Need something equal parts spacious and swanky? This list has you covered.
There was a time in the not-too-distant past where luxury cars were the sign you had arrived. That was before the rise of SUV and crossover however. Cars were a nice target to aim for, but growing older and starting families has shifted the focus to the high riders. Not only do these big rigs carry more people, they’ll allow you to haul large items, the sort a sedan’s trunk just wouldn’t swallow.
Luckily, the luxury SUV landscape is positively chock-full of three-row options. From surprising compact options, plug-in hybrids, and full-size boat-haulers, these are the best three-row luxury SUVs, according to our team.
SEE ALSO: Affordable Luxury Cars: 10 Best
Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class: Best Compact
If you only sometimes need a third row, and thus want a crossover with a tidy footprint, Mercedes has just the ticket in its GLB. Essentially, the GLB is a stretched version of the GLA, and it includes the option of a third row. Since the GLB is only 182.4 inches (4,633 millimeters) long, this way-back is limited to kids only; there’s even a height warning sticker on the door jamb. This makes the GLB unique amongst this list, as the only compact offering. Power comes from a choice of 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinders, either in mild (GLB 250) or wild (GLB 35 AMG) form, with AWD optional with the former and standard with the latter. Pricing starts a little over $40,000.
Acura MDX: The Entry-Luxury Benchmark
SEE ALSO: 2022 Acura MDX Review: A Fitter Flagship
The Acura MDX was, alongside the original Lexus RX, one of the first luxury crossovers to arrive on the scene. Evolving to its current fourth generation for 2022, the MDX is a big deal, literally and figuratively, for Acura: this handsome three-row remains the Japanese brand’s best-seller, shifting over 60,000 units in the US during 2021.
The key to the MDX’s success its its approachability: this is an easy SUV to get into and operate, fiddly infotainment system aside. A dependable 3.5-liter V6 is standard, and those wanting a little more pep can opt for the Type S, which swaps in a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder. The MDX comes with a long list of standard safety features, comfortable seating for up to seven, and an excellent available ELS audio system.
Cadillac Escalade Diesel: Full-Size Fuel-Sipper
Yes, the Cadillac Escalade also comes with a tried-and-true small-block V8. It’s a great engine. But the available 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 is better. It matches the 6.2-liter on torque, and other than a little of that characteristic clatter on start up, it’s a smooth engine. The diesel uses the same, excellent 10-speed auto as the V8, too.
The rest of the current Escalade package lives up to the reputation of this American flagship. A switch to an independent rear suspension has unlocked vastly more third-row legroom (34.9 inches / 886 mm) and storage space (25.5 cubic feet / 722 liters). An impressive curved-glass display dominates the dashboard, housing three separate OLED displays that are as sharp to look at as they are quick to respond. Oh yeah, and did we mention the 36-speaker AKG sound system? It might be the most impressive setup of its kind, in anything we’ve ever tested.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer: American Luxury
If you just can’t bring yourself to driving a diesel-powered beast, the reborn Jeep Grand Wagoneer comprehensively out-luxuries the Escalade. The interior is a feast of fine leather and wood, and some trims include up to seven—yes, seven—screens. It’s a look that’s both expressive and unique, setting the GW apart from the rest of the pack.
Okay, the gas bills from that 6.4-liter V8 are frightening. And the exterior looks, especially in profile, are … different. But from inside, that smooth air-suspension ride and wicked McIntosh sound system make the largest Jeep the sort of ride that can cross entire states without breaking a sweat.
Buick Enclave: Don’t Break the Bank
SEE ALSO: 2018 Buick Enclave Review
You don’t need to spend a lot of coin to look like you did. With a fresh facelift for 2022, the Buick Enclave is a classy, upscale mid-sizer for a price that won’t break the bank. Pricing starts at a little over $40,000, which is what you’d pay for the much smaller Merc GLB that kicked off this list.
