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Published: Apr 24, 2023 6 min read
Illustration of an SUV in the spotlight
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When you need a family car but a minivan is not your style, a 3 row SUV may be the right fit. With space for up to nine people (in, yes, 3 rows of seating), these vehicles hold the most passengers of any SUV class. Many models come equipped with the latest comfort, safety, and technology features. Matching their physical size, typically, are beefy engines that help deliver smooth, cushioned rides.

Using a step-by-step methodology, we evaluated the 3 row SUVs on the market for attributes including value for money, safety and performance. Below are our five top choices, with explanations on how each stands out from the pack. The specs listed below each review are for the model (or “trim”) we assessed — which we judged offered the best value for money.

Our Picks for Best 3 Row SUVs

Kia Telluride Best Overall, and Best Value
Hyundai Palisade Best for Features
Jeep Wagoneer Best for Handling
Mazda CX-9 Best for Safety
Chevrolet Suburban Best for Technology

Best 3 Row SUV Reviews

Best Overall, and Best Value: Kia Telluride

Courtesy of Kia
  • A well-rounded vehicle at a low price
  • Plenty of features
  • Low fuel economy ratings

The Kia Telluride checks off all the boxes – including solid performance, a lot of comfort and many safety features — at a competitive price. Upgrading one level from the base model to the S trim, as priced below, gives you luxury features such as leatherette upholstery and power-adjustable and heated front seats, starting at a still-reasonable $37,790.

This S model reduces seating capacity from eight to seven by swapping plush, second-row captain’s chairs for the standard bench seat, but passengers will appreciate the extra elbow room. You'll find plenty of tech features on the S trim, too, like a 12.3-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless phone charger, and — new for 2023 — a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Best for Features: Hyundai Palisade

Courtesy of Hyundai
  • Lots of features typically only found on pricier competitors
  • Especially roomy cabin
  • Performance falls a little short of rivals

The Hyundai Palisade is comfortable and roomy, but it stands out for its panoply of high-end features. The top-of-the-line Calligraphy trim level starts at nearly $50,000 but boasts luxuries including Nappa leather, heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel and a massaging driver seat.

All models also come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless device charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a 12.3-inch touch screen, as well as a blind-spot view monitor and navigation-based smart cruise control.

All trims are equipped with a capable 291-horsepower V6 engine. The ride is smooth and controlled, but rivals offer more athletic performance.

Best for Handling: Jeep Wagoneer

Courtesy of Jeep
  • The most powerful of our picks
  • Nimble handling, including off-road
  • Luxurious cabin, even in the base model
  • Starting price is high

The eight-passenger Jeep Wagoneer commands the road with its 392-horsepower V8 engine. That’s significantly more power than any other model on this list, and it helps propel this Jeep from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, for safe merges onto the highway and passing of slower-moving vehicles. The Wagoneer stands out for more than its brisk pace, however. Its handling is exceptional, offering both precise steering on the road and minimal body roll when off-road.

Starting at $58,995, the Wagoneer Series I base model is more expensive than its competitors. It does, however, include niceties like heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and leather trim that are up-the-line features for most competitors.

Best for Safety: Mazda CX-9

Courtesy of Mazda
  • The best headlights among our picks
  • A long list of safety features
  • Well-appointed
  • Less roomy than rivals

The Mazda CX-9 comes with the brand’s iActivsense suite of driver assistance technologies. All models include advanced safety features including radar cruise control with stop and go, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and smart brake support with collision warning. Its headlights — those being very important for nighttime visibility — earned top scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This Wi-Fi-capable SUV also comes with a 10.25-inch dashboard screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless phone charging.

With its 227-horsepower engine, the CX-9 stands out for its smooth, agile ride, although it has less power than the Wagoneer. The CX-9 trails competitors in overall cargo space and third-row passenger room.

Best for Technology: Chevrolet Suburban

Courtesy of Chevrolet
  • Park assist, Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless charging
  • Optional rear-seat media system
  • The most cargo space on the list
  • A less responsive ride than rival 3-row SUVs
  • Low fuel efficiency, even for this category

The Chevrolet Suburban has Wi-Fi hotspot capability and comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless device charging and a 10.2-inch touchscreen. An optional rear-seat media system keeps passengers entertained. The large SUV also provides park assist, a following distance indicator and Chevy's Teen Driver system, which lets you control speed and audio volume for secondary users.

As the largest SUV on this list, the Suburban is roomy enough to seat nine people comfortably. The vehicle also boasts 144.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity, dwarfing the Wagoneer's total cargo hold of 116.7 cubic feet. The Z71 trim supplies heated seats in the front row and leather-appointed upholstery throughout the cabin.

Your pocketbook will be less comfortable with this vehicle. The Suburban has the worst fuel efficiency of the group, along with the highest list price.

Jaclyn Trop is an award-winning journalist who road-tests and reviews vehicles, in addition to covering automotive news. Her byline has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Fortune, Consumer Reports and U.S. News & World Report, among other publications.