | The Hyundai Alcazar may be the lesser child of the three-row SUV club, but that’s primarily due to how fiercely competitive and developed the segment is. Based on the best-selling Hyundai Creta, the Alcazar comes with two engine options – a 2.0-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel. Unfortunately, given the higher power levels that are easily available in the segment, the Alcazar’s meagre power output (from both engines) leaves a lot to be desired. However, fuel efficiency is higher than what its rivals offer. (Image: Hyundai)
HYUNDAI ALCAZAR | Mid-size SUVs | Price: Rs 16.44 lakh onwards | Global NCAP rating: NA | Like: Space, Fuel efficiency, well-equipped interiors | Dislike: Inadequate power levels | The Hyundai Alcazar may be the lesser child of the three-row SUV club, but that’s primarily due to how fiercely competitive and developed the segment is. Based on the best-selling Hyundai Creta, the Alcazar comes with two engine options – a 2.0-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel. Unfortunately, given the higher power levels that are easily available in the segment, the Alcazar’s meagre power output (from both engines) leaves a lot to be desired. However, fuel efficiency is higher than what its rivals offer. (Image: Hyundai)
JEEP MERIDIAN | D-Segment SUVs | Price: Rs 29.9 lakh onwards | Global NCAP rating: NA | Like: 9-speed AT, refinement, 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, pricing | Dislike: Engine could be punchier | Sweeping-in and grabbing the spot vacated by the Ford Endeavour, Jeep India has launched the three-row Meridian. While the Meridian is yet to prove its mettle by taking on the Toyota Fortuner, it does appear to have two things working for it: disruptive pricing and Jeep pedigree. Based on the same platform as the Compass, the Meridian also gets the same powertrain. And while power levels might be modest for an SUV of its size – a 9-speed automatic, AWD capabilities (in higher trims) and contemporary interiors are what work in its favour. The absence of a petrol engine isn’t likely to factor in its sales. (Image: Jeep India)
JEEP MERIDIAN | D-Segment SUVs | Price: Rs 29.9 lakh onwards | Global NCAP rating: NA | Like: 9-speed AT, refinement, 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, pricing | Dislike: Engine could be punchier | Sweeping-in and grabbing the spot vacated by the Ford Endeavour, Jeep India has launched the three-row Meridian. While the Meridian is yet to prove its mettle by taking on the Toyota Fortuner, it does appear to have two things working for it: disruptive pricing and Jeep pedigree. Based on the same platform as the Compass, the Meridian also gets the same powertrain. And while power levels might be modest for an SUV of its size – a 9-speed automatic, AWD capabilities (in higher trims) and contemporary interiors are what work in its favour. The absence of a petrol engine isn’t likely to factor in its sales. (Image: Jeep India)
TOYOTA FORTUNER | D-Segment SUVs | Price: Rs 31.79 lakh onward | Global NCAP rating: N/A | ASEAN NCAP rating: 5 stars for adult occupant safety | Likes: Tank-like build quality, ride height and dimensions, power levels, petrol option | Dislike: Price too high, multimedia options could be better, engine is low on refinement | The SUV of choice for realtors, politicians and off-roading enthusiasts, the Fortuner has proven nearly impossible to replace over the last decade. Ever since its launch in 2009, the Innova-based SUV’s domineering road-presence has earned it a stronger customer base than pretty much any full-sized SUV in the country. However, if there’s anything working against it at the moment, it’s a high price tag ranging from Rs 31.79 lakh to Rs 48.43 lakh (4x4 AWD diesel AT). For that you get a car that’s taller and longer than the Meridian (although the Meridian gets a longer wheelbase) it’s also got a larger 2.8-litre diesel with 201bhp of power and a segment topping 500 Nm of torque (for the diesel AT). (Image: Toyota Bharat)
TOYOTA FORTUNER | D-Segment SUVs | Price: Rs 31.79 lakh onward | Global NCAP rating: N/A | ASEAN NCAP rating: 5 stars for adult occupant safety | Likes: Tank-like build quality, ride height and dimensions, power levels, petrol option | Dislike: Price too high, multimedia options could be better, engine is low on refinement | The SUV of choice for realtors, politicians and off-roading enthusiasts, the Fortuner has proven nearly impossible to replace over the last decade. Ever since its launch in 2009, the Innova-based SUV’s domineering road-presence has earned it a stronger customer base than pretty much any full-sized SUV in the country. However, if there’s anything working against it at the moment, it’s a high price tag ranging from Rs 31.79 lakh to Rs 48.43 lakh (4x4 AWD diesel AT). For that you get a car that’s taller and longer than the Meridian (although the Meridian gets a longer wheelbase) it’s also got a larger 2.8-litre diesel with 201bhp of power and a segment topping 500 Nm of torque (for the diesel AT). (Image: Toyota Bharat)
MG GLOSTER | D-Segment SUVs | Price: Rs 31.9 lakh onwards (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: NA | The MG Gloster looks and feels like a proper, old-school, body-on-frame SUV. It’s got truly plush interiors (lifted straight out of modern BMWs), some nifty ADAS including fatigue detection, blind spot monitoring and autonomous emergency braking which elevates this SUV above the segment it operates in. Its gigantic proportions make for a sizable third-row and its 2.0-litre, twin-turbo diesel motor makes a solid 218hp and 480Nm of power – the most of any of its competitors. For its bevy of electronic aids, upscale interiors and on-demand AWD system, the MG Gloster is a fairly compelling choice. (Image: MG Motor)
MG GLOSTER | D-Segment SUVs | Price: Rs 31.9 lakh onwards (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: NA | The MG Gloster looks and feels like a proper, old-school, body-on-frame SUV. It’s got truly plush interiors (lifted straight out of modern BMWs), some nifty ADAS including fatigue detection, blind spot monitoring and autonomous emergency braking which elevates this SUV above the segment it operates in. Its gigantic proportions make for a sizable third-row and its 2.0-litre, twin-turbo diesel motor makes a solid 218hp and 480Nm of power – the most of any of its competitors. For its bevy of electronic aids, upscale interiors and on-demand AWD system, the MG Gloster is a fairly compelling choice. (Image: MG Motor)
TOYOTA INNOVA CRYSTA | D-Segment SUVs | Price: Rs 17.8 lakh onward (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: N/A | ASEAN NCAP: 5-stars | Like: Reliability, space and comfort | Dislike: Diesel engine feels unrefined and agricultural, dated interior | The OG MPV, the Innova continues to be a big seller because it still continues to get the essentials right. The Innova’s legendary build quality is available at a fairly acceptable price point of Rs 17.8 lakh. And while it may be a bit rough around the edges, with a dated multimedia system and an agricultural diesel motor – its reliability and comfort are all that’s needed for it to remain a mainstay of Toyota’s India line-up. (Image: Toyota Bharat)
TOYOTA INNOVA CRYSTA | D-Segment SUVs | Price: Rs 17.8 lakh onward (ex-showroom) | Global NCAP rating: N/A | ASEAN NCAP: 5-stars | Like: Reliability, space and comfort | Dislike: Diesel engine feels unrefined and agricultural, dated interior | The OG MPV, the Innova continues to be a big seller because it still continues to get the essentials right. The Innova’s legendary build quality is available at a fairly acceptable price point of Rs 17.8 lakh. And while it may be a bit rough around the edges, with a dated multimedia system and an agricultural diesel motor – its reliability and comfort are all that’s needed for it to remain a mainstay of Toyota’s India line-up. (Image: Toyota Bharat)
Parth Charan is a Mumbai-based writer who’s written extensively on cars for over seven years.
first published: May 26, 2022 11:16 am
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