Best 3rd Row SUVs of 2024

If you plan on using a vehicle’s third row a lot, let us at least make the suggestion that a minivan would be a smarter bet than anything you’re going to see on this list of best three-row SUVs. Their third rows are bigger, more comfortable and easier to get to. The kids will definitely be happier. Here are our two top choices. 

OK, now that that’s out of the way, we totally get why minivans are totally depressing and that if the kids want to be happier, they can buy their own darn vehicle. You’re buying, you’re driving, you’re being seen in it and you’d rather have a three-row SUV. Fair enough. Luckily, there are more choices than ever and they’re really good. The best do a particularly good job of being family friendly without looking like a drab transportation appliance, although really, you can’t go wrong with any of the mainstream three-row SUVs. Now, some of the luxury choices are a bit suspect, including those that are otherwise very appealing but have cramped third-row seats (the Genesis GV80 comes to mind). We’re focusing on three-row SUVs here, so having a usable third row is a must.  

In this list, we have broken things down into four sub-categories:

Best Three-Row Crossover |  Best Full-size Three-Row SUV

Best Luxury Three-Row SUV |  Best Flagship Luxury Three-Row SUV

Note that we define crossovers as SUVs since most buyers use the terms interchangeably, but acknowledge that “crossover” is literally a vehicle with a car-like unibody structure as opposed to the truck-like, body-on-frame construction that traditionally has defined “SUV.” In other words, we consider all crossovers SUVs, but not all SUVs are crossovers (specifically those in the full-size segment and some in the flagship luxury segment).

Best Three-Row Crossover SUVs of 2024

2024 Honda Pilot

Why it stands out: Exceptional storage and cargo space; unique second-row functionality; refined ride; versatile and capable TrailSport; advanced AWD
Could be better: Subpar acceleration with lackadaisical transmission and engine response; so-so driver assistance tech

Read our full 2024 Honda Pilot Review

The Honda Pilot was completely redesigned for 2023. It maintains its predecessor’s family friendly packaging and overall focus, but it has injected a welcome sense of style (especially in the TrailSport pictured above) that makes it stand out much better from the big crossover crowd. The Pilot’s restrained adornment and classic proportions are refreshing compared to the increasingly busy Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade and Subaru Ascent. Let’s talk about practicality, though, which is ultimately the Pilot’s best attribute. While every other three-row SUV makes owners choose between a second-row bench seat or captain’s chairs (and therefore six-, seven- or eight-passenger capacity depending on vehicle), the Pilot’s removable second-row middle seat means that every Pilot can be a seven- or eight-passenger vehicle. That middle seat even fits under the cargo floor in all trims but the TrailSport (its full-size all-terrain spare tire takes up too much space). There’s also plenty of thoughtful, family-friendly storage throughout and a well-rounded driving experience true to the Honda norm. 


2024 Hyundai Palisade

Why it stands out: More third-row and cargo space; well-executed tech; high-style interior
Could be better: No hybrid or performance version

Read our full 2024 Hyundai Palisade Review and follow updates on our long-term Palisade test

The Hyundai Palisade is mechanically related to the Kia Telluride, and choosing between this pair of masterfully executed family haulers could basically come down to a coin flip. Or, more realistically, which you think looks better. For its part, the Palisade has a more luxurious vibe, which is most obvious in its Limited and Calligraphy trim levels that could easily compete with actual luxury-brand SUVs. The main reason for this is the stylish, well-made cabin that not only looks great, but boasts useful storage, user-friendly infotainment tech and more space than nearly every competitor — bigger kids and even adults will be perfectly comfortable in the third row, and you can fit more stuff behind the raised third row. Hyundai’s driver assistance and safety tech is also among the best-executed in the industry. If there’s a major hole in its game, it’s the lack of a hybrid powertrain or a more powerful version. 


2024 Kia Sorento

Why it stands out: Unique size; efficient engines including two hybrid choices; high-end cabin; well-executed tech
Could be better: Less standard power than similarly priced midsize models; hybrids are extra-hard to come by

Read our 2024 Kia Sorento Review or specifically our Sorento PHEV review

The Kia Sorento basically has the exterior dimensions of a two-row midsize SUV, but manages to sandwich in a third row for those who could foresee needing one on occasion, but not frequently enough to warrant driving around a bigger, thirstier and pricier vehicle like Kia’s Telluride. It’s basically for those who don’t necessarily think that bigger is better. And for its part, the Kia Sorento is appealing for myriad other reasons. Interior materials quality is elevated, the designs are handsome and technology is excellent. The same well-executed driver assistance and safety features that so impress in the Palisade and Telluride are also available in the Sorento. Perhaps most significantly, however, is that the Sorento is one of the very few three-row SUVs offered as a hybrid. Its 37 mpg blows away the V6-powered competition, and there’s an exceptional plug-in hybrid choice (pictured above right). It is important to note, however, that 2024 is an odd year for the Sorento. The gas-only versions get revised exterior and interior design, and new infotainment tech. The hybrids get those updates for 2025, meaning the 2024 versions carry over from last year. The Sorento is recommended regardless of these updates. 


