Heels on Wheels : Recommended 2009 3-Row SUVs and SUVs
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE 3-ROW VEHICLE
Three-row seating offers an added benefit to families needing SUV or CUV (crossover utility vehicles) space: More room.
But not all three-row vehicles are created alike. First, the exterior shape is of the vehicles that offer three rows are changing, muddling the design lines from minivans to micro cars. Consumers see this with the all-new Ford Flex and the Mazda5. In fact, it would be very hard to tell based on just looks which vehicles are offering three rows.
Secondly, the interior design or the actual seating: Most third rows offer minimal comfort in terms of head and legroom. Also, getting in and out of this last row can be a maneuvering challenge, since seating configurations aren't always push around.
Finally, there are safety issues to consider. Yes, SUVs and many CUVs have a better chance to hold up in collisions, but with that third row being so close in a rear-end situation, it's a concern. You want a vehicle with merited safety standards.
Taking into consideration our above criteria, here Heels on Wheel's 2009 recommended three-row vehicles:
2009 Dodge Journey: Straddling the shape of minivan and SUV. This 7-passenger vehicle hits a major parental nerve with built-in second row booster seats. A 2009 Dodge Journey with the 3.5-liter V6 engine has a base price of $23,125 – optional equipment like the Premium Convenience Group (rear AC, 3-zone climate control, hands-free communication ride); Flexible Seating Group; and the Safe and Sound Group (rear-view camera); and Rear Video Group (DVD player) bumps it up to a still-affordable $30,505. Keep in mind a few quirks do exist, such as the rear backup screen positioned awkwardly way too low or the second-row climate controls placed too high for a child to reach.
2009 Ford Flex: Unique shape revitalizing and wooing the wagon market. The 6-passenger Flex fits two kid seats in the third row comfortably. A price of $42,390 price reflects the Limited edition, spare-no-expenses price. Equipped with anti-lock brakes and front and rear airbags, the Flex also has Ford's AdvanceTrac with RSC, a stability control system, which helps apply brake pressure and reduces engine power if the vehicle senses the drive is out of control. The IIHS named the Flex a top safety pick for front and side crash tests, along with rear impact (which is what you want for a third-row vehicle). Smooth, steady and predictable describe the driving (and parking) in a Flex.
2009 Honda Pilot: Somewhat traditional or boxy SUV-shape. An 8-passenger Pilot with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and leather seating, XM satellite radio, driver's 8-way adjustable power seating, and tri-zone climate control (for all rows) runs you $33,595. New exterior bonuses include a tailgate with a lift-up glass hatch and length expanded to 2.9 inches and the width at 1.0 inch. I had a larger third-row passenger take on hours of sitting without complaint, making the Pilot one of my most comfortable third-row vehicles. Hondas are extremely reliable cars, and the driving is very smooth and silent with agile and secure handling. It has SUV gas needs, but at an average of 19-mpg (17-pg city and 23-mpg highway driving), the Pilot is a little less thirsty than most V6 competitors.
Mazda CX-9: Mistaken an upper-class competitor. Looking a lot like an Acura MDX or Lexus GX470, a fully loaded CX-9 – DVD, leather, 8-way power and heated driver's seat, moonroof, Bose stereo – will run you $38,260. A standout on the CX-9 that sets is apart from such a saturated crossover market is the Blind Spot Monitoring System. Radar sensors are located in each corner of the rear bumper, so if a car is creeping up into your blind spot, all you have to do is cast a glance into your side mirrors to view an electronic lighted image. The second and third rows fold flat easily. The CX-9 is a Consumer Reports recommended vehicle, noted for it's sporty handling and quietness. I get happier and happier with each Mazda I drive.
2009 Mazda5 Grand Touring: The economy crossover.This little guy had three rows, mini-van style sliding rear doors, leather seating, a navigation system, a moonroof and rear spoiler – all included for a total price of $25,695. You'll forget you measure just 181.5-inches from bumper to bumper. A peppy, capable 4-cylinder that will teach you to be brave in traffic (now I understand where the "zoom-zoom-zoom" jingle comes from). With an average of 24-25-mpg, you're doing better than V6 engines, but not as good as a hybrid.
Katrina's Car Tips For Women Drivers
- Katrina's 2009 Crossover Watch List
- Katrina's 2009 3-Row SUVs and SUVs
- Katrina's 2008 Top 10 Vehicles For Female Drivers
- Katrina's Basic Car Insurance Coverage For Women
- Katrina's Money Saving Car Tips For Women
2010 and 2009 Model Reviews
- 2009 Acura RDX Review
- 2009 Acura TL Review
- 2009 Acura TSX Tech Review
- 2009 BMW X3 xDRIVE 30i Review
- 2009 Chevrolet Traverse Review
- 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Review
- 2009 Dodge Journey Review
- 2009 Ford Flex Review
- 2009 Honda Pilot EX-L Review
- 2009 Infiniti G37 Coupe Review
- 2009 Kia Borrego Review
- 2010 Lexus HS250h Review
- 2009 Mazda5 Grand Touring Review
- 2009 Mazda6 Grand Touring Review
- 2009 Mazda CX-9 Review
- 2009 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BLUETEC Review
- 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander Review
- 2009 Nissan Murano Review
- 2009 Suzuki Equator Review
- 2009 Subaru Forester Review
- 2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid Review
- 2009 Toyota Yaris Review
- 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review
- 2009 Toyota RAV4 Review
- 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion Review
- 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport Review
- 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI Review
2008 Model Reviews
- 2008 Buick Enclave Review
- 2008 Ford Escape
- 2008 Ford Escape Limited 4x4 Review
- 2008 Honda CR-V Review
- 2008 Honda Reidgeline Review
- 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Review
- 2008 Kia Sportage 4x4 Review
- 2008 Lexus RX400h Hybrid Review
- 2008 Lexus GX470 Review
- 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD Review
- 2008 Nissan Pathfinder Review
- 2008 Nissan Armada Review
- 2008 Suzuki SX4 Review
- 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX Review
- 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid Review
- 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser Review
- 2008 Volkswagen Touareg Review
- 2008 Volkswagen Touareg Review
- 2008 Volvo C30 Review