9 of the best Japanese 7 and 8-seater cars on the market

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Whether you have some extended family to drive around town, a group of friends who need a lift, or you’re the carpool master, when it comes to your car, sometimes you need something a little bigger, like a Japanese 7-seater or 8-seater car.

But having all those extra seats doesn’t automatically mean the quality and performance of your MPV has to suffer.

Being sold directly in the UK and as grey imports, there are some stand-out Japanese 7 or 8-seater cars on the market, including affordable used options.

What you need to know before buying a Japanese 7 or 8-seater

For many families, getting a vehicle as large as an 8-seater can be a necessity, but you’ll want an option that’s worth the money.

Japanese 7 and 8-seater cars, similar to the performance variety, are well-known for their high-level of sophistication when it comes to design and a plethora of creature comforts; for example, electric windows, mirrors, and seat warmers; panoramic sunroofs; four-wheel drive and choice of seat configurations.

The grey imports may be a little older than models that are directly available to the UK market but they are great value for money and they still have that quality you may be looking for.

Here we look at nine of the most popular Japanese 7 or 8-seater cars.

1. Toyota Alphard

Toyota Alphard being driven outside

Powerful, smooth and quiet, the Toyota Alphard has ample space for a driver, seven passengers and enough luggage for your next trip. Introduced into the Toyota model range in 2002, it’s designed for a more sociable passenger set-up and is also frequently imported so you should be able to get one quite easily.

Pros: 

  • Available in two-wheel or all-wheel drive
  • Middle row of seats swivel to face the rear

Cons:

  • Even though it has two engine options, both are petrol

2. Honda Pilot

Honda Pilot parked outside

Thanks to its spacious and practical design, the Honda Pilot is a popular pick with families. This SUV has a TrailSport interior and all-season floor mats that can withstand any family road trip, plus it’s great on any terrain. Another design highlight is definitely the narrow-eyed LED highlights, making this an energy-efficient option too.

Pros:

  • Available with Apple Carplay and Android Auto
  • Design features include multi-view camera, 2nd row stowable centre seat, and all-wheel drive system

Cons:

  • Some reports of ‘awkward downshifting’

3. Nissan Elgrand

Nissan Elgrand parked outside

This is one of the better-looking Japanese 8-seater cars with plenty of power provided by the 3.5 litre V6 engine. The Elgrand seats 7 or 8 depending on the trim level and seat type. For entertainment there is a Bose 9 speaker sound system and roof mounted DVD screen for rear passengers, so it’s an excellent option for long journeys.

Pros:

  • Keyless entry and start, and radar cruise control
  • Rear seats can be folded down for extra storage space

Cons:

  • The versions with lighter interiors may not be the best option for young families

4. Mazda CX-9

Mazda CX-9 parked on road outside

Opting for a more sleek aesthetic compared to the SUVs of the past, the Mazda CX-9 is almost athletic in its design. With comfortable, cushioned seats (including French seams on the leather upholstery for a true feel of luxury) and other traditional Japanese craftsmanship elements, you can tell a lot of thought has been put into this car.

Pros:

  • Strong fuel economy and lower emissions
  • 250-horsepower, Skyactiv-G 2.5T turbo four-cylinder engine

Cons:

  • Cargo capacity is lower than other choice

5. Toyota Sequoia

Toyota Sequoia driving down the road

A fan favourite in North America, this pick is one for those who love to drive off-road with ease. Foldable third-row seats and an adjustable cargo shelf system create lots of space within the vehicle, plus the Toyota Audio Multimedia touchscreen upfront makes it a simple to use choice for your next adventure.

Pros:

  • Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
  • Heated and ventilated leather seating

Cons:

  • One of the pricier options on the market

6. Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlander parked outside

The Toyota Highlander range exudes style without skimping on the robust elements needed from a 7-seater. With hybrid electric technology, plus a Pre-Collision System blind spot monitor and Rear Cross traffic alerts, you’re getting convenience and safety with this choice.

Pros:

  • Smooth and quiet
  • Designed to be reliable and durable

Cons:

  • No longer available new, but high-quality used versions are still available

7. Mitsubishi Delica

Mitsubishi Delicia parked outside in the rain

Sold in Japan from the early 1980s, Delicas are advanced for their years with even the earliest models boasting heated seats, electric mirrors, automatic headlights, enormous sunroof, arm rests and versatile (and surprisingly comfortable) seating, all powered by the option of 3.0 V6 petrol or 2.8 turbo-diesel engine. The rate of importation has been phenomenal too so it should be easy to find a JDM version here in the UK.

Pros:

  • Classic design features that still stand up today
  • Built to last – perfect for growing families

Cons:

  • Not the best looking 8-seater you will come across but it has a very loyal fan base

8. Subaru Ascent

Subaru Ascent parked outside

With raised roof rails, 18-inch alloy wheels, and three rows of flexible seating, the Subaru Ascent is a modern classic for a reason. The larger range of colours (for the interior and exterior) makes it quite unique, and many users appreciate the inclusion of seven airbags and a standard ring-shaped reinforcement frame.

Pros:

  • Made with high-strength steel for solid crash safety
  • 2023 models have Cabin Connect

Cons:

  • Less knobs and buttons included in newer models, which isn’t to everyone’s preference

9. Honda Elysion

Honda Elysion parked outside

The Elysion is a grey import that can easily compete with the Toyota Alphard and Nissan Elgrand. Powered by Honda’s incredibly reliable 3-litre V6 VTEC engine, you know it’s going to run and run, even if you are buying something a little older. Clever space management also makes it one of the roomiest 8-seaters on the market.

Pros:

  • A rigid body and advanced security systems for added safety
  • Known as a reliable option

Cons:

  • Harder to buy new in the UK, but there are plenty of used options available

Get JDM import insurance from Adrian Flux

Worried about importing? It’s not as complicated as you may think and the government website can tell you all you need to know.

When buying a 7 or 8 seater, make sure you’re insured by Adrian Flux as we have specialist policies for grey imports.

We can help you insure any vehicle you may have, whether it’s a larger car like the ones featured above or something smaller. Call 0800 369 8590 for a quick and easy quote or book a callback at a time that suits you.

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