Five-seater cars are built to accommodate 5 people for a trip, but a 7-seater will make those 5 people a lot happier about that trip – and maybe they can bring a friend too.
That was the rationale behind our purchase of a used “Family Truckster” in 2009.
No, not the kind where you say “think you hate it now? Just wait until you drive it” from National Lampoon. This was a large 7-seater called a Trajet, built by Hyundai on the medium car Sonata platform – and using the same 2.7 litre V6 engine.
This vehicle made sense, even if the name didn’t. So many times we heard it called a Tra-jett, as in tragedy – it’s pronounced “trah-jay” (derived from the French term for “travel from one point to another”).
Sure, it’s rare on the roads (not on sale for some years now, replaced by an even bigger contender in the iMax); we didn’t even know it existed until we searched for 7-seaters on the internet. We had been considering the all-conquering Kia Carnival, but as it turned out we were very glad we didn’t go down that well-travelled road.
Our World Cup edition (complete with special decals!) was 3 years old when we bought it, and had travelled a mere 17,000kms or so as a company car. It had 4 conventional doors (not sliding back ones) so it was easy for kids to open and close.. and 3 reasonable back seats – although only a lap seat belt in the middle.
You sat up high, but there was a weird foot-operated parking brake, and the auto transmission selector was up next to the steering wheel, not on the floor (to appeal to the US market, I’ve heard). However the V6 was smooth to use – although a little thirsty if you drove it like you’d stolen it from a school dropoff zone.
But this World Cup edition Trajet had a secret weapon:
A DVD player fitted to the roof, with an FM audio system and even infra-red wireless headphones for 2 passengers, should the others not wish to listen to the movie soundtrack. With 3 pre-teens, this was one of the biggest highlights of ownership.
But by late 2015, with our oldest 17 and not accompanying us on trips so much, we decided it was time to hand the Trajet onto another family. Driving a 7-seater when there are only 2 or 3 people inside is a waste of petrol, and space.
So we put it on the internet, and after some months (and price reductions) we sold it to a young family. It took a while to sell, because no-one’s ever heard of a Trajet – even though I did advertise it with the keyword text “not Carnival, Tarago..”
So now we’re back to 5 seats for the family ride, and the prevalence of iPods/iPhones/iPads mean we don’t even miss the DVD. But to have missed out on owning this Trajet would have been a tragedy. See what I did there?