The Most Comfortable SUVs

US News

Think about the amount of time you spend in your SUV. You go to work, shop, take your kids to their activities and go on family vacationsWith so much of your life spent on the road, it’s important to find an SUV that’s comfortable enough to take you and your family through all of life’s duties.

What size SUV do you need?

The first thing you need to do is decide what type of SUV you and your family needs. While most compact SUVs seat five people, the Toyota RAV4 and Dodge Journey both offer third rows, which add two seats. Just bear in mind that in compact SUVs, third rows tend to cost more and are usually small and uncomfortable.

For more space, check out midsize and large SUVs, which typically seat anywhere from five to eight people and carry a lot of cargo. The Chevrolet Tahoe, a large SUV, seats up to nine while holding 16.9 cubic feet of cargo. With the second row folded and third rows removed, cargo capacity swells to 108.9 cubic feet. In comparison, the Honda CR-V, a popular compact crossover, holds 37.2 cubic feet with all five seats in use and maxes out at 70.9 with the second row folded.

Is the driver comfortable?

When shopping for an SUV, it’s important that the driver’s seat fits you. Check the controls. Can you adjust the temperature and other features without reaching too far? Check the steering wheel. Does it tilt and telescope, and can you find a comfortable driving position?

Are seats plush and adjustable? Imagine yourself after driving for a few hours. If your back starts to hurt after 30 minutes, it probably won’t feel much better after three hours on the road. Don’t forget to check your sight lines. Are there a lot of blind spots? Do you have a clear, commanding view of the road? If the SUV you choose has great visibility, you’ll feel more relaxed and confident behind the wheel.

Interior features can also aid driver comfort. Check for features like steering wheel-mounted controls, hands-free Bluetooth connectivity and conversation mirrors. The less you have to fiddle with the radio and your phone and turn around to check the kids, the more at ease you’ll feel. These features aren’t standard on all SUVs, but it may be worth the extra money to add them.

Are the passengers comfortable?

When checking out the passenger seats, think about who is going to use them most. If you plan on routinely hauling older kids or adults, you’ll need more space. Pay attention to the SUV’s interior dimensions. Keep in mind, though, that just because an SUV looks big from the outside, it may not be particularly roomy on the inside. For instance, the Chevrolet Tahoe is a large, truck-based SUV with up to nine seats, but reviewers say that the third row in the Chevrolet Traverse crossover is roomier and more comfortable than the Tahoe’s. 

If you have young children, bring their car seats to the dealership so you can see if they are easy to install. Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH), which are used to install car seats, are required by law and do a better job of holding car seats in place than seatbelts. SUVs have at least two of these. Once the kids are in their seats, see if they have enough leg space and can reach everything that they’ll need, like books and snacks. You also won’t want them kicking the back of your seat, and you won’t want to have to turn around and hand them everything they need while you’re driving.

Even if your kids don’t need car seats, have the kids hop in the back. If they have a hard time getting in and out, consider an SUV that’s closer to the ground. For instance, the Toyota Venza has an especially low step-in height, so it’ll be easier to get in and out of for most kids. Finally, have your kids test out the third row. If you routinely have adults or older kids in the third row, trading up to a bigger SUV may be worth it.

Comfortable SUVs

 

MSRP

Seats

Capacity

GMC Yukon

$39,860

Front row: three-seat bench OR two bucket seats

Second row: 60/40 split-folding bench OR two bucket seats

Third row: 50/50 split-folding bench

7-9

Mazda CX-9

$29,725

Second row: 60/40 split fold-down seatback that tilts and slides

Third row: 50/50 split fold-down seatback

7

Chevrolet Traverse

$29,510

Smart Slide second row seats

Second row: 60/40 split flat-folding bench seats OR flat-folding captain’s chairs

Third row: 60/40 split folding bench seats

7-8

Honda CR-V

$22,295

Second row: 60/40 split rear seats

5

Toyota Venza

$27,425

Second row: reclining 60/40 split fold-flat bench seat

5

Ford Edge

$27,770

Second row: 60/40 split flat-folding reclining bench seat

5

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