4 Consumer Reports Recommended Three-Row SUVs With Captain’s Chairs

Families with lots of kids, or car shoppers anticipating driving lots of kids or people around might be interested in three-row SUVs with captain’s chairs. They’re safe and they have plenty of storage space. Captain’s chairs make it easier to access the third row, but in the interest of adding more seating capabilities, not all large SUVs come with them. Here are four three-row SUVs with captain’s chairs. 

A maroon 2021 Hyundai Palisade against a white background.
2021 Hyundai Palisade | Hyundai

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 is a three-row SUV with captain’s chairs

A dark-colored 2021 Mazda CX-9 sits in a driveway shrouded by shrubbery.
2021 Mazda CX-9 | Mazda

The Consumer Reports recommended 2021 Mazda CX-9 is a three-row SUV with optional captain’s chairs. The CX-9 also boasts 229 horsepower, a turbo 4-cylinder, and a V6. It also gets 22 mpg. 

Consumer Reports notes that the CX-9 feels “alert” and is more luxurious and comfortable than its Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander competitors. However, it isn’t quite as spacious as those, which is important if you’ll be regularly transporting an SUV full of people around. 

As far as those important rear seats are concerned, the Mazda CX-9 does come with a bench seat, but you can choose to have captain’s chairs instead. If you do go the captain’s chairs route, you can either leave the space between them open for easier walk-through to the third row, or you can have a center charging console put in. This is a great feature if you have teens with phones, and don’t need the full seating capabilities that the CX-9 has to offer. 

The 2021 Kia Sorento’s captain’s chairs are easy to adjust

A dark-colored 2021 Kia Sorento navigates a rocky path.
2021 Kia Sorento | Kia

Although it’s recommended by Consumer Reports, the organization couldn’t help but notice that the 2021 Sorento doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, the 2020 Sorento. Consumer Reports noted that the “ride comfort and overall refinement” was a downgrade from previous years. 

The Kia Sorento comes standard with a 191-hp, four-cylinder engine. You can upgrade to the EX and get a 281-hp, turbocharged four-cylinder engine if you’d like. Consumer Reports says that this option takes the Sorento from 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds, compared with the 8 seconds it took the 2020 Sorento V6. 

The EX is also the place to get the captain’s chairs, although you can also get them in the Sorento hybrid. Captain’s chairs in the 2021 Kia Sorento are easy to adjust via a lever on the side and a bar underneath. 

The 2021 BMW X7 has power-operated captain’s chairs

A black 2021 BMW X7 in bright sunlight.
2021 BMW X7 | BMW

The 2021 BMW X7 is BMW’s biggest SUV. It comes standard with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and gets 22 mpg. It’s every bit as luxurious as one might think, with an $84,000 price tag. 

Consumer Reports says that the back doors are large, giving passengers easy access to the second row. Captain’s chairs are optional in the BMW X7, and are power-operated. They can recline as well as move forward and backward. Getting to the third row is as easy as the push of a button. 

The Consumer Reports road test also notes that the captain’s chairs don’t fold down, so if you’ll need cargo space more than passenger space, it’s best to keep the bench seats. 

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade’s third row is easy to reach with a release

A dark blue 2021 Hyundai Palisade against a white background.
2021 Hyundai Palisade | Hyundai

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade comes with a 291-hp V6 and gets 21 mpg. It can hold up to seven passengers with the optional captain’s chairs. Consumer Reports says that although the Palisade scored well in testing (and earned a coveted Consumer Reports Recommended badge), it’s not quite as great as its rival the Kia Telluride. 

The second and third-row passengers in the Palisade have access to USB ports. The Palisade has plenty of space, as it’s a larger three-row SUV. Reaching the third row comes with a flick of a release, but getting to the third row is a bit of a struggle. It’s a little small for regular use. Overall, Consumer Reports thought the Palisade was “quite inviting.”

If you’re looking for a three-row SUV with captain’s chairs, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. They’re Consumer Reports recommended, and they’re all easy to use and fun to drive. 

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