My wife and I are looking for a practical vehicle with good fuel efficiency, resale value and reliability with a third row to accommodate two children and their friends, in addition to the family dog. What are the best options for someone who is dead set against minivans?
Your best option might be to reconsider your strict no-minivan policy. You and your family seem to be made for a minivan, which offers easier entry and exit to the second and third rows because of the sliding side doors, plenty of passenger and cargo room, and more flexibility than many SUVs.
If you are dead set against a minivan, here are some three-row SUVs you could look at: Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse (and similar Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia), Ford Explorer and Flex, and Toyota Highlander. All are midsize or larger, but none is a full-size, truck-based SUV like the Chevrolet Tahoe or Ford Expedition, which will be more expensive to buy and operate because of their greater thirst for gasoline.
How practical they would be for your needs is something you will have to determine by checking them out in person. We suggest you pay particular attention to access to the third row of seats and how easy it is to fold seats to expand cargo room.
We would put the Pilot at the top of the list because it offers the best blend of room, comfort and family-friendly features. In addition, it won our $37,000 SUV Shootout with other midsize/large, three-row SUVs, and it was the Cars.com 2012 Family Car of the Year.
On the slim chance you might rethink your stand against minivans, the Honda Odyssey is our 2013 Family Car of the Year.
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