Shopping for a used SUV with third-row seats? Then you probably have extra cargo and people you want to keep safe en route to those extracurricular activities, appointments or weekend getaways. Buying a used car means finding the right options, space and performance to meet your needs, but overall safety should also be a top consideration.

In SUVs with third-row seating, important safety features to look for include side curtain airbags in all three rows, side curtain airbags that deploy when rollover is detected, standard electronic stability control, and head restraints and 3-point seat belts for all occupants. Before making a final decision, be sure to check how your 3-row SUV candidates performed in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests.

We chose models that received IIHS’ Top Safety Pick, along with NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Rating and 4-Star Rollover Rating. (Only the 2007 Audi Q7 was not a Top Safety Pick.) With that in mind, here are the three best used 7- and 8-passenger SUVs with third-row seats:

Buick Enclave (2008-2009) – Buick-Enclave-DCGM’s first 8-passenger crossover SUV received Consumer Guide’s Best Buy badge. Buick Enclave’s Smart-Slide second-row seats have standard flip-forward bottom cushions and sliding backrests designed for easier third-row seat access. With the second-row seats slid forward, the third row can accommodate 6-footers who don’t mind riding knees up.

The roomy interior and seating impressed Edmunds’ editors who say the third-row seat operation is well thought out. The standard power liftgate and large cargo capacity are also noteworthy. Like the Enclave, its corporate siblings the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook also received IIHS’ Top Safety Pick (2008-2009) and NHTSA 5-Star Safety and 4-Star Rollover Ratings. Any of the three are an excellent choice for a used SUV with third-row seats.

Audi Q7 (2007-2009) – Audi_Q7_2008The Q7 is Audi’s first SUV loosely based on parent company Volkswagen’s Touareg, but it’s larger and seats seven. Edmunds applauds the Q7’s “high-tech luxury and safety features, superior interior design and craftsmanship,” but says it has a cramped third-row seat. With the second and third rows folded flat, cargo space is 88 cubic feet.

This full-size luxury SUV earned Consumer Guide’s Recommended label, with the editors commenting on its design, workmanship and “mechanical finesse and terrific all-weather road manners.” But unfortunately, “access to 50/50 split third-row bench is a squeeze even for kids, as is the spare tire.” The load floor is flat with any seats folded and headrests don’t require removing. A review in says Q7 “has safety features to rival anything on the road . . . . This car is pure pampering for everyone but the neighbors. They can eat their hearts out.”

Volvo XC90 (2007-2009) – Volvo_XC90_2009Edmunds’ editors say the 7-passenger midsize XC90’s “safety and kid-friendliness are just as important as luxury amenities and driving performance.” The XC90 boasts a safe distance of 12 inches of space between the head of the third-row occupant and the back of the vehicle. According to, “in the event of an accident that space becomes a precious cushion between kids’ heads and another vehicle.”

Volvo XC90 pioneered Roll Stability Control, which helps make it one of the safest SUVs on the market. XC90 is a Consumer Guide Recommended pick for 2008, and Motor Trend’s Buyer Guide says XC90 is “distinctively styled with more than adequate power and usable interior.” Automobile Magazine says XC90 has “utility and user friendliness that its competition can’t match at any price.” Cargo space is 84.9 to 93.2 cubic feet.

More Worthy SUVs With 3-Row Seating

Large and midsize models offer the most roominess compared with crossovers and compact SUVs. For other solid 7-8 passenger SUV options, consider the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse full-size SUV, an IIHS Top Safety Pick with NHTSA 5-Star Safety and 4-Star Rollover Ratings; the 2002-2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, one of Edmunds 2009 Used Car Best Bets; and the Cadillac Escalade luxury, full-size SUV, a Consumer Guide Best Buy pick.

To see a list of other 7-passenger, 3-row SUVs, click 7-Passenger Vehicles. To start your search for cars for sale, visit, a leading search engine for finding over 2 million cars for sale from more than 11,000 websites. For more car buying tips, go to

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