Families who need three rows of seats for children, cargo, and the occasional dog often opt for SUVs for their spaciousness, ride height, and plethora of safety features. With any vehicle, reliability is always a priority consideration, but fuel efficiency is now in the minds of all who drive SUVs. To make this decision easier, Consumer Reports (CR) put together a list of the five newest fuel-efficient and most reliable three-row SUVs available.
2022 Kia Telluride: Starting MSRP $33,390
With a near-perfect CR rating, Kia’s well-received three-row SUV provides passengers a comfortable ride and drivers necessary grunt with its 291-hp 3.8-liter V6 mated to a tranquil eight-speed transmission. The configuration will allot 21 mpg combined, which isn’t remarkable but good for a seven or eight-seater sled.
The Telluride doesn’t have an aggressive suspension setup like other sporty SUVs, so there is body roll in the corners. Nevertheless, drivers will enjoy the ease of use with all its controls, including the fold-down second-row seats that can be operated using one hand. It’s easy to option a Telluride nearing the $50,000 range. Still, Kia includes standard safety features across all trim levels, like automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning (BSW), and forward collision warning (FCW).
2022 Toyota Highlander: Starting MSRP $35,855
Another reliable three-row SUV, the Highlander has been a fan favorite for years. Slightly smaller and more agile than other three-row SUVs, the Toyota offers plenty of room for those in the first two rows, yet the third row may not be ideal for adults. Regardless, the interior finish is second-to-none, as is the simplicity of controlling the various infotainment functions like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
A 3.5-liter V6 and an eight-speed transmission will provide a smooth 295 hp with the get-up-and-go of a sedan while giving a combined 22 mpg. AEB and FCW come standard on the Highlander, but those wanting BSW will have to choose a more expensive trim level.
2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: Starting MSRP $35,855
As the only hybrid on the list, the Highlander Hybrid offers everything from the gas-powered model with much better gas mileage. Consumer Reports claims drivers can expect 35 mpg combined, which jumps to 41 mpg on the highway. Yet, the 243-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder with electric assistance doesn’t have the performance of its fossil-fuel sipping sibling.
Otherwise, the hybrid version is as easy to use as the regular version. Each version of the Highlander can be optioned into the $50,000 range. The difference with the Hybrid over the gas-powered model other than its powertrain is its safety equipment, with BSW standard on the Hybrid.
2022 Hyundai Palisade: Starting MSRP $33,600
The Palisade shares much of its architecture and components with the Kia Telluride, including its 291-hp V6, combined 21 mpg, roomy cabin, and comfortable ride. CR reportedly isn’t very keen on the Palisade’s “unintuitive” gear selector but quite pleased about its standard safety equipment; this includes AEB with pedestrian detection, BSW, and FCW. A refreshed Palisade will emerge later this year, and drivers will also enjoy—as will those with the Telluride—a 10-year, 100,000-mile drivetrain warranty.
2022 Mazda CX-9: Starting MSRP $35,630
The polished Mazda CX-9 boasts a fun-to-drive personality due to nimble handling, making the three-row SUV feel much smaller than it is on the road. With a 227-hp, 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a six-speed transmission, CR reviewers stated they coaxed 22 mpg combined out of the CX-9. Although it may not have the towing capacity of larger-engined SUVs, the Mazda has revered reliability that has only increased over the years.
Second-row seating is plentiful in the well-trimmed cabin. However, adults will struggle to find comfort in the third row. CR found it challenging to master Mazda’s dial-controlled infotainment system, but its other electronic controls, namely AEB with pedestrian detection, BSW, and FCW are welcomed attributes in the base model.
Which reliable three-row SUV should you consider?
For those who already drive a smaller two-row SUV or sedan and are looking for a vehicle with more cargo room, feast your eyes on the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. With a combined 35 mpg and Toyota reliability, it could be a great first pick to get into the three-row segment.
Drivers who may be thinking about trading in their large V8-powered SUVs that still want to hold on to sufficient towing capabilities would find solace in the Kia Telluride. A 5,000-lb capacity for hauling can get most down the road with their trailer or camper in tow.