2024 Kia Telluride

Why it stands out: More third-row and cargo space; well-executed tech; well-made interior; doesn’t look like a family hauler
Could be better: No hybrid or performance version available

Read our full 2024 Kia Telluride Review

If you’ve already read the above description of the Hyundai Palisade, you’ve already been briefed about its mechanical commonalities with the Telluride and that they share the same fundamental strong points: space, technology, quality and value. They also do so to an extent that outpaces their competitors. Of the two, the Kia Telluride has received the greater share of accolades, largely because its styling seems to resonate with more people. Basically, style is the tie breaker. There’s more than a whiff of Range Rover to its blocky proportions and restrained detailing (although Kia did tart it up a bit for 2023 and removed the Rover-like “Telluride” written across the hood). Basically, the Kia Telluride doesn’t look like a three-row family hauler despite being one of the best three-row family haulers. Win-win.


2024 Toyota Grand Highlander XLE2024 Toyota Grand Highlander XLE

2024 Toyota Grand Highlander hybrids

Why it stands out: Exceptional fuel economy for a three-row SUV or big-time power for a three-row SUV; class-leading space behind the third row
Could be better: Some infotainment irritations; expensive

Read our full 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Review

While the Toyota Highlander has previously been on this list, it was almost entirely because of its hybrid model that provides exceptional fuel economy none of its competitors could match. We always included the caveat that you’d be sacrificing third-row and cargo space for that fuel economy. That is not the case with the new Toyota Grand Highlander, a separate model despite its name, that’s substantially larger where it counts: in the third row and behind it. It too is available with a traditional, fuel-sipping Toyota hybrid powertrain that achieves a sky-high (for a three-row family vehicle) 33-36 mpg combined, but also offers the performance-oriented Hybrid Max powertrain that gets above-average fuel economy while also boasting 362 horsepower — an amount few rivals approach. Add it up, and the Grand Highlander is an easy replacement here for its non-grand sibling. The hefty price tag does give us pause, but you’re at least getting an awful lot of family hauler.


Best Full-Size Three-Row SUV

2024 Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon

Why it stands out: Fuel-efficient diesel engine; more third-row space than large crossovers; luxurious interiors
Could be better: Many driver assistance features not available on lower trims

Read our Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban Review and our GMC Yukon Review

The Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban have long been best-selling full-size SUVs, but those sales didn’t reflect its strength relative competitors. A switch to an independent rear suspension for the all-new generation for 2021 has radically transformed it, however. The third-row in the Tahoe and its GMC Yukon twin go from nearly uninhabitable to one of the biggest in any vehicle. Cargo space has ballooned, including in the extended length Suburban and Yukon XL, and the cargo floor is lower. The ride and handling have also been dramatically improved. Besides the suspension-related improvements, there’s a unique diesel engine option that gets you crossover-like fuel economy, and a fully competitive interior. The GMC Yukon even gets its own interior design for the first time, but it’s exclusive to the Denali trim level. Add it all up, and you get a full-size SUV family that we can now recommend. 


2022 Ford Expedition Limited Stealth Edition Performance Package

2024 Ford Expedition

Why it stands out: Silky smooth V6 with class-leading torque and fuel economy; bigger third-row than GM SUVs (barely)
Could be better: Less attractive and luxurious interior than Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon

Read our most recent Ford Expedition Review and read about the significant updates made for last year’s Expedition

Until the Tahoe/Yukon were redesigned, recommending the Expedition was an easy choice. Now, the playing field has largely been leveled between the two, with the scales tilting toward the GM SUVs in terms of interior design and quality, infotainment features, and the available diesel engine. While it can’t do much about the latter, at least the Expedition got an updated interior for 2022. Ford also still has the bigger, more comfortable third-row seat, though, plus the piece de resistance: its silky smooth 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 that produces 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque (and it goes up to 440 hp and 510 lb-ft in the Expedition Timberline pictured above left). Besides that being class-leading torque, it’s horsepower also blows away most competitors, including GM’s 5.3-liter V8 found in most trim levels. Better yet, it’s fuel economy is better than the GM V8s. In other words, just because the Expedition’s been around a while doesn’t mean you should ignore it. 


