01 February 2010

Magnificent Sevens

OUTthere Magazine : Issue 68

Whether it’s expressing the soccer team to their Saturday showdown or packing the troupe for a weekend getaway, the modern seven-seater is a triumph in family logistics. Gone are the days of bench seats, lap riding and rolling around the rear of the station wagon. We survey the standout performers.

Are we never satisfied? Folks my age remember packing the family into the vinyl upholstered station wagon, sliding along the bench seat sometimes four or five skinny kids wide and sweating it out all the way to the beach. No wonder backyard pools were so popular.

Today’s checklist for modern people-movers include air-conditioning, leather bucket seats with lap/sash belts for all and a barrage of airbags inside a reinforced and galvanized chassis. The boxy minivans of the ‘80s and early ‘90s are passé now that seven adults can travel in luxurious comfort in a vehicle smaller than the old HQ. Don’t even mention fuel economy.

Honda Odyssey

Exemplary build quality and safety makes the sleek, multi award-winning Odyssey a perfect tourer for the larger family in the better neighbourhood. With 2.4L DOHC i-VTEC engine and 5-speed auto, the fourth generation model begins at $41,990 for standard.

Holden Captiva 7

The Korean-built Captiva SUV is a hit with mums according to AutoChic website. Small families can even downsize to the 5-seat version and go 2WD too. An economical diesel is available and bags of safety features too like ABS and electronic stability control (ESP). Captiva 7 starts at $35,490

Subaru Tribeca 3.6R Premium

A slow starter in the market, the latest Tribeca AWD squarely addresses initial criticisms by smartening up the styling and bulking up under the bonnet. Handy as a light off-roader, the Tribeca has all the smart Subaru gear and the new 3.6l engine kicks 190kW. Save up though. Starts at $58,990

Mazda CX-9 Classic

First introduced in late ’07, the latest CX-9 is in showrooms now and is absolutely chockers with all the latest safety kit and driver aids and $2k cheaper than the model it replaces. Bold new styling and ballsy 3.7l V6 sets CX-9 apart. Classic starts at $49,990

Toyota Tarago V6 GLi

Tarago is almost a euphemism for people-mover, but today’s offering is a far cry from the minibus–like van introduced 26 years ago. Tarago, which is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning “my country” is only sold in Australia with this badge. Available in lusty 3.5 V6 (starts $54,690) or 2.4 litre 4-cylinder ($49,490)

Ford Territory TS RWD

The locally designed Territory has always been a hit with Aussie families. The big 4.0l six and sure-footed 2- or 4WD options made the burly SUV an instant hit with boat owners, caravanners and sports mums. With a new look for 2009, the extra seats only some with TS RWD ($44,490)

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