SUVs with 3 rows are a great option for big families looking for a big, sporty car. However, much like any other car body type, there are a lot of options on the market, and not all of them are good. Here’s a look at the three best 3 row SUVs when it comes to fuel economy, according to Carfax.
The Mitsubishi Outlander
The Mitsubishi Outlander isn’t the best SUV with third-row seating on the market, but it is great at one thing, and that’s fuel economy. As Carfax said, the Outlander, when it’s equipped with its standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and forward-wheel drive, gets a great fuel economy. Carfax says that the Outlander gets 25 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on highways, for a combined 27 MPG.
Again, the Outlander may not be the best SUV with third-row seating for you, as it’s actually not that big of an SUV. It’s actually one of the smaller SUVs with 3 rows, and as a result, it’s not very spacious or roomy inside, which can make sitting in the Outlander an uncomfortable chore.
But, because it’s such a small SUV, it is pretty affordable. The Outlander starts at about $25,000. Its great fuel economy means that its estimated annual fuel costs is only $1,350, which makes it even more affordable compared to larger SUVs.
The Ford Explorer Hybrid
Unlike the Outlander, the Ford Explorer is a very big and very roomy SUV with 3 rows. As a result, its standard gasoline-powered trims are the complete opposite of fuel efficiency and actually get a poor fuel economy. However, Ford, like many other automakers, is offering hybrid versions of many of its cars, and as a result, the Explorer has a hybrid option as well.
Carfax says that if you choose the Explorer’s hybrid engine option, which includes a 3.3-liter V6 gas engine and a 35-kW electric motor, then the Explorer can get about 27 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on highways, for a combined 28 MPG. That said, like other cars, the Explorer is most fuel-efficient with the forward-wheel drive option, as the all-wheel drive option will significantly lower the SUV’s fuel economy.
But, because the Explorer is a big SUV, it not only costs more than the Outlander, but Ford only offers the hybrid engine option on an expensive trim of the Explorer. As a result, Carfax says that the most affordable hybrid option for the Explorer will start at about $52,000. However, your annual fuel costs will only be about $1,300.
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Unsurprisingly, the king of fuel-efficient SUVs with third-row seating is a Toyota SUV and it’s also a hybrid. Carfax says that the Highlander, when it’s equipped with its 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid system, gets an impressive 36 MPG in the city, 35 MPG on highways, and about 36 MPG combined. That’s sedan levels of fuel efficiency.
One of the reasons why the Highlander’s hybrid system is so fuel-efficient is because Toyota has a lot of experience with hybrids. The latest hybrid system that Toyota designed for the 2020 model year includes two electric motors, according to Carfax, and that helps the Highlander achieve its great fuel economy.
On top of that, the Highlander is a relatively affordable SUV, even with its hybrid option. The Highlander hybrid starts at $37,500 and its class-leading fuel economy means that its owners will only have to spend about $1,000 a year on fuel.