Best midsize diesel SUVs with 3rd row may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s not – at least, not completely. There’s really only one midsize SUV that offers consumers with a hankering for a sport-ute that’s not too big and not too small, has three rows of seats and a diesel engine to boot. Sure, there are compromises. There always is, unless price is no object. Still, take a look at this pick for Best Midsize Diesel SUVs with 3rd Row:

  • BMW X5 xDrive35dReviewers call the luxury midsize 2010 BMW X5 xDrive35d a kick to drive, and for good reason. This X5 model is powered by a 265-hp 3.0-liter 6-cylinder advanced diesel twin-turbocharged engine, paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. With an EPA-estimated 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway, the turbodiesel gets impressive fuel economy – making it one of the more fuel-efficient SUVs in its class. All X5’s feature standard all-wheel drive and optional third row seating – although that 3rd row is a bit cramped. Consumer Guide says, “X5 excels for its acceleration, sporty handling, and availability of a frugal diesel engine. Despite improvements to the iDrive control system, the available navigation system remains confounding, and the optional 3rd-row seat is a token gesture.” Car and Driver opines, “Technical details aside, what you really need to know is this: 265 horsepower and an eye-popping 425-pound feet of torque (the latter at just 1750 rpm), accompanied by roughly 25 percent better fuel economy [in the diesel engine] than that of a comparably powerful gasoline engine.”

Not enough choices? Sorry to say, it is what it is. However, if you can live without a third row, still want a midsize SUV that’s powered by a 50-state legal diesel – check out the Volkswagen Touareg TDI. Edmunds says, “The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg combines extraordinary on-road civility and luxury with real off-road prowess, and it offers an excellent turbodiesel V6. If you don’t need three rows of seats or class-leading cargo capacity, the Touareg deserves a look.”

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