Having a big family means you need a vehicle with cavernous passenger space. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a huge budget.
We know how bills can pile up, so we understand that a good deal on a seven-seat SUV is absolutely essential for some buyers. So we’re here to help. There are plenty of three-row SUVs, even luxury ones, that come with a bargain price on the window sticker. We’ve taken the pain to sort out a list of 14 such SUVs so you don’t have to. Let’s dive right in.
Note: we’ve included destination charges for all of these models.
Mercedes-Benz GLB: Starts at $37,595
The Mercedes GLB is the smallest entry on this list, but it’s also the most expensive. Why? Because it’s the only one that’s a real luxury model. That third row is for occasional use only, and probably not by any adults of average height, but it’s there when you need it and for some, that’s the point.
The GLB offers a luxurious cabin typical of the brand. It includes features like the Hey Mercedes voice command system and the excellent infotainment interface that comes with it. The front seats offer impressive comfort. The GLB also boasts a plush ride, and is powered by a 221 hp turbo-four with optional AWD available.
Toyota Highlander: Starts $35,720
This might be one of the newest models on the list, as the Highlander has just started to roll into dealers. On top of being new, it’s also the only one to offer a hybrid model, helping you save some fuel along with some cash. Gas-only models are powered by a 295 hp 3.5-liter V6 and Hybrids get 243 hp from the electric motor and 2.5-liter four-cylinder.
Toyota makes the best driver assistance features standard across the range, including automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control for easier family road trips. With the new model comes more space, especially in the third row and for cargo behind those way-back seats.
Mazda CX-9: Starts at $34,990
Unquestionably, this is the best of these affordable three-row crossovers for anyone who still enjoys driving. That’s because Mazda does its suspension and steering differently, and while it’s still fine on gravel roads, there is much less of a concession made to trade ride for handling. Steering is as crisp as you could expect in this segment and the ride goes the same way.
SEE ALSO: 2019 Mazda CX-9 Review
So if the kids don’t mind you making up time on an on-ramp, this is the one for you. It’s powered by a 2.5-liter turbo-four that makes great whooshing noises and it has a six-speed automatic that’s one of the best around. The third row is tight for anyone approaching six feet, but the ride and handling, the styling, and Mazda’s excellent interiors might mean that’s not an issue for you.
Kia Telluride: Starts at $33,060
The Telluride is Kia’s version of the Hyundai Palisade, but while the Hyundai looks like it’s ready for a night on the town, Telluride looks like it’s ready to start bashing down a rugged dirt trail. Not that that means it’s a brute inside, it just has the styling that suggests it might be. The Telluride gets a 3.8-liter V6 making 291 hp and it can tow up to 5,000 lb of your stuff, but this multiple award-winning crossover also has room for up to eight passengers.
There’s even a self-levelling air suspension available if you find you’re hauling lots of people or stuff in the back and want to avoid that high-in-front, low-in-back look that can afflict any heavily loaded vehicle with steel springs only. Going along with the styling and excellent build quality, the Telluride offers 8.0 inches of ground clearance so it really can manage those trails. Or at least the bumpy road to the cottage.
Subaru Ascent: Starts at $33,005
The Ascent is Subaru’s biggest model yet, but despite the size it still does an impressive job of feeling like a Subaru. That means a compliant suspension that’s great for keeping drinks unspilled on all but the roughest roads. It also means a flat-four engine that sounds a bit like a small aircraft; this one is a 2.4-liter turbo that puts out 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard as is a CVT automatic.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Subaru Ascent Review
The Ascent can seat up to eight, but if all of your passengers have luggage, you might need to reduce that number, and the rear seat is average in class. Forward collision warnings, adaptive cruise, and lane departure warnings are all standard on this big crossover.
Hyundai Palisade: Starts at $32,895
Hyundai went truly vast with its latest Palisade crossover, a model that’s much much bigger than the company’s previous three-row offerings. It offers an interior that’s more luxury car than you’d expect from Hyundai but it also comes with plenty of space for all of your occupants and cargo. The Palisade offers room in all three rows, and optional ventilated seats for second-row passengers if you’re willing to up the budget.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Hyundai Palisade Review
The 3.8-liter V6 offers 291 hp and comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Hyundai offers some neat tech features on this one, too, like cameras mounted in the mirrors that show your blind spot in the digital instrument cluster when you signal for a lane change.
Nissan Pathfinder: Starts at $32,775
While the original Pathfinders were old-style SUVs, the model found a new trail to follow and became a large three-row crossover. That’s the path buyers have taken too, so a hat tip to Nissan for the change. The Pathfinder uses a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 284 hp and a CVT to maximize fuel economy.
