Whether you have a large family or want the ability to haul seven people should the need suddenly arise, a three-row SUV gives you added capacity and flexibility. That said, not all three-row SUVs (and Crossovers) are created equal: Some really can haul seven (or even eight) people in comfort, while others compromise luggage space or offer third row seats barely big enough for children. A “test-sit” at your dealership is the best way to decide if a given SUV will meet your needs, so we’ll get you started with our picks for ten of the best three-row SUVs on the market.
10 Best SUVS With 3rd Row Seating
10 Best SUVS With 3rd Row Seating
Photo Credit: Acura
2017 Acura MDX
When we think of Acura, we think of engineering precision and expertise, and that’s what sets the all-new-for-2017 MDX apart. This three-row SUV offers one of the most sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems you can buy. Why should you care? Because when you’re driving in slippery conditions—a snowy road, a rainy highway, or a muddy trail—the MDX is quick to find traction and keep moving in the direction you’ve pointed it. The all-wheel-drive system also improves handling, making this one of the sportiest three-row SUVs on this list. But the MDX’s charms go beyond its technical attributes: The MDX is comfortable and luxuriously equipped, and many of the creature comforts that are extra-cost options on other luxury suvs come standard on the MDX.
Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover
2017 Land Rover Discovery
It’s good to see the Discovery back in the US. (Truth be told, the Discovery never left, but it was known as the LR3 and LR4 for the last few years.) The Discovery may be an old name, but it’s adorning an all-new-for-2017 SUV, one that is much more futuristic looking than the LR4 it replaces. It’s also lighter by half a ton, which improved performance, handling and fuel economy. One thing that hasn’t changed is the Disco’s off-road skills—if your plans include family adventures in places where regular SUVs dare not tread, the Discovery will get you there. And even if you never venture off the pavement, you’ll enjoy a level of luxury and refinement that only a British automaker like Land Rover can achieve. The Discovery is pricey compared to other three-row SUVs on this list, but it’s one of the best vehicles you can buy.
Photo Credit: Dodge
2018 Dodge Durango
The Durango is another favorite of ours, and it’s frequently overlooked by both buyers and auto critics alike, which is a shame. The Durango bridges the gap between large crossovers like the Buick Enclave and full-size SUVs like the Chevrolet Suburban. Beefier than most crossovers, the Durango is a surprisingly good towing platform—we’ve used it to pull a horse trailer loaded to 5,000 lbs, and it did the job admirably well—and its third-row seat is surprisingly spacious. It can be had with a powerful V8 engine, though the standard V6 does the job just fine. And its smaller size means it’s a heck of a lot easier to park than a full-size SUV like the Suburban. If you want an SUV that can tow without the hassles of driving one of the big rigs, the Durango is a great choice.
Photo Credit: Ford
2017 Ford Explorer
Ford was one of the first companies to jump on the SUV bandwagon with the Explorer, and since then this iconic SUV has changed and adapted with the times. We rather like this latest version, especially since Ford restyled it in 2016 to bring back the blocky look of the classic original. The third row is very roomy (though when in use it doesn’t leave much cargo space), and the Explorer can be had with all sorts of electronic gadgetry, including a self-parking system (the driver works the gas and the brake while the Explorer steers itself into the spot—cool!). The Explorer is quiet, comfortable, and satisfying to drive, and if you opt for the twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine, it’s a real rocket ship.
Photo Credit: Volkswagen
2018 Volkswagen Atlas
Volkswagen’s first big SUV was designed expressly with the United States in mind, and the Atlas proves that the Germans know what is important to American buyers. The Atlas is a big SUV with lots of space for people and cargo. The dashboard layout is straightforward and easy to use, an important consideration if your family includes teens who will be driving it. The ride is soft and exceptionally comfortable, and yet the Atlas handles respectably well, as we’d expect from a German vehicle. Except the Atlas isn’t exactly German—it’s built here in the United States, in Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant. And should you have concerns about VW’s build quality, the Atlas is covered by an unprecedented 6 year/72,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.
Photo Credit: Infiniti
2017 Infiniti QX60
When we think of the Infiniti brand, we think of their sportier cars and SUVs; the QX60 feels a bit more like the brand’s den mother. Infiniti tells us it's aimed at the spouses of Infiniti fans, which makes sense to us. The QX60 is engineered for a smoother, quieter ride than Infiniti’s sporty models, and it doesn’t quite have the same explosive power, though it’s certainly not slow. But other Infiniti traits are intact: The smooth styling inside and out; the high-lux, smartly-finished cabin; and the emphasis on high-tech driver assistance and safety technologies. Keep in mind that the QX60's third row is not the roomiest on this list; the seat is supportive but it’s rather short on legroom. For those who only use the rear-most seat occasionally, it’s a great choice.
Photo Credit: Lincoln
2017 Lincoln Navigator
The Lincoln Navigator is a full-size body-on-frame SUV similar to the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade, and, like its rivals, is available in short- and long-wheelbase models. The latter offers plenty of cargo space even with all three rows of seats in use. But the Navigator takes a more high-tech approach: While its GM rivals are built like the division’s pickup trucks, the Navigator uses an independent rear suspension (rather than the truck-like straight axle) and a twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine in place of a traditional V8. These upgrades make a big difference: The Navigator handles better, especially in sudden emergency swerves, and the V6 provides blasts of power with decent fuel economy (though it can’t do both at the same time). If you need a capable luxury suv, it's well worth a test drive.
Photo Credit: Mazda
2017 Mazda CX-9
Like most people who are into cars, we're big fans of Mazda; we like their sporty styling, efficient engines, and fun-to-drive suspension setups. The new CX-9 brings the “Zoom-Zoom” ethic to three-row SUVs, plus it has an upscale interior that marks a somewhat new direction for Mazda. Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine that delivers plenty of power and good fuel economy. And, of course, it's great fun on a curvy road. Now the bad news: The third-row seat isn't particularly generous; it's useful for temporary transport, but we wouldn't recommend it for a family of seven. But if you only need that rear-most seat from time to time, the CX-9 is a great way to combine SUV practicality with sports-car thrills.
Photo Credit: Honda
2017 Honda Pilot
When it comes to space efficiency—packing the most interior room into the smallest possible package—Honda is the undisputed leader. Their smaller SUVs (HR-V and CR-V) are the cargo-capacity champs, and while the Pilot doesn’t offer as much luggage space as some of its rivals, when it comes to second- and third-row comfort, Honda’s biggest SUV is among the best. It’s good to drive, too--the Pilot is quick and light on its feet. We aren’t crazy about the blocky styling of older models, but Honda redesigned the Pilot in 2016 and we really like the new version’s svelte shape and swoopy lines. Combine all this with Honda’s legendary reliability, and the Pilot is clearly a smart, safe choice among three-row SUVs.
Photo Credit: Toyota
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.
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10 Best SUVS With 3rd Row Seating
- Acura MDX
- Land Rover Discovery
- Dodge Durango
- Ford Explorer
- Volkswagen Atlas
- Infiniti QX60
- Lincoln Navigator
- Mazda CX-9
- Honda Pilot
- 2016 Dodge Durango