Offering three rows of seating is becoming increasingly popular with 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. 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) 2016 GMC Acadia
The 2016 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.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2) 2016 Toyota Highlander
The 2016 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 2016 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) 2016 Ford Flex
The 2016 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 2016 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) 2016 Nissan Pathfinder
The 2016 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) 2016 Honda Pilot
The 2016 Honda Pilot is the first year of this model's third generation, but the Japanese brand has resisted tampering with what has been a very successful family vehicle formula. The interior keeps its upscale feel, resulting in a comfortable and welcoming cabin. 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 (although the angular profile has been toned down a bit for this year).
6) 2016 Dodge Durango
The 2016 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 it’s being shared with the company’s other brands, notably Jeep.
7) 2016 Mazda CX-9
The 2016 Mazda CX-9 is perhaps the best-handling vehicle on this list of crossovers with 3rd row seating. The CX-9 has been totally redesigned for this year, and it’s kept the best qualities of its predecessor. 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 - a new quick-release lever makes it easier to get in and out of the way-back, and the new 2016 CX-9 also offers a generous list of features.
8) 2016 Kia Sorento
The 2016 Kia Sorento, also totally redesigned for this model year, 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; buyers must select it from the features list at ordering time. Adding the last row also provides the crossover with a sliding and auto-folding 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. The updated Sorento also provides more cargo space than last year’s version.
Photo Credit: Ford Media
9) 2016 Ford Explorer
The 2016 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) 2016 Infiniti QX60
The 2016 Infiniti QX60 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.