If you need to triple down when it comes to available seating in your vehicle, you have lots of choices among three-row crossover SUVs.  

The things to evaluate are:   

Room—Who’s riding in the back and how easy is the access?  What about cargo space
Safety—A top priority in the multi-passenger segment
Gadgets—Family haulers must deliver much in the way of entertainment and comfort.
Cool factor—Looks, luxury and acceleration are the qualifiers
Economics—Oh yeah, that too–fuel economy and MSRP

Acura MDX—a luxurious and sporty midsize

The Acura MDX is one of the sportier driving choices with AWD and a 3.5-liter V-6.  It is noted for a family-friendly layout to the 3rd row.  All MDX models for 2017 have a full suite of AcuraWatch safety technology:  Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Road Departure Mitgation. Acura says the new Sport Hybrid model will get 25 city/26 highway mpg and it has a 35-hp advantage over the non-hybrid that we tested.  Ours got 20/27 mpg and was loaded with the Advance and Entertainment packages for just under $60K.  Base price on the MDX is $43,950. 

Lexus to Introduce 3-Row RX 350

Lexus’ RX 350 will introduce a third row option late this year, creating another choice among the luxury midsizers. In the 2016 redesign, the RX 350 emerged with razor sharp edges and a huge grille that had mixed reactions, but all agree its cabin is first-rate.  The ride height was raised and the roofline was slimmed out in the redesign, creating a sleeker and less SUV-like profile with slightly increased length, while it maintains good head and legroom. The 2017 model adds more safety features and a GPS app that integrates with smartphones.  It is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with eight-speed automatic transmission.  Fuel economy and price on the RX 350 is just about neck and neck with the MDX.

Dodge Durango—Go Big; Stay in Budget

OK, you’ll burn more gas, but if you want to pay about the same for a larger vehicle with an adult-friendly third row, look at the Durango.  Unibody construction qualifies it, too, as a crossover SUV and gives it a car-like ride.  With starting MSRP on the base Durango at $29,995, it’s easy to go for the top-of-the-line Citadel starting in the low $40s.  Our test model topped out just over $50K with optional AWD and luxuries making it feel every bit an executive coach:  Technology and Premium Entertainment packages, second-row fold/turnable captain chairs and a console equipped with charging ports and power outlet.  Durango’s 3.6-liter V6 mated with an 8-speed shiftable automatic transmission delivers 290 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.  Long back doors and middle-row seats easily fold and tumble forward.  Folding all seatbacks creates an 86-foot cubic load floor.