Interested in a three-row SUV? We’ve got the scoop.

SUVs with a third row are a growing branch of an already-popular segment. We highlight some standouts.

A young girls folds a second row seat forward to climb into the third row of the Mazda CX-9.

All-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicles with three rows of seats are fast becoming the ride of choice for growing families. (Sorry, minivans.) They’re large, spacious and able to carry the whole brood, so it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. Here are three examples, all of which carry three rows of passengers, but with very different approaches.

Subaru Ascent

A white Subaru Ascent drives through the snow.

A new entry into the segment, the 2020 Subaru Ascent brings the brand’s legendary all-wheel drive into the mix. It’s the longest vehicle ever to be sold in a Subaru showroom, meaning the third row of seats isn’t just for children. Ground clearance measures 22 centimetres, about a centimetre more than segment stalwarts like the Ford Explorer. Practical touches abound, such as USB ports in the third row and handles on the second-row seats, said to be modelled after those found on Japan’s bullet trains.

Starting price: $36,695

Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder

Power: 260 hp, 277 lb-ft of torque

Mazda CX-9

A grey Mazda CX-9 drives on a road through a forest.

This beauty from Hiroshima will suit those who like a bit of style with their family vehicle. Designed with a hint of MX-5 sports car in its DNA, the 2020 Mazda CX-9 will be one of the best-looking rigs in the parking lot. Current model-year refinements to its suspension and steering permit the CX-9 to handle better than any three-row SUV has the right to. Its interior is downright gorgeous, especially in top-rung Signature trim. Modern infotainment and 250 horsepower don’t hurt, either.

Starting price: $39,900

Engine: Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre 4 cylinder turbo

Power: 250 hp, 320 lb-ft of torque

Ford Expedition

A black Ford Expedition drives through city streets.

Occupying a spot in the “traditional SUV” corner, the 2020 Ford Expedition is probably what springs to mind for most when someone mentions a three-row SUV. Ford recently refreshed it with an emphasis on plushness, treating passengers to creature comforts like buttery soft Del Rio leather seats and wood trim. The engine is the same as the one in the F-150, and its turbocharged technology permits fuel economy nearing 10 litres per 100 kilometres during highway driving—impressive for such a large machine.

Starting price: $62,500

Engine: 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6

Power: 375 hp, 470 lb-ft of torque

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Plus, read our review of the Cadillac XT6, another innovative three-row SUV with room to spare.

Image credit: courtesy of manufacturers

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