Not everyone needs an SUV with three rows of seating, but for those who do it's important to figure out whether that final set of accommodations is adult-friendly, or whether they are better suited to the younger crowd. Given that three-row SUVs often deliver additional cargo space compared to their five-passenger equivalents, they can also provide a practical advantage for those who need to occasionally haul around a hefty load of gear. Finally, SUVs with 3rd row seating come from many different walks of life, starting out with affordable transporters and ranging all the way up to high end luxury trucks.
We've put together a list of the best SUVs with 3rd tow seating that touches on each of these important points, and which draws from the widest possible pool of people movers in terms of price and prestige.
Best SUVs With 3rd Row Seating - 01 - 2013 Toyota Highlander
The 2013 Toyota Highlander is the largest crossover vehicle available from the Japanese brand known for its high reliability scores. The Toyota Highlander's 3rd row seating is best left to children, but folding it forward - along with the second row - reveals 95 cubic feet of total cargo space inside the vehicle. Getting to the last row is made that much easier by the 40/20/40 split of the row ahead of it, which allows for reaching between the middle two positions to get at luggage or kids riding out back. Although a 187 horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder is standard with the Highlander, upgrading to the available 268 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 is recommended, and this larger mill also brings with it the option of all-wheel drive.
Best SUVs With 3rd Row Seating - 02 - 2013 Ford Explorer
The 2013 Ford Explorer is a recently-redesigned addition to the full-size crossover segment, and like the Highlander, its 3rd row of accommodations is intended primarily for those age 13 and under. The Ford Explorer's 80 cubic feet of total cargo space isn't quite as generous as that provided by some of its competitors, but vehicle does come in a Sport trim that features a 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V-6 that is good for 365 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard with the Explorer Sport, and is optional when the vehicle is ordered with its base 290 horsepower, 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V-6. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder can be had on front-wheel drive Explorers, and this motor brings with it 240 horses and a fuel mileage rating of 20-mpg city and 28-mpg highway.
Best SUVs With 3rd Row Seating - 03 - 2013 Lincoln MKT
The 2013 Lincoln MKT is a highly stylized take on the three-row SUV concept. The Lincoln MKT is stuffed to the gills with premium gear, including the advanced MyLincoln Touch digital interface and gauge system. Not the largest SUV in its class, the MKT still provides just under 18 cubic feet of cargo space with its rear row in place and 75.9 cubic feet with both the second and third rows out of the picture. Adult passengers can fit out back, but the second row is a much more accommodating place for them to ride. Buyers can choose between a 300 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 or a twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 that churns out 355 horsepower. The latter features standard all-wheel drive and offers up 22-mpg on the highway, which is just a couple miles per gallon short of the less robust base model's rating.
Best SUVs With 3rd Row Seating - 04 - 2013 Land Rover LR4
The 2013 Land Rover LR4 has been updated to further cement its status as one of the top choices in the high end family transportation segment. The Land Rover LR4's 3rd row of seating folds flat into the floor, and when it is in place it provides tight, but usable adult accommodations. 90 cubic feet of total cargo space are available behind the LR4's front two positions - quite useful for transporting camping gear and other outdoors items when off-roading in the very capable, full-time four-wheel drive SUV. The Land Rover also features a 5.0-liter, 375 horsepower V-8 as its only available power plant, a unit that helps it achieve a tow rating of 6,000 lbs.
Best SUVs With 3rd Row Seating - 05 - 2013 Dodge Journey
The 2013 Dodge Journey doesn’t just provide a 3rd row of seating, but this mid-size SUV also comes with integrated child seats, which is an unusual feature in its class. The 3rd row is optional, and when combined with the sliding capabilities of the second row it opens up legitimate leg room for child-size passengers riding in the rear. The Dodge Journey is also capable of hauling up to 68 cubic feet of gear. Under the hood, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder unit is standard and it offers up 173 horsepower. Those who desire the option of all-wheel drive will have to upgrade to the vehicle's available 283 horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6.
Best SUVs With 3rd Row Seating - 06 - 2013 Infiniti JX
The 2013 Infiniti JX is a brand new contender for the dollars of luxury SUV shoppers, and this full-size SUV with 3rd row seating is an exceptionally attractive choice for buyers seeking large amounts of interior room. Adults will feel comfortable in every row of the Infiniti JX's interior, and the vehicle can be ordered with an overwhelming number of comfort and active safety features. All versions of the JX are outfitted with the same 3.5-liter V-6, which has been tuned to provide 265 horsepower. All-wheel drive is optional with the vehicle, and its fuel mileage on the highway checks in at a very reasonable 24-mpg.
Best SUVs With 3rd Row Seating - 07 - 2013 Lincoln Navigator
The 2013 Lincoln Navigator provides a more traditional take on what a full-size luxury SUV should offer. The Lincoln Navigator is cavernous inside, especially when found in extended-wheelbase L trim - a version of the truck that delivers an enormous 128 cubic feet of interior space. The Navigator's 3rd row is generous regardless of wheelbase, making it a capable hauler of as many as eight adults (with a second row bench in place of the standard captain's chairs), and its 5.4-liter, 310 horsepower V-8 also allows it to tow a respectable 9,000 lbs. All-wheel drive is offered with the Lincoln SUV as an option.
Best SUVs With 3rd Row Seating - 08 - 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser
The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser's non-luxury branding hides an expensive, but comfort-laden eight-passenger SUV. The Toyota Land Cruiser's 3rd row of seating folds down from either side of the vehicle's cargo bay, which somewhat compromises it's hauling capability. Still, a total of 82 cubic feet are available, and from a space perspective, the third row is best left to the toddler set. The Land Cruiser's full-time four-wheel drive system and formidable array of electronic aides make it almost unstoppable in an off-road setting, and on the pavement its 381 horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 gives it the kind of thrust that it needs to overcome its weighty platform.
Best SUVs With 3rd Row Seating - 09 - 2013 GMC Acadia
The 2013 GMC Acadia is a large, three-row SUV that drives much more like a full-size sedan than a big truck. The GMC Acadia also comes with upgraded accommodations compared to its Chevrolet Traverse sibling, 117 cubic feet of total cargo room, and although the back row is a bit flat adults shouldn't have much difficulty riding out longer trips in that particular position. The Acadia can be had in front and all-wheel drive versions, and its 3.6-liter V-6 engine delivers 288 horsepower. Those seeking additional luxury can opt for the Denali trim, which installs a host of extra comfort features inside the truck and also updates its exterior appearance to reflect its higher price tag.
Best SUVs With 3rd Row Seating - 10 - 2013 Dodge Durango
The 2013 Dodge Durango is another big three-row SUV that has been specifically designed to provide smooth driving dynamics on top of its substantial utility. Plenty of room is available in either the second or third row of the Dodge Durango, giving it legitimate seven passenger capacity, and 84.5 cubic feet of cargo space are also hiding within its interior. The Durango features rear-wheel drive and a 290 horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 right out of the box, but four-wheel drive and a 360 horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 are also available as options for the rugged vehicle.