One of the biggest challenges when looking for an SUV with third row seating that seats 6 passengers is finding one that has a comfortable and accessible third row. In many models, getting to the third row is a task best left to children, as it involves squeezing behind a large second row bench seat that doesn’t fold forward nearly enough to make reaching the back row easy.
Manufacturers of midsize SUVs have recognized this and have started offering an optional captain’s chair configuration for the second row to provide comfortable seating for 6 adult passengers. With two separate chairs instead of a bench seat, it’s possible for passengers to walk down the middle of the vehicle to reach the back. It also allows you and to fasten a child’s seat to a second row chair and still be able to get to the back.
To help you find the stand outs in this limited category, here is our list of the five best 6 passenger SUVs of 2016.
|Dodge Durango||$30,495||8.4||19/27||7 std|
|Lincoln MKT||$43,370||8.4||17/25||7 std|
|Ford Flex||$29,600||8.3||16/23||7 std (6 opt)|
|Hyundai Santa Fe Limited||$34,500||7.9||18/25||7 std|
|Ford Explorer||$31,050||7.8||17/24||7 std|
2016 Dodge Durango – $30,495
The Durango has always been a strong offering from Dodge. The 2016 Durango follows this trend, providing rugged framework, good looks, and a strong people and cargo carrier focus that will impress buyers looking for a more “Sport & Utility” SUV.
The 2016 Durango has been restyled from the previous year, and while this has always been a fantastic looking mode, this year’s model looks better than ever. The confident front grille carries over from previous years, and everything else has been tweaked and styled to provide a more modern feel.
Inside, the Durango continues to highlight its understanding of the times, giving its passengers spacious seating, cargo space and high quality materials. The 6 seat configuration in the Durango works exceptionally well and makes it much easier to climb to the third row. This captain’s chair setup will comfortably seat two more adults or three children.
The Durango makes good use of its off-road heritage, and is very comfortable both on the road and careening off the beaten path and into a backwoods trail. The standard V6 motor is more than acceptable for everyday driving, but the large Hemi V8 is a real standout, upping the towing capacity of the Durango to 7,400 lbs. Like all GMC produced vehicles coming off the line these days, the Durango has cylinder deactivation technology to save fuel. Both engine options come equipped with AWD.
2016 Ford Flex – $29,600
One of the most unique, and best, third row crossover SUVs available today, the 2016 Ford Flex attempts to tackle its competitors by going in a radically different direction than other manufacturers. Thanks to its large, boxy design, the Flex has an incredibly amount of interior space. When the 6 passenger configuration is chosen, the Flex becomes an unbelievably comfortable people carrier with the adaptability to haul a significant amount of cargo.
Despite its large size, the Flex handles well on the road and doesn’t feel half as bulky as expected. It’s not a chore to park or maneuver, and the base model’s 3.5L V6 engine is enough to get the Ford Flex around in everyday driving conditions. A turbocharged V6 option is also available, which makes 365 horsepower and turns the Ford Flex into a zippy class standout in terms of driving performance. The downside to both of these engines is fuel economy, where the Flex suffers compared to its competitors offerings.
Because of the spacious interior, the Ford Flex is a joy to be in and drive, with a comfortable ride and plenty of space for six passengers. The third row is easily accessible with the captain’s chair configuration, with room for cargo to boot. The 2016 Flex’s unique design really “flexes” its muscles when it comes to being a versatile everyday driving workhorse and people carrier.
2016 Lincoln MKT – $43,370
Another radically different vehicle from parent company Ford, the 2016 Lincoln MKT eschews traditional crossover styling in favor of an almost station wagon like look. While the exterior design may not be attractive to everyone, it certainly has its advantages on the inside. The MKT is almost as spacious as the Flex, with its long body providing ample space for 6 passengers and plenty of cargo.
It’s also one of the most luxurious and comfortable crossovers available today, rivaling companies like BMW and Volvo for ride and seating comfort. The MKT’s hefty suspension carries the SUV over bumpy roads with ease, giving a smooth and jolt-free ride to everyone inside. The interior quality itself is luxury-level as is expected from a vehicle that aims to be an acceptable replacement for the discontinued Town Car. General sentiment is that the MKT functions equally well as an executive commuter and everyday family vehicle. The back row seat is easily accessible in the 6 passenger captain’s chair configuration, and adults will find plenty of leg and head room sitting in all three rows.
Two sporty engines are available; the first is a 3.7L V6 and the second is a turbocharged 3.5L V-6. The turbocharged option is most definitely the peppier engine, and fuel economy only takes a minor hit compared to the standard V6. In the turbocharged engine, only AWD is available, adding to the reduced fuel economy but creating a much more versatile platform overall.
2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited – $34,500
The 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited plays to the strength of larger crossover SUVs. Its spacious, functional and attractive without being too large to maneuver on the road or in tight spaces. It even has a respectable towing capacity with the towing hitch attached, able to haul up to 5,000 lbs behind it with ease.
The interior of the 2016 Santa Fe Limited is the real highlight for the model. When equipped with second row captain’s chairs, it will seat 6 passengers and the third row can accommodate two (best left for kids or adults on short duration trips). The second row is extremely comfortable for its occupants, and it can even be equipped with heated seats. The difficult journey to the third row in the second row bench seat configuration is solved here, and most will find it’s easy to climb into the back seats of the Santa Fe Limited thanks to the space between the captain’s chairs. While overall cargo space in the Santa Fe Limited is less than its competitors, it offers numerous stowage opportunities throughout the cabin, including space beneath the second row to place cargo that can fit inside it.
While the standard offerings in the Santa Fe Limited are average at best, its optional packages are great value for the money. Many available upgrades come packaged together at a reasonable price and quickly load the Santa Fe into a well-equipped people carrier with a range of comfort options like power and heated seats.
The Santa Fe Limited’s standard 3.3L V6 provides ample acceleration and power for the vehicle, and offers a combined 21 mpg. This engine gives the Santa Fe’s driver a smooth experience and the ride quality is excellent for its passengers.
2016 Ford Explorer – $31,050
The Ford Explorer set the standard for midsize SUVs when it first arrived on the market. Ford intends for it to continue to do so, evolving the Explorer to fit current market trends, something that’s clearly reflected in the 2016 Explorer’s design. It’s traded some of its off-road dependability for everyday driving comfort and utility, a welcome change for buyers interested in a midsize SUV to fit their commuter needs.
The Ford Explorer comes standard with a 3.5L V6 coupled with a 6 speed automatic gearbox. The standard engine offering is adequate for most driving needs, but for less than $1000 more consumers can get Ford’s turbocharged inline-4, which gets better fuel economy and feels much better suited to the newly evolved Explorer.
An available captain’s chair configuration provides seating for six adults in the 2016 Explorer, and back row comfort is about on par with other midsize SUVs, while the front and second row seats are exceptional. The captain’s chairs are every bit as comfortable as the Explorer’s front seats themselves, and in the 2016 Explorer that’s a hefty compliment, as the driver and front passenger seat are on par with the seats found in luxury SUVs.
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Over to You
Which of these vehicles are you leaning towards? Leave a comment and let us know what you like about it!