Sometimes seven seats are not enough.
Whether transporting half a hockey team, or getting roped into shuttle driving a kid’s birthday party – sometimes a SUV needs more than the standard six or seven seats. What’s needed are two rows of benches, sporting three seatbelts each.
Recently, it appears manufacturers are getting the message that their mid-to-full-size SUVs need to have at least one eight seat option. A few years ago, the number of eight seat SUV offerings totalled in the single digits. Today, there are nearly 20 of these people packers. But which 8 seater SUV is right for you, the hardworking consumer?
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To help answer you that question we have gathered 10 of the best mainstream eight passenger SUVs currently on sale today. We have highlighted each model’s strengths to help you make an informed decision on your next rugged human hauler. Here they are, unranked, in alphabetical order.
The Chevrolet Traverse is one of the larger car-like crossovers on sale to offer an eight-seat configuration. Like most vehicles on this list, the 8-seater package can only be had on lower trim levels. But it can be had with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The Traverse isn’t the most refined or sophisticated entry on this list, but its large size and smooth V6 power make it a great value. An LS FWD Traverse starts at just $33,700 USD ($36,498 CAD).
There aren’t many traditional body-on-frame SUVs still available today, but this Chevrolet and GMC quartet continue on. The Tahoe and Yukon are the smaller of the four, although I use that term loosely, while the Suburban and Yukon XL are extra large. Being larger truck-based SUVS, these four can be had with a turbocharged diesel engine or a choice of V8s. Not only do these SUVS offer 8 passenger seating on higher trim levels, it is even possible to get a 9 seater package on the entry level. If hauling a lot of people and a trailer at the same is a top priority, take a look at these trucks.
Continuing the theme of large body-on-frame SUVs is the Ford Expedition. A direct competitor to the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon, the Expedition can also be had in two sizes – regular and Max. It too offers seating for eight on higher trim levels but eschews the traditional V8 powerplant for Ford’s ubiquitous 3.5-liter ecoboost V6. But don’t be fooled, just because the Expedition has a V6 engine doesn’t mean it lacks in horsepower, towing capacity, or thirst for fuel.
The Honda Pilot has become a staple of suburban America, populating the parking lots of recreational centers and shopping malls alike. It is popular for good reason, combining V6 power with ease of use, practicality and comfort. It is possible to get an 8 seater Pilot in mid-level trims with or without all-wheel drive. The Pilot is a crossover that one can’t really go wrong purchasing, but if you are looking for a front-wheel drive, eight passenger Honda, the Odyssey might be an even better choice.
For many years Hyundai offered a three-row SUV, but it wasn’t until the introduction of the Palisade that the brand really became a front-runner in the segment. Available in four trim levels, only the base SE model can be had with the 8-passenger configuration. Starting at a price of just $33,150 USD ($41,399 CAD), it still comes equipped with ford collision mitigation, blind-spot warning, and a 291 hp V6 engine. Like most other entries on this list, it can be had with either front or all-wheel drive.
New to the eight seat party is the Jeep Wagoneer. A rebirth of a storied nameplate, the Wagoneer sits above the Grand Cherokee in the Jeep family hierarchy and hopes to accomplish what the Jeep Commander failed to do over a decade ago. A competitor to higher end Ford Expeditions and GMC Yukons, the Wagoneer features V8 power that can be coupled to rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Like its rivals, the Jeep can be ordered in any trim level with eight passenger seating.
The Kia Telluride is a close sibling to the Hyundai Palisade. But thankfully, when Kia and Hyundai share a platform, the resulting products always come out different. The Telluride is more rugged in appearance and offers a slightly different driving experience. But there still are a lot of similarities with its Hyundai cousin. Power comes from a 291 hp V6 engine that can power just the front or all four wheels, and only the entry level trim can be had with the eight seat configuration; unless you live in Canada where is it possible to get eight seats with leather.
The Nissan Pathfinder was all-new last year and reintroduced an eight seater option. Aimed to be a more rugged competitor to the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot, it comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and the ability to tow up to 6,000 lbs. on most trim levels. Unlike many of its competitors, the Pathfinder allows the eight seat configuration to be selected on all but the absolute highest of trim levels. And speaking of choice, the top-dog Platinum can be had in two-wheel drive if you are so inclined.
Although Subaru is constantly accused of going mainstream, the small Japanese brand still likes to do things differently. The Ascent is the only vehicle on this list with a four-cylinder engine; a turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-4 making 260 hp. It is also the only vehicle to come standard with all-wheel drive. The Ascent is available in five trims, and like the Nissan Pathfinder, an eight seat option is available in all but the top trim level. With a starting price of just $32,295 USD ($37,295 CAD), the Subaru Ascent isn’t just the cheapest eight passenger AWD SUV on the market, it’s the cheapest 8 seater SUV, period.
This list wouldn’t be complete without the Toyota Highlander. Like the Honda Pilot, it has become the poster child for three-row mid-size SUVs. Part of the reason for the Highlander’s success is the amount of choice that is offered. Three trim levels are available with eight-passenger seating, and if that is not enough, there is a Highlander Hybrid with a further two trim levels that can accommodate up to eight people. Any of these can be outfitted with front or all-wheel drive as well a myriad of other options. If the Highlander is on your shopping list, its nearly impossible to find a configuration that won’t meet your needs.
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