Find out which is the roomiest

SUVs rose to popularity in the early 2000s, with customers being drawn to their large cabins, higher ride height, and perceived safety. The fact that automakers scored bigger profit margins from them also contributed to the surge. Starting in 2015, sales of SUVs started dominating the auto industry, and carmakers began building them in all shapes and sizes. But, while you can buy everything from compacts to full-size vehicles with taller ride height, three-row SUVs are limited to only midsize and large SUVs.

It’s obviously a matter of practicality here. And, while most haulers aren’t exactly practical, three-row vehicles retain one of the most important features of original SUVs: the ability to carry more than five people. With minivans almost extinct, the three-row SUV is arguably the most practical of its kind. With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at the ten best three-row SUVs you can buy today and compare what they offer in terms of features, power, and third-row practicality.

Ford Explorer

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior
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Despite being eight years old as of 2018, the Explorer remains a solid option

The Ford Explorer is a classic. Not only for the three-row market, but also for the SUV segment. The Explorer name goes back to 1990, when it was introduced to replace the Bronco II. Initially a compact, the Explorer was enlarged to become a midsize in 2006 and it’s been one of the most popular vehicles in this segment ever since. Despite being eight years old as of 2018, the Explorer remains a solid option thanks to its roomy interior, good fuel economy ratings, and good handling despite its size.

The 2016 facelift made things even better, as Ford added an improved infotainment system, 4G LTE, a new EcoBoost engine, and the luxury-oriented Platinum trim. To be fair, the Explorer falls behind some of its competitors when it comes to third-row and trunk space, but it makes up for it in the performance department when fitted with the available EcoBoost V-6 engine rated at 365 horsepower. The Sport trim also gets a lot of praise, and it’s one of the very few SUV with a "Sport" badge that’s actually sporty. Of course, the turbo engine is backed by the stiffer suspension tuning, the sharper steering, and the improved handling.

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior
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The Explorer’s third-row seat comes with 33.3 inches of legroom

The Explorer is now available in five trim levels, ranging from the bare-bones entry-level model to the Platinum version that adds a panoramic sunroof, heated seats, and a rear-passenger entertainment system. Granted, the Platinum model is a bit expensive at $53,940, but there’s a model for every pocket with the base Explorer priced from $32,140 and the Sport offered from $45,950.

Moving to what’s really important here, the Explorer’s third-row seat comes with 33.3 inches of legroom. That’s 6.2 inches less than the second row, which makes it a bit cramped for long trips, but it’s not that bad for passengers that aren’t very tall. Speaking of which, headroom is actually pretty good at 37.8 inches, only 2.8 inches less than what you get in the second row. However, hip room and shoulder room decrease significantly to 40.7 and 50.8 inches, respectively, so don’t expect to stretch too much in there. But needless to say, the Explorer gets the job done as a seven seater, especially if you’re looking for an affordable entry-level model.

Headroom first/second/third row (Inches) 41.4/40.6/37.8
Legroom first/second/third row (Inches) 42.9/39.5/33.3
Shoulder Room first/second/third row (Inches) 61.5/61.0/50.8
Hiproom first/second/third row (Inches) 57.3/56.8/40.7
EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft) 151.5
Cargo Volume behind first/second/third row (cu ft) 21.0/43.9/81.7

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Explorer.

Toyota Highlander

2017 Toyota Highlander
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Six models are available, so you can pick from a basic SUV that gets the job done or upgrade to trims like the LE Plus

The Highlander might not have the veteran credentials of the Explorer, but it’s been around for nearly two decades, which enabled Toyota to develop a solid third-generation competitor. Launched in 2013, the latest Highlander is also of the midsize variety and fights for the same customers as the Explorer. The Highlander doesn’t feel as imposing as the Explorer, but it looks a bit more modern thanks to its more polished front fascia.

