3-row SUVs have all but replaced minivans as the go-to vehicle for large families. Along with their car-like performance and sporty styling, SUVs provide enough space for everyone without the soccer-mom/dad stigma. Although we can understand the attraction, 3-row SUVs come with their own drawbacks. SUVs don't offer the sliding door functionality and low step-up height minivans provide which make access to the 3rd row a no-brainer. To compensate, several automakers have made 3rd-row access easier with sliding, tilting and folding seats. These three mid-size SUVs lead the pack when it comes to loading in your pack.
1. Volkswagen Atlas
Volkswagen's newest and largest SUV is the ultimate family hauler thanks to its class-leading passenger space and comfort from the front row to the back. The Volkswagen Atlas stands out even before you climb into the cabin. While many other crossovers look like they could be long lost siblings, the Atlas has its own distinct style. Key features include a wide grille and blocky headlights which announce the arrival of this large SUV. The fenders are prominent and provide the Atlas with a rugged look that's distinct from other crossovers which aim for a sleek style. The tall hood line and the rear uptick in the rear side glass also give it a unique identity.
There is more to love about the VW Atlas when you climb inside. It can fit 7 or 8 full-grown adults with all three rows providing ample leg and headroom (not an easy feat). Though there's no power slide feature, the Atlas has an easy-pull lever for the 2nd row that allows it to slide forward and up for easy entry. If the unique exterior and comfortable interior don't convince you that this is the right SUV for your crew, maybe the top safety ratings from IIHS and NHTSA will.
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2. Honda Pilot
Popular with families large and small, the Honda Pilot gets a refresh for 2019. The exterior is updated to move away from the Pilot's minivan image of old and towards a more aggressive and sporty style. The tougher exterior starts with a new grille and the appearance of skid plates on the bumper covers. A squared-off front fascia along with a thick bar added between the headlights make the Pilot appear a touch more masculine and rugged.
The Honda Pilot offers roomy 2nd and 3rd-rows which can fit humans older than the age of 4. This midsize SUV can seat between 7 and 8 passengers depending if you go with Captain's chairs or bench seats for the 2nd row. To make access to the back row less painful, the Pilot has a power slide button for the 2nd row (standard on EX-L, Touring, and Elite trims) This means the young and the young at heart can get in and out without pulling any muscles. Along with ample legroom inside the cabin, the Pilot offers sophisticated and low maintenance materials in its higher trims that top off the family-friendly design.
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3. Hyundai Palisade
The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is an all-new 3-row SUV that replaces Hyundai's outgoing Santa Fe XL. This statement-making vehicle has a lot to offer drivers and passengers alike. Its bold design is intended to communicate the confidence-inducing driving experience and safety features Hyundai focused on in the design process. In fact, even the name, "Palisade" (meaning a line of high cliffs or fortress) communicates the idea that this SUV protects its occupants.
In addition to being a safe family SUV, the Palisade is also a comfortable one with more headroom and legroom for driver and passengers than the Santa Fe XL offered. Standard 2nd-row bench seats provide room for 8 passengers while optional Captain's chairs and can fit 7. No matter which option you choose, getting in and out of the 3rd row is a breeze with the one-touch 2nd-row seat slide (standard on all trims). When you have more cargo than passengers to stow, there is also an available power 3rd-row which automatically folds down the back row seats with just a touch of a button. This unique feature is not offered by any of the Palisade's competitors.