Shopping for an SUV can be an incredibly daunting task. The market is saturated and there are so many options available to you. Whether you are looking for something based on towing capacity, cargo space, off-road capability, or safety features, there will be all kinds of models to choose from and it can be overwhelming.
This is especially true if you aren’t sure what your needs are and how you can solve problems with your choice.
One of the best ways to make the most of the space you have in an SUV or crossover is to make sure you get second-row captain’s chairs. Captain seats give you better access to the third row and more leg room, not to mention comfort that you just can’t get with bench seats.
Knowing what SUVs on the market have captain’s chairs as an option will allow you to make the right choice and drive away happy knowing all your passengers will be comfortable no matter how long a trip might be.
2023 Kia Telluride
If you are looking for something that leans more toward a luxury SUV without the high price tag, the 2023 Kia Telluride could be your best option. With a refresh in styling for the 2023 model year, it features an updated front end as well as a new digital instrument panel. The engine for each trim level is a naturally-aspirated V6 that puts out 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, making it powerful enough for almost any application you might throw at it.
The interior has a superior build quality that is premium enough to compete with many more expensive 3-row SUVs and the optional captain’s chairs make for better maneuverability around the cabin. With a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it also has all the connectivity you might need for longer trips and commutes.
2023 Subaru Ascent
When it comes to reliability and longevity, Subaru vehicles have been at the top of the heap for years. The 2023 Ascent is Subaru’s three-row SUV offering and for the new model year, it has been redesigned with an updated front end and revised lights. The turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine puts out 260 horsepower through the automaker’s signature all-wheel-drive configuration. This, combined with a continuously variable automatic transmission, improves the ride and makes for an incredibly comfortable driving experience.
Inside, the Ascent has the feel of much larger three-row SUVs, which is augmented by the addition of captain’s chairs in the second row. It features an 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system with large, easy-to-read icons and an intuitive interface. Like any other Subaru, it also comes with standard safety features like forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, and much more.
2022 Ford Expedition
Ford’s full-size SUV, the Expedition is the big brother to its wildly popular Ford Explorer and it has the roomy interior you might expect. For the 2022 model year, Ford revised the exterior and refreshed the interior with a bigger riding height and a new dashboard design. The base models feature a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine putting out 400 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque for versatility on the road and a heavy-duty towing capacity.
The Expedition’s cabin features seating capacity on par with the best SUVs on the market, especially if you forgo the second-row bench seat for captain’s chairs. The third-row seats are also just as comfortable as the front seats, which is incredibly rare for even the largest vehicle. A 12.0-inch touchscreen runs Ford’s Sync4 infotainment software and a large suite of available safety features keeps you and your family safe on the road.
2023 Chevrolet Suburban
The Chevy Suburban is in its 12th generation with the name being in use for over 87 years. For the 2023 model year, this classic has gotten some new exterior color options and driver-assistance features to help make it more user-friendly and exciting. The standard engine on the 2023 Suburban is a 5.3-liter V8 putting out 355 horsepower and it can also be equipped with adaptable dampers and air suspension for a smoother, more driveable feel.
The Suburban’s cabin is absolutely massive, just like its sister vehicle the Chevrolet Tahoe, with up to 23 cubic feet in the cargo area and a lower floor for easier loading. If you opt for the second-row captain’s chairs, you only get seven seat belts but you also get more legroom and more space to stretch out. The base models of the Suburban come with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system as well as an optional rear-seat entertainment suite with two screens and complete connectivity for keeping the kids entertained on long drives and road trips.
2023 Acura MDX
For those who want a little bit of a sporty feel in their family-friendly SUV, the 2023 Acura MDX could be your best option. While the 2023 model year isn’t bringing any changes to the vehicle itself, Acura is adding maintenance coverage to its factory warranty, which can help you keep your MDX running smoothly for years. The powertrain is a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 290 horsepower through standard front-wheel drive for a quick, responsive feel that is more athletic than you might expect.
The interior of the MDX features near-premium materials and beautiful build quality. If you go with the second-row captain’s chairs, you should have more than enough space for adults with kids being more likely to be comfortable in the third row. The MDX also comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with controls mounted in the center console for better control and safer operation. Speaking of safety, it also comes with standard features like automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
2023 Volvo XC90
Premium styling and family-friendly features are the hallmarks of the Volvo brand and the XC90 is no exception. For the 2023 model year, Volvo has completely revamped its powertrains and gotten rid of the gas-only versions for hybrid engines. The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder putting out 247 horsepower with the help of a 48-volt electric motor, which puts the fuel efficiency at 22 mpg city and 28 highway.