2023 Wagoneer L Carbide2023 Wagoneer L Series III

2024 Jeep Wagoneer

Why it stands out: Best third-row legroom and cargo space beyond that third row on this list; beautiful interior; plush ride
Could be better: Soft suspension with lots of body motions; the L is absolutely gigantic, so good luck with parking

Read our most recent review of the Jeep Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L

You want a large SUV? Well, it doesn’t really get larger than the Jeep Wagoneer and its extra-luxury version, the Grand Wagoneer. Actually it does, the extended-length Jeep Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L is even larger and the biggest choices in the segment. As a result, they have the most spacious and comfortable third-row seat on this list, while the cargo area behind that third row is also more generous. It’s perfectly feasible for you to pack in enough luggage for everyone aboard.

The Wagoneer also has the finest interior in its segment, as it’s really not that different from what you get in the Grand Wagoneer that competes quite favorably with Cadillacs and Lincolns. The good news for 2024 is that the entire Wagoneer lineup gets Jeep/Ram’s new “Hurricane” turbocharged inline-six engine that produces more power and torque than the old V8 choices while getting much better fuel economy. 


Best Three-Row Luxury SUVs

2024 Acura MDX

Why it stands out: Superior handling; versatile second row; value for your money; reliability reputation; sporty Type S
Could be better: Steep tech interface learning curve; stiff brake pedal feel; no plug-in hybrid option

Read our regular Acura MDX Review and our review of the Type S

The MDX was completely redesigned last year. It’s more luxurious than its predecessor, making Acura’s three-row crossover a more convincing competitor for the Audis, BMWs and Lexuses of the world. It also has Acura’s most up-to-date in-car technology, though the interface is an acquired taste. Most important, though, the MDX is not only more engaging to drive than before, it also outpaces its three-row competition — credit to Acura’s latest-generation Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system as well as an increased focus on driving pleasure. That’s especially true with the Type S (pictured above right). At the same time, though, the MDX remains one of the most sensible luxury SUV choices. The third row is friendlier for teens or adults, and the versatile second row features a removable middle-seat portion, meaning you don’t have to choose between seven-passenger capacity or more comfortable second-row captain’s chairs. There’s also the matter of getting more equipment for your money, as well as the MDX’s traditionally strong resale value and reliability. 


2024 Lexus TX

Why it stands out: Biggest third-row of any luxury crossover; great cargo space, too; multiple hybrids; top-notch build quality
Could be better: It’s basically a Toyota Grand Highlander with fancier paint and nicer interior materials; irksome tech

Read our 2024 Lexus TX review

To date, luxury three-row crossovers have been considerably less spacious and practical than non-luxury models. The new TX, by contrast, is not only just as spacious and practical as all those, it’s more so than almost all of them. Now, there is a very good reason for that: It is essentially a Toyota Grand Highlander with fancier paint, more available features, nicer interior materials and more powerful engine choices. That may be an issue for some, but for most, it shouldn’t be.

The combination of space and fuel economy really can’t be beat among luxury models. The TX also gives up nothing in terms of luxury features and interior quality to other Lexus models. Of course, it also has similarly irksome tech, most notably the ridiculous head-up display and unmarked steering wheel buttons that are required to operate far too many functions. While the TX would not be our first choice among three-row crossovers, if you’re top priority is “large” when searching for a luxury crossover, you can’t beat the “Lexus Texas.”


Lincoln Aviator GT

2024 Lincoln Aviator

Why it stands out: High-style cabin; big power; relatively spacious third-row; ample cargo space
Could be better: A cheaper, less-powerful entry model that would open the Aviator up to more buyers

Read our full Lincoln Aviator Review

You won’t hear us say this very often, but the Lincoln Aviator has too much power. With a standard 400-horsepower turbo V6, the Aviator obliterates the base and upgrade engines of most competitors. That’s definitely commendable, and we’re not really complaining. It’s just that the Aviator is so good, it could easily offer a less robust engine and cater to more buyers with a lower price. They’d still be getting a spacious, well-equipped, easy-to-use and high-style interior, plus a refined driving experience that attempts to make your time behind the wheel “effortless” as opposed to “sporty.” Yes, even with 400 hp, the Aviator is more about grand-touring speed than taking corners (appropriate for a Lincoln). Sadly, the Grand Touring plug-in hybrid has been discontinued, but the Aviator that remains is still highly desirable. 