Six models are available, so you can pick from a basic SUV that gets the job done or upgrade to trims like the LE Plus, which add a more powerful V-6 engine, a power liftgate, smartphone integration, and a large eight-inch touchscreen display. Premium features like a panoramic moonroof, leather seats, Bird’s Eye camera, and heated second-row captain’s chairs are also available with the range topping Limited Platinum model. Pricing for the Highlander starts from $31,230, while the range-topping Limited Platinum version fetches $45,400 before options. Unlike most of the competition, the Highlander can also be had with a hybrid drivetrain.

As far as third-row seating goes, the Highlander has the advantage that it can seat up to three people in there, taking total capacity to eight persons. Granted, three people aren’t going to be very comfortable in the back, but that’s more than you can haul compared to most three-row SUVs available. Speaking of which, third-row passengers get 35.9 inches of headroom and 27.7 inches of legroom. Hip room and shoulder room are rated at 45.6 and 55 inches, respectively.

Headroom first/second/third row (Inches) 40.7/39.9/35.9
Legroom first/second/third row (Inches) 44.2/38.4/27.7
Shoulder Room first/second/third row (Inches) 59.3/59.6/55.0
Hiproom first/second/third row (Inches) 57.2/57.1/45.6
EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft) 144.9
Cargo Volume behind first/second/third row (cu ft) 13.8/42.3/83.7

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Highlander.

Honda Pilot

2016 - 2019 Honda Pilot
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The Japanese SUV has come a long way since it debuted in 2002

Also a midsize, the current Pilot is fairly new, having been launched in 2016 and updated for the 2019 model year. The Japanese SUV has come a long way since it debuted in 2002, now sporting a more appealing design on the outside and an impressive tech package on the inside. For example, the base trim is fitted with a rearview camera, a seven-speaker sound system and, as of 2018, the Honda Sensing driver assists package. The only engine is a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet. That’s not as impressive as the Ford Explorer Sport, but it’s powerful enough for a midsize SUV.

2016 - 2019 Honda Pilot Interior
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As far as third-row roominess goes, the Honda Pilot provides 38.9 inches of headroom and 31.9 inches of legroom

The Pilot retails from $31,450 in base trim, but there are four more models to choose from. Just like the competition, Honda offers a premium-oriented version. It’s called the Elite, it costs $48,020, and adds features like standard AWD, panoramic roof, wireless charging, heated second-row captain’s chairs, perforated leather, and multi-zone audio, among others. The range-topping trim is a seven-seater, but all the other models can be had with an eight-passenger layout.

As far as third-row roominess goes, the Honda Pilot provides 38.9 inches of headroom and 31.9 inches of legroom. Shoulder room is ampler at 57.6 inches, while hip room is rated at 44.6 inches. While second-row legroom is above average at 38.4 inches, third-row legroom is mostly on par with the competition.

Headroom first/second/third row (Inches) 40.1/40.2/38.9
Legroom first/second/third row (Inches) 40.9/38.4/31.9
Shoulder Room first/second/third row (Inches) 62.0/62.0/57.6
Hiproom first/second/third row (Inches) 59.1/57.3/44.6
EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft) 152.9
Cargo Volume behind first/second/third row (cu ft) 16.5/46.8/83.9

Read our full review on the 2018 Honda Pilot

Chevy Traverse

2018 Chevrolet Traverse High Resolution Exterior
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Redesigned in 2017, the Traverse is fairly new and benefits from GM's latest technology

The Chevrolet Traverse is a little bigger than the rest, but it’s not exactly a full-size either. But despite being more massive, its sporty design keeps it away from looking bloated like a Cadillac Escalade. Redesigned in 2017, the Traverse is also fairly new and benefits from GM’s latest technology. Just like the competition, you can pick between numerous trims. The L, LS, and LT Cloth will keep you on the more affordable side of things, while the RS, LT Leather, and Premier will get you more standard features for a more expensive sticker. There’s also an AWD-exclusive High Country model at the top of the range.

2018 Chevrolet Traverse High Resolution Interior
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The Traverse can also be a seven or eight seater depending on the second-row layout.

