The Best Three-row SUVs For Parents

Are you a mom on the school run or a dad who must pick up your kids and their friends from sports practice, but you’re at a loss to find the best car for the job? Maybe you happened to read that Lincoln Aviator review and you’re mightily impressed with the car’s kid-friendly features and huge cargo space. But the Aviator is a mid-size SUV and you don’t know whether it’s the right size – or even too big – to fit into the odd parking spaces at school, yet you love its elevated ride height and you need a three-row SUV with seven seats… So, which one should you get?

SUVs can roughly be divided into three categories, namely compact crossover SUVs, mid-size SUVs such as the Lincoln Aviator previously mentioned, and full-size SUVs. The mid-size SUV arguably makes the most sense for the average buyer in the USA, and there are several compelling reasons for it. However, what you choose in the end will depend on what you need, how much you are willing to pay for it, and many other factors. Let’s have a look at each class of SUV, starting with the compact crossover SUV.

What is an SUV?

The abbreviation “SUV” refers to “sport utility vehicle.” A sport utility vehicle (SUV) is a type of motor vehicle that combines the passenger capacity of a minivan with the off-road prowess and towing capacity of a pickup truck. Due to these factors, SUVs are ideally suited for adventures in the great outdoors. An SUV should have the power to perform well and be able to withstand difficult conditions and harsh environments without sacrificing the interior comforts it offers its passengers.

The Three Size Classes

Remember that many SUV classes overlap and some models may straddle classes. However, this guide should give you a fair idea of what is available out there.

Compact Crossover SUV

This is the smallest class of SUV available in the US; these vehicles can also be called crossovers because they are half car and half SUV. Many of them are essentially just station-wagon cars with rugged, SUV-like styling and an increased ride height. They deliver excellent miles per gallon, sometimes offer AWD, and they handle and drive like normal cars. They are typically five-seaters, but where three rows are offered, the back seat is small and can usually not accommodate adults – there is very little cargo space with all seats in use, too. They can handle adverse weather conditions and broken tarmac, but shouldn’t be taken on real off-roading tracks.

Advantages of the three-row compact crossover SUV

  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Small size means easy driving and parking
  • Ideal for carpooling or the school run
  • Low MSRP

Examples of three-row compact crossover SUVs

  • Volkswagen Tiguan
  • Tesla Model Y
  • Mercedes-Benz GLB
  • Mitsubishi Outlander

Mid-size SUV

This is the broadest class and SUVs that fit here can span from affordable 2WD options just above the compact class up to models with powerful engine options and all the hardware to do rather serious off-road work. Their fuel economy is quite a bit worse, but they compensate by providing more space all around, especially in the third row, which can sometimes even accommodate adults. They are great for road trips with the third row folded, offering a huge trunk in a five-seater configuration. They can also tow a lot more – ideal for family vacations.

Advantages of the mid-size three-row SUV

  • Biggest choice of models of all the SUV classes
  • Reasonable MPG figures
  • Massive range of engine and drivetrain configurations available
  • Still quite easy to handle and park
  • Some can accommodate adults in the third row

Examples of mid-size three-row SUVs

  • Audi Q7
  • Tesla Model X
  • Lincoln Aviator
  • Volvo XC90
  • Acura MDX
  • Lexus GX
  • Land Rover Defender 110

Full-size three-row SUV

This class contains all the heavy hitters and the sky is the limit in terms of size, with some offering seating for up to nine people. Space for people and cargo is plentiful and many of these models can go off the beaten track, too. Their gas mileage is generally a little poorer with all that weight to lug around, but with a full complement of passengers and a trailer in tow, they can do the job of two cars, amply compensating for their thirst. They might not be great on the school run, as they require lots of space to park and turn and can be cumbersome to drive.