The Enclave offers a spacious interior for seven, where even the rear-most passengers can enjoy 33.5 inches (851 mm) of legroom. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes it a cinch to pair your phone, but even the native infotainment setup is user-friendly. The high-end Avenir features quilted leather seats (with available massaging function), plus active noise cancellation to keep the outside world at bay. Every Enclave utilizes GM’s familiar 3.6-liter V6, with a healthy 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque.
Land Rover Range Rover: The Standard
This right here is the OG. The Range Rover has been the all-road Rolls-Royce for over 50 years, blending luxury with go-anywhere capability. For 2022 the whole package has been updated, adopting a new platform and offering an optional three-row setup. Land Rover has promised all manner of propulsion options, from a traditional ICE to a plug-in hybrid and fully electric Rangie.
Pop those electronically-actuated door handles and you’ll find an interior seemingly pulled from the world of yachts. It’s a bright and airy space, with sumptuous leather, fine open-pore wood, and brushed aluminum accents. Jaguar Land Rover’s updated Pivi Pro infotainment system is much easier to use now, too. The Range Rover will launch with an in-house six-cylinder and BMW-sourced V8 engine.
Genesis GV80: New Money Cool
It’s rare that a manufacturer nails its first offering in a new segment. Yet that’s exactly what Genesis did when it launched the mid-sized GV80 in late 2020. Featuring the brand’s distinctive dual-line styling, the GV80 stands out, looking more expensive than it really is (pricing starts around $50k in the US). Inside, the spacious interior is full of soft-touch materials, and every trim features a giant 14.5-inch touchscreen. Better still, a redundant center console-mounted rotary controller also controls the screen, and feels like a classic iPod click wheel. Cool.
GV80 buyers have the choice of two turbocharged engines, both hooked up to an eight-speed automatic: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, and a 3.5-liter V6. If there’s one weak point of this Korean luxury entry, it’s a lack of an electrified variant. Which brings us to its closest competitor…
BMW X5: Ultimate All-Rounder
The BMW X5 is the pizza of three-row luxury crossovers: there are bunch of available flavors, and thus, something for everyone. And, like pizza, there’s really no bad options.
BMW has spent almost 25 years refining this package. The mainstays of the X5—the split-folding tailgate, the engaging driving dynamics, the pampering interior—are still present and accounted for. A brace of turbocharged motors provide serious oomph, up to and including a 617-horsepower X5 M. Let’s not forget the plug-in xDrive45e model, which pairs that smooth BMW inline-six with a battery pack. There’s just one small issue: the PHEV is a two-row model only.
Volvo XC90: Plug-In Power, Swedish Cool
SEE ALSO: 2020 Volvo XC90 T8 Review
Still sold on the plug-in powertrain, but really do need that third row? How about a dash of Scandinavian cool? The Volvo XC90 is just the right sort of crossover for you, then.
This current generation is one of the oldest in this list, debuting way back in 2015. Yet it’s a testament to the inherent rightness of the package that the XC90 still feels fresh—and remains one of our favorites. The interior is awash in high-quality materials, it’s spacious and airy, and in typical Volvo fashion, there’s a list of safety features longer than an Ikea visit. Pricing starts around $52,000 US, with the plug-in hybrid requiring $13,000 more.
Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class: S-Class, But Taller
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has long been the standard in the luxury sedan realm. Now, with its latest generation, the GLS takes that same standard and applies it to the high-riding three-row segment.
The GLS is enormous, but it doesn’t drive like it. There’s a grace to this air-suspended behemoth, with a comfy, insulated ride that buyers expect of the three-pointed star. Acres of sumptuous leather cover almost every conceivable surface. The front seats gently massage you, and even the armrests are heated. Like the X5, the GLS comes in a wide variety of flavors, with mild-hybrid systems for its inline-six and V8 models. Then there’s the bonkers GLS 63 for speed freaks, and the ultra-fancy (and four-seat) Maybach. Finally, the GLS is worthy of its third letter.
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