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Three-row SUVs are desirable for families on the go, but these vehicles can be costly. However, the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan and 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander are the cheapest three-row SUVs on the market. So, which seven-seater is the better pick? 

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan2024 Mitsubishi Outlander
Base Price$26,950$28,395
Base Engine2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder2.5-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower + Torque184 hp + 221 lb-ft181 hp + 181 lb-ft
Transmission + Drivetrain8-speed automatic + FWD or AWDCVT + FWD or AWD
0–60 MPH Acceleration + Top Speed8.1 seconds + 125 mph8.2 seconds + 120 mph
Fuel efficiency 23/30 mpg city/highway24/31 mpg city/highway
Safety Rating4 stars (NHTSA), IIHS Top Safety Pick+5 stars (NHTSA), IIHS Top Safety Pick
Passenger Seating5 or 7 (in 2 or 3 rows)7 (in 3 rows)
Cargo Capacity12 to 37.6 ft³, 65.3 to 73.4 ft³ with seat area10.9 ft³, 64.3 ft³ with seat area

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan pros and cons

This 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan is a good small SUV
2023 Volkswagen Tiguan | Volkswagen

Tiguan owners likely won’t brag about this SUV’s speed or luxury, but they won’t complain either. This affordable three-row SUV packs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder intercooled, turbocharged engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It keeps up with traffic but might leave you wanting more power while accelerating to highway speeds. 

The cabin has enough room to seat five comfortably in the two-row configuration, and seven fit in the standard three-row setup. However, the latter dramatically reduces cargo space and passenger room. Volkswagen starts the Tiguan at $26,950, making it the cheapest seven-seat SUV. 

The body styling isn’t new or noteworthy, but the extra room, mid-level performance, and overall ease of driving make the Tiguan better than you might think

2024 Mitsubishi Outlander pros and cons

The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander on display
2024 Mitsubishi Outlander | Mitsubishi

The 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander provides safe and reliable transportation. Predictably, owners cite the cramped third row and cargo space as drawbacks. But overall, the Outlander performs decently. 

The powertrain combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The performance is relatively lethargic, but drivers like the affordability and fuel economy, along with the option to seat seven. 

A three-row SUV starting under $30,000 is certainly one to consider. Its excellent price and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty are high points. 

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan vs. 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander: Driving and performance

The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan performs slightly better than the 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander. With 184 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, the VW can reach 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. That’s far from impressive, but it’s a tad faster than the Outlander. The Mitsubishi SUV makes 181 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque, which tacks 0.1 seconds onto its 0-to-60-mph time. 

Both the Tiguan and Outlander have good handling, but their acceleration leaves much to be desired for drivers looking for thrills. Consumers who don’t mind spending more can upgrade to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for a more potent yet fuel-efficient powertrain. 

The Tiguan’s top speed is 125 mph, while the Outlander tops out at 120 mph. Unsurprisingly, the latter gets slightly better EPA-estimated gas mileage, achieving 31 mpg on the highway versus the Tiguan’s 30 mpg. 

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan vs. 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander: Interior and tech

Fully loaded 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line cockpit
2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line | Volkswagen of America, Inc. Newspress Limited

The Tiguan boasts ambient lighting, ventilated front seats, and easy-to-use buttons on the front display. The 12.3-inch LCD digital driver display on the Outlander seems more modern, but the overall design is almost equally up-to-date. 

Both SUVs have the high-tech amenities most car shoppers want, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Overall, though, the 2024 Outlander’s design is more current. 

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan vs. 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander: Trim levels and features

2024 Mitsubishi Outlander: 1 of the cheapest 3-row SUVs
2024 Mitsubishi Outlander | Mitsubishi Motors

The 2023 Tiguan has four trim levels: S, SE, SE R-Line Black, and SEL R-Line. The S base model has several upscale features, including keyless entry, blind-spot monitoring, heated front seats, and second-row air vents. Higher trim levels add luxurious features such as wireless charging, premium wheels, and a panoramic sunroof. 

Outlander trims include ES, SE, SE Tech, Black Edition, SEL, SEL Touring, and SEL Premium. Higher trim levels add traffic sign recognition, heated seats, and eight-way adjustable seats. The base model doesn’t have heated seats. 

Tiguan vs. Outlander: Safety ratings

Safety is essential in a family hauler. The 2023 Tiguan received a 4-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Although the NHTSA hasn’t crash-tested the gas-powered Outlander, it gave the plug-in hybrid version a perfect 5-star rating, Mitsubishi says. However, the Tiguan earned Top Safety Pick+, the highest honor from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), whereas the Outlander is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Which cheap 3-row SUV is the right fit for you?

If you’re looking for a slightly more potent engine and a bit more cargo space, lean toward the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan. But if you value style over performance, the Mitsubishi Outlander wins by a hair. Either way, these three-row SUVs provide excellent features at an affordable price. So, the final choice is ultimately your decision.


A Fully Loaded 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan Includes a Cool Perk for Audiophiles