When it comes to the transporting of seven passengers with one of the best eight seater SUVs, there are a couple of solutions available. You can choose to go with the traditional full-size Truck-based SUV and get massive towing capability along with the commodious interior and a four-wheel drive option; or you can focus primarily on the people and go with one of the new breed of large crossover—and all-wheel drive if you need the extra traction. Either way, there are quite a few very good choices out there these days, a number of which have been significantly reworked for the 2015 model year.
Buick Enclave/Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia
Miracles of packaging efficiency, GM’s intermediate crossovers are remarkably capacious. To seat eight, you’ll forego second row captain’s chairs in favor of a bench, but that’s about all you’ll give up. Among these three, your choice will largely depend upon your preferred look and feature set. The Buick offers the most luxury; the GMC bridges the span between the Buick and the Chevrolet. The base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 with 281 horsepower and 266 ft-lbs of torque, the upgrade is the same displacement configured to produce 288 horsepower and 270 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic feeds front wheels; all-wheel drive is offered as an option. Pricing starts at $39,050 for Enclave, $33,975 for Acadia, and $30,995 for Traverse.
Cadillac Escalade ESV
If you’re looking for the most luxurious automobile you can find with seating for up to eight, the newly redesigned Cadillac Escalade ESV is certainly in the running in that regard. In addition to styling reminiscent of the Presidential limousine, the typical Cadillac opulence is teamed with a powerful 6.2-liter V8 good for 420 horsepower and 460 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic feeds the rear wheels in the standard configuration, with four-wheel drive also available. Other standard features include 20-inch chrome wheels, running boards, a magnetic suspension system, automatic LED headlights, navigation, keyless entry and start, remote start, a Bose noise cancelling audio system, tri-zone automatic climate control, and split power folding third row seats. Pricing starts at $73,965.
Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL
Fully redesigned for 2015, while the Suburban and Yukon are essentially identical in terms of platform, they differ in the richness of their comfort and convenience content and power output. The GMC gets the nod as the more luxurious and more powerful of the two. The Suburban uses a 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower and 383 ft-lbs of torque. Yukon XL runs the 5.3 as its base engine, while also offering a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 ft-lbs of torque with Yukon XL Denali A six-speed automatic feeds either the rear wheels or all four if four-wheel drive is chosen. Pricing starts at $48,250 for the Suburban, $49,690 for the Yukon XL, and $66,470 for Yukon XL Denali.
A mild update for 2015 brings a new engine, new suspension options, and a styling refresh both inside and out for Ford’s full-size SUV. One of the largest SUVs on the market today, Expedition surprises in that it completely eschews V8 power. Instead, Ford fits its EcoBoost turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 good for 365 horsepower and 420 ft-lbs of torque. The Expedition’s new adjustable suspension system gives drivers a choice between super soft Comfort, in-between Normal, or a more stiff Sport setting. Other standard features include automatic headlights, running boards, a roof rack, a rear parking sensor array, Bluetooth, keyless entry, power adjustable pedals, Ford’s Sync voice control functions, rear audio controls, and a rear view camera. Pricing starts at $43,845.
Having been around for going on six years now, Honda’s Pilot goes into the 2015 model year slightl behind its recently redesigned competitors. However, it is still a truly commodious eight-passenger vehicle with a smaller footprint than most of its rivals. Pilot also offers more economical motoring, with its 3.5-liter V6 making 250 horsepower and 253 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed automatic and front drive complete the standard powertrain, but all-wheel drive is an option. Standard features include keyless entry, cruise control, tri-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth. Options include rear-seat entertainment, heated front seats, a sunroof, satellite radio, roof rails, front and rear parking sensor arrays, automatic headlights, navigation, and voice controls. Pricing starts at $29,870.
Large and in charge, the Infiniti QX80 is positively intimidating in terms of its overall size. It’s also one of the most luxurious SUVs you can buy capable of seating eight people. However, it should be noted only small children best occupy the third row. Power comes from a 5.6-liter V8 with 400 horsepower and 423 ft-lbs of torque. A seven speed automatic transmits power to the rear wheels, while four-wheel drive is offered as an option. Automatic bi-xenon headlights, a sunroof, roof rails, a power liftgate, keyless entry and ignition, and automatic tri-zone climate control lead the list of standard features. Also offered is back up collision intervention, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and lane keeping. Pricing starts at $63,250.
Lincoln Navigator L
Reworked a bit for the 2015 model year, the Navigator gets new styling both front and rear, along with new interior décor and one of Ford’s new EcoBoost engines. The 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 makes 380 horsepower and 460 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic feeds the rear wheels, and four-wheel drive is an option. Properly configured, it’ll tow 9,000 pounds. Standard features include xenon headlights, a heavy-duty tow package, automatic wipers, front and rear parking sensor arrays, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear controls, Sync voice command for secondary functions, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and a 14-speaker surround audio system. Navigator L pricing starts at $64,285.
If you need to carry seven other people, but towing isn’t an issue, Toyota’s Highlander may fill the bill, and be a bit more economical to operate than full-size truck based SUVs. Two engine choices are offered. The base engine is a 2.7-liter four with 185 horsepower and 184 ft-lbs of torque. The larger engine is a 3.5-liter V6 with 270 horsepower and 248 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic feeds either the front wheels or all four if you get AWD. Standard features include automatic headlights, heated exterior mirrors, cruise control, a rearview camera, a touchscreen interface, a sliding and reclining second-row seat, a voice controlled audio system, and Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming. Pricing starts at $29,415.
Toyota’s truck-based full-size SUV, while beginning to show its age, is still one of the best 8 seater SUVs out there. Quiet and smooth in operation, it offers a cavernous interior, and unlike many of its competitors, is actually capable off road. Power comes from a 5.7-liter V8 with 381 horsepower and 410 ft-lbs of torque. Rear drive and a six-speed automatic transmission complete the standard powertrain, but four-wheel drive with low gearing and a locking limited slip differential is optional. Other standard features include a windshield wiper de-icer, heated mirrors, a sunroof, keyless entry, running boards, a roof rack, a power operated rear window, cruise control, Bluetooth, a touchscreen interface, and tri-zone automatic climate control. Pricing starts at $44,395.