Advantages of full-size three-row SUVs

  • Virtually limitless engine, transmission, and drivetrain choices
  • The automatic choice for road trips with lots of people and luggage
  • Capable off-road
  • Plenty of power and a heavy-duty transmission mean they can haul big loads

Examples of full-size three-row SUVs

  • Lincoln Navigator and Navigator L
  • Toyota Sequoia
  • Cadillac Escalade
  • Mercedes-Benz GLS
  • Ford Expedition and Expedition Max

Factors to Consider When Choosing an SUV

As a result of their adaptability to a wide variety of landscapes and climatic conditions, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are a favorite among many consumers. Although this is true, there are still several other aspects to take into account before making a choice.

1. Price

Before purchasing an SUV, this is the most important factor that needs to be thought about. Do not make the mistake of merely looking at the price tag and deciding to purchase the item without first understanding the full implications of your purchase.

Because purchasing a new vehicle comes with additional costs such as taxes and registration fees, it is possible that purchasing a used vehicle will provide better value for the money spent. In addition to this, the value of brand-new automobiles drops precipitously as soon as they are bought.

Therefore, purchasing a used car may be the best option for you if you are looking for a vehicle that does not experience a significant decline in value over time and is of high quality. Nevertheless, this is entirely dependent on your preferences and financial constraints.

2. MPG (Miles Per Gallon) Rating

Driving an SUV that gets fewer than 18 or 26 miles per gallon on a daily commute can be a very pricey proposition. When compared to a sedan or even a few of the other SUVs in its class, you are wasting a greater proportion of your income on fuel.  Additionally, the price of some of the higher-end SUVs is not significantly higher than the price of other vehicles in their class.

Make sure that the SUV’s fuel economy is a primary concern for you, as well as whether or not your budget can accommodate such a purchase without causing you undue stress.

3. Handling/Performance

Because SUVs have a high center of gravity, it is essential to take into consideration how well the vehicle handles both on and off the road, as well as when traveling through challenging terrain.

The size of the SUV is something else that needs to be taken into consideration. This is because larger SUVs typically have more powerful engines, and as a result, they can pull larger trailers.  If you are interested in purchasing an SUV that can go off-roading frequently, you should think about getting one that has a higher ground clearance.

4. Interior Cargo Space/Seating Capacity

When it comes to SUVs, the two most important aspects are the amount of space inside the vehicle and the number of seats it can accommodate. When planning a road trip with passengers, it is best to choose a sport utility vehicle (SUV) that has a sufficient amount of cargo space as well as seating capacity, particularly in the second row.

Because space in the back rows of an SUV is limited, it is essential to take into account the typical number of passengers in your vehicle before purchasing this type.

5. Safety

When shopping for an SUV, one of the most important things to think about is how safe the vehicle is. The following are some of the most important safety features that you should look for:

  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) 

This function assists drivers in maintaining control of their vehicles during accidental maneuvers by applying braking force to individual wheels. This helps to prevent the vehicle from skidding and keeps it on its intended path.

  • Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) 

Because of this safety feature, the wheels will not lock up when the brakes are applied under extreme or emergency conditions.

  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) 

This system will notify you if the pressure in your tires is too low, which can be hazardous if it is not corrected as soon as possible.

  • Traction Control System (TCS) 

By controlling the amount of torque that is transmitted to each wheel, this feature makes it easier for drivers to keep their vehicles firmly planted on the road.

Benefits of Choosing an SUV

1. Practicality

The first advantage of owning an SUV is the increased level of practicality it provides. This is made possible by the larger frame of an SUV, which gives you sufficient space to transport large amounts of luggage without requiring you to fold down the rear seats. They are also able to carry more weight than the typical hatchback without being weighed down, which is ideal for those who routinely transport a large amount of cargo.

The roomy cabins of SUVs make them an excellent choice for families. Headroom and legroom are typically abundant enough in these vehicles that even the tallest members of the family have little to gripe about. Large SUVs can typically seat up to seven people, while smaller crossover SUVs are typically better suited for families with fewer members.

If this level of versatility isn’t enough for you, a wide range of SUVs come standard with a variety of packages and optional add-ons that provide even more options. Roof bars are one example. They make it easy for you to transport a roof box or a couple of bicycles without causing any additional hassle.

