To find the safest SUVs with third row seating means checking out the crash test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). To meet the criteria of safest SUV with third row seating, the vehicles must score 5 stars in NHTSA front and side impact crash testing, and post overall “Good” scores from the IIHS – or be an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Here, then, is our list of the Safest SUVs with Third Row Seating:

  • Mercedes-Benz R-ClassEdmunds says the “opulent 2009 Mercedes-Benz R-Class remains a competent and versatile luxury family vehicle.” Pros include “sumptuous interior,” comfortable seating for six (with an optional third-row seventh seat), and quiet ride. Negatives include long rear doors that prove a hassle in parking lots, pricey. R-Class is also an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2009. U.S. News and World Report says “R-Class is filled with state-of-the-art safety technology, including plenty of standard airbags and, new for 2010, Mercedes-Benz’ Pre-Safe System.
  • Ford Taurus XFormerly called the Freestyle, the Ford Taurus X was an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2008 and 2009. Safety features include front side airbags and Safety Canopy side curtain airbags that cover all three rows. Edmunds says of the 2009 Taurus X (last year of production), that “adults in the third row have adequate head and legroom, a rarity in non-minivans.” Taurus X boasts excellent overall safety ratings. Forbes named the 2008 Taurus X one of its Safest SUVs. U.S. News and World Report opines, “With its good power, convenient interior features and great crash test scores, the Ford Taurus X is a good choice for those who put substance over style.”
  • Acura MDX Another of Forbes’ Safest SUVs, the Acura MDX was an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2007, 2008 and 2009. A road-oriented all-wheel drive system is standard, as is electronic stability control. Edmunds comments, “The 2009 Acura MDX might not drive just like a sports sedan, but this seven-passenger luxury SUV comes very close… with a relatively large third-row seat for a midsize luxury SUV.” Other pros include excellent handling, high crash test scores, lots of high-tech option and powerful engine. Downsides are too many dash buttons and competitive SUVs offer more cargo and passenger space. Truck Trend says MDX “has a laundry list of safety features.” U.S. News and World Report remarks “MDX offers one of the best combinations of a high-tech interior, excellent safety and smooth handling in its class.”

Other considerations for Safest SUVs with Third Row Seating include Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook, Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda Pilot, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Tribeca and Volvo XC90.

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