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Front Page - Friday, July 7, 2023

Behind the Wheel: Need more space? The best three-row SUVs of 2023

Three-row SUVs have been a popular choice among car shoppers with large families. They typically seat up to eight passengers and still provide enough cargo space for luggage and other items.

Avoiding the stigma of a minivan is another reason for their popularity. However, choosing the right one isn’t easy.

There are a wide range of models to choose from, varying in size and price, and some are available with efficient hybrid and plug-in hybrid engines. Edmunds has rounded up the best three-row SUVs to help you narrow down your search, sorted by size and price.

Compact: Kia Sorento

The Sorento is the smallest and most affordable three-row SUV on this list. In spite of its size, the Kia can seat up to seven passengers and even has decent legroom for adults in the third row.

It’s also one of the few three-row SUVs to offer multiple engine options: a base four-cylinder, a more powerful turbocharged four-cylinder, a hybrid engine and a plug-in hybrid powertrain that provides up to 32 miles of all-electric driving.

In addition to its sharp styling, the Sorento offers an impressive number of optional features including a crisp-looking 10.25-inch center touch screen, second-row captain’s chairs and a 360-degree camera system. On the downside, the Sorento’s higher trims are on the pricy side.

Starting price: $31,415

Midsize: Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade

The Kia Telluride is currently Edmunds’ highest-ranking midsize three-row SUV, followed closely by its corporate sibling, the Hyundai Palisade. Both SUVs share the same engine and underlying platform.

Features and pricing are similar, too. But their styling and interiors are distinctly different. Trim levels also differ. The Telluride offers two off-road-oriented trims, while the Palisade’s top Calligraphy trim is very luxurious.

Other highlights include excellent value, good build quality, spacious cabins, plenty of comfort, and many standard and optional tech features. Each also received a refresh this year that made them even more competitive.

One possible drawback to these top performers is a lack of a more efficient engine and optional hybrid powertrain.

Starting price: Telluride: $37,255; Palisade: $37,235

Large: Chevrolet Suburban

If you have a large family and a boat to tow or a hankering to venture off-road, then the largest SUV on this list has you covered. The Suburban is one of the most versatile SUVs you can buy, and it offers more than just size and power.

The massive family hauler drives well despite its bulk and provides impressive tech features such as the Super Cruise hands-free driving system and advanced trailering features that help make towing easier.

On top of the base V8, you can choose between a more powerful V8 or an efficient turbodiesel engine. But as with any house-size SUV, the Suburban’s immensity makes certain driving and parking situations difficult and it’s expensive to refuel. The higher trims also have average interior material quality.

Starting price: $59,095

Midsize Luxury: Audi Q7

The first luxury SUV on the list is about the size of the Palisade but hails from a prominent premium brand. The Q7 hasn’t been redesigned since 2017, making it the oldest SUV here. But this three-row Audi, the automaker’s only one, has impressed us ever since.

The Q7 sports an elegant exterior complemented by a modern, high-tech interior that’s adorned with first-class materials and excellent craftsmanship. The optional turbocharged V6 provides brisk acceleration, and the Q7 delivers a smooth ride and secure handling when the road gets twisty. For more fun behind the wheel, there’s the 500-horsepower SQ7 model.

Possible drawbacks include a small cargo area and cramped third row. The infotainment system could also be more user-friendly.

Starting price: $60,395

Large Luxury: Mercedes-Benz GLS

The GLS is one of the largest luxury SUVs on the market and the most expensive model on this list. It boasts some of the best tech in the business, an elegantly crafted interior, a supremely comfortable ride, and strong engines with smooth power delivery. That makes it one of the most well-rounded SUVs you can buy and one of Edmunds’ highest-rated SUVs.

Customizing the GLS is easy thanks to a vast number of packages and features such as the Executive Rear Seat Package Plus, which includes rear massaging seats, and the Driver Assistance Package Plus with a host of advanced driver aids. But nothing is perfect, and when it comes to cargo and passenger space, the GLS lags behind larger luxury SUVs such as the Lincoln Navigator.

Starting price: $82,950

Edmunds says

The three-row SUV segment is filled with many compelling models, but picking one from this list should make a great addition to the family.

Michael Cantu is a contributor at Edmunds and is on Instagram.