Are 7 and 8-seater vehicles the new 5-seater cars?

Many hatchbacks, sedans, C-SUVs, claim to be 5-seaters but there is proper space for getting only 4 onboard. In 7 and 8-seater vehicles, you can easily accommodate 5 people.

BHPian chinmaypillay recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hi Everyone,

Recent car reviews and launches over the years have left me wondering about the actual space utilization aspect of the cars available nowadays.

I noticed that though many hatchbacks, sedans, C-SUVs, etc., claim to be 5 seaters, there is only proper space available for 4 in comfort. Whereas, in the 7/8 seaters is where you can seat a minimum of 5 in comfort. The last row, though hopeless in many SUVs, at least provide the option to seat 5 to 6 in better comfort.

For example, Superb has extraordinary space but still is a proper 4 seater. Same goes for the sedans in the luxury segment, I suppose. It’s like the offer provided by payment apps, 100% cashback till Rs.50.

Earlier, the Indicas used to boast proper access for 5 seaters. I used to admire the space concept of the early Honda City too, where the central tunnel is not intruding. Though driving dynamics are important, comfort is also required when families are present especially for a 1-car garage. This was the main reason Polo was ruled out many years back when in the market for a hatchback, ended with the Figo 1st gen which had a decent mix of both.

I find the following factors which encourage this trend:

  • Increased cost for third occupant (seat belt, central tunnel)
  • Nuclear families and concept of 2-car garage

Would the seating capacity be a motivator for you to move to C-SUVs, MUVs or proper SUVs? Love to hear your opinions as I do not see this trend going away soon, I loved the superb.

Here's what BHPian abhishek46 had to say on the matter:

We have a similar thread here.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, the 4m rules do not have any bearing on the 4 or 5 seating capacities. Just have a look at the XUV300. Its rear seat can easily seat 3 people abreast.

Here's what BHPian PrideRed had to say on the matter:

The cars are still as wide and some cases even wider. The seats are also bigger but they are sculpted and made suitable for 2 rather than 3. The yesteryear cars had flat seats which helped to accommodate a 3rd passenger. I recall Omni as a spacious car and we used to travel 6-7 adults plus kids long ago when we had one. I recently got to sit in a relatively newer Omni and there is no way more than 2 adults can sit in the back seat. So what has changed?

  • We are used to the better comfort now and sitting with your shoulder scratching against fellow passengers is no longer termed comfortable.
  • Armrests, seatbelts, rear AC vents lateral support were unheard of in the past. The concept of door pads in mainstream cars was limited to slim plastic/pieces of cardboard.
  • Knee room/legroom was inexistent. Just check Fiat/Ambassador/800 they hardly have legroom but 3 people would happily squeeze in.
  • Cars like Etios/Indica/Verito were transition. They had flat seats but then had a good wheelbase (a trait of modern cars) which gave more legroom.
  • Lastly, this is just my guess, as an individual too, we are taller than our previous generation. This is something I have seen within my family and friends circle. I haven't done any research but I won't be surprised if the average height of folks has gone up over years.

Here's what BHPian JoshMachine had to say on the matter:

For me, yes, a higher seating capacity is one of the prime reasons why I would ever consider upgrading to an SUV (along with perhaps an AWD/4*4).

Having said this, compact/crossover SUVs still find it challenging to seat 3 adults in the rear seat in quite a few cases.

To add to the conundrum, it’s not as if sedans are shrinking width-wise. In fact, every gen seems to get wider in the rear seat. But, with creature comforts increasingly taking priority on the back seat (check out the Camry's rear seat arm-rest!), the overall value proposition of the rear seat has also undergone a huge transition with every gen for sedans, especially.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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