When shopping for a family-friendly three-row SUV that has luxury features and lots of utility, the choices are plentiful. In this evaluation we’ve narrowed down the choices to luxury brands only, as they generally offer upgraded dealer service, longer warranties, and more creature comforts than mainstream brands. However, shoppers on a budget or uninterested in all the gizmos can check out some top mainstream picks like the Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, and Kia Sorento.
Next, we looked at price. Especially with luxury SUVs it’s quite easy for the price to skyrocket. The contenders here are all within the $45,000-$55,000 price range, making them far more fiscally responsible than offerings from BMW and Mercedes-Benz which carry a $10,000+ price premium for a similarly sized, or smaller, vehicle. Also a consideration is the price of ownership, so we looked at fuel efficiency is a ranking factor as well.
When carrying around precious cargo safety is a top concern. We evaluated ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to determine the winner in this test. It’s important to note that the brand-new 2018 Buick Enclave is a strong contender in the three-row luxury SUV segment, however since it has not been evaluated by the Institute it was not utilized in the comparison.
Finally, interior accommodations and cargo room were evaluated. When carrying around strollers, strapping in car seats, and tackling trips to Costco, having a capacious interior is very important. Often a key indicator of interior packaging efficiency is how much cargo space is available behind the third row, so that’s the criteria we’re ranking on.
The contenders are: Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, Lexus RX350 L
So, which of luxury three-row SUV took home gold? See our the Lux SUV medal ranking below. But first, if you haven’t already, click here to join us on Facebook to receive the latest updates from Third Auto. We appreciate it!
Bronze: 2018 Lexus RX350 L
The new three-row version of Lexus’ best-selling RX line. With a bit more brand recognition and prestige than the other contenders, the RX earns points because that can translate into higher value retention over time. However, with an MSRP of $49,070, it’s nearly $4,000 higher than the larger and more fuel-efficient QX60. The RX350 L ties the MDX with a “Top Safety Pick” status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Read Third Auto’s full review of the 2018 Lexus RXL here.
Silver: 2018 Acura MDX
The 2018 Acura MDX earns points for its “Top Safety Pick” status by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and offers cargo space behind the third-row only about one cubic foot shy of the first place Infiniti. Likewise, its base price when equipped with all-wheel-drive came out to $46,200, a $1,100 premium over the Infiniti. The non-hybrid model we evaluated was let down my a 21 combined MPG rating, which tied with the Lexus for second. A very competitive package, the MDX’s virtues makes it a strong contender, but aren’t enough to earn gold.Read Third Auto’s full review of the 2018 Acura MDX here.
Gold: Infiniti QX60
With the lowest base price when quipped with all-wheel-drive, the most cargo room behind the third row seats and the best combined mileage, albiet only by 1 MPG, the Infiniti QX60 takes home the gold. It’s demerits include a poor rating for its headlights by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a bit less brand prestige than the Lexus, however overall the Infiniti QX60 makes a great choice for shoppers in the market for a three-row luxury SUV under $55,000.Read Third Auto’s full review of the 2018 Infiniti QX60 here.
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[Images: Acura, Infiniti, Lexus]