Have you seen the footage of what happens to young passengers in rear facing seat in the back of estates when some one rams from behind? Quite alarming. Having said that I had a Volvo 240 when my lot were young with the rear seats and they loved it.
7 seater estates are a bit thin on the ground as you know but your other limiting factor is actually three child booster seats across the middle row.
I think the E class can just about do it from what I have read on here in the past.
Not sure about the V70 as Volvo themselves only offer two booster seats in the rear seat as a factory option.
The other modern car mentioned is the Pug and that is from a class smaller.
We looked at a Volvo 960 before we settled on an mpv (Fiat Ullyse, now replaced with an Espace). Very nice car, but not practical for what we wanted as we have 4 children.
I think, as other posters have said, you may find it difficult getting three booster seats across the back seat and getting three children into those seats and strapped in - especially as regards three point belts rather than a lap belt in the centre seat. We usually leave the middle seat in the Espace out, ensuring all the children are in three point belts and have their own separate seats which cuts down on "conflicts" on longer journeys.
You could get a v70 with three retractable child seats built into the rear seats as well as the two dickie seats in the back.
One thing to watch is that not all extra seats are child seats (ie the correct euro standard is it R44 or something?).
We bough the V70 7 seater after talking to vosa and the DoT. I was told that the E-class rear seats at that time were not approved for use as child seats so you would be looking at putting child seats on the dickie seats.
I was a bit surprised when I saw this option in the new W212 E Class estate, because I never saw it in the W211 estate and Volvo categorically stated it would not be available in the current V70. That's why I highlighted it in the news item about the W212 estate.
It's certainly available on the W211 because I'm looking for one at the moment. I almost certain a previous generation V70 or W211 are the only options if you're looking for a 2-3 year old family estate car with 7 seats. 307SWs can be fitted with 7 seats, but they don't fold flat and it's very small in the boot.
For new cars, I think the W212 is now the only car with a 7 seat option on the market.
I had a W211 with the rear child seats - they are OK-ish, but only for smaller kids. Being rear-facing, car sickness can be an 'issue' (or was it my driving?) and there's no boot space with the seats up. Crash-worthiness isn't really an issue (compared to an MPV), because in many MPVs your head is nearer the back window, and isn't that more important?
I have fond memories of a Pug 504 Familiale estate we had when I were a nipper. 7 forward-facing seats and a boot!
Your best bet would be an S-Max, if it had a spare wheel ...
I had an W211 estate (I think MB call it an S211 in estate form don't they?) in '04 and that had the rear facing child seats in it. It was a company car and chosen from dealer stock. I seem to recall three of the four cars available had this option fitted.
a few year back we had a r reg mitsubushi space wagon , fantastic car , 2 very back seats look like normal except one quick lever and a push from behind they folded into floor , i know they did a newer diesel model and even newer still is the grandis
You don't want an MPV, so I'm not going to annoy you by telling you how good the S-Max is, how I actually prefer driving mine to the £60k A8 I had before, or any of the lovely exec / luxury cars that preceded it, I'm not going to tell you that it's like having a Mondeo estate but with a better view of the road, more room for the kids 3 across, easier to park, more boot space in 5 seat mode, I'm not going to tell you that if you did get one, which you shouldn't of course, that you should try to stretch to the 2.2 diesel or the 2.5 petrol as those engines and their better gearbox and brakes really make the car, sorry, MPV.
In fact, please just ignore this post altogether !
You say you don't want an MPV, but have you tried one? The Ford Galaxy / VW Sharan / Seat Alhambra are nice to drive. Even in their original form they were good. Of course, Ford is no longer part of the co-operative project, having replaced their version with a new Galaxy of their own design.
Also the latest Renault Espace is nice to drive, although earlier versions have awkward pedal positions.
Peugeot 406 estate came with a 7-seat option IIRC. No-one seems to have mentioned it
Peugeot 308 SW hasn't been mentioned yet either - that's got a 7 seat option hasn't it? Had a brand new 308 HDi 1.6 (hatchback) on hire a couple of weeks ago and it's perfectly reasonable in most respects.
Maybe if the OP came back and gave us a bit more information on budgets, reasons against MPVs etc then we all may be able to offer more constructive advice?
After all , what is the definition of an MPV, who decides what is and isn't one?
Multi purpose vehicle? Whats that ? A Panda 4x4, a Porsche Pannamera?
My dad used to have a Peugeot 504 Family Estate - prior to that we had a succession of Cortina Estates and as soon as he got the Peugeot, all the car sickness stopped straight away. We put it down to the 3 individual seats in the middle and the higher seating position.
Fantastic car even though it was a sort of diluted brown colour.....
Rear facing seats? Pah! There were 5 of us kids and we toured all over Europe with the caravan attached to a Cortina 2.3 Ghia Estate (with vinyl roof!). Three kids in back, 2 in the boot. When you wanted to swap positions you just climbed over the seats.
I wouldn't bother with a Discovery unless you need low ratio. While it is no doubt a nice car, running costs are ridiculous and reliability questionable. A 7 seat Santa Fe is much cheaper, more fuel efficient, and when comparing smaller engines, just as quick if not quicker now that they have a 194bhp engine. That is what I am going to get soon.