The Best 3-Row SUVs You Can Buy Today for Under $15,000

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) released a list of the best 3-row SUVs under $15,000. There are some expected names on the list, like Honda, as well as some surprises. Here are the top seven SUVs along with some information to assist potential buyers’ decision-making.

2013 Honda Pilot

The 2013 Honda Pilot received 3.9 stars from KBB expert reviewers but it is more popular among owners scoring 4.5 stars in the KBB Consumer Rating. Honda’s reputation for producing durable automobiles with high predicted reliability makes any Honda vehicle a contender.

New standard features on the 2013 Honda Pilot include three-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, and an eight-inch infotainment display with a rear backup camera. The ability to seat up to eight people comfortably and take them on a road trip or just across town while getting 20 mpg from 250 hp puts the 2013 Honda Pilot at the top of the KBB list.

2012 Toyota Highlander

The 2012 Toyota Highlander delivers 270 hp and 20 mpg, but only received 3.7 stars from KBB experts. It is, however, more popular with consumers receiving a 4.7-star consumer rating. As with Honda, Toyota has a reputation for producing reliable automobiles as well.

The 2012 Toyota Highlander offers seating for seven and a middle seat in the second row that stows out of sight in the center console to allow easy passage to the third row. A wide variety of model configurations, outstanding resale value, and a superb owner-satisfaction record place the 2012 Toyota Highlander in second place.

2012 Chevrolet Tahoe

Third on KBB’s list is the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe. Boasting 320 hp and a respectable fuel economy rating of 17 mpg combined, the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe received 3.8 stars from the KBB experts and 4.5 stars from consumers.

A big, powerful SUV that seats up to 9 people and is capable of towing 6,500 pounds, the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe utilizes active fuel management to engage or disengage up to four of the V8’s eight cylinders to meet current horsepower demands. The 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe has standard trailer sway control, hill start assist, and electronic stability control to make towing heavy loads safer.

2012 GMC Yukon

Similar to the Chevrolet Tahoe, the 2012 GMC Yukon offers 320 hp and 17 mpg with seating for 9 passengers. It also received the same star ratings as the Tahoe. If you need more towing capability consider stepping up to the Yukon XL 2500 with up to 9,600-pound tow rating.

When considering the Tahoe or Yukon keep in mind that owning a large, powerful SUV isn’t for everyone. They are less maneuverable in tight spaces, harder to park in parking lots, and they may not fit in every home garage.

2009 Toyota 4Runner

The 2009 Toyota 4Runner also gets 17 mpg but only offers 236 hp. KBB does not offer an expert rating for this 4Runner but it does get 4.8 stars from consumers. The Toyota 4Runner is at home off-road and capable of carrying four people and their gear comfortably. If necessary, seating for seven is available.

2014 Ford Expedition

The 2014 Ford Expedition received 3.6 stars from KBB experts and 4.6 stars in the consumer rating. It is another large powerful SUV with 310 hp and 15 mpg capable of towing up to 9,200 pounds. The Expedition is equipped with third-row seats that fold into the floor to create a flat cargo surface. It has the advantage over GM models which require removal of the third-row if increased cargo space is desired. 

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe


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Coming in at seventh on KBB’s list but with an impressive combination of power and fuel economy is the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe. Offering 290 hp and 21 mpg, the Santa Fe is capable of seating seven and towing 5,000 pounds while also being the newest year model to make the list of sub-$15,000 SUVs. It may be true that the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe doesn’t win any category. It is not the most rugged off-road vehicle, it does not tow more, and it does not have the maximum seating capacity but it is a comfortable, practical, and affordable SUV that earned a place among some stiff competition.