SUVs, crossovers and minivans give families plenty of automotive options when it comes to moving three kids. These are our favorites.
Jon WongFormer editor for CNET Cars
Jon Wong was a reviews editor for CNET Cars. He test drove and wrote about new cars and oversaw coverage of automotive accessories and garage gear. In his spare time, he enjoys track days, caring for his fleet of old Japanese cars and searching for the next one to add to his garage.
While chauffeuring around two kids is a chore most four-door cars can handle, things get trickier when the family ranks grow to include three children. Stuffing a trio of hooligans in the back of a sedan guarantees certain doom with the tight confines being a perfect breeding ground for disagreements that may lead to scratching, punching, kicking, biting, screaming, temper tantrums and any other of the thousands of things kids can do to annoy one another.
That's not to mention the associate items needed if you have infants and toddlers to move around. Car seats, carriers, strollers, pack-and-plays and diaper bags are things that need consideration, and require cargo space that regular cars may not have. In the good old days, the solution was for families to get a minivan where a sliding door, three-row seating and lots of cargo carrying capabilities made them ideal for daily runs to the store and school, as well as road trips.
However, somewhere along the way minivans became uncool to pave the way for massive growth of the SUV and crossover segments, which are seen as rugged, capable and cool. Their booming popularity has seen ones big and small sprout up in showrooms, giving growing families plenty of options when it comes to picking out their next family chariot. Here are some of our favorite vehicles for families with three kids.
With old-school body-on-frame construction, the Chevrolet Tahoe is rugged and capable of towing up to 8,600 pounds with its 5.3-liter, 355-horsepower V8, but features surprising ride comfort particularly with the optional Magnetic Ride Control suspension. Being a full-size SUV, it has room to let the kids spread out, and carry a ton of gear. To entertain the young ones, a rear-seat entertainment system is available, as well as a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities. For the adults up front, Chevy's MyLink infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.
Smooth-skinned Chevrolet Tahoe sets tone for modern SUV
Three-row crossovers like Honda's third-generation Pilot have become the go-to alternative to minivans offering a good amount of interior space, and seating flexibility to keep the hyper kids separate during commutes. Touring and Elite models feature five USB charging ports to keep smartphones and tablets juiced up, while an available Blu-ray rear-seat entertainment system can also help keep the children in back from killing each other. Overall, the redesign Pilot is a significant improvement over the last generation's performance, technology and curb appeal.
For a more luxury-orient three-row crossover, check out the second-generation Volvo XC90, which recently won a Roadshow Rivals comparison with its handsome design, trick cabin technology and available seating for seven passengers that will handle most hauling needs. Being a Volvo, it has safety well covered with available features like forward-collision-mitigation, and a rear-precollision system that pre-tensions the seatbelts and active headrests before getting rear-ended.
If you're looking to move three kids in a more compact package, the Hyundai Tucson features more rear hip room than all the usual suspects in the small crossover segment including the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape and its Kia Sportage cousin. The young ones will also enjoy looking up through the available panoramic sunroof, but may get into a tussle over who gets to sit on the heated rear outboard seats during the winter.
No, we're not going to leave a minivan off the list because they are just too darn practical for families with sliding rear doors, low load height and gobs of interior space for both human and regular cargo. The new Chrysler Pacifica offers all the minivan essentials with a nicely trimmed interior, kid-friendly rear seating area with an available entertainment system featuring dual 10.2-inch screens, and built-in games. To top things off the Pacifica is quiet, and its curvy bodywork legitimately looks good.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica is the smart way to drive your family in style