CARS.COM — An SUV's third row could easily be called no man's — and no woman's — land. This necessary but often cramped space is for kids only, but they still need a way to get back there that doesn't involve climbing over the seats. During our Three-Row SUV Challenge 2016, we took a closer look at the third-row access for each of our competitors.
We looked at how easily the second row could be manipulated to create a pathway to the wayback, kept an eye on just how wide that walkway was as well as step-in height. Parents should look for a wide enough space that they can climb back there should they need to help little ones get buckled into their booster seats.
If a three-row SUV's third-row access doesn't pass muster, consider getting second-row captain's chairs to create another way to access the third row.
For multitasking moms and dads, it only takes one hand to flip and fold the Durango's second-row seats forward. This creates a wide passage to the third row that any child or parent can traverse, making it one of our favorites for third-row access.
This SUV's second row also flips and folds to create third-row access, but the seat is heavy and it's a multistep, multilever process. The pathway to the third row, however, is wide, which adults will appreciate.
The Acadia shrunk more than 7 inches with its redesign and it shows when it comes to third-row access. The second-row seat cushions fold upward and the whole seat slides forward, but there's hardly any passageway to the third row. Thankfully, our test car had captain's chairs - that's the only way an adult can navigate to the third row in this SUV.
The Pilot treats families well thanks to its one-touch button on the second-row seats that folds and slides them forward for easy third-row access. The pathway to the wayback isn't the widest, but we were able to negotiate it.
We had to use a little muscle, but we were able to slide the second-row seat forward with just one hand, creating a narrow path to the third row. Even though our Santa Fe had captain's chairs, the space between them is a little narrow; it's doable, but some adults will have to shimmy between the chairs.
The Sorento skimps on third-row access, earning it a B for third-row access in our Car Seat Check. Like its Hyundai sibling, we were able to fold and slide the second row forward one-handed.
Space is at a premium in the redesigned CX-9, so we were surprised that this SUV had such a sizable pathway to the third row, though it wasn't as large as the pathway in the Explorer. The second-row seats fold and slide forward easily.
Just pull up on the lever and the redesigned Pathfinder's second-row seat cushion folds upward while the seat slides to create a wide opening to the third row. The higher step-in height, however, was a negative for our testers.