Everyone could use a little more space — especially the family on the move. That’s why SUVS, with their unparalleled capability, numerous interior comforts and space, of course, have become so popular among consumers who either have or are planning to start a family. No other vehicle class provides enough room for all the kids, groceries, and even a dog or two. SUVs also come in handy in tricky weather conditions, on rough roads, and when you need to bring along a lot of extra luggage.
The issue that comes with extra space is extra cost. Just as when shopping for a home or apartment, extra square footage can come at a significant boost to the bottom line. But that doesn’t mean that families on a tight budget are necessarily left out in the cold. There are many choices available to those looking for a new SUV with an extra row of seating for cargo, pets, kids, or even a new family addition somewhere down the line.
iSeeCars recently put together a solid list of the top ten SUVs that can be purchased for under $30,000. Yes, $30,000 isn’t exactly a small amount, but these aren’t economy cars we’re talking about, they’re family vehicles that have a lot to offer. In addition to an extra row of seating, these vehicles are packed with the latest technology and creature comforts to make sure the whole family is comfortable and content — no matter how long the trip is.
Read on to see the top ten SUVs with a third row of seating available for under $30,000, as compiled by iSeeCars. Mind you that this list is in no particular order.
1. Dodge Durango
The evolution of the Dodge (FIATY.PK) Durango has been nothing short of amazing, as the Durango has developed a sense and style of its own. The latest iteration comes standard with a powerful V6 engine, but can be upgraded to a V8 for those who crave even more performance. The starting price is just under the $30,000 mark, putting it on the fringe of the threshold; cargo space behind all three rows of seating isn’t exactly ample — just 17.2 cubic feet — but that space increases to 47.7 cubic feet with the third row folded down.
2. Dodge Journey
The Durango’s smaller sibling, Dodge’s Journey, may offer a third row of seats, though mainly just for the kids. The Journey is a much more compact SUV than the Durango, and thus delivers less in terms of space and comfort; of course, that does help bring the price down considerably, as the Journey costs around $10,000 less than it’s older brother. The Journey comes with a standard four-cylinder engine, but does have the option for a more powerful V6. But again, the third row of seats is really only appropriate for small children, and is probably better used for cargo than seating passengers.
3. Nissan Rogue
The most recent versions of the Nissan (NSANY.PK) Rogue include all the things consumers have come to expect: a smooth, quiet ride, a cushy interior, and a reasonable price point. In fact, the Rogue’s price comes in right around the $23,000 mark. Customers do knock the Rogue’s total power output and noisy engine, along with the total amount of space available. It makes up for it in fuel economy — achieving around 30 miles per gallon combined. This factor has helped the Rogue quickly gain ground in the compact crossover segment.
4. Ford Flex
Although aesthetically it’s a bit different, the Ford Flex still delivers when it comes to space and comfort. Its boxy design allows for passengers to take advantage of lots of space. When both passenger rows are folded down, an ample 83.2 cubic feet of cargo room is available. A standard V6 engine also supplies plenty of power, even with a cabin loaded with passengers and cargo. Naturally, the third row can end up being a bit cramped, but the Flex still gives families the space required to haul the troops around. Prices start at just under $30,000, making it just barely eligible.
5. Honda Pilot
For a starting price of around $29,600, a brand new Honda Pilot can solve your family’s transportation woes. The Pilot offers a bit more in terms of leg room than other vehicles in its class — especially in the third row. The standard V6 engine is powerful enough to handle heavy loads and full cabins, and still gets a reasonable level of fuel economy at around 22 miles per gallon combined. Common complaints do include cheap materials in the interior, which offers an area for improvement from Honda’s perspective.
6. Hyundai Santa Fe
Another SUV that comes in right under the $30,000 mark, Hyundai’s Santa Fe crossover is quickly gaining fame for delivering everything SUV lovers crave: power, affordability, and plenty of space. The Santa Fe has a sleek and compact appearance, yet can still pack seven passengers in with its third row of seating. In contrast to the Honda Pilot, consumers have lauded the Santa Fe for having an impressive and high quality interior, along with plenty of entertainment options. However, the third row is tight and best left to the kids, as with many other SUVs.
7. Mazda CX-9
The Mazda (MAZDY.PK) CX-9 has won over critics by not only being spacious, but offering a fair amount of athleticism on the roads as well. The CX-9 is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 engine, which provides the horsepower and torque to haul the heftiest of loads around, while also remaining surprisingly economical. Of course, consumers can also count on Mazda’s high level of reliability and its reputation for safety, an important thing to keep in mind for folks with a family. Critics do knock the dash and infotainment system for being small and cheap, however. Pricing starts at around the $30,000 level.
8. Mitsubishi Outlander
Sleek and compact, the Mitsubishi Outlander delivers when it comes to good looks. Freshly redesigned, the Outlander offers a new take on compact SUVs, all at a price of around $23,000. It’s rather economical as well, achieving gas mileage of around 28 miles per gallon combined. Performance isn’t all that up to snuff, though. The V6 engine can be noisy and leads to slow acceleration, so this may not be the best choice for speed buffs. Cargo space is in short supply as well — another thing to take into account.
9. Nissan Pathfinder
The Nissan Pathfinder really has grown up over the years, and now is one of the leading SUVs on the market that offers a third row of seats. The Pathfinder’s pricing starts at $29,000, roughly around the same as many other SUVs on this list. The cabin has been described as upscale by critics, giving it a leg up on competitors like the Honda Pilot. The third row is also described as ‘adult-friendly,’ which gives it a big advantage over many others in its class. That does take a hit in the cargo space department, however, as the Pathfinder supplies only 79.8 cubic feet with the third row folded down.
10. Toyota Highlander
The final addition that iSeeCars felt deserved recognition is the Toyota Highlander. The Highlander actually seats up to eight people, extra space that can really help families who need it. Cargo space does suffer behind the third row as a result. Otherwise, most consumers are happy with the Highlander’s technology package, comfortable interior, and secure handling. Power isn’t exactly in high supply, as the standard version comes with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder. A larger V6 is available, and is probably a better choice, especially if the cabin is loaded to capacity.