These 5 SUVs with 3-row seating top our list (and they’re affordable)

Stylish & capable 2020 models that won't break the bank

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The three-row SUV has supplanted the minivan as the family vehicle of choice. 

Regardless of your feelings towards the declining minivan (I, for one, love them!), most automakers are giving the people what they want: seven seats housed within a SUV. They tend to be sportier, provide a livelier drive experience, and exude a level of style that the humble minivan simply can’t match (but you can still read our minivan reviews here).


Here we look at five three-row SUVs to consider as your next family hauler—all of which start below $45,000. All in no particular order:


Ford Explorer

Editor’s Note: 2020 Explorer is an all-new model; including a first-ever 400-hp Explorer ST (reviewed here).

Don’t sleep on the Ford Explorer. While it’s the elder statesman on this list, and easily overlooked with the number of new models hitting the market, the Explorer continues to be a rock solid SUV. 

Up front, the Explorer has a super clean design. The rotary gear shift dial creates a wealth of room in the centre console, while the infotainment setup minimizes button overload. Opt for the twin-panel moonroof to really feel the cabin open up. 

Seating is wide and comfortably firm across the board, which is great for longer hauls with the family. And, of course, the distinctive Ford look gives it an aggressive, truck-like appearance to help you command the highway trek. 

What we like:

Rotary gear shift that provides more space 

Comfortable seating for everyone

Aggressive design

Latest Explorer News & Reviews:


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VW Atlas

Editor’s Note: The Atlas first arrived for 2018; the 2020 model is in the current generation.

When Volkswagen released the Atlas, it gave the automaker its first true family vehicle that it could boast about in decades. (While I am a fan of minivans, the Routon was not a vehicle that elicited much excitement.)

Three rows can be difficult to design, but VW got it right with the Atlas. There’s enough room in the way back for the kids to be comfortable. Adults and babyseats fit incredibly well in the second row; the latter of which does not need to be removed to access the third row, thanks to VW’s clever design.

VW’s 4Motion is always a great addition, giving you more peace of mind that you can handle a variety road and weather conditions with ease. 

From the outside, the Atlas mixes sleek with stoic. The front-end is striking and attractive; while, from the side, its distinct lines give it a strong, silent stance. 

What we like:

Smart entry to third row

Smooth eight-speed transmission with Tiptronic

Available 4MOTION AWD

Latest Atlas News & Reviews:


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Subaru Ascent

Editor’s Note: Ascent first arrived for 2018; the 2020 model is the current generation.

The Subaru Ascent is a fairly recent entrant in the three-row SUV class. 

Staying true to all things Subaru, the Ascent balances space for the entire family with driving capability to help you conquer the great outdoors.

Of course, Subaru’s Symmetrical Full-Time AWD system comes standard, and there’s enough ground clearance that you won’t second-guess taking the unbeaten path to the secluded campsite. Roof rails, tie downs and cargo hooks are also standard, giving you greater cargo flexibility. 

The lower-end trims offer enough more than enough—infotainment that connects to your smartphone, Subaru’s Eyesight, and all the aforementioned standards. This is one of the non-Hyundai or Kia vehicles that doesn’t need too much extra to meet your wants and needs, which is quite refreshing. 

What we like:

Rugged design and drive quality

Good value for the entry-level model

Standard  Symmetrical Full-Time AWD

Latest Ascent News & Reviews:


Kia Telluride

Editor’s Note: Telluride first arrived for 2019; 2020 Telluride isn’t much different.

Whether you choose the seven- or eight-seat model, the Kia Telluride is chock full of features to handle every inch of family life. 

It doesn’t hurt that it’s a looker, as well. The Telluride has a Range Rover-esque design, and one could easily argue the Telluride beats the Range in terms of appearance. The rectangular LED headlights are, in a word, sexy. 

Inside, the cabin is serene and calming. From the controls to the seats, everything the Telluride is perfectly placed and spaced. Find USB ports near each seat and even a 110 volt household outlet.

What we like:

Choose from seven or eight seats

Rectangular LED headlights

Suite of safety tech comes standard

Latest Telluride News & Reviews:


Mazda CX-9

Editor’s Note: The 2020 CX-9 is still in its second-generation since 2016 (first arrived in 2006). So, a redesigned model may be in the works.

The Mazda CX-9 is arguably the most gorgeous model on this list. While all have distinct, attractive designs, the CX-9’s curves and long front-end make it an absolute standout. 

The driving experience matches its look. Sporty meets slick, it handles incredibly well thanks to Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus, and feels much smaller than it actually is. 

Mazda keeps the front seats clean and clear of clutter. The screen perched on top of the dashboard provides all the info you need, while a small stack of buttons below handles all your HVAC needs. It’s simple and perfectly uses empty spaces to its advantage. 

What we like:

Gorgeous exterior design

Sporty drive experience

Clean interior layout

Latest CX-9 News & Reviews:

Travis Persaud
Travis Persaud has contributed to a number of magazines across North America, including enRoute and Exclaim! He loves variety and it shows in the wide range of topics he’s covered: automotive to music, technology to travel, beer to real estate. He’s currently the editor of WHERE Ottawa (city travel guide), beer columnist for Ottawa Magazine, a frequent contributor to CAA Magazine and the former associate editor of Zoomer Magazine.

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