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.
2015 Toyota Highlander
A 2014 redesign slotted the Toyota Highlander into the SUV category, instead of the crossover position it previously occupied. However, many of the Highlander’s benefits remain the same. The Japanese brand is 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 2015 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 V6 offers the option of all-wheel drive. The hybrid Highlander comes with a CVT gearbox and the all-wheel-drive system is standard.
2015 Ford Explorer
The 2015 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 still immensely popular, and 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. Ford’s EcoBoost engine has also been added to the Explorer lineup, but this thrifty four-cylinder is only available in front-wheel-drive configuration.
2015 Nissan Rogue
The 2015 Nissan Rogue has undergone significant updates, making it better than the previous version in almost every way. Buyers might find that optional 3rd row of seating a little tight, 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 the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, paired to a CVT gearbox, found in the previous version of the Rogue. The EPA rates it for 33 MPG highway and 28 MPG combined, so why mess with a good thing? The 2015 Nissan Rogue is available in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.
2015 Land Rover LR4
The 2015 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. In 2014, the Land Rover LR4 was updated with an all-new 3-liter supercharged V6, paired to an eight-speed automatic. This new engine offered a decent boost in fuel economy over the previous V8 unit.
2015 Dodge Journey
The 2015 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 V6.
2015 Infiniti QX60
The 2015 Infiniti QX60, previously known as the Infiniti JX, 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 V6, 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. All-wheel drive is optional with both versions of the 2015 Infiniti QX60.
2015 Lincoln Navigator
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator provides a more traditional take on what a full-size luxury SUV should offer, despite extensive cosmetic upgrades for this model year. 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 V6 EcoBoost engine that produces 380 horsepower. All-wheel drive is offered with this Lincoln SUV as an option.
2015 Acura MDX
The Acura MDX has always been popular as an alternative to a minivan, and for the 2015 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. For 2015, the MDX also provides better and sportier handling and a vastly improved ride quality than previous versions. The 2015 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 V6 engine, paired to a six-speed auto, yielding 290 horsepower.
2015 GMC Acadia
The 2015 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 V6 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.
2015 Dodge Durango
The 2015 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 V6 right out of the box, but four-wheel drive and a 360-horsepower, 5.7-liter HEMI V8 are also available as options for the rugged vehicle. Both engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that was all new for the 2014 model year.