You’re in luck. This is a hot category and the choices are great.
After school sports? Carpool? Large family? A dog or two? Or do you just need extra cargo space for Costco runs and carefree road trips? If you find yourself toying with the idea of upgrading to a full-sized SUV with 3rd-row seating, you’re in luck: SUVs with 3rd-row seats are the trend right now and one of the most popular types of vehicles on the road.
We made a list of our top 9 favorites, from luxury vehicles to beloved American brands: these SUVs are all top safety rated and stylish. You can haul cargo around safely and capably and still feel like you’re driving around enveloped in luxury.
There’s more on our car review channel!
9 of the Best 3 Row SUVs – From Luxe to Affordable
1. VW Atlas
This might be called a “New American SUV” because it was designed by VW’s American team in Chattanooga, TN, where it’s also built. This brand new SUV was designed to win back VW fans back in 2018 in the US and it’s doing just that. The VW team took a studied approach to the Atlas, adding features they knew customers would love, like Apple Car Play, and leaving some out, like a rear entertainment system, all keeping the price under $50,000 even when fully loaded.
What We Loved
- Tons of headroom and plenty of legroom, even in the third row
- The center row is designed to fit three car seats
- The center row slides and tilts forward even with a child car seat installed, making third-row access easy (though not with a seat installed with a seatbelt)
- Simple, elegant interior
2. Lincoln Aviator
This might be one of the most luxe SUVs on the road. Climb in and you immediately feel pampered, from the massaging leather seats to the door chimes that are ‘performed’ by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Lincoln Aviator is the flagship of Lincoln’s next era: innovative luxury that gives customers what they need in a luxury car. The Aviator takes luxury a step further with a “quiet flight” approach, seats up to 7 passengers and is loaded with cutting-edge technology, comfort, and luxe drive experience.
Starts at $51,500+
What We Love:
- Great for families who love to road trip (with style, comfort, and luxury)
- Works for drivers who need space for passengers and cargo
- Plug-in Hybrid Option- 494 horsepower and about 20 miles of pure electric driving range
- USB ports, a household outlet and heated front seats
- The Lincoln “Embrace”s welcomes you with symphonic chimes while the car ‘bows’ down to make getting in easier
- Tip and slide center seats
3. Toyota Highlander
If you’re looking for the ultimate family car at an affordable price, The Toyota Highlander may be it.
You can go for the basics—cloth seats, Toyota Safety Sense (pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, lane keep assist, road sign reading, and automatic high beam headlights), 8 passenger seating, V6 engine, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and a starting price of $34,600.
Or, go for fully loaded with leather seats, panoramic sunroof, head-up display, wireless phone charger, leather seating, heated center row captains chairs, live-view rearview mirror, the larger 12.3” touch screen, navigation, and premium JBL sound system for a starting price if $46,850. Most models can add all-wheel drive for $1,600 or a hybrid drive system for $1,400.
What We Love:
- The driving experience: a powerful 400-horsepower engine makes driving fun, and confident
- 35 MPG in a 3-row SUV
- 5 USB ports
- The third row seats three!
- New modern look
- The hybrid model gets 35MPG. DANG!
4. Ford Explorer
The new Explorer is lighter, leaner, roomier, and with an even stronger build than before. Ford also expanded the model lineup so there’s a model for every taste, even including a hybrid model.
The base model of the 2020 Ford Explorer, simply called the Explorer, has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $32,765, plus an additional $1,095 destination fee. The Explorer XLT comes with LED signature lighting, 18-inch aluminum wheels, heated exterior mirrors and a quieter cabin which starts at $36,675. The Limited model comes in at $48,130 and adds evasive steering assistance, wireless phone charging, a 360-degree front camera, and rain-sensing wipers have been added. Or go big with the 2020 Ford Explorer ST for the most powerful trim level, including adaptive cruise control, enhanced (hands and feet free) active park assistance and a unique ST grille. The ST trim starts at $54,740. For a luxury experience, upgrade to the 2020 Explorer Platinum, starting at $58,250. It adds luxe touches including adaptive LED headlamps, reverse brake assist, and a larger, more powerful engine.
What We Love:
- Sporty design
- Tech features – even in the third row!
