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What is the best 3-Row Midsize SUV?

July 22nd, 2013

3rd row midsize SUVSo, you’re looking for a midsize SUV, and you would like one with a third row of seats.  Well, before you drive all over your local area visiting dealerships and checking out all the various models, here is something to help you hone down your search.  At True Consumer Reviews, we invited more than 100 3-row midsize SUV owners to our research facility to conduct a detailed, hands-on comparison of 10 top-selling models, including the recently launched 2013 Nissan Pathfinder.  The midsize SUV owners pored over each vehicle, rating them on more than 100 attributes.  Then, we statistically summarized their ratings into a handy summary that gives you a quick, clear look at how each model measures up in all the major categories.

So, what did over 100 real owners – people like you – find to be the best 3-row midsize SUV?  Here is a brief look at the top three contestants as they see them:

The Second Runner-up:  Ford Explorer:  Last redesigned in 2011, the Ford Explorer landed in the top three out of ten 3-row midsize SUVs tested.  Ford Explorer rated highly for exterior appearance, front seat roominess and comfort, front seat storage, overall 2nd row environment, cargo space behind the 3rd row seats and value for the money.  Third row roominess, while marginal for adults and large children, rated in the top half of the set.

First Runner Up:  Buick Enclave:  With a minor redesign in 2013, the Buick Enclave achieved the top score for 6 of 10 summary categories: exterior appearance, interior appearance, interior controls, front seat roominess and comfort, overall 2nd row environment and cargo area.  Driver visibility and overall 3rd row environment rated above average.  As a vehicle pitted more against luxury midsize SUVs like the Acura MDX and Audi Q7, the Buick Enclave was the most expensive, luxurious and well-equipped of the ten vehicles tested.  This was both its strength and its weakness; it was seen as a bit too luxurious and high priced for some.

And the winner is:  GMC Acadia:  With a minor redesign in 2013, the GMC Acadia was the top rated 3-row midsize SUV of ten tested.  Similar to the 3rd row midsize SUVBuick Enclave, but a little less opulent, more traditional-SUV like in appearance and priced lower, Acadia scored well for exterior appearance, front seat roominess and comfort, driver visibility, overall 3rd row seating environment and cargo area.  Like the Enclave and Traverse with which it shares a common architecture, the GMC Acadia offers a powerful combination of a roomy 3rd row and roomy cargo space behind the 3rd seat.  This makes it an obvious candidate for those who use the 3rd row more frequently and often need to carry luggage or sports gear while carrying 3rd row passengers.

Want to learn more?  Just click the True Consumer Reviews icon in the upper left of your screen, pick 3-row midsize SUVs, and select the models you want to compare.  Then, click on the rating symbols to get the photos and explanations behind the ratings.  You’ll get something you cannot find anywhere else:  the compiled ratings of over a hundred midsize SUV owners who compared all the major models in detail, hands-on.