Specifically, if you’re looking to keep things simple, the Traverse L will set you back only $30,925, which is about the same as the competition. If you want to go big with the near-luxury High Country model, be prepared to pay $53,595 before options. The Traverse can also be a seven or eight seater, depending on the second-row layout. As usual, the third-row is a bit cramped for long trips, with headroom and legroom rated at 38.2 and 33.5 inches, respectively. Shoulder room and hip room sit at 57.5 and 48.5 inches, respectively.

You get two choices when it comes to motivation. Chevy kept the 3.6-liter V-6 in production, but made some upgrades, so the unit now delivers 305 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. That’s pretty good compared to most of the Traverse’s competitor, but places the SUV below the Explorer. The second option is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The four-banger is less powerful at 255 horsepower, but delivers more torque at 295 pound-feet. Of course, the turbo unit returns better fuel economy.

Headroom first/second/third row (Inches) 41.3/40.0/38.2
Legroom first/second/third row (Inches) 41.0/38.4/33.5
Shoulder Room first/second/third row (Inches) 62.1/62.2/57.5
Hiproom first/second/third row (Inches) 58.1/56.9/48.5
EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft) 157.3
Cargo Volume behind first/second/third row (cu ft) 23.0/58.1/98.2

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse.

Kia Sorento

2018 Kia Sorento Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The seven-seat layout is standard, so you don't have to worry about getting extra features to benefit from the added seats

Updated in 2017, the Kia Sorento is hotter than ever when it comes to design and features. Now sporting the latest Tigernose grille and LED headlamps, it boasts a surprisingly near-premium look, especially given where Kia was a few years back. Five trim levels are available, with the base L model providing a solid choice if you want a three-row SUV without all the bells and whistles. However, the extra standard features begin to add up with the next tier up, which includes a rearview camera and fast-charging USB ports.

The seven-inch infotainment display is standard on all models and includes Android Auto and Apple Car Play. The Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) package, which adds automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, driver inattention warning, and lane-keeping assist, is now standard on the EX, SX, and SX-L trims. The range-topping SX and SX-L models can be had with Mahogany and Terracotta Nappa leather. Kia also introduced optional wireless smartphone charging and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon with Clari-Fi.

The seven-seat layout is also standard so you don’t have to worry about getting extra features to benefit from the added seats. When it comes to dimensions, the Sorrento offers 36.3 inches of headroom and 31.7 inches of legroom for third-row passengers. Shoulder room comes in at 52.8 inches, while hip room is 41.4 inches. The 2.0-liter engine was discontinued, but you an still pick between the 3.3-liter V-6 and the 2.4-liter four-banger. The former delivers 290 horsepower, while the latter generates 190 horses. Pricing starts from $25,990, a significant discount compared to most of its rivals, and goes up to $44,690 for the range-topping SX Limited trim.

Headroom first/second/third row (Inches) 39.5/39.3/36.3
Legroom first/second/third row (Inches) 44.1/39.4/31.7
Shoulder Room first/second/third row (Inches) 59.1/58.0/52.8
Hiproom first/second/third row (Inches) 56.7/56.4/41.4
EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft) 154.2
Cargo Volume behind first/second/third row (cu ft) 11.3/38.0/73.0

Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Sorento.

Dodge Journey

2013 Dodge Journey High Resolution Exterior
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Ten years old as of 2018, the Journey is a bit long in the tooth, but it remains a solid contender in this niche

Ten years old as of 2018, the Journey is a bit long in the tooth, but it remains a solid contender for this list. And despite not looking as fresh as the competition, it’s the perfect choice if you’re looking for zero-frills practicality at an affordable price. That’s not to say that the Journey doesn’t have modern features and tech, but the SE model with the Popular Equipment and Connectivity package comes with Bluetooth, rear-seat ventilation, and overhead storage at only $26,180.

