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From the Subaru Forester to Honda Shuttle, we dive into a list of cars that may deceive you into thinking they can seat seven - when they actually don't.

04 Jan 2023

Two extra seats.

It doesn't matter if you use them all the time. But having the option is always handy - for giving your friends a lift home, or if personal family planning forecasts change over the course of 10 years. When stowed away, they provide more carrying capacity anyway. 

The trade-off for two extra seats is a large trunk by default (Pictured: Citroen C5 Aircross)
A car's looks often create the impression of how many it can ferry, but as some cleverly-packaged compacts show, shape and length aren't always deciding factors. Contrarily, the following cars may conversely mislead you into thinking that they can seat seven - when only five fit on board (our eyes are trained right on the Honda Shuttle). 

We'll be the first to admit that we're not privy to the engineering restraints faced by our manufacturers. We are, however, all too familiar with the mindsets of consumers. As such, we're also taking on this list with a twist and asking ourselves: Would we like a seven-seater variant for every one of these cars included? 

Subaru Forester

Wheelbase: 2,670m
Boot capacity: 509L
Would we like a seven-seater variant?: Yes

The Forester is a resolute five-seater - even internationally - despite its hunkering size 
No - despite its imposing length and width, the Forester has never been a seven-seater. Ever since the Tribeca, and then the Exiga were discontinued, Subaru has yet to field a proper people-mover in Singapore. In fact, the only car you'll find in its lineup all over the world that has seven seats is the Ascent (the Tribeca’s successor), which is only sold in the U.S.A.

That's led us to think that a variant of the Forester with an extra row could actually do its already widespread popularity some good. While kneeroom is going to be tight right in the rear, the Forester might just manage a third row with its 2,670mm wheelbase, even if that means it's just a 5+2, rather than a proper seven-seater. 

(In case you're still not convinced, you might want to note that the Forester has exactly the same wheelbase as this other mid-sized Japanese SUV that's become a common sight on our roads, although that's only front-wheel driven.)

Honda Shuttle

Wheelbase: 2,530mm
Boot capacity: 570L
Would we like a seven-seater variant?: No

Like the Airwave, the Shuttle's slight elevation and large greenhouse may mislead you into thinking it has a third row of seats - but only a large trunk awaits 
Given their ubiquity on our roads, the parallel-imported Shuttle and its spiritual predecessor, the Airwave, are perhaps most singled out for deceiving more unwitting folks with their looks. 

Chalk this down to the design choices from Honda; the Shuttle's long rear overhangs and taller body are decidedly MPV-esque. In actuality, however, the car is classified as a station wagon, and comes solely with five seats. 

Yet given its short wheelbase of 2,530mm, squeezing in a third row would be foolish anyway. For context, the Honda Freed is shorter overall, but has a wheelbase of 2,740mm.

This is also the exact reason why we think the Shuttle doesn't need to have seven seats. The Freed already covers the compact-MPV segment for Honda, and does so more than capably. 

Citroen C5 Aircross

Wheelbase: 2,730mm
Boot capacity: 580L
Would we like a seven-seater variant?: Yes

Citroen currently also doesn't offer any seven-seaters locally, and could benefit from one in its lineup
Some reshuffling within the larger PSA Group has meant that although the Citroen C5 Aircross was introduced as a brand new nameplate, arguments can be made that it succeeds both the C4 Picasso and the C4 Aircross in some way. 

Underneath, the C5 Aircross actually shares the same EMP2 platform as its seven-seater groupmate, the Peugeot 5008. Both also use the same Cat A COE-friendly, 1.2-litre turbocharged engine in Singapore, although the 5008's wheelbase is longer by just over 100m to accommodate its extra row. While an extra row isn't available in the C5 Aircross, the crossover has a generous 580-litre boot. 

To answer the question, we think there's a good case to be made for it getting stretched slightly to squeeze in more passengers. Citroen faces nearly the same issue as Subaru - its only exception, the Berlingo XL, is a van-based MPV - so a seven-seater variant might work well for the firm. 

BYD e6 

Wheelbase: 2,800mm 
Boot capacity: 580L 
Would we like a seven-seater variant?: Yes

The ICE-variant of the e6 (pictured), named the Song Max, comes with either six or seven seats in China
Unlike the Honda Shuttle, the BYD e6 is actually referred to as a (mini) MPV. Like the Honda Shuttle, however, the car only has five seats. 

The decision to not add an optional third row may seem puzzling at first. The e6 doesn't just look like it can seat seven; in an alternate universe, it actually will. In China, the BYD Song Max - the ICE-powered model from which the e6 is heavily derived - is offered with a third row, and can be configured with either six or seven seats.

Nonetheless, it's quite possible that having to store the battery cells in the car's floor has also taken away some versatility with its space. The M3e works fine as an all-electric seven-seater, but the e6 is just that much sleeker and more alluring, no?

Tesla Model Y

Wheelbase: 2,894mm 
Boot capacity: 971L
Would we like a seven-seater variant?: Maybe

As things stand, variants of the Model Y available in Singapore only come with five seats
Since we're on the topic of all-electric people haulers, it'd be remiss not to bring Tesla into the picture. But this particular Tesla makes for a slight "it's complicated" situation. 

Technically, the Model Y is offered with seven seats - just not in Singapore. There are no long or short wheelbase versions as well, meaning it's a matter of speccing the car and making sure it meets local regulations, rather than changing it mechanically, to bring it into the market.

While the Model Y's powertrain will remain more than sufficient even with two others on board, it's the sheer lack of rear headroom that will likely be the issue, given the Model Y's sloping roofline. (This explains our uncertain stance on its strength as a seven-seater.) Still, there's no doubt the extra seats could widen its already broad appeal for families. 

Volkswagen Touareg 

Wheelbase: 2,904mm
Boot capacity: 810L 
Would we like a seven-seater variant?: Maybe

The Touareg is built on the MLB Evo platform - utilised by the largest cars within the VW Group
To give you an idea of where the Touareg is positioned not just in Volkswagen's lineup but in the entire Volkswagen Group, it shares the same MLB Evo platform as the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne

As a full-sized SUV, the Touareg has all the gargantuan proportions to boot - it's more than 4.8m long, nearly two metres wide, and boasts an incredible wheelbase of 2.9m.

Nonetheless, it appears prioritising comfort for those on board (rather than fitting in more people) has remained an unmoving priority for VW. In all of its three generations thus far, the Touareg has never been a seven-seater.

VW's lineup in Singapore is already well-serviced by the smaller Touran and larger Sharan, so the lack of an extra row in the Touareg isn't much to lament about. In fact, some might say that this coheres more fully perhaps with its status as a luxe barge - wherein superlative comfort for five, rather than space for seven, is the priority.

Still, we're answering 'maybe' purely in anticipation that a seven-seater SUV probably has more appeal to the 2022 consumer than a conventional MPV...

Seven-seater or not, there's bound to be a car that suits your needs in our New Cars listings - and don't forget our Used Cars too if you're on a tighter budget!

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new cars  honda  shuttle  volkswagen  touareg  subaru  forester  tesla  model y  byd  e6