8 Passenger Vehicles: A Complete Review

There is now quite a selection of vehicles that can carry eight passengers. This review looks at several of the 2013 models available and provides major comparable details on each. Which one works best for you will depend on your needs.

Let’s start with a pretty broad universe of available vehicles, from several companies and several models that offer eight passenger seating. Three criteria buckets come to mind: safety, reliability and all other.

Safety

There are two main sources of vehicle safety ratings, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, IIHS, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA.

8 Passenger Vehicles GMC

The IIHS is a nonprofit organization funded by auto insurance companies which crash tests vehicles to determine safety ratings. It evaluates six individual categories assigning each a “good,” “acceptable,” “marginal,” or “poor” rating and then an overall rating for the vehicle.

NHTSA is a government agency that selects and tests new vehicles that are predicted to have high sales or that have been structurally redesigned each year. These vehicles are purchased from dealers across the country. The vehicles are not provided by manufacturers.

The goals of both organizations are to inform consumers of vehicle safety and to encourage the production of safer vehicles. Side and rollover statistics can be compared across all vehicle classes because each could be hit with the same force. Rollovers can be a serious problem with larger vehicles especially with inexperienced drivers. Frontal crash tests can only be compared to other vehicles whose weight is similar because it represents a crash between two vehicles of the same weight. The following table indicates the best results for the eight passenger vehicles.


Manufacturer
Make Model Safety Rating
General Motors Chevrolet Chevrolet Express 1500

Chevrolet Traverse

Chevrolet Tahoe

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

Chevrolet Suburban 1500

Chevrolet Suburban 2500

 

Top Safety Pick

****

****

****

 

GMC GMC Savana

GMC Acadia

GMC Yukon

GMC Yukon XL 1500

GMC Yukon XL 2500

GMC Yukon Hybrid

 

Top Safety Pick

 

 

 

****

Cadillac Cadillac Escalade Hybrid ****
Ford Motor Ford Ford E-150 XL

Ford Expedition

Ford Expedition EL

 

****

****

Nissan Nissan Nissan Armada  
Toyota Toyota Toyota Sienna

Toyota Sequoia

Toyota Land Cruiser

Top Safety Pick
  Lexus Lexus LX 570  
Honda   Honda Pilot

Honda Odyssey

Top Safety Pick

Top Safety Pick

The vehicle needs to be safe. Therefore the first step is checking the safety ratings. Vehicles getting a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are the following:

  • Chevrolet Transverse
  • GMC Acadia
  • Honda Pilot
  •  Honda Odyssey
  •  Toyota Sienna.

These five move to the top of the list based on this important safety rating.

Checking for safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), we find that the Ford E-150 has not been rated for 2013 and its 2012 and 2011 model was only rated for the rollover test for which it got three stars.

The 2013 Ford Expedition received an overall safety rating of four stars and its 4×4 received four stars in the rollover test as well. The 2013 Ford Expedition EL received an overall rating of four stars. Due to lack of further information, the Ford E-150 is are being dropped from consideration while all other Ford Expedition models were retained.

Similarly, the 2013 Chevrolet Express 1500, the GMC Savana 1500 and the Nissan Armada have not been rated except for the rollover test for which they each received three stars. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has not been rated except of the rollover test it which it received only one star. These vehicles are being dropped from further consideration at this time.

2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

The 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe has received a four star overall rating with a three star in the rollover category. These results are the same for the 2013 Chevrolet Suburban 1500. These vehicles survived the analysis.

The 2013 GMC Yukon 1500 has only been rated for the rollover test in 2011 for which it received three stars. The 2013 Chevrolet Suburban 2500 has not been rated nor has its twin, the 2013 GMC Yukon XL 2500. Again, for lack of information, these are being dropped.

The 2013 Yukon Hybrid received an overall four star rating with a three star rollover rating, as did the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and the 2013 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.

2013 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Standard

The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser has not been rated nor has the 2013 Lexus LX 570.

The twelve indicated models survived the safety analysis and moved ahead.

Reliability

The next step is reliability. This is a predicted rating by Consumer Reports, based on the history of the model but taking into consideration any changes made for the 2013 model. Like all predictions, it is subject to error. Their ratings are based on a large scale survey wherein they collect information regarding serious problems experienced by the owners of over 1.2 million vehicles. They then use this data to predict the reliability rating of specific vehicles going forward.

The reliability predicted for the 12 models that passed the safety review are shown in the table below.

Manufacturer Make Model Predicted Reliability
General Motors Chevrolet Chevrolet Traverse

Chevrolet Tahoe

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

Chevrolet Suburban 1500

12% better than average

19% better than average

19% better than average

5% below average

GMC GMC Acadia

GMC Yukon Hybrid

4% below average

19% better than average

Cadillac Cadillac Escalade Hybrid 3% below average
Ford Motor Ford Ford Expedition

Ford Expedition EL

Average

9% better than average

Toyota Toyota Toyota Sienna 27% better than average
Honda   Honda Pilot

Honda Odyssey

30 % better than average

2% below average

None have a predicted reliability rating far below average so the buyer can feel fairly comfortable that any of these will meet basic requirements.  However, there are a few real winners, notably Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, GMC Yukon Hybrid, Toyota Sienna, and Honda Pilot.   Additional factors will be explored for these winners.  The remaining factors are more dependent on the needs of the individual buyer.

