Whether budget or personal choice dictate compact small SUVs with third row seating, the old adage “You get what you pay for” certainly holds true. Still, there are some bargains available in the newer crop of compact and small SUVs, many of which offer third-row seating. Expect some cramped quarters in the third row, but they do offer versatile passenger and cargo space.
Here, then, are our choices for Compact Small SUVs with Third Row Seating.
- – With its 2007 redesign, the seven-passenger Mitsubishi Outlander, says Consumer Reports, has improved handling, “better agility and steering, but ride comfort suffers a bit.” The interior, “hard plastics and some flimsy materials, but they all fit together well. The third-row seat is snug and purely for children.” Edmunds comments that while the 2010 Outlander still “lives in the shadows of its more successful contemporaries,” it is “a competitive small SUV…with available all-wheel drive system, high driving position and versatile cargo space…and sets itself apart with distinctive styling, advanced technology and a lively personality.”
- Suzuki XL7 – Redesigned in 2007, the second-generation up to seven-passenger Suzuki XL7 features 60/40-split-folding tumble and fold middle-row seats, and an optional 50/50-split third-row seat that folds flat into the floor for additional cargo room. The new design is car-based, using an extended Chevrolet Equinox platform. Edmunds hails XL7’s “very affordable price, lengthy standard equipment list, top-notch crash scores, generous warranty coverage,” but knocks “lackluster vehicle dynamics, tight shoulder room” and “a few cheap interior pieces.” Consumer Reports finds “cabin access is easy and adults can fit in the third-row seat,” and, while “handling is more responsive and the ride more comfortable than the Equinox…by no means is the XL nimble.”
- – The current third-generation Toyota RAV4, which debuted in 2006, features an available V-6 engine and optional third-row seating and is a Consumer Reports top pick. Edmunds says RAV4, “with its blend of versatility, space and engine choices…is one of the top choices in this increasingly crowded class.” Optional third-row seats, which fold flat into the trunk, take up some cargo room, “but at least provide a place for an extra set of children…uninhabitable for adults.” U.S. News and World Report comments that “the RAV4 continues to shine for its excellent combination of power, performance and interior comfort.” Consumer Guide calls the third row “convenience in a pinch, but it only fits small children.”
Disappointed there aren’t more choices for compact small SUVs with third row seating? You may need to look for the next size up, midsize crossover SUVs with third row seating.