The Best 3-Row SUVs to Consider in 2020
For many in the market, the three-row SUV is today’s family-hauler of choice. It’s a popular game, everybody’s playing, and the selection of available products borders on daunting. That’s a good thing for you, the consumer: it means the market is very competitive, and that everyone in it is working their very hardest to get you to open your wallet.
From affordable to pricey, sensible to lavish and sporty to luxurious, the three-row SUV comes in many flavors. Below, we’ve compiled some of the market’s most tempting and buzz-worthy offerings, to help you zero in on one that’s perfect for you and yours.
Priority: Affordability / Bang for the Buck
Why: These are three of the segment’s latest products—with the Hyundai and Kia flaunting flashy new looks and class-above interior appointments that could pass in something pricier. Nicely-tuned and car-like road manners help these big machines feel smaller than they are, and both Palisade and Telluride offer up little short of today’s in-demand feature content must-haves.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Hyundai Palisade Review
The Ascent is another worthy option for families out and about in inclement weather. With Subaru’s unflappable all-wheel drive system beneath and a turbocharged punch from the engine room, Ascent’s performance in greasy weather is very confident, and more athletic than its hefty size leads on.
Many test-drivers find Ascent feels punchier than the Palisade and Telluride. That’s partly thanks to the flat-four turbo engine’s broad torque-curve, and the eager power delivery enabled by the Continually Variable Transmission (CVT).
Common to all of these models? Owners can expect to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth when it comes to upscale finishes, must-have tech, and a comfortable and confident drive in any weather.
Priority: Reliability / Sensibility
Why: For the shopper after reliability, sensibility, and a good return on investment from their three-row SUV, the RXh L, Highlander, Pilot and Tahoe should satisfy.
Each has been recognized by industry experts for delivering leading residual values—meaning that they cost their owners less money over time in the form of depreciation.
Each has also been noted for another trait that can help save owners money and time: reliability.
The Tahoe is the only model in the list to offer standard V8 power and a truck-based chassis, making it a better fit for a driver who will work their three-row hard or needs additional towing capacity.
Highlander and Pilot offer a full suite of advanced safety features, including radar cruise and lane assist.
For shoppers after a hybrid-powered luxury option, the newly-available stretch-wheelbase Lexus RXh L hybrid is worth a closer look.
Priority: Off-Road Capability / Toughness
Why: Several traits make these the toughest and most off-road worthy models on the page. With driver-controlled 4×4 systems, truck-based construction, and plenty of features designed to deliver sure-footed grip in challenging terrain, Tahoe, 4Runner and Expedition are some of your best choices if you plan to drive frequently on rough terrain, tow a heavy trailer, or hit the trails.
Expedition is freshest three-row of this trio, packing an advanced twin-turbo engine, 10-speed transmission, and Ford’s latest in digital tech.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Review
The 4Runner is a popular choice for 4×4 enthusiasts around the world, and has earned a loyal owners community and many repeat shoppers, for its strong reputation and tough-terrain performance. The Tahoe gets space to spare, a proven V8 driveline, and a commanding and laid-back highway drive.
Remember: with heavier-duty truck-based parts, these machines are also popular with owners after maximum long-term durability after regular rough-surface use.
Priority: Treating Yourself / Lap of Luxury
Why: If you’re after a three-row built and finished to wow for years to come, these are some of the machine’s you’ll want to check out. Each is a world-class luxury SUV offering the latest features and technologies in the automotive world—including next-generation interfaces, connectivity, luxury equipment, and lighting systems.
Few things on four-wheels are as luxurious as a Range Rover—which comes standard with incredible attention to detail and some of the world’s best leatherwork. This is one of the smoothest, quietest and most comfortable machines on the page.
The Audi Q7 blends sporty dynamics with a modern, connected and relaxing cabin that nods to the future. It’s a great pick for the driving enthusiast after something that transitions effortlessly between sporty and laid-back—largely thanks to Audi’s drive-mode selector.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Cadillac XT6 Review
The Cadillac XT6 boasts expert-level ride comfort and fantastic headlights, turning in a pleasing after-dark driving environment. The cabin focuses on luxury materials, not high-tech gadgets. Approachable technology and a potent Bose stereo system round out the package. The XT6 makes it very easy to get in, get connected, and get comfy.
Finally, the XC90 brings Volvo’s take on modern luxury into the segment with available hybrid power, and one of the most unique cabins in the business. All units run a four-cylinder engine with various levels of power-boosting achieved by turbocharging and hybrid electrification.
The available Bowers and Wilkins stereo system is a must-have for audiophiles, stacking up amongst the best in-car listening experiences on the road.
Justin Pritchard, an award-winning automotive journalist based in Sudbury, Ontario, is known for his comprehensive automotive reviews and discoveries. As a presenter, photographer, videographer, and technical writer, Justin shares his insights weekly through various Canadian television programs, print, and online publications. In 2023, Justin celebrated a significant milestone, airing the 600th episode of his TV program, AutoPilot. Currently, he contributes to autoTRADER.ca, Sharp Magazine, and MoneySense Magazine. His work as a technical writer, videographer, presenter, and producer has been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2019 AJAC Video Journalism Award and the 2018 AJAC Journalist of the Year. Justin holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) from Laurentian University, which he earned in 2005. His career in automotive journalism began that same year at Auto123.com. Since then, he has written one of the largest collections of used car buyer guides on the internet. His passion for photography, nurtured from a young age, is evident in his work, capturing the scenic beauty of Northern Ontario. Living in a region with a particularly harsh winter climate has made Justin an expert on winter driving, winter tires, and extreme-weather safety. Justin’s significant achievements include: 2019 AJAC Video Journalism Award (Winner) 2019 AJAC Road Safety Journalism Award (Runner-Up) 2019 AJAC Automotive Writing (vehicle review topics) (Winner) 2019 AJAC Automotive Writing (technical topics) (Winner) 2018 AJAC Journalist of the Year You can follow Justin’s work on Instagram @mr2pritch and YouTube @JustinPritchard.
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