2. Safety

It should come as no surprise that SUVs are some of the safest cars on the road. They also tend to do well when they are subjected to the rigorous crash tests conducted by Euro NCAP. This is because SUVs are larger than other vehicles on the road. Because of their larger size and greater mass, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are better equipped to withstand the impact of a collision than smaller cars are. This makes it less likely that any of the passengers will sustain injuries in the event of a collision.

However, they are not only capable when they are involved in a collision; in addition, they are also skilled in avoiding collisions. Most modern sport utility vehicles (SUVs) come standard with a comprehensive suite of driver assistance systems. These systems are designed to warn the driver of potential dangers and to make driving safer overall. When operating larger vehicles, it may be more difficult to identify potential hazards, which is why it is helpful to have equipment such as parking sensors and blind spot assist.

Due to the higher level of standard equipment found in SUVs, the price of these vehicles tends to be significantly higher than that of comparable smaller alternatives.

3. Fuel Efficiency

Because of the surge in popularity, automakers have developed a better understanding of the typical SUV driver. This helps to explain why new vehicles are continually returning more impressive fuel economy figures. As a result of improvements in fuel economy, today’s SUVs are increasingly well-suited for day-to-day use, in contrast to their traditional emphasis on off-road performance.

Many people may be surprised to learn that various modern SUVs now come with hybrid and all-electric powertrains that can maximize how far a tank of fuel can get you. Cost-effective internal combustion engines have been reducing operating costs for some time now, but many people may be surprised to learn that these powertrains can.

There are still quite a few high-powered SUVs on the market for drivers who value performance more than fuel economy, but for the most part, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have become more environmentally friendly than they have ever been and are the ideal choice for family automobiles.

4. Robustness

The robust nature of SUVs has not been compromised even though their primary function has shifted slightly to accommodate the lifestyle of the people who drive them. In addition to the fact that this makes them generally safer than other vehicles, as was mentioned earlier, it also makes it easier for SUVs to absorb the scuffs and bumps that are associated with day-to-day life.

Because they are better able to handle rough terrain, SUVs are the ideal companion for people who frequently go off-roading because they are a cheaper option. When camping or going on an adventure, 4×4 systems lessen the likelihood of becoming bogged down in a muddy field, and elevated ride heights make it less likely that your vehicle will scrape its underside on rocks and uneven ground. Some models offer 4×4 systems as an optional extra.

In addition, there are a variety of packs that can be purchased to increase the tenacity of your SUV. You can throw your luggage in the trunk without worrying about soiling the plush carpets if you have storage packs, and exterior features like plastic wheel arches can reduce the amount of damage caused by stones that are kicked up while you are driving on or off-road.

5. Towing Capabilities

It is not surprising to see SUVs hauling caravans and trailers because they are some of the best cars for towing caravans. This is especially true during the summer months when many people enjoy staying at home for their vacations.

The engines found in SUVs are typically larger and more powerful than those found in vehicles of comparable size, which gives these vehicles a greater capacity for pulling. This pattern can also be seen within the SUV class itself. Larger SUVs, in comparison to smaller crossover SUVs, tend to be more comfortable when towing heavy loads. Before you get your heart set on a particular car, it is always a good idea to check its maximum towing weight and see if it meets your needs.

In addition, bike racks can be attached to the tow bar. When combined with a bike rack that is attached to the roof bar, this gives you the ability to transport a large number of bicycles and other items necessary for an enjoyable day trip with the family.

The best SUV for parents

If you must have a three-row SUV for hauling children to school, the compact SUV will do a fine job at a low price and with excellent fuel economy. They’re too small for road trips if you have a large family, and a lack of performance counts against many of them. The mid-size SUV is the perfect compromise of a little bit more power, size, and capability, while still being easy to drive and not feeling like a passenger liner to pilot. If your budget stretches this far, it is probably the most versatile SUV around. The full-size class might simply be too excessive for the average parent – and they’re expensive too, when bought new.