Buying Advice

AutomotiveMap Picks: Best Three-Row SUVs for Families

The Hyundai Palisade is one of the best three-row SUVs you can buy.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Familes come in all shapes and sizes. Some need more room than others. The best three-row SUVs fit all your family's comfort and convenience needs from seats for everyone to modern connectivity features and excellent fuel economy.

Despite all the rationale you use to choose your next SUV, sometimes you get in one and just like it more than others. Even with all their years of industry knowledge, AutomotiveMap's writers feel the same way. Often it comes down to feelings about one over the rest.

The three-row SUVs on this list are AutomotiveMap writers' favorites.

2020 Toyota Highlander

2020 Toyota Highlander

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Sue Mead: There's no doubt that the 2020 Toyota Highlander is well-rounded. For the 2020 model year it has been thoroughly updated. Sue's favorite features are the bigger, more thoughtful and useful interior; available 12.3-inch touchscreen; and Toyota Safety Sense suite of safety and driver assistance technology. The fact that the hybrid version is available in front- and all-wheel drive is a plus. The gasoline-powered model can tow 5,000 pounds and the hybrid can tow 3,500.

​2020 Ford Expedition

2020 Ford Expedition

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Harvey Briggs: The answer here is more. More power. More room. More towing capacity. More of just about everything a family could want in an SUV. What pushes the 2020 Ford Expedition over the top for me over 23 other really good options is third-row legroom.

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Jesus Garcia: The new SUV on the block offers space, luxury, and unique styling, at a reasonable price. Available with all-wheel drive, the 2020 Kia Telluride is capable of doing more than just dropping kids off at school.

Nicole Wakelin: The 2020 Telluride is comfortable and stylish with family-friendly features. It's priced better than competitors too.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Hyundai Palisade
Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Perry Stern, AutoNXT: The 2020 Hyundai Palisade boasts standout styling, a roomy and comfortable interior, seating for up to 8 passengers and excellent on- and off-road drivability.

Chad Kirchner: The Hyundai has a premium interior with state-of-the-art safety and tech features, while being significantly cheaper than the competition and doing it significantly better.

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull: While the Land Rover Range Rover Sport's seating can best be described as 5+2, the model serves as an ideal three-row SUV because of its off-road prowess, finely appointed interior, and enough infotainment options to keep your family occupied during a road trip. It's also stylish and is available with a number of powerful engine options.

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The Hyundai Palisade got a mild refresh for 2023.

Hyundai

Earlier this year, Hyundai announced changes to the Palisade for 2023. The list includes a new front fascia, an updated grille with new headlights and daytime running lights, a 12-inch touchscreen with navigation, and more. A new XRT trim joined the lineup as well, bringing brawny off-road styling and dar exterior trim. Today, Hyundai announced pricing for the SUV, which starts at a little more than $32,000.

2023 Hyundai PalisadeA new XRT trim adds rugged styling. Hyundai

The Palisade's powertrain carries over from 2022, which includes a 3.8-liter V6 that makes 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. Inside, the SUV got several new and updated technology features, including a more powerful wireless device charging pad, an updated digital key system, and a larger infotainment display.

As Hyundai's flagship SUV, the Palisade edges on luxury territory, with plush leather upholstery and a serene cabin that offers excellent noise cancellation and comfort. Captain's chairs and seven-passenger seating are available, but a second-row bench comes standard and brings eight-passenger capacity to the SUV.

Muscular SUVs are more popular than ever before, so Hyundai gave the posh Palisade an outdoorsy treatment with its XRT trim. The new Palisade XRT builds on the SEL trim with 20-inch wheels, a more rugged bumper and lower body cladding, a sunroof, and leatherette upholstery. To be clear, XRT is an appearance package that does not improve off-road capability to a large degree.

2023 Hyundai PalisadeTop trims border on the quality and design of some luxury brands. Hyundai

Standard safety equipment is generous, and includes forward collision warnings with avoidance, lane keep assist, lane following assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, driver attention warnings, high beam assist, and adaptive cruise control.

Pricing for the base Palisade SE starts at $36,245, which includes a $1,295 destination charge. The top Calligraphy AWD model starts at $52,095 after destination. All-wheel drive is available for all trims as an added-cost option.

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The Ascent got updated styling and fresh tech.

Subaru

Subaru's lineup is full of useful, adventure-ready vehicles, but most are not accommodating for full-size families. The Ascent solved that issue for the automaker a few years ago, and has been a popular family option since. It got a mild update for 2023 with a facelift and new tech. The Ascent comes in five trims: Base, Premium, Onyx Edition, Limited, and Touring. It's expected to go on sale in fall 2022.

The Subaru comes with a new front fascia design that adds a new grille and aggressive styling up front. Lower air ducts help improve aerodynamics, and in higher trims the components come with chrome trim. The SUV's C-shaped taillights got a refresh as well, and now feature a sharper shape to better match the vehicle's overall styling.

2023 Subaru AscentThe new front fascia design is more aggressive than before. Subaru

The Ascent's powertrain remains in place, which is a turbocharged 2.54-liter four-cylinder making 260 horsepower. It sends power to all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission that offers a simulated eight-speed manual shifting mode. Subaru's X-Mode driving mode comes standard, which alters throttle response and other vehicle behavior to maintain traction in slippery conditions. Torque vectoring, which allows the vehicle to shift torque between wheels that need it most, also comes standard.

A new Onyx Edition trim joins the Ascent line for 2022. It brings a standard 11.6-inch touchscreen with navigation, a Harman Kardon sound system, power seats, and a panoramic sunroof. The base Ascent comes with features such as 18-inch wheels, USB inputs, tri-zone automatic climate controls, three rows of seating, and a whopping 19 cupholders. Subaru also offers an optional Cabin Connect system, which allows the driver or front passenger to communicate to people behind them through the stereo using a front-cabin-mounted microphone.

2023 Subaru AscentThe Ascent's interior is available with great tech, such as an 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Subaru

Subaru EyeSight safety equipment comes standard with every Ascent. The system is improved for 2023 with a wider field of vision and new software. A new wide-angle camera joins EyeSight's existing two-camera setup to provide better pedestrian and cyclist detection when approaching intersections. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and lane change assist are available.

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