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 row 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.
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1) 2016 Toyota Highlander
The Toyota Highlander is a midsize SUV known for its high reliability scores, as well as its practicality. Folding the second and third rows of seats provides 83.7 cubic feet of cargo space. The 2016 Highlander is available with hybrid, four-cylinder, and V6 drivetrains, offering plenty of flexibility to shoppers. The four-cylinder is paired to a six-speed auto transmission and is available only in front-wheel drive, while upgrading to the V-6 offers the option of all-wheel drive. The hybrid Highlander comes with a CVT gearbox and the all-wheel-drive system is standard. As of the 2016 model year, the Toyota Highlander includes the towing package as part of the standard equipment list.
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2) 2016 Ford Explorer
The 2016 Ford Explorer is a little late in its lifecycle, coasting on a 2011 model year redesign that moved it from the SUV category into the full-size crossover segment. However, it’s been refreshed for this year, and it’s still immensely popular, for good reason. 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 the 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. New for 2016 is a 2.3-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost that improves fuel economy while developing 280 horsepower.
3) 2016 Nissan Rogue
The 2016 Nissan Rogue is a compact SUV that, to be totally fair, looks a little too small for an optional third row. Inside, buyers might find it to be a little tight for all but the smallest family members, but the Rogue makes up for it in a lot of ways. It features high quality interior construction, more contemporary styling than its predecessor, and some of the best fuel economy ratings in its class. That comes courtesy of a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, paired to a CVT gearbox. The EPA rates it for 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined, giving its relative frugality a worthwhile benefit. The 2016 Nissan Rogue is available in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.
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4) 2016 Land Rover LR4
The 2016 Land Rover LR4 is one of the last true, traditional sport utility vehicles on the market, but it still enjoys 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 LR4 comes powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, paired to an eight-speed automatic, making 340 horsepower.
5) 2016 Dodge Journey
The 2016 Dodge Journey doesn’t just provide a 3rd row of seating, but this mid-size SUV also offers the option of 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 provides 177 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.
6) 2016 Infiniti QX60
The refreshed 2016 Infiniti QX60 is a luxury 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 QX60's interior, and the vehicle can be ordered with an overwhelming number of comfort and active safety features. Most QX60s are outfitted with the same 3.5-liter V-6, which has been tuned to provide 265 horsepower and highway fuel mileage ratings of 25 mpg. There is also a hybrid version of this Infiniti SUV, although it’’s available only by special order. All-wheel drive is optional with both versions of the 2016 Infiniti QX60.
Photo Credit: Lincoln
7) 2016 Lincoln Navigator
The 2016 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, and it offers best-in-class legroom for the way-back passengers. It’s powered by a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine that produces 380 horsepower. All-wheel drive is offered with this Lincoln SUV as an option.
8) 2016 Acura MDX
The Acura MDX has always been popular as an alternative to a minivan, and for the 2016 model year, it’s no exception. In addition to that crucial 3rd row of seating, many of the MDX’s features seem to be borrowed from the family van category, and it provides an especially spacious-feeling interior compared to other crossovers on the market. The MDX also provides sporty handling and a comfortable ride quality. The 2016 Acura MDX comes standard in front-wheel-drive configuration, although an upgrade to all-wheel drive is available. All 2015 MDXs are powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, paired to a new nine-speed automatic transmission, yielding 290 horsepower.
9) 2016 GMC Acadia
The 2016 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, 116 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.
10) 2016 Dodge Durango
The 2016 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 Hemi V-8 are also available as options for the rugged vehicle. Both engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.