What Is the Best Third-Row SUV for Families?

While sedans can still be great family vehicles, they’re not always suitable for large families. The largest three-row SUVs can seat up to seven or eight riders and have enough cargo space to store everyones’ belongings. However, just because an SUV is big enough for your family doesn’t mean you should buy it.

That SUV should also get decent gas mileage to justify the price jump over smaller vehicles. Additionally, you also want to make sure it will last as long as possible. Here are some of the best three-row SUVs for families, according to trusted auto review sites.

A black 2022 Kia Telluride in a wooded mountainous area on a concrete drive.
2022 Kia Telluride | Kia America, Inc.

Chevy Traverse

The 2021 Chevy Traverse made it to the top three in the U.S. News list for best three-row family SUVs. It has one of the most comfortable rides among its rivals, though it also exhibits more body lean. It also doesn’t have the best acceleration, especially when hampered by as many as eight riders.

The third row is best suited for smaller passengers, but every row is easy to access. The Traverse has a bigger cargo hold than some large SUVs, over 98 cubic feet in total. Anxious parents can monitor their offsprings’ driving behaviors closely with the Teen Driver program. However, it’s one of the few advanced safety features on the base trim alongside a rear-seat reminder.

Dodge Durango

The Dodge Durango often gets overlooked on other lists, but Car and Driver editors placed it highly on theirs. It has one of the highest towing capacities amongst its rivals, which is excellent for adventurous road-tripping families. It has an available V8 engine that comes with a stiff suspension that compromises comfort on some trims. 

The performance-oriented engines also don’t get the best mileage. Still, all three rows of the Durango are roomy enough for most adults, and it has an intuitive infotainment interface. 

Ford Explorer

Car and Driver also praised the Ford Explorer, noting that it was the only midsize SUV to match the Traverse’s cargo capacity. However, that means less space for passengers. The interior also doesn’t look that different even after a redesign, and the infotainment system isn’t the greatest.

Still, the Ford Explorer has an agreeable ride and gets up to 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg highway with the base engine. Its handling is also more engaging than rivals without suffering from noticeable body lean. However, it’s only average in terms of reliability.

Kia Telluride

Unsurprisingly, both U.S. News and Edmunds put the popular Kia Telluride at the top of their Best Family SUVs lists. It gets some of the best mileage in its class, up to 23 mpg combined. Its steering is surprisingly light around corners, and the suspension soaks up any hard bumps that might disturb napping little ones.

Drivers of all sizes can get comfortable in every row without sacrificing any precious cargo area. The infotainment system is user-friendly and comes with a big library of advanced safety features. An intercom comes standard, allowing the driver to communicate clearly with unruly riders in the rear rows. The Kia Telluride also boasts top-notch safety scores, excellent reliability ratings, and a 10-year powertrain warranty.

Ford Expedition


Here’s What to Look for in the Perfect Family SUV

Edmunds was also impressed with the Ford Expedition for its massive interior accommodations. The first two rows are the most comfortable and supportive, but the ride remains smooth for all passengers. It has less cargo room than some rivals, but the flexibility of the seats makes it easy to haul unusually shaped items. However, the Expedition’s large size takes a toll on its fuel economy, rated for only 19 mpg combined.

Which to choose?

When considering which SUV to choose, it can be a difficult choice for any family. However, no family will go wrong with these picks. Whether gas mileage is more important, legroom, or storage, there is a three-row vehicle out there for every family.