Let’s just go ahead and say it: There’s a dearth of high-efficiency vehicles on the U.S. market that offer a third row of seating.
There are plenty of good hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric vehicles that could work well for families and still gas mileage (or MPGe, if you’re running on electrons) that would pass muster with the environmentalist in your house.
The Toyota Prius V or Ford C-Max Hybrids both would make great family vehicles, as would the Ford Fusion Hybrid—and both top 40 mpg Combined. But once you throw in the third row as a requirement you move to a completely different competitive set.
There’s still no hybrid minivan on the market, no three-row model with ratings above 30 mpg Combined, and third-row vehicle with plug-in hybrid systems or electric powertrains.
Well...there’s one rather expensive exception. That’s the all-electric Tesla Model S, which starts at nearly $71,000 in its base form and does—if you count its two child-size, rear-facing jump seats—offer third-row seating.
It might actually work for some needs, as those who want a third-row seat often only want that capability for occasional across-town use, including an extra family member to dinner, or a couple extra kids from practice.
The Model S makes our list of most fuel-efficient vehicles with third-row seating, but if you call that a stretch and want to see some more affordable family contenders, you’ll definitely want to click through out list, of five of the most fuel-efficient vehicles with third-row seating.