Beat the Heat in the Back Seat: These 10 SUVs Have Rear A/C for Less Than $40,000

You can beat the heat in the back seat. During these hot summer days everyone wants a cool blast of A/C, even if they’re in the way back. Many two- and three-row SUVs offer the rear seat passengers their own climate controls, which can stop a lot of the “it’s too hot” or “it’s too cold,” feuding. For your next summer road trip, keep the gripes to a minimum with a tri-zone climate system in these 10 SUVs with rear A/C.

What SUVs have A/C in the back?

the rear seat temp controls in a Nissan Pathfinder
Rear seat A/C controls in a 2022 Nissan Pathfinder | Nissan

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Climate zones work with separate controls and sensors that can let the front two passengers set their temp, and the rear set their own temp. Many SUVs have simple vents for rear passengers. But look for a three-zone or a tri-zone system to keep the back seat comfy, hot or cold. This primer from AutoTrader explains how the zones work. These 10 SUVs with rear A/C let the back seat passengers set their own temperature and fan speed.

2022 Audi Q3

A blue 2022 Audi Q3 parked in a mountainous outdoor environment.
2022 Audi Q3 | AUDI AG

The Audi Q3 seats five, and the rear seat passengers can stay cool in this SUV with rear A/C with thumb dials that set the temp. The $36,400 Audi Q3 is a stylish, compact, luxury SUV that is Audi’s lowest-priced SUV. But it doesn’t skimp on features. The Q3 has many of the features of the Q5 and Q7, except in an easier-to-park smaller package.

2022 Subaru Ascent

The best three-row midsize SUVs include the Subaru Ascent
The Subaru Ascent three-row SUV in black | Subaru

The three-row Subaru Ascent has tri-zone climate controls, which means the driver, front passenger and back seats can all set the temp as they like. In the $32,795 Ascent, that means that up to eight people can ride in comfort. Also, the Ascent comes standard with all-wheel drive, a ton of safety features, a 360-degree camera, and a tall 11.6-inch touchscreen.

2022 Dodge Durango

A red 2022 Dodge Durango driving down a road.
2022 Dodge Durango | Dodge

The Durango takes a different approach: This SUV with rear A/C puts its controls on the ceiling and the vents on the floor of the second row and in the back of the doors for the third row. The seven-passenger Durango starts at $37,760 and has a brutish look to it that sets it apart from other SUVs. The interior, however, which was redesigned in 2021 is one of the nicest in the segment.

2022 Mazda CX-9

2022 Mazda CX-9 rear seat vents
Rear seat controls of the CX-9

Reviewers know the seven-seat Mazda CX-9 for its sporty handling and good looks. It’s also a seven-passenger SUV with rear seat A/C that starts at $35,630. In the Mazda’s case, the rear-seat passengers get their own control for A/C if the front A/C is on, too. Most SUVs in this price range have a V6, but the CX-9 has a turbocharged four-cylinder that gives it plenty of passing power to match its handling.  

2022 Buick Envision

2022 Buick Envision in front of a mid-century modern house
2022 Buick Envision | Buick

The Buick Envision has won reliability awards, and acquits itself well in the small near-luxury SUV segment by offering options like a rear-seat A/C. The controls are in the back of the center console. The Envision’s styling can seem to blend into the background, but it can be a bargain at $31,900 for the five-seat SUV that is also a Consumer Reports winner.

2022 Chevrolet Traverse

Front angle view of maroon 2023 Chevy Traverse, highlighting its release date and price
2023 Chevy Traverse | Chevrolet

The $34,220 2023 Chevy Traverse is great for minivan-averse families. It has a third row for seven or eight passengers, a generous cargo bay, and a powerful 3.6-liter V6.  The optional tri-zone climate controls make this an SUV with rear A/C, too. It’s one of Consumer Reports best SUVs under $40,000.

2022 Honda Passport

2022 Honda Passport Trailsport compact adventure SUV climbing up a dusty rock trail in a desert mountain
2022 Honda Passport Trailsport | American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The $38,370 Honda Passport was updated for 2022 and comes standard in every trim level with tri-zone A/C. On the Touring and Elite trims, rear seat passengers get a large LCD panel to set the airspeed and temp they want. The five-seat Passport gets a powerful V6. You can also order it in a new TrailSport model that adds some off-road ability.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

This Green 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is Towing a boat
2022 Nissan Pathfinder | Nissan

The $34,640 Nissan Pathfinder can seat seven or eight with available captain’s chairs in the second row. The back seat HAVAC controls are on the console and the five or six passengers in back can set their own temps. The Pathfinder was redesigned for 2022 with an eye toward off-road looks but caters to passengers with a spacious interior and several infotainment options.

2022 Kia Telluride

Everlasting Silver 2022 Kia Telluride parked in front of a forest
Everlasting Silver 2022 Kia Telluride | Kia

Add tri-zone air conditioning as one more reason to look at the Kia Telluride. The 2022 version starts at about $34,000 and comes with several options that make it great for families, including one-touch sliding seats and three-row seating for up to eight. The new 2023 Telluride is coming soon, but we expect Kia to keep all the features that make the 2022 a sales leader for Kia. It’s virtually the same as a Hyundai Palisade.

2022 Toyota Highlander

The best used Toyota Highlander SUV years
The Toyota Highlander SUV in silver | Toyota

The 2022 Toyota Highlander has controls for three zones, too. With a push of the “Rear Climate” button, the Highlander allows rear passengers to set their own temp and fan speed. Some models even have heated rear seats. The $35,855 Highlander can seat up to eight people and can come in a hybrid all-wheel drive version. It is getting an upgrade for 2023 with a longer Grand Highlander version that should have tri-zone A/C, too.

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