The third row is on the smaller side, though, which may limit the number of people you can fit back there. The second row slides fore and aft to let to trade off middle and rear space depending on what your needs on that particular day. The passenger-side second seat will fold forward with a child seat in place, a feature that a few on this list have, and something that could be very handy for anyone with little ones. Cargo space is below average, but the ability to tow 6,000 lb is at the top.
Honda Pilot: Starts at $32,770
The latest Honda Pilot is a roomy place for seven people to sit, though if you’re planning on six-footers in the last row you’re going to want to do a test fit. The Pilot comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed auto (nine-speed on top trims) that delivers 280 hp, but more importantly, delivers that signature Honda VTEC scream at a little over 5,000 rpm for those drivers who have the family along but still want to have fun behind the wheel.
Honda Sensing comes standard, offering drivers collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, collision and lane departure warnings. If you want Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though, you’ll need to spend a few thousand more for the EX trim.
Volkswagen Atlas: Starts at $32,565
The ninth-most affordable three-row crossover is the first showing on this list from Volkswagen. The made-in-Tennessee, made-for-America Atlas comes with a load more space than the Tiguan, but a price that’s not far off. Like the Traverse (next on this list), the Atlas offers up space for tall adults in the third row. Those who just want five seats should look at the (slightly) smaller Atlas Cross Sport.
The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbo-four that makes 235 hp on premium unleaded, or there’s a V6 that pushes power to 276 hp. Both ways you get an eight-speed automatic and the option of 4Motion all-wheel drive. Like the Tiguan, the Atlas offers a uniquely VW cabin and lets you add cool kit like the virtual cockpit display. Forward collision warning with pedestrian detection comes standard, along with blind-spot warnings and rear cross-traffic alert to help out if one of the seven other passengers is a little too distracting.
Chevrolet Traverse / GMC Acadia: Starts at $30,995
The GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse share many components, but do have two big differences. The Acadia offers more luxury trims on the top end, and the Traverse is bigger. In fact, when it comes to dollars per cubic foot, the Traverse is near the top of the heap in any segment. It offers room for grown adults even in the third row, and seating for eight, with the Acadia offering just slightly less.
A powerful 3.6-liter V6 and a nine-speed automatic makes these haulers brisk, and the Acadia can be had with a 2.0-liter turbo four for buyers who need a bit less power, more torque, and some fuel savings. Traverse can tow 5,000 lb if needed, and the secret compartment behind the radio should keep your good snacks safe from grabby hands on long road trips.
Kia Sorento: Starts at $28,110
Kia has just announced a new version of the Sorento crossover, set to show up later in the year, but for now, your option is still the old model. Hey, maybe that’ll help you snag a better deal on what is an excellent three-row crossover.
The Sorento is handsome, if a bit blandly styled, inside and out, and offers a 185 hp 2.4-liter four or a 290 hp 3.3-liter V6. The Sorento gets family-friendly Yes Essentials fabric on base models, a fabric it says is earth-friendly, but, more importantly, also highly resistant to stains, liquids, dirt, and even static. The one-touch slide and fold middle row makes rear access a snap. Higher trims offer leather seating, more driver aids, and a near-luxury experience in a plain exterior wrapper.
Volkswagen Tiguan: Starts at $27,860
If you’re thinking that starting price seems a touch high for the Tiguan, that’s because Volkswagen doesn’t offer the base model with all those seats. You’ll need at least the AWD version of the S model, plus $595, to get a three-row Tiguan. Why the choice? Well, some buyers need the extra cargo space, lower cost, or less weight. The VW offers blind-spot monitoring and a 184 hp 2.0-liter turbo as well as the brand’s trademark ride and handling balance and interior fit and finish, and if your budget stretches higher up into the Tiguan’s trims you can get leather, a big glass roof, and VW’s spiffy virtual cockpit digital dash that’s borrowed from Audi.
Mitsubishi Outlander: Starts at $26,090
Mitsubishi’s Outlander is another three-row bargain. At that price, you might not get the nicest interior around, but you do get the standard third row and a 10-year powertrain warranty that should set aside some long-term ownership stresses. Front-drive is standard, with a 2.4-liter 166 hp four-cylinder and a CVT, with AWD optional. While it comes with a 7.0-inch display audio infotainment system, you’ll need to spend a few dollars more for the SE trim to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and active safety features like collision mitigation, lane departure warnings, and blind-spot assist.
Dodge Journey: Starts at $24,990
The Journey is, bar none, the most affordable way to get three rows in a new crossover in 2020, unless you’re in California and one of a smattering of other states where you’ll need to look for a leftover 2019 model. Dodge simplified the Journey lineup for 2020, so there’s only one drivetrain option: a 173 hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder, a four-speed automatic, and front-wheel drive. But the important bit is those seven seats, and while the Journey isn’t massive, it isn’t the smallest in this group by a long shot. There’s enough space for a comfortable journey for passengers of almost any size and up to 67.6 cubic feet of cargo space.