The styling on the XC90’s interior is where it really shines with high-end materials and a well-thought-out design. While the third row won’t be suitable for most adults, the addition of captain’s chairs can maximize the legroom enough to make them usable. The 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment is closer to a tablet than you might expect, which makes it much more user-friendly, and it comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
2023 Cadillac Escalade
When thinking about high-end luxury and classic American styling, Cadillac is most likely the first automaker that comes to mind. Their full-size SUV, the Escalade, has gotten a new trim level for the 2023 model year called the V-Series, which is a high-performance version of this comfortable and large vehicle. Even if you are only going with the base trim level, the Escalade comes with a 6.2-liter V8 that puts out 420 horsepower. This engine also has a unique feature where you can deactivate four of the cylinders for better fuel efficiency.
The cabin is where the Escalade lives up to the Cadillac name. With a leather-covered dashboard and door panels and enough legroom for almost any passenger, especially if you go with the version that has an expanded wheelbase, the Escalade is an ideal family vehicle. The Escalade’s dashboard is completely digital with three OLED screens stretching across it, which creates 38 inches worth of customizable digital display. This, combined with a suite of standard safety features makes this a packed SUV with a lot to offer.
2022 Honda Pilot
If you put a premium on practicality for your SUV, the 2022 Honda Pilot is going to be your most sensible option. For the 2022 model year, the Pilot got new features like LED headlights and a new touchscreen display. The Pilot’s base engine is a 3.5-liter VTEC V6 putting out 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque for a versatile driving experience no matter what your needs are.
The Pilot’s interior is as family-friendly as it gets with available options like second-row captain’s chairs and an in-cabin PA system. It also puts the driver in a high-up position like being in a minivan, so being able to see out of the large windows makes it much easier to drive than other SUVs in its class by automakers like Infiniti, Mazda, and Nissan. The base trim levels get a 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system running basic software while the more high-end models get three more inches of screen space and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
2022 Lincoln Aviator
The Aviator is the midsize version of the larger Lincoln Navigator and has just as much comfort and luxury on offer. The 2022 Aviator has gotten a smaller price tag for the newest model year as well as an available panoramic sunroof. One of the things that set the Aviator apart is its incredibly powerful engine. The twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 puts out a massive 400 horsepower and runs through a smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission for a responsive driving experience that is unexpected in an SUV of this size.
If you decide to go with captain’s chairs in the second row, you have your choice of two different center consoles so you can decide which one is more suited to your needs when it comes to getting to the third row. The rear also offers 18 cubic feet of cargo space, making it perfect for long road trips. The Aviator also comes with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system with complete smartphone connectivity.
2023 Hyundai Palisade
The Palisade is Hyundai’s largest SUV and has a high-end feel that you might not expect for its relatively low starting MSRP. For the 2023 model year, the Palisade got a complete facelift that includes a squared exterior and new features in the cabin. The base engine on the 2023 Palisade is a 3.8-liter V6 that puts out 291 horsepower through an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually using steering wheel-mounted paddles for a little extra engagement while driving.
If you go with some of the higher-end trim levels like the Limited and Calligraphy, you can put second-row captain’s chairs in the Palisade’s interior for a more versatile seating configuration. With the seats folded, you also get 86 cubic feet of cargo space, which is ideal for families on the go or on long road trips. The 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and it also has the option of the Blue Link app, which allows you to control certain features remotely with Amazon Alexa.
2023 Volkswagen Atlas
Volkswagen is well-known for creating practical, affordable vehicles, and their SUV offering, the Atlas, is a great example of this legacy. With the new model year, all trim levels above the base version get a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster. The base powertrain in the Atlas is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder putting out 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which, when coupled with the relatively small size, makes for an incredibly responsive driving feel.
The thing that sets the Atlas apart from most other SUVs in its class is the large third-row seats. While other three-row vehicles don’t have nearly enough room for adults, the Atlas has leg room that exceeds expectations, especially when paired with second-row captain’s chairs. The base trims come with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability and the Atlas also comes with a variety of standard safety features like forward collision warning and blind-spot monitoring.
2023 BMW X7
If you are looking for a high-end luxury SUV with one of the most comfortable rides available on the market, the BMW X7 is going to be your best bet. With refreshed styling both inside and out for the 2023 model year, it is a great option for people who love the luxury that comes with the BMW name as well as the high-performance specs. The base xDrive40i model is powered by a turbocharged 375-horsepower inline-six-cylinder that runs through an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive configuration.
The optional second-row captain’s chairs are electronically powered to make for easier passenger loading and more convenient cargo storage. The 2023 X7 also comes with a huge 14.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system running BMW’s iDrive 8 software, which is both intuitive and powerful and can be operated using a rotary knob mounted on the center console. If you are concerned about safety, the X7 also comes with a large suite of features including forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, and more.
Finding a three-row SUV can be a challenge, especially if you are looking for a captain’s chair option. By understanding which models are available and what they have to offer, you can make the best choice for your needs and driving habits. With the right SUV, you can make any trip or commute easy and comfortable and have the confidence you need when you are out on the road.