- Wi-Fi service for up to 10 devices
- 8-inch portrait-mounted touch screen with full-screen maps
- Comfortable seating for 7 passengers, including new easy-entry second-row seats
5. Audi Q7
This 7-seater luxury SUV has it all. Stylish mamas love this car because of its luxury design and awesome features like soft closing doors, adjustable back seats and more. And even with a third row, there’s still plenty of cargo space.
The Q7 45 2.0-liter TFSI, four-cylinder with 248 horsepower and 4,400-lb towing capacity starts at $54,800 and the Q7 55 3.0-liter TFSI V6 with 335 horsepower and 7,700-lb towing capacity starts at $60,800.
What We Love:
- WiFi hot spot
- Easy to clean surfaces
- Plenty of charging ports (front and back)
- Adjustable middle seat
- Backseat climate controls
- Soft close doors
- Plenty of cargo space (70+ cubic feet behind the second row)
- All 5 Seats in the second and third row have car seat latch points
6. Kia Telluride
This SUV is stunning in person – pictures do not quite do it justice. People stop, stare, ask questions and give unsolicited compliments when they see it. Everything from the size, number of air vents (even in the third row), the unique layout of the moon roof and the adjustable drive modes-are all quite impressive. Also, the wheels have a great design-sporty and sexy.
This SUV is priced fully loaded at a surprisingly reasonable $47,000.
What We Love:
- The gorgeous interior and exterior details
- The easy to operate second and third row
- Head up display—never take your eyes off the road
- The infotainment system. I’m now a devotee.
- 6 USB ports. Yes, 6!
- The sedan-like ride
- The Driver Talk PA system which interrupts the media signal so back seat passengers can hear you
- 360-degree surround-view camera
- Rain sensing wipers
- The price
7. Hyundai Palisade
Created for the adventurers, families, and those unwilling to give up style and luxury in favor of capability, the Palisade was named in reference to a line of high, substantial, towering cliffs. The Palisade is what we’ve been begging for in a stylish, family-friendly vehicle from Hyundai, the brand known for great design and more-for-your-money in every car.
The 2020 Hyundai Palisade starts at $31,550 MRSP for the standard SE model. The fully-loaded Limited edition starts at $44,700 MSRP.
What We Love
- The panoramic sunroof
- Plenty of space-room for 8 when the second-row bench seat is selected
- Captains chairs in the center row (again, space!)
- So much comfort and convenience- 7 USBs, rear seat HVAC controls, easy button access to the 3rd row, phone pockets behind the seats, and an app for staying easily connected to your vehicle
- Luxury design
8. Cadillac XT6
If you’re looking for an SUV that’s not too big, the XT6 is a nice one. And if you want luxury, that’s what you’ll get in this car. It’s nice to drive- quiet and oh, so comfortable. You’ll find yourself wanting to go for a drive for no reason at all.
Starting price for 3.6 liter V6 with 310 horsepower base model, which is pretty nicely loaded, is about $54,000. The Luxury edition we test drove, fully loaded, including head up display, a dual panel sunroof and other luxury features starts at about $59,79. The Sport edition starts at a few thousand more and with a few more options, and the fully loaded top of the line XT6 is closer to $68,000
What We Love
- 6 USB ports, plus a wireless charging pad made for oversized phones
- Luxurious design
- A grocery bin!
- Woven carbon fiber interior detail
- Chevron-channeled leather seats that are seriously comfortable
9. Honda Pilot
If you are a Honda fan you should definitely put this on your look list. Yes, it’s big. But that means it has lots of legroom and headroom. If you have kids or passengers who are on the larger side of size, this could be an ideal car for you. Priced from $31,000 to about $48,000 for the Elite edition, it includes many of Honda’s best features and like all Hondas, has a sterling reputation for reliability. And, the older boxy-shaped Pilot was redesigned for the 2016 model year and the new look is sublime; it’s elegant and much more refined.
What We Love
- The stylish touches inside and out
- A roomy, comfortable third row with plenty of headroom
- A panoramic sunroof
- Huge center console
- Honda’s active safety technology including blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning
- Lots of space = happy family
Style, Space And Safety Matter
No matter if you are in the market for a 3rd row SUV to get the kids and their friends around town–or if you restore vintage furniture and need cargo space, these are our favorite picks. We chose a selection that varies in price, but offer the ultimate in style, space and safety features.