2024 Volvo XC90

Why it stands out: Spacious third-row and cargo area; Scandinavian design; wide price range; available plug-in hybrid
Could be better: Unrefined engines; tech interface doesn’t agree with everyone; ride can be rough with big wheels

Read our most recent Volvo XC90 Review

You can get an XC90 dressed to the nines with the 455-horsepower XC90 Recharge plug-in hybrid powertrain and every high-tech, leather-lined option available for nearly $85,000 and walk away with a truly special luxury SUV befitting that price tag. At the same time, though, you could get a base XC90 Core for around $58,000 and walk away with a well-equipped and well-made family SUV that’s more spacious, efficient and stylish than most luxury models. Such widespread appeal and competitiveness are rare. The XC90 is a great luxury SUV no matter the price or trim level.  

Best Flagship Luxury Three-Row SUV

2024 Cadillac Escalade

Why it stands out: 38 inches of OLED screens; diesel engine; tow capability; adult-friendly third row; Super Cruise
Could be better: V8 fuel efficiency; gargantuan size impedes handling and maneuverability 

Read our Cadillac Escalade Review and our specific Escalade Diesel review

The Escalade was all new for 2021, radically improved and far more competitive. The switch to an independent rear suspension took the third row from uninhabitable to one of the biggest on the market, while also benefiting the ride, handling and cargo space. The styling similarly is as refined you’d expect from this lofty price point in terms of materials, design and technology. Specifically, the 38 inches worth of three OLED screens that surround the driver. The Escalade is also available with GM’s highly advanced Super Cruise hands-free driving technology. Another key element is the diesel engine option, which provides the same 460 pound-feet of torque as the standard 6.2-liter gas V8, but should save you significant money at the pump even with high diesel prices. It’s the one to get. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the new Escalade-V, but that’s just a bit too silly to recommend. 


2023 Grand Wagoneer L Series III2023 Grand Wagoneer L Series II

2024 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Why it stands out: Best third-row legroom and cargo space beyond that third row on this list; beautiful interior; plush ride
Could be better: Soft suspension with lots of body motions; the L is absolutely gigantic, so good luck with parking

Read our most recent review of the Grand Wagoneer L

You want a large SUV? Well, it doesn’t really get larger than the Grand Wagoneer. Actually it does, the extended-length Jeep Grand Wagoneer L is even larger and the biggest choices in the segment. As a result, they have the most spacious and comfortable third-row seat on this list, while the cargo area behind that third row is also more generous. It’s perfectly feasible for you to pack in enough luggage for everyone aboard. The Wagoneer has the finest interior in its segment, so it doesn’t take much for the Grand Wagoneer to step up an compete quite favorably with Cadillacs and Lincolns. The good news for 2024 is that the entire Wagoneer lineup gets Jeep/Ram’s new “Hurricane” turbocharged inline-six engine that produces more power and torque than the old V8 choices while getting much better fuel economy. 


2024 Lincoln Navigator

Why it stands out: High-style cabin; buttery smooth and massively powerful engine; unmatched third-row space
Could be better: Touchscreen seems awfully small thanks to Cadillac; gargantuan size impedes handling and maneuverability

Read our Lincoln Navigator Review

It’s easy to be wowed by the range-topping Navigator Black Label models that can be dressed up in the exquisite color “Themes” of deep green or icy blue. They’re truly special, and if you have the cash, the priciest Navigators are without question the most desirable ones. At the same time, every Navigator benefits from the same general Mid-Century Modern-inspired interior design (updated with a bigger touchscreen for 2022), unmatched passenger space, abundant features list, refined road manners and a standard engine that produces 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. Despite this significant power advantage over the 6.2-liter Escalade, it’s also more efficient (although Lincoln doesn’t offer a fuel-efficient answer to the diesel Escalade). Sure, it’s still gigantic and rather truckish in many regards, but the Navigator can still stand tall against the world’s finest flagship luxury SUVs. 


2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class

Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class

Why it stands out: Beautiful interior; impeccable engineering oozes from everything; diverse model line; well-executed safety tech
Could be better: Overwhelming and confusing tech interface

Read our most recent Mercedes GLS Review

The Mercedes GLS is so much bigger and so much nicer than three-row luxury SUVs like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 that it’s elevated beyond them into the uppermost echelon of luxury SUVs: the flagships. That it has three rows is in some ways just a bonus for those seeking the most advanced SUV Mercedes has to offer (the Maybach GLS 600 doesn’t even have it), but that aft-most row is also genuinely adult-friendly, which is rare among luxury makers. As such, the GLS can at once compete with the Range Rover and Navigator … not to mention the Bentley Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan when in Maybach guise. Of course, we think the Maybach and AMG GLS 63 versions are borderline offensive in their overkill and extravagance, but if you want the best, then it’s certainly hard to argue against them. 

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