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Best large family SUVs for boot space

We have spent some time working out which large SUVs offer the best boot space for your buck.

Buyers gravitate towards SUVs for a number of varied reasons. Versatility and comfort, ride height and facilitated egress are just a handful of them. And naturally there is the fact that they are quite fashionable, aren’t they? Packed with niceties and allow for forays off the beaten track should they be suitably equipped.

Those advantages can sometimes come at the expense of other conveniences we need in a motor vehicle.

Cargo space, for example, is often compromised to give passengers in the second row added wiggle room or to get in an extra row of seats or even accommodate batteries in a hybrid car or fuel tanks / chassis components in a serious off-roader

So while you may think that an SUV, and a large one at that, will allow you to carry everything including the kitchen sink, you are better off erring on the side of caution. Sedans and wagons outgun an SUV in that department on more occasions than you might think so we have spent some time working out which large SUVs offer the best boot space for your buck.

When is a litre a litre?

While car manufacturers have accepted standardised measurements in a number of areas to enable buyers to make informed decisions when comparing cars, the issue of cargo space continues to be a dilemma.

Currently there are two measurements employed to let you know how much space you have to cram in that luggage, pram and Ikea purchases. 

VDA is a German invention and in addition to the Bavarian marques, it is also favoured by other European manufacturers and their Korean and Japanese counterparts.

(image credit: Stephen Corby) (image credit: Stephen Corby)

VDA sees the boot filled with one-litre blocks (20cmx5cmx10cm) – computer generated now - until full. The total number of blocks used is your VDA. For SUVs, the measurement usually ends at the top of the rear seat with further measurements done with the rear seat folded and a maximum volume figure with the seats folded and the blocks stacked to the roof.

The second standard is the SAE standard. Devised by American engineers some four decades ago, the system uses smaller blocks for sedans and a volume index when applied to open spaces like SUVs. In the latter, this measurement usually involves estimating the volume using the height, length and width between specific points in the car making provision for the style of vehicle.

Needless to say, comparing vehicles that use different systems can be a thankless task. The SAE system generally returns larger figures which may not be a true reflection of capacity.

But wait, there’s more

While manufacturers can give you a guide on what volume of space to expect, everyday reality shows there are a number of other factors affect whether you can actually fit in two medium suitcases and the pram. 

This can include things like sloping roofs, the shape of the door, the cupholders for the third row, whether or not there is a full-size spare and even whether the button for the electronically controlled boot lid is on the side of the cargo hold.  

Undaunted, these are our picks for three large SUVs under $70k with the best boot solutions.

Toyota Kluger

The Kluger is a strong seller for Toyota, having been around for ages. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The Kluger is a strong seller for Toyota, having been around for ages. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

You may not believe it but the Kluger has more space than big brother Prado. The spacious seven-seat cabin leaves you almost 200L (VDA) to play with when all three rows are in place. Not oodles of room but enough to carry the groceries and a couple of school bags.

Drop the third row and that space grows to 529L with that number reaching 1862L with the second row folded down too.

  • (image credit: Peter Anderson) (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • (image credit: Peter Anderson) (image credit: Peter Anderson)

The shape of the boot is practical with streamlined walls, a large door opening and a lowish lip for loading and unloading. The third row seatbelts may hinder larger items but it is easy enough to tuck away with high-mounted cupholders for those in the third row slightly impeding on the space available.

Mazda CX-9

Mazda markets the CX-9 as a family choice. Mazda markets the CX-9 as a family choice.

Mazda markets the CX-9 as a family choice for the discerning professional parent who embraces practicality but still has room for adventure. Standard features throughout this SUV underline that message with the boot doing its bit to complete the picture.

Official figures have the space at 230 litres (VDA) with seven seats in use, usefully superior to most competitors. With the third row folded you have access to 529L with that figure growing to a total cargo volume of 810L.

  • Official figures have the space at 230 litres (VDA) with seven seats in use. Official figures have the space at 230 litres (VDA) with seven seats in use.
  • With the third row folded you have access to 529L with that figure growing to a total cargo volume of 810L. With the third row folded you have access to 529L with that figure growing to a total cargo volume of 810L.
  • A low lip allows for easy loading and unloading but the space does narrow towards the roof limiting vertical storage solutions. A low lip allows for easy loading and unloading but the space does narrow towards the roof limiting vertical storage solutions.

The seats are easy to tumble over and fold flat while the cargo blind is positioned high enough over the second row to be advantageous. A low lip allows for easy loading and unloading but the space does narrow towards the roof limiting vertical storage solutions.

Nissan Pathfinder

This mover and shaker with a great attitude is a great asset for growing families. This mover and shaker with a great attitude is a great asset for growing families.

This mover and shaker with a great attitude is a great asset for growing families. Nissan doesn’t use the VDA system but it is still hard to deny the obvious space offered by this SUV. 

There is 453L (SAE) with bums on all seats which changes to 1354L with the last row lowered and a total volume capacity of 2260L.

  • In the boot, Nissan reckons you'll have 453 litres with all seats up. (Image credit: Peter Anderson) In the boot, Nissan reckons you'll have 453 litres with all seats up. (Image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • There's a huge 2260 litres with all back seats put away. (Image credit: Peter Anderson) There's a huge 2260 litres with all back seats put away. (Image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • 2017 Nissan Pathfinder (Ti variant shown) 2017 Nissan Pathfinder (Ti variant shown)

The boot opening and space is similarly shaped- narrower at the top - to the CX-9 with a sloping roof also affecting the size and shape of items you wish to carry. 

