The default large family car is usually a seven-seater, but if you want something a bit different, you should consider something with six seats instead.

They’re not as common to find, but six-seat cars come in various shapes and sizes, from MPVs, SUVs and also van-based people carriers. There are two main types – a ‘3+3’ layout or a ‘2+2+2’, depending on your needs and the type of vehicle.

Still offering plenty in the way of space and usability, the six-seat layout is sometimes adopted on more luxurious-oriented vehicles as a result.

The best 6 seater cars to buy

Six-seater cars come in lots of shapes and sizes to suit a range of budgets, including MPVs, SUVs and also van-based people carriers. We’ve picked out some of the best that are worth taking a look at.

1. Honda FR-V (2004-2009)

The FR-V was Honda’s last MPV to be sold in the UK, and it’s a car that is often forgotten about with the exception of one feature – the fact it came with six seats as standard. The FR-V adopted a the ‘3+3’ configuration, which Honda said was ideal for allowing parents, grandparents and children to travel together.

Despite not being on sale for almost 15 years, there remains a good number to choose from on the used market, with used prices starting from as little as £1,500. Honda’s excellent reliability reputation and practical interior makes it ideal as a cheap family car.

Best Features

  • The 3+3 layout is a practical configuration
  • Great reliability reputation
  • Comfortable ride

Things to consider

  • Diesel versions will not be Ulez compliant
  • Automatic gearbox isn’t the best; the manual is better
  • Interior feels and looks its age

2. BMW X7 (2019-present)

The X7 arrived in 2019 as BMW’s flagship SUV, and is one of the most luxurious vehicles of this type available. While it comes with seven seats as standard, as an option, it’s available in a ‘2+2+2’ configuration, which is deemed to give the car a more upmarket feel.

The middle rear seats feature ‘captain’s chairs’, which have their own armrests and are ideal for using the X7 as more of a business vehicle. With a great choice of petrol and diesel engines and a supremely comfortable ride, this BMW is an ideal luxurious six-seater, though it doesn’t come cheap.

Best Features

  • Luxurious interior
  • Fantastic engines
  • Huge interior space

Things to consider

  • Six-seat configuration is optional and is quite rare on used models
  • Bold exterior styling won’t be to everyone’s tastes
  • Vast dimensions – the X7 is longer than a Range Rover

3. Ford Transit Custom (2014-present)

As we’ve mentioned, six-seaters come in all different forms, and this can also include commercial vehicles. Often referred to as a ‘crew cab’, these vans get a second row of three seats and rear windows, while still having a van load area behind the bulkhead.

One of the most popular and best vehicles of this type is the Ford Transit Custom. It’s far better to drive than you would expect it to be and comes with plenty of the creature comforts typical with any normal car. If you want your vehicle to double-up as a family and works vehicle, the Transit Custom is an interesting alternative.

Best Features

  • Mix of personal and work vehicles
  • Car-like to drive
  • Plenty of modern features

Things to consider

  • Quite sizable to drive and park
  • Security concerns on models with keyless entry
  • It’s not a typical car by any means

4. Tesla Model X (2016-present)

If you’re looking for an electric seven-seater, the Tesla Model X is one of very few options. Introduced in 2016, the X remains Tesla’s largest car to date, taking up a big footprint.

Boasting a range of up to 300 miles, the Model X is a highly-practical EV that can easily be used for longer trips, aided by Tesla’s fantastic Supercharger network. The performance from this large SUV is exceptional, too. However, it was an option to have six seats on the Model X, meaning that not all used examples you’ll see for sale will have them.

Best Features

  • Great electric range and performance
  • High-tech look and feel
  • Access to Tesla’s excellent supercharger network

Things to consider

  • Awkward styling
  • Six seats were optional
  • Some interior quality issues

5. Fiat Multipla (2000-2010)

Fiat was the firm that kickstarted the six-seat MPV idea with the oddball Multipla in 2000. While the styling is certainly divisive, it’s hard to knock this Fiat for its hugely spacious interior and innovative cabin concept. Like the Honda FR-V, the Multipla has a ‘3+3’ seating configuration.

Fiat toned down the styling of the Mutipla in 2004, and most of the examples you’ll see for sale will be of this latest model. The Multipla might not be cool, but its clever interior and low price make it an enticing six-seat option.

Best Features

  • The Multipla helped to create the six-seat concept
  • Spacious interior
  • Comfortable

Things to consider

  • Ugly looks on early cars
  • Quite rare to find these days
  • Questionable reliability

6. Mercedes R-Class (2006-2012)

One of the most oddball Mercedes has ever made is the R-Class, sold between 2006 and 2012. Often forgotten about next to the firm’s better-known SUVs, the R-Class is a luxurious MPV that came as standard in a luxurious ‘2+2+2’ seating configuration.

Easily able to six seat adults in comfort, it’s almost a shame the R-Class wasn’t better received when it was new, as it’s now a rare sight. Ideal for longer journeys thanks to its comfortable ride, a great range of engines were also offered with this Mercedes.

Best Features

  • Clever interior offers loads of space for six adults
  • Very comfortable ride
  • Low price for the sheer amount of car

Things to consider

  • Six seats aren’t all that common, and neither is the R-Class itself
  • Maintenance bills are likely to be costly
  • Feels large to drive and park

What should you consider when buying a 6 seater car?

If you’re looking at buying a 6 seater car, there are three main considerations to think about. Let’s take a look.

Would a seven-seater be more suitable?

Yes, while a six-seater configuration makes sense in some instances, it’s worth questioning why seven-seaters are far more common. The tried-and-tested ‘2+3+2’ has become the norm for large family cars, though if you think it doesn’t suit you, the six-seater configuration has its pros.

Six-seaters are often family vehicles

Six-seaters, particularly as MPVs, are often used as family cars, so there are several considerations that come from this. Make sure there are no signs of excessive wear inside and out. Family cars are often used for the school run, where bumps and dings are more likely. Similarly, check the seats fold, slide and recline as they should.

Choose the type of six seater that works for you

As we’ve mentioned, there are two types of configurations, depending on your needs. The 2+2+2 is usually associated with luxurious vehicles, and frees up more space and gives the feel of a more premium model courtesy of six individual seats.

The 3+3 layout is more commonly associated with utility and family vehicles, hence why it’s more commonly adopted with MPVs and commercial vehicles. Which suits you best will depend on your needs.

Why should you buy a six seater car?

While seven-seaters might be more common, there are key reasons why you might want to consider a six-seater version instead. First is the illusion of space, as with typically individual chairs, it can help passengers feel more ease if they have their own particular seat, rather than sharing a bench. It’s why high-end SUVs like the BMW X7 and upcoming Kia EV9 are available with this layout.

Six-seaters can also allow a smaller car to offer more seats in a more compact package. Honda’s clever FR-V, for example, was no longer than a current Volkswagen Golf, and gave the car a lot of space for relatively small dimensions.