Which SUV for less than $30,000 has the most passenger room?

I need a passenger van or SUV that seats seven to eight with plenty of room for my three kids, one of which is my 6-foot-6 son. That means room in the backseat as well as the front for less than $30,000.

Mary E.M., Ocoee, Fla.

Wow, they grow ’em big in Florida. Maybe it’s the longer growing season. We have some good news, some bad news and some friendly advice to aid in your quest.

The good news is that we found several seven-passenger SUVs with starting prices under $30,000 using the Cars.com Vehicle Recommender, a search feature that makes finding the right vehicle easier. Among the possibilities are the Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango and Journey, Ford Explorer and Flex, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander.

2012_flex

The bad news is that in most cases, these SUVs are barely under $30,000, and that is usually for base models before any options or even the destination charge are added. Unless you can find a vehicle that is receiving generous discounts from the manufacturer or a dealer, you will probably exceed $30,000 out the door for a seven-passenger SUV.

Our advice is to use the Vehicle Recommender to compile a list of SUVs that come closest to your budget and meet what other needs you may have, and then bring your 6-foot-6 son and his siblings along on shopping trips to dealers to see how well they fit. Seven- and eight-passenger SUVs have three rows of seats, but anyone larger than a munchkin may not be able to easily get to the third row or sit comfortably, so it’s best to find out in person instead of relying on dimensions.

A minivan may have as much passenger room and easier access to the middle and rear seats because of the sliding side doors, and if space is the top priority, look at a full-size passenger van such as the Chevrolet Express or Ford E-150, though they may be hard to find at dealers.

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Answered by Rick Popely on November 23, 2011 in What Car Should I Buy? | Permalink

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