If you’re looking for something a bit fancier, go with the Crossroad trim and add the Driver Convenience package. The bundle includes a Uconnect infotainment system, ParkSense rear park-assist, ParkView back-up camera, and a garage door opener for added practicality. There’s also the Family Entertainment Group, which adds a nine-inch video screen for the rear seats, a premium sound system, and wireless headphones. Add all of the above plus the V-6 engine, and the Journey will set you back only $27,780. Speaking of engines, the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder delivers 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet, while the 3.6-liter Pentastar generates 283 horses and 260 pound-feet.

As for third-row seat dimensions, headroom is at 37.7 inches and legroom at 23.4 inches. Shoulder room and hip room are listed at 43.5 and 40 inches, respectively.

Headroom first/second/third row (Inches) 40.8/39.9/37.7
Legroom first/second/third row (Inches) 40.8/36.1/23.4
Shoulder Room first/second/third row (Inches) 57.5/56.9/43.5
Hiproom first/second/third row (Inches) 53.8/54.4/40.0
EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft) 123.7
Cargo Volume behind first/second/third row (cu ft) 10.7/37.0/67.6

Read our full review on the 2018 Dodge Journey.

Chevy Tahoe

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe Exterior High Resolution
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A cool feature is that the Tahoe can carry up to nine people

Moving into full-size territory, the Tahoe will get you going if you care more about size than anything else. That’s not to say that this Chevy doesn’t have what it takes in other departments as well. The Tahoe is well-equipped even in the base trim, featuring grille shutters for reduced wind resistance, keyless entry and ignition, and rear parking sensors as standard. The entry-level LS model also features a teen-driver monitoring system, 4G LTE connection and Wi-Fi hotspot, an eight-inch infotainment system, and five USB ports.

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe Interior High Resolution
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Speaking of comfort, there's 24.8 inches of legroom and 38.1 inches of headroom for third-row passengers

Move up to the range-topping Premier trim, and you get 20-inch wheels, adaptive suspension, ventilated front seats, second-row bucket seats, a navigation system, and a 10-speaker Bose audio system. The standard 5.3-liter V-8 pumps out 355 horsepower, but you can opt for the 6.2-liter V-8 that delivers 420 horses. Power won’t be a problem in this SUV!

Another cool feature is that the Tahoe can carry up to nine people. Not only the second-row can be had with two or three seats, but an additional, foldable seat can be added between the front seats. Granted, this tiny seat is far from comfortable for long trips and the driver loses some of its elbow room with this option, but it gets the job done. Speaking of comfort, there’s 24.8 inches of legroom and 38.1 inches of headroom for third-row passengers. Shoulder room and hip room are rated at 62.6 and 49.3 inches, respectively. The Tahoe is on the expensive side, retailing from $48,795. The range-topping Premier model comes in at a whopping $63,495.

Headroom first/second/third row (Inches) 42.8/38.7/38.1
Legroom first/second/third row (Inches) 45.3/39.0/24.8
Shoulder Room first/second/third row (Inches) 64.8/65.1/62.6
Hiproom first/second/third row (Inches) 60.8/60.3/49.3
EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft)
Cargo Volume behind first/second/third row (cu ft) 15.3/51.7/94.7

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevy Tahoe.

GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia
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While smaller that its predecessor, the current Acadia has a surprisingly spacious cabin

Redesigned for the 2017 model year, the Acadia is related to the Chevrolet Traverse we discussed earlier. The consensus is that it’s a more premium version of GM’s SUV, so it’s a good choice if you’re looking for extra features and a more luxurious cabin. Lukily, it has a design of its own, so you also get the familiar GMC front end with the imposing grille and the big headlamps. While smaller that its predecessor, the current Acadia has a surprisingly spacious cabin. It also comes with standard features like keyless entry and ignition, a seven-inch touchscreen display, and a rearview camera.

