A SEVEN-SEATER SUV means more compromises than a minority government in Canberra.
You can fit seven but what about prams, bicycles, bags — let alone the gear for a holiday?
That’s why people-movers are still the smart choice for Brady Bunch families or anyone who needs seven seats for more than just a footie match or a weekend away.
What would I choose? central column with outlets for phone et al.
The gear shifter is angled northeast of the steering column so you won’t be forever knocking it into neutral al la Mercedes. Cop the torch inside the rear compartment and — of course — the versatility afforded by flat-folding the second and third-row seats.
Then there’s the stuff you stumble upon later — underfloor storage for the second row means iPads won’t be stamped on and unfinished food will rot to compost.
Few of these fixtures are unique but the way in which they’re seamlessly integrated is. There’s the family car then there’s this one, almost Kia Grand Carnival (From $38,990) The fully loaded Platinum has leather seats and electric sliding doors, yet is still relatively affordable (it’s from $52,290). But the basics are all good. It’s the smart — and value — choice for heavy hauling. Mercedes-Benz Viano (From $78,635) Yes, it’s expensive, and it’s as boxy as anything that arrives from FedEx, but the Viano is a van with class and quality. If you have the money, it’s the right choice for moving lots of people redefining that notion. Hard to think the great cubist, whose name adorns the tail, would not have been taken with it.
To the formidable array of cameras and alarms, add crashworthiness. The European safety agency’s fivestar award includes 88 per cent for child protection.
The practical motif extends to the drive. Stylish and clever though it is, dynamically the Picasso is filed under “device”. What of it? Our drive out of Auckland on Tuesday taxes it with no greater weight than two upfront but it’s hard to see how this drivetrain will labour under load. It’s quick to summon all and it also has enough luxury to ensure holidays are not a chore. Two Hyundai i20s ($15,590 each) You cannot fit seven people into a baby i20, but you can if you get a pair. And that will still cost less than a peoplemover, with far more flexibility for days when you don’t need all the seats. With the conflicting needs of 21stcentury families, two cheapto-run tiddlers make more sense than a giant toddler.
370Nm at the flex of your foot or, if that’s somehow too slow, by clicking the paddle-shifter.
Avoid the swank of optional 18-inchers. These look hot but a bling family bus is not the last word in style — and they’re apt to convey within the noise and feel of coarser surfaces.
A Picasso steers with zero effort, though the wheel weights up somewhat with speed. We’ll take another look when we can collar rear-seat volunteers.
Experience indicates that the more on board the more relaxed and comfortable this construct becomes. Which is rather the point. This burgeoning class of car acquires a new leader. This is one we’d have.