Three-row crossovers have become the go-to means of transport for larger families. They don't carry the stigma of a minivan or the inefficiency of older truck-based SUVs. But if you don't have a lot of money to spend, what are your choices?
There are plenty of SUVs out there with three rows, but many are unreliable, inefficient or have more miles than a Manhattan cab. So, to help you identify those seven-seaters that buck those trends, here are our seven best used three-row SUVs that can be found for around $15,000.
Finding a used Acura MDX for $15,000 will likely mean one of two things: it'll be a decade-old, first-generation model or it will be a newer second-generation model with 100,000 miles or more. In either case, the MDX has been one of the most dependable SUVs around so we still feel confident in recommending it. Be it a first- (pictured) or second-generation model, both are well-made, practical and sufficiently luxurious family transport.
You're more likely to find a Ford Explorer than a Ford Flex for $15,000. Ford sold far more Explorers, but think of this search as seeking out a diamond in a coal mine. The Flex is more spacious and efficient, feels better on the road and the cabin is of a higher quality. Ford family comparisons aside, the Flex was also one of our top recommended three-row crossovers and we named it one of our best used cars for $18,000.
Though it's possible you might find a second-generation Honda Pilot (a.k.a. the boxy one) for $15,000, we do not recommend it, as it suffered from ponderous handling, sluggish acceleration and poor braking performance. Instead, we would point you toward the original model that didn't suffer those problems while still being abundantly family-friendly and possessing that Honda reliability reputation that should ease any anxiety over buying an older car. We also identified it as one of the best $15,000 used cars with top crash-test scores.
Never heard of a Hyundai Veracruz? Well, you're probably not alone. Yet, what this three-row family crossover lacks in recognition (not to mention visual personality), it makes up for with a spacious three-row cabin, simple controls, a comfortable ride quality and perhaps, most importantly, a lower price than the other vehicles on this list. You'll likely be able to pick up a lower mileage, better equipped and/or newer Veracruz for $15,000 or even less.
A Kia Sorento is bound to be the newest and/or best-equipped used crossover you'll find from this list. Besides the inherent diminishment of wear and tear, this also increases the chances of taking advantage of Kia's excellent certified pre-owned program. However, it must be noted that not every Sorento was equipped with a third row and it's also considerably smaller than the other vehicles on this list. If that third row will only be needed for kids, you're in good shape. Adults or teens? Look elsewhere.
The CX-9 made it onto our list of the best used cars for $18,000, so selecting one with a few more miles or years to get under this list's $15,000 bar was easy. It's one of the most spacious three-row crossovers for people and their stuff, while also being the most compelling to drive. If you're transitioning from a car, it'll be an especially good choice as it feels small from behind the wheel.
We've already identified this Volvo XC90 as one of the Best $15,000 Used Cars With Top Crash-Test Scores, so for that alone, the XC90 deserves a place among these family-friendly three-row haulers. Yet, this highly desirable Volvo SUV, which was sold for longer than a decade without a total overhaul, offers well-balanced road feel, comfortable seats, a luxurious cabin and classic Swedish style. Maintenance costs will likely be higher than other vehicles on this list, but overall reliability ratings have been acceptable.
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