3 of the Worst Third-Row Midsize SUVs According to Car and Driver

The three-row midsize SUV is a staple for larger families or drivers who anticipate carrying large amounts of cargo. For drivers interested in a new SUV, Car and Driver ranked all available midsize SUVs with three rows of seating. The following vehicles earned the unfortunate positions as the three worst three-row midsize SUVs, according to Car and Driver.

Chevrolet Traverse

A black 2023 Chevy Traverse, which is dictated as one of the worst third-row mid-size SUVs.
2022 Chevy Traverse | Creative Commons

Car and Driver ranked the Chevy Traverse as the third-worst midsize SUV with a third row today, but not everything about the Traverse is bad. The Car and Driver list notes that the Traverse has the most cargo space behind the second row compared to its competitors with 57 cu-ft. With this cargo space, the Chevrolet Traverse is also the longest SUV in the midsize class at 17 feet. Whether this massive size is justified will depend on how much a driver wants that extra cargo space.

Under the hood, the Traverse is powered by a 3.6-liter, 310-hp V6. It can get 27 mpg on the highway, which is fine enough considering the Traverse’s size. 

With a starting price of $34,895, the Traverse’s cost is about average compared to other midsize SUVs. According to the Car and Driver Traverse review, if a driver does want to consider the Traverse, the base trim is the best option. Upgraded trims fail to compete with similar trims of other midsize SUVs. 

GMC Acadia 

According to Car and Driver, the GMC Acadia earns the spot for second-worst midsize SUV. At its core, the GMC Acadia is like a smaller Traverse, but this is where one of its biggest problems comes in. The Traverse may be too big for some drivers, but this comes with the benefit of cargo space. Meanwhile, Car and Driver notes that the GMC Acadia struggles with cargo space. It has only 41 cu-ft of space behind the second row and 12 cu-ft behind the third row, making it the worst overall on the list.

As for the Acadia’s engine, buyers can choose between a 2.0-liter, 288-hp inline-four or the 3.6-liter, 310-horsepower V6 found in the Chevy Traverse. The Acadia has no option for a continuously variable transmission, which is an odd feature to leave out.

Despite the downsides to the GMC Acadia, it does earn points for being the second-cheapest option on the list. Its base price of $30,995 is a significant selling point, and the only cheaper midsize SUV is the $30,665 Kia Sorento.

Toyota 4Runner

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The Toyota 4Runner earned the worst spot on Car and Driver’s list of midsize SUVs. Car and Driver noted the 4Runner’s antiquated design as the biggest drawback to the SUV, as Toyota hasn’t redesigned the 4Runner or significantly updated it in general in 12 years. Because of this, a new 4Runner will likely feel outdated compared to other similar SUVs. 

The Toyota 4Runner comes standard with a V6 that puts out 270 hp. As a road trip vehicle, the 4Runner would require frequent fuel stops, as it only gets 19 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg in the city. 

Out of the three worst midsize SUVs that Car and Driver ranked, the 4Runner is also the most expensive with a base MSRP of $38,820.

Despite all these complaints, not everything is bad about the Toyota 4Runner. In its review of the SUV, Car and Driver notes that the 4Runner performs well in off-road driving. As a three-row family SUV, it may struggle, but as an off-roader, it could be the right choice.