Honourable mention – Kia Sorento

The Sorento has a total cargo volume of 1662L. The Sorento has a total cargo volume of 1662L.

The Sorento may struggle with just 142L (VDA) with all three rows in position but that is wiped away by the 605L in five-seat mode and a total cargo volume of 1662L. There is a full-sized spare under the floor along with a compartment for your wet gear. Large third row cupholder stations over the wheel arches and the seat belts can be cumbersome if you are carrying larger items

  • The Sorento has 605L in five-seat mode and a total cargo volume of 1662L The Sorento has 605L in five-seat mode and a total cargo volume of 1662L
  • Large third row cupholder stations over the wheel arches and the seat belts can be cumbersome if you are carrying larger items. Large third row cupholder stations over the wheel arches and the seat belts can be cumbersome if you are carrying larger items.

Large SUVs over the $70k mark offer both space and a touch of luxury but boot space here too is not as easy as it should be to decode.

Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 has a no-nonsense stance and bold demeanour. The Volvo XC90 has a no-nonsense stance and bold demeanour.

For the most part, the Swedish offering leads the pack here, surprising given that its slightly bulging bottom. Yet the load area manages a fairly conventional shape with no intrusion from the rear-wheel suspension. Even with all three rows in use, the XC90 manages 314L (VDA) which is good enough for a pram or a large suitcase.

That space expands to 651L with the third row easily lowered by a button in the boot and 1950L with all rear seats folded flat.

  • Even with all three rows in use, the XC90 manages 314L (VDA) which is good enough for a pram or a large suitcase. Even with all three rows in use, the XC90 manages 314L (VDA) which is good enough for a pram or a large suitcase.
  • That space expands to 651L with the third row easily lowered by a button in the boot and 1950L with all rear seats folded flat. That space expands to 651L with the third row easily lowered by a button in the boot and 1950L with all rear seats folded flat.
  • The boot is longer than most of the competition. The boot is longer than most of the competition.

If you have the optional air suspension you can lower the ride height to help when loading large items. The boot is longer than most of the competition too which means that you may not have to drop the second row to accommodate longish packages. An elastic load net allows you to secure smaller items, shopping fold flat so as to not hinder loading and unloading and there is underfloor storage too to keep valuables out of sight.

Audi Q7

Audi’s largest SUV is certainly boasts a spacious interior with room for adult shoulders and legs in all three rows. Audi’s largest SUV is certainly boasts a spacious interior with room for adult shoulders and legs in all three rows.

Audi’s largest SUV is certainly boasts a spacious interior with room for adult shoulders and legs in all three rows. That translates advantageously to cargo room too with the wide boot opening and flat load area also adding their talents to the mix.

The third row folds flush with the floor courtesy of the one-touch button in the cargo space, increasing the 295L (VDA) of space to an extremely usable 770L. If you need even more room, the second row stows to give you a cavernous 1955L, enough to carry suitcases in every size and a couple of bicycles without taking the wheels off. You can fold down the rear seats individually too which allowing you to carry both packages and people at the same time.

  • You can fold down the rear seats individually too which allowing you to carry both packages and people at the same time. You can fold down the rear seats individually too which allowing you to carry both packages and people at the same time.
  • The third row folds flush with the floor courtesy of the one-touch button in the cargo space, increasing the 295L (VDA) of space to an extremely usable 770L. The third row folds flush with the floor courtesy of the one-touch button in the cargo space, increasing the 295L (VDA) of space to an extremely usable 770L.
  • If you need even more room, the second row stows to give you a cavernous 1955L, enough to carry suitcases in every size and a couple of bicycles without taking the wheels off. If you need even more room, the second row stows to give you a cavernous 1955L, enough to carry suitcases in every size and a couple of bicycles without taking the wheels off.

The hybrid has to give up some space to accommodate the under-floor battery packs but you will still find enough room to service most families.

Land Rover Discovery

The Discovery Sport has been with us a for a while. (image: Peter Anderson) The Discovery Sport has been with us a for a while. (image: Peter Anderson)

With its practical nature, improved road manners and well thought out inclusions list, the Land Rover Discovery is one of the cleverer buys around. Like the other SUVs in this segment, the cargo space is dependent on the number of seats in use and depending on the model you have, seats can folded using the smartphone app or touchscreen.

  • Being a Land Rover Discovery, Sport or not, you are not unreasonably expecting plenty of space for outdoor, windswept activities. (image: Peter Anderson) Being a Land Rover Discovery, Sport or not, you are not unreasonably expecting plenty of space for outdoor, windswept activities. (image: Peter Anderson)
  • The boot space kicks off at 829 litres (LR quotes 981, I suspect that is packed floor to ceiling). (image: Peter Anderson) The boot space kicks off at 829 litres (LR quotes 981, I suspect that is packed floor to ceiling). (image: Peter Anderson)
  • It has a maximum boot capacity of 1698 litres with all seats folded away. (image: Peter Anderson) It has a maximum boot capacity of 1698 litres with all seats folded away. (image: Peter Anderson)

The 228L that is available with all three rows in place increases to 1137L of available cargo space with the third row lowered and 2400L with just the driver and front passenger in attendance. Note that these are not VDA figures, however, and in reality it is a fair bit smaller than the XC90 or Q7.

Which of these SUVs do you prefer? Tell us in the comments. 

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