Model Engine Miles Per Gallon City Miles Per Gallon Highway Miles Per

Gallon

Overall

Tow Rating in Pounds MSRP
Chevrolet Tahoe 5.3L V-8 15 21 18 5500 $               39,830

 

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid 6.0L V-8 20 23 21 6200 $               53,045

 

GMC Yukon Hybrid 6.0L V-8 20 23 21 6200 $               53,570

 

Ford Expedition EL 5.4L V-8 13 16 14 9200 $              40,605
Toyota Sienna 3.5L V-6 18 25 21 3500 $              30,135
Honda Pilot 3.5L V-6 18 25 21 2000 $              29,520

Ford Expedition EL

2013 Ford Expedition EL

What pops out when you look at the Ford Expedition EL in the table above is its credible towing capacity, rated at 9200 pounds.  If you need to pull a big horse trailer or a fifth-wheel RV, this will meet your needs. It includes AdvanceTrac electronic stability control system with Roll Stability Control (RSC), including standard Trailer Sway Control that detects trailer sway motion and takes corrective measures to bring both the vehicle and the trailer under control.

When equipped with four-wheel drive, the Ford Expedition EL will get you there “whether the road is dry, wet, snowy or even when there’s hardly any road at all.” It is powered by a single-overhead-cam 5.4-liter V8 rated at 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment.

The Ford Expedition EL has a long-wheelbase.  It is a traditional body-on-frame sport utility.  It has better-than average steering and provides a supple ride that is more car like than the ride of most SUVs.  It has a quiet interior and provides generous space in all three rows.

The interior is richly decorated and high end options befitting a luxury vehicle are available such as heated and cooled front seats, heated second row seats, PowerFold third-row seat, leather, dual-zone climate control, rear-view camera, rain-sensing wipers, and power liftgate.

The second and third row seats fold flat making increasing cargo room easy.

Chevrolet Tahoe

Chevrolet Tahoe 2013

The Chevrolet Tahoe is very similar to the Ford Expedition EL in size, price, and mileage.  It is a classic SUV.  If you want to combine pickup-truck capability with a roomy interior, this may be the vehicle for you. It has strength and durability with its 320-hp 5.3-liter Vortec V8 E85 FlexFuel engine coupled to an efficient six-speed automatic transmission.  It has a sharp, precise driving feel and provides a smooth ride.

The interior of the Chevrolet Tahoe is attractive and stylish.  The first two rows offer legroom and head room comparable to most cars but more shoulder and hip room because of Tahoe’s six-and-a-half foot width. The third-row space is tight.   The Tahoe is quiet and comfortable.

All in all, the Chevrolet Tahoe may be just right for you, if you don’t need the size of the bigger SUVs but you need more strength than the smaller vehicles provide.

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid 

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

Chevrolet likes to say you get the best of everything with its Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, all the strengths of the Tahoe SUV with the much better mileage the Hybrid provides.  It has “ a V8 gasoline engine and two electric motors that are mated with an electrically variable transmission (EVT). Test drivers say it has good acceleration off the line, but is far from speedy…has ponderous handling and will be difficult to maneuver in the city or parking lots…smooth on the highway though.”

The interior is stylish and has many features, in fact standard features include a touch-screen navigation system, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and a rearview camera.  While it provides seating for eight, the third seat is tight for adults.

GMC Yukon Hybrid

2013 GMC Yukon Hybrid

The GMC Yukon Hybrid is the sister vehicle to the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid.  It is a vehicle with a focus on fuel-sipping while still providing the power to tow big things.  As noted with the Tahoe Hybrid, handling is good on the highway although it is ponderous for city driving and is difficult to maneuver in parking lots.

Seating is provided for eight although the 3rd seat is tight for adults.  Many jazzy features are provided as standard components; in fact the only options are a power sunroof and rear seat entertainment system.  Its interior layout is nice but some complain that its materials are subpar with lots of hard surfaces and plastic components.

Toyota Sienna

2013 Toyota Sienna

The Toyota Sienna is a minivan that has a much greater towing capacity than the Honda Pilot SUV while still providing excellent seating capacity for eight.  It has the same mileage statistics and is nearly the same price as the Honda Pilot.  The Sienna is available in front- or all-wheel drive with a 266-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability.

Standard safety features include four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist, traction control, stability control, anti-whiplash front head-restraints, tire pressure monitor and full-length overhead curtain airbags.  High end options such as push button start, USB port, satellite radio, a navigation system, and power leather seats are available.   Even the third row has adequate space and the third row seats can fold flat easily increasing the cargo space.

In summary, the Toyota Sienna is a minivan that does everything you would expect from a minivan and it does it well.

Honda Pilot

2013 Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot, while it has the lowest towing rating at 2000 pounds, also has the lowest price and a great reputation.  It consistently ranks as one of the best people haulers because while it may look plain on the outside, it has a huge interior.  Some consider the interior to be rather macho looking but come on, it is a tough vehicle.  And as we’ve already noted, it is a top safety pick and has the highest reliability rating.

It has a 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine and a five-speed automatic.  You can choose front wheel drive or all-wheel drive that has a lock mode for especially difficult conditions such as mud or heavy snow.  The Honda Pilot has a smooth powertrain that shifts quickly when you need it to such as for merging.  Handling is responsive and therefore it is easy to maneuver on streets or in tight spaces unlike some of the bigger models we have reviewed.

 

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