The family segment is filled with seven, eight, and even a few nine passenger SUVs, but what if you are only looking for a six passenger SUV? This is a far more niche market, with only a handful of vehicles available with a pair of captain's chairs and a two-seat split rear bench instead of a combination of three-across benches. Why would anyone want to “sacrifice” seating capacity in their family hauler? Six passenger SUVs typically offer much easier access to the rear row, since it's possible to walk though the middle of the vehicle from stem to stern, and they also make it possible to attach a child seat to one or both of the second set of accommodations without sacrificing the ability to get to the back seat. Comfort is also much improved all around, and there is usually the option of a second row console for those who want additional storage inside their vehicle. Let's take a look at six of the best six passenger SUVs currently available in the United States.
1) 2015 Ford Flex
The 2015 Ford Flex is a squared-off, surf wagon-inspired SUV that can swap out its second row bench for a set of captain's chairs, bringing its total seating capacity to six. These optional seats can slide and recline, which can add to the leg room of those seated in the middle or back of the Ford Flex, and a special refrigerated console can also be ordered for keeping snacks and beverages fresh on a longer trip. Total cargo space for the Flex is a respectable 83 cubic feet, and when found with its base 3.5-liter V-6 the SUV gets 18 mpg in city driving and 25 mpg during highway cruising.
2) 2015 Dodge Durango
The 2015 Dodge Durango mixes the world of traditional, brawny SUVs with the comfort and weight savings of a unibody platform. The Dodge Durango is known for having a third row seat that is actually acceptable for full-size adults to occupy on an extended road trip, and choosing to exchange the vehicle's standard second row bench for a pair of captain's chairs creates a six-passenger SUV in place of a slightly more crowded seven passenger model. Although larger-looking than the Flex, the Dodge can swallow a similar amount of cargo with its rear seats out of the picture (84.5 cubic feet in total). The Durango's brute V-8 is a great towing option, but staying with its entry-level 3.6-liter V-6 maintains fuel economy of 18 mpg around town and 25 mpg on the highway.
3) 2015 Buick Enclave
With the 2015 Enclave, Buick is really trying to offer everything to everyone. The Enclave’s spacious interior enables buyers to select second-row and third-row bench seats to bring available seating up to eight. However, two rows of captain’s chairs look much more comfortable and bring a lot of class to this SUV’s cabin. The 2015 Enclave provides plenty of luxury-quality features to ensure a relaxing ride, and its 3.6-liter V-6 engine yields 288 horsepower as well as fuel mileage of 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway.
4) 2015 Lincoln MKT
The 2015 Lincoln MKT shares its platform with the Ford Flex, so it's no surprise that this vehicle is included on our list of the best six passenger SUVs. Like the Flex, the Lincoln MKT has to have its second row captain's chairs ordered as an option, and they are both heated and cooled in addition to offering the same kind of sliding and folding that adds so much versatility to the Ford's cabin. A fridge that can be stowed between the seats is also in the cards for the MKT, and total cargo space shows as 75.9 cubic feet (due to the vehicle's sloping roofline). The Lincoln's 3.7-liter V-6 engine (standard) turns in fuel efficiency figures of 17 mpg in stop and go driving and 25 mpg on the highway.
5) 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe
The 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe is a very recent addition to the six passenger SUV universe, as the redesigned family vehicle added the option of captain's chairs due to popular demand. The six passenger version of the Hyundai Santa Fe is found in the Limited trim, which is designed to be the most comfortable and luxurious edition of the SUV. This means heated leather for second row occupants, as well as the ability to slide the seats forward and backward, and recline them if desired. Total cargo space for the Hyundai is listed at 80 cubic feet. The 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited comes powered by a 3.3-liter V-6 that makes 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque, and achieves fuel economy ratings of 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional.
6) 2015 Ford Explorer
The 2015 Ford Explorer is the third member of our six passenger SUV list to draw from the same parts bin as the Flex (and by extension, the MKT). More rugged than either of its competitors, the Ford Explorer's optional second row captain’s chairs can also come with inflatable seat belts, which is a new and exclusive safety feature introduced by the Blue Oval. 80 cubic feet of storage space is somewhat on the small side for a vehicle in the Explorer's class, but it compares well against the Flex and gives buyers a distinct personality choice in deciding between the two SUVs. The Explorer's best fuel economy comes from its 3.5-liter V-6, which provides 290 horsepower as well as 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.