SUVs With Captain's Chairs Plus Third-Row Seats: Shopper's Shortlist

May 29, 2014
2015 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ

2015 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ

In vehicles with three rows of seating, it's often hard to make everyone happy.

And while fitting three across in a second row before trying to fit people in a third row probably makes the most sense, from a design standpoint (with many vehicles narrowing near the back for wheel wells or other packaging constraints), some people prefer the easier access afforded by two standalone seats (called bucket seats or captain's chairs, typically) in the second row.

It also adds up to a less claustrophobic experience for those in the third row, from our experience trying out the cramped third rows of many vehicles, which are best kept to small children. Good entertainment and climate-control systems help, too, as does outward visibility—so don't forget about that on the test drive.

Such models also hit the spot when you want seating for four adults, for a double date, or for when you head out with the in-laws, in seats that feel like they weren't intended primarily for children. But at the same time, you want the convenience of a third row that can be tasked to put as many butts on seats as possible.

2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum

2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum

A reader question recently prompted us to ask exactly which vehicles these are—those seven-passenger models that offer a more minivan-like layout, with buckets in the second row, as well as a bench that can fit three in the third row if need be.

One helpful reminder: Please be mindful of vehicle stability, and always stay safe when loading vehicles with third-row seating by remembering to fill up those second-row seats before having anyone sit in the third row.

Here are the SUV or crossover models with two buckets (captain's chairs) for the second row and seating positions for three in the third row:

Audi Q7
Buick Enclave
Chevrolet Traverse
Chevrolet Tahoe
Chevrolet Suburban
GMC Acadia
GMC Yukon (and Yukon XL)
Toyota Highlander
Lincoln MKT

And the utility vehicles with two buckets (captain's chairs) either available or standard for the second row, plus two seating positions in the third row:

Dodge Durango
Ford Flex
Ford Explorer
Honda Pilot
Hyundai Santa Fe
Nissan Pathfinder


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