Buying Guides

2017 Best Midsize 3-Row Luxury SUVs

Capacity and sumptuousness wrapped in one package

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Luxury is no longer strictly defined as a big, cushy sedan. The luxury crossover and SUV segments have changed all that, and since so many of them are well-appointed, comfy, and capacious cruisers, shoppers flock to them for both status and practicality. And they no longer have to be massive to haul 7-passengers. Here are the cream-of-the-crop luxury three-row crossovers this year.

2017 Land Rover Discovery

Best

for the off-roader

  • PROS: Modern and sophisticated exterior and interior design, solid on-road handling, near-matchless offroad abilities.
  • CONS: Firm ride betrays the segment, infotainment system can be frustrating

Land Rover still felt like a staid brand that doesn't change too much in terms of design, until the release of the Evoque and the all-new Discovery. In terms of design, the Discovery is their most radical departure to date. It drives well, feel luxurious, and it looks different from the rest of the lineup. Good thing it still has serious off-road capability and iconic British luxury for seven passengers. Though the infotainment system could use some refinement, everything else is pretty much top notch.

2017 Acura MDX

 
  • PROS: True room for seven, sporty handling from the SH-AWD system, strong and smooth power delivery, best-looking MDX to date, Sport Hybrid is efficient and super-quick.
  • CONS: Some cheap cabin bits, infotainment system feels dated, abrupt adaptive cruise control system isn't peace-inducing.

The third generation of the MDX is the best ever, and for good reason. Not only does it have more interior room, the driving dynamics are truly superb thanks to the latest version of Acura's available Super Handling All-Wheel Drive that makes this MDX a sharp handler. The V6 engine is potent, as well as efficient, too.

2017 Volvo XC90

Best

for the designer

  • PROS: Stunning interior, solid build quality, supremely comfortable seats, excellent infotainment system, T6 engine is potent.
  • CONS: Drive selector knob feels great but isn't very responsive, steering needs more feedback, expensive hybrid trim is pointless.

We laud the XC90 not just because it makes such a huge statement for the Swedish brand but because of the way it goes about it. The powerful four-cylinder engines can be turbocharged, turbo- and supercharged, and even add plug-in electric power to the mix. The interior is one of the best in the industry with a revolutionary Sensus infotainment system, and solid driving manners. The Swedes have redefined themselves in a very good way.

2017 Audi Q7

Best

for the enthusiast

  • PROS: The best driving dynamics of any model here, beautiful interior, excellent available safety features, Audi Virtual Cockpit is a stunning achievement.
  • CONS: Boring sheetmetal plays second fiddle to the new Q5 baby brother, cramped third row, limited cabin storage space, base engine is weak at highway speeds.

Though the Q7 might not be the most dramatic luxury crossover (the exterior is admittedly a bit dull), it has more competence on the road than just about any candidate here. Drop either the 2.0T or the 3.0T into the twisties, and it hangs on like a sports car with pretty good steering, to boot. And the interior is both luxurious and sporty at the same time. The in-car tech is top notch, as are the fit and finish, but it really is the driving experience that makes the Q7 stand out in this crowd.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS Class

Best

for the executive

  • PROS: Huge interior space, adults can fit comfortably in the third row, regal ride, powerful v6 and V6 engines, robust set of available safety features
  • CONS: Leather seating isn't standard, center console keypad seems unnecessary, center console climate controls look and feel cheap, gets seriously pricey in V8 guise.

If you want a luxury steed that has just about everything, the GLS is an excellent choice. The latest generation isn't just beautiful to look at but also available with cutting-edge safety technology like radar-based active brake assist and Distance Pilot DISTRONIC adaptive cruise control includes advanced Steering Pilot. There's huge amounts of room inside, and the GLS is truly quiet on the road.

Why choose luxury crossover over a luxury sedan?

  • Available or standard all-wheel drive on most models.
  • Greater passenger and cargo capacity.
  • Most models have the same luxury appointments and tech as sedan counterparts.

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