1. Hyundai Palisade
Placing Hyundai Palisade at the top of the list may surprise some, but once you realize what it has to offer, you’d likely agree with our assessment. Its predecessor, the Santa Fe XL suffered from a lack of space in the 3rd row, but Palisade offers ample room for up to eight passengers.
The 291 horsepower, the 3.8 liter V6, and 8-speed automatic transmission are a perfect fit for this 4,000+ pound SUV. The performance isn’t breathtaking, but it can still reach 60mph in under 7 seconds. In terms of fuel economy, Palisade achieves 19 mpg city and 24-26 mpg on the highway.
The interior is spacious and comfortable, bolstered by a wide range of standard features. The cargo room suffers in the full-seating configuration, but there are plenty of storage compartments to make use of. In terms of safety, Palisade passed all the NHTSA tests with flying colors. If you’re looking for a three-row SUV on a budget, Palisade offers much more than you’d expect.
2. Kia Telluride
Palisade as they’re built on the same platform, and could easily have taken the first spot.
The exterior design was the one thing Kia was missing throughout the years, but it has finally found its identity and is now one of the hottest manufacturers on the market. In a sea of domestic SUVs and Toyotas, Telluride really stands out.
The interior is spacious and feels more luxurious than it should be for the price. Telluride accommodates 8 with the standard second-row bench, but you could also get a 7-seat configuration with the captain’s chairs. The engine is the same as in the Palisade, a 291 horsepower V6, which isn’t the fastest but can deliver optimal performance and decent fuel economy.
3. Toyota Highlander
The Highlander’s looks may not be for everyone, but this hybrid is undeniably one of the best SUVs in its class. The electric system runs in tandem with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine for a combined output of modest 243 horsepower.
For a stronger kick, you can opt for the 295 horsepower, 3.5 liter V6 which on paper matches the power of the South Korean competitors, but lags behind in real-life conditions. It can do 29 miles to the gallon on the highway, or 35 mpg in the hybrid configuration.
comfort. The standard seating configuration includes two benches, but it can be upgraded with captain’s chairs to seat seven passengers.
4. Jeep Grand Cherokee L
Even though the competition from across the ocean is fierce, the domestic SUV manufacturers are still capable of staying neck and neck with them. The Jeep Grand Cherokee L is larger than its predecessor and now features third-row seating - exactly what we’re looking for.
The Grand Cherokee L comes with a 290 horsepower V6 and rear-wheel drive as standard, a 357 horsepower V8 is available if you want more power. The SUV rides smoothly and is capable in corners and off-road.
You’ll find all of the latest infotainment features in the Grand Cherokee L, but for a more luxurious feel, you’ll have to go with the Summit or Overland trim. Passenger space is not lacking in both the double-bench and captain’s chair configuration.
5. Ford Explorer
The Explorer may not be as refined as the other options, with a less than ideal interior, but it certainly makes up for it with power. Ford managed to draw 300 horsepower out of a turbocharged 2.3-liter engine, and 400 hp from the twin-turbo V6 in a hybrid system. With the larger engine, the Explorer is capable of reaching 6mph in 5.2 seconds, nearly 2 seconds faster than the competitors.
competitors can really deliver full-size seating. The cabin is practical and comfortable for its passengers, but the overall design lacks a certain flair. Still, Ford Explorer is a very capable SUV, especially in the hybrid configuration.