$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge: Squeezing Into the Third Row
By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
Let's face it: Most of us older than 10 will never ride in the third row of a three-row crossover SUV.
Why would you? First, it requires a lesson in how to move the second-row seats out of the way in order to clamber back there. Usually done in frustration, you just wriggle and crawl to the third row.
Then there is the seat itself: less legroom than on the worst airline. Your knees almost reach mid-chest. You're so far removed from the driver that one model tested, the Toyota Highlander, had an intercom for the driver. Yes, an intercom.
For the Cars.com/USA Today/"MotorWeek" $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge, your reporter, all six-feet-two, took each test drive in each SUV from the third row. Here are my notes:
2014 Chevrolet Traverse
Roomiest -- better-than-average space, including enough headroom. Barely.
2014 Dodge Durango
The tumble-forward second-row seats made entry easier but reduced knee room since they don't slide forward. Air conditioning vents from the headliners were nice. And there's adequate headroom.
2014 Honda Pilot
Best-in-class headroom because of the SUV's boxy, upright style. Good visibility forward. The headrests were downright painful.
2014 Hyundai Santa Fe
Headroom terrible, requiring a cocked head. Knees all the way into the chest. On the plus side, separate heat and cooling controls for the third row.
2014 Mazda CX-9
Poor headroom but overall comfort is adequate. Bonus: Each side has not one, but two cupholders.
2014 Nissan Pathfinder
Headroom is OK, two cupholders on each side. Go figure.
2014 Toyota Highlander
Little headroom, but a personal light and vent in the headliner. Has a nice feature to tuck away the second-row seat belt.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears