3rd row seating is becoming an increasingly popular feature on a wide range of crossovers, but that doesn't mean that it's always a good idea. Some crossovers just aren't big enough inside to comfortably accommodate an additional set of seats, which means that the 3rd row simply gets in the way of cargo rather than actually adding genuine seven or eight-passenger capacity to the vehicle. It helps to know ahead of time which particular camp the crossover you are interested in falls into. Let's take a look at 10 of the best crossovers with 3rd row seating that take full advantage of this people moving feature.
1) 2015 GMC Acadia
The 2015 GMC Acadia is one of the largest full-size crossovers available, a vehicle that provides SUV-like interior room coupled with a comfortable ride that feels more like a sedan than a truck. Eight passenger seating is standard, although it's possible to order a pair of captain's chairs in the middle row (which improves access to the rear). Sitting at the very back of the GMC Acadia is far from a consolation prize, as the vehicle features excellent legroom at each position thanks in part to the sliding second row. When ordered in Denali trim, the Acadia adds substantial luxury to its spacious cabin.
2) 2015 Toyota Highlander
The 2015 Toyota Highlander is a three-row, mid-size crossover known for its solid build quality and strong reputation for reliability. Though the second generation was somewhat panned for having a cramped third row, the third generation, introduced for the 2014 model year, has alleviated some of those pains. The 2015 Highlander features an efficient and spacious interior with a sliding second row, as well as plenty of high-end standard features to increase passenger comfort.
3) 2015 Ford Flex
The 2015 Ford Flex might catch some flack for its rectangular dimensions, but it's precisely this design conceit that affords it such generous 3rd row seating. On the downside, the third row can be a little difficult to reach; on the upside, the 2015 model has been treated to a mild interior refresh that includes more soft-touch finishes throughout the cabin. Seven passengers can be transported in absolute comfort in the Ford Flex, which also offers a six-passenger configuration that further enhances rear row flexibility thanks to a slide-forward feature, and the option of inflatable seatbelts for those riding in the middle. Throw in the Flex's available EcoBoost engine (matched with all-wheel drive), and there's an argument to be made that the crossover is one of the few performance-oriented 3-row vehicles outside of the luxury segment.
4) 2015 Nissan Pathfinder
The 2015 Nissan Pathfinder, formerly a traditional SUV, is making strides as an urban-friendly full-size crossover that does a much better job of hauling both people and cargo. All versions of the Nissan Pathfinder feature a 3rd row of seating as standard equipment, and that last set of passenger spots is comfortable enough to transport the crossover's total seven person complement on longer trips. Even better: the new Pathfinder is lighter than before, which, combined with its continuously-variable automatic transmission, gives it significantly better fuel mileage when compared to the previous model. It also comes with a second row that can be folded forward for rear access even with a pair of child seats installed.
5) 2015 Honda Pilot
The 2015 Honda Pilot is the last year of this model's second generation, making way for an all-new iteration in 2016, but the Japanese brand has resisted tampering with what has been a very successful family vehicle formula. Not quite as big on the outside as some of its competitors, the Honda Pilot offers a surprisingly roomy interior that can handle as many as eight passengers, with substantial rear seat space made possible by the upright lines of the vehicle's squared-off styling. One area where the Pilot comes up a bit short is with regards to the height of its back seats, which are lower to the floor than some might consider comfortable (especially taller occupants).
Photo Credit: Dodge
6) 2015 Dodge Durango
The 2015 Dodge Durango stretches the definition of crossover with its rugged design, available V-8 power, and optional low-range four-wheel drive. That being said, its unibody design affords it smooth performance over rough roads, and it definitely doesn't handle much like a traditional SUV from behind the wheel. Big and bold styling translates to an interior that provides more than adequate second and 3rd row seating, especially considering that it's relatively easy to get back there when compared to a few of its crossover rivals. The Durango formula has been such a success for Chrysler that Jeep will be cribbing its platform for a three-row model in the very near future, although the Durango itself will be going away at the end of 2015.
7) 2015 Mazda CX-9
The 2015 Mazda CX-9 is perhaps the best-handling vehicle on this list of crossovers with 3rd row seating. Genuinely engaging to drive, the Mazda CX-9 never feels heavy or awkward in the corners, which is a surprise given its full-size proportions. Lest you think that a focus on driving dynamics might have caused Mazda designers to skimp on interior comfort, fear not - not only is the CX-9's cargo capacity safely over the 100 cubic foot mark, but its sliding second row seat means that those camped out in the third set of accommodations won't feel squeezed or pinched on a longer trip.
8) 2015 Kia Sorento
The 2015 Kia Sorento, which will be the last model year before the vehicle's third generation is introduced, stands out via its affordable pricing and its configurability, as it's possible to order the crossover in a number of different configurations and with several different options packages. Not all versions of the Kia Sorento come with a 3rd row of seating - top trim models make it standard, while entry-level editions must select it from the features list at ordering time. Adding the third row also provides the crossover with a sliding second row of seating, replacing the five-passenger model's fixed setup. There's plenty of room for passengers older than the age of 12 in the Kia's back row, which makes it an appealing, budget-friendly family choice.
9) 2015 Ford Explorer
The 2015 Ford Explorer is in many ways the mechanical twin of the Ford Flex, but there are some important differences, notably the inclusion of a four-cylinder, turbocharged EcoBoost drivetrain designed to offer the best possible fuel mileage for the large crossover. Inside, the Ford Explorer is a bit smaller than the Flex, too, mostly due to its more sloped styling that avoids the right angles of its platform-mate. This might mean that you'll be hauling a greater number of children in the vehicle's 3rd row of seating compared to adults, but on short jaunts around town few will complain about the Explorer's rearmost accommodations.
10) 2015 Infiniti QX60
The Infiniti QX60, which was formerly known as the Infiniti JX, is a mid-size luxury crossover that's based on the Nissan Murano and shares a lot of DNA with the Nissan Pathfinder. The Infiniti QX60 fills an important hole in the premium company's lineup, and it manages to do so while also offering 3rd row accommodations that that are easy to access. In addition, the third row of seating reclines into the cargo area in order to afford an even greater sensation of space for adults traveling at the very back of the crossover. Like the Nissan Pathfinder, the QX60 benefits from a second set of accommodations that can be folded forward even with a pair of child seats installed.