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 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.
Best Six Passenger SUVs - 01 - 2013 Ford Flex
The 2013 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.
Best Six Passenger SUVs - 02 - 2013 Dodge Durango
The 2013 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 16-mpg around town and 23-mpg on the highway.
Best Six Passenger SUVs - 03 - 2013 Toyota Highlander
The 2013 Toyota Highlander is kind of a unique addition to our list of six passenger SUVs. That's because the Toyota Highlander comes with a 2+2+2 seating setup that can morph itself into a seven passenger design through the use of the Center Stow feature. The Highlander hides a Center Stow seat underneath the vehicle's front console, which can be pulled out and installed between the SUV's second row captain's chairs in order to increase the vehicle's passenger capacity by one. The Center Stow seat can also be used as a console instead. The Highlander's total cargo space is listed as a generous 95.4 cubic feet, and its 2.7-liter, four-cylinder engine option delivers fuel mileage of 20-mpg city and 25-mpg highway.
Best Six Passenger SUVs - 04 - 2013 Lincoln MKT
The 2013 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 24-mpg on the highway.
Best Six Passenger SUVs - 05 - 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
The 2013 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 seat 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 Santa Fe's 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine is the most efficient of the pair of motors available with the automobile, providing 21-mpg around town and 29-mpg on the highway.
Best Six Passenger SUVs - 06 - 2013 Ford Explorer
The 2013 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 captains 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 available 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, which returns 20-mpg city and 28-mpg on the highway.