Go with the next trim, the SLE-2, and you get a power liftgate, heated front seats, and six-passenger seating. The SLT-1 adds power lumbar seats, perforated leather, a Bose audio system, and the Driver Alert Package. The Denali tops the five-trim range with a unique grille, 20-inch wheels, carpeted floor mats, hands-free liftgate, and many more. Engine choices include a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that’s rated at 193 horsepower and 188 pound-feet and a sturdier 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of twist.

As far as dimensions go, third-row legroom comes in at 31.1 inches, while headroom is rated at 37.2 inches. The Acadia also offers 54.3 inches of shoulder room and 42.9 inches of hip room. Pricing starts from $29,995 for the base SL trim and from $46,095 for the range-topping Denali model.

Headroom first/second/third row (Inches) 40.3/39.6/37.2/39.9/37.7
Legroom first/second/third row (Inches) 41.0/39.7/31.1
Shoulder Room first/second/third row (Inches) 59.4/58.7/54.3
Hiproom first/second/third row (Inches) 55.7/53.3/42.9
EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft) 143.8
Cargo Volume behind first/second/third row (cu ft) 12.8/41.7/79

Read our full review on the 2018 GMC Acadia.

Nissan Pathfinder

2017 Nissan Pathfinder High Resolution Exterior
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The sole engine option is a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque

The fourth-generation Pathfinder is one of the oldest SUVs in this list. And although the nameplate goes back to 1986, it wasn’t until recently that it became available as a three-row vehicle. Although far from fancy, the Pathfinder is a good choice if you want an affordable hauler that comes with a powerful engine and solid towing capacity. Four trim levels are available, with the base model including an eight-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, SiriusXM Travel Link, and tri-zone climate control as standard. Go with the range-topping Platinum model and you get premium features like 20-inch aluminum wheels, LED headlamps, a Bose audio system, and heated and cooled front seats.

The sole engine option is a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque. The direct-injected mill mates to a CVT transmission. The SUV offers 30.7 inches of legroom in the third row, while headroom is 37.8 inches. Shoulder room and hip room are rated at 57.1 and 42 inches, respectively. Pricing for the Pathfinder starts from $31,040, while the range-topping Platinum model comes in at $42,570.

Headroom first/second/third row (Inches) 42.2/39.4/37.8
Legroom first/second/third row (Inches) 42.3/41.7/30.7
Shoulder Room first/second/third row (Inches) 60.7/60.4/57.1
Hiproom first/second/third row (Inches) 56.8/56.1/42.0
EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft) 157.8
Cargo Volume behind first/second/third row (cu ft) 16.0/47.8/79.8

Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder.

Buick Enclave

2018 Buick Enclave Exterior High Resolution
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The Enclave provides 33.5 inches of legroom for third-row passengers

Essentially a re-bodied version of the Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia, the Buick Enclave bridges the gap between the two. It’s not as mundane as the Chevy, but it doesn’t get GMC’s more upscale looks and features. Unlike the Acadia, it’s available with just one engine option, in the shape of a 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque.

Priced from $40,990, the Enclave is actually pretty expensive, but the base model comes with standard features like 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot, an eight-inch infotainment display, and keyless entry and start. You get perforated leather and Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, as well as Rear Cross Traffic Alert with the Essence model. The features get fancier with the Premium trim, which includes a Bose audio system, heated second-row seats, and heated steering wheel, while the Avenir model gets unique interior features, navigation, wireless charging, and a powered, dual moonroof.

The Enclave provides 33.5 inches of legroom for third-row passengers, as well as 37.6 inches of headroom. Shoulder room increases to 57.3 inches, while hip room is 48.5 inches.

Headroom first/second/third row (Inches) 41.0/39.9/37.7
Legroom first/second/third row (Inches) 41.2/38.9/33.7
Shoulder Room first/second/third row (Inches) 62.4/61.7/57.3
Hiproom first/second/third row (Inches) 59.1/57.7/48.5
EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft) 154.0
Cargo Volume behind first/second/third row (cu ft) 23.6/58.0/97.6

Read our full review on the 2018 Buick Enclave.

All statistical data obtained via badcarsgoodcars.net

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