Hooniverse Asks: What's The Worst Third Row You've Ever Experienced?

The sales of “cars” has for all intents and purposes ground to a halt here in the U.S., supplanted by SUVs and Crossovers the popularity of which seems to know no bounds. How bad is it? Well, in March Cadillac moved more units of their recently introduced XT5 crossovers than they did all of their sedans put together. Almost without exception auto makers are seeing the demand and requisite profits that these tall wagons secure increase.
With so many models on the road you can bet that the crossover and SUV ecosystem is filled to the gills, covering just about every single niche there is to be niched. One of those is the three-row wagon, where a small seat is deposited in the back-most part of the passenger compartment, in the area where most of us would probably put the groceries. They are one of the more popular formats, so much so that a number of manufacturers are replacing two row models with the triple headers on refresh.
Of course, not all third rows are created equal, and in fact quite a few are nigh on impossible for grown people to use, much like the ridiculous back seats in many sports cars. Some of the more capacious, like those of the Ford Explorer or Chevy Tahoe, are fine for short trips, while others, like the ones apparently only for the legless in the Nissan Qashqai are kind of a joke. What we want to hear today are your stories of having to third-row some trip, either you personally, or some unlucky soul that you forced into the act. What is the worst third row you’ve ever experienced?
Image: Autocar.uk

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35 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What's The Worst Third Row You've Ever Experienced?”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    Anything less than a Tahoe or full size van isn’t real fun. I’ve tried the third row on a Mountaineer and a 2nd gen Highlander. I fit sort of, the two seats were really only one. The most ridiculous has to be the Hummer H2 third row seat (singular). Especially with the spare stored internally.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      I was thinking of the H2, as well.
      Note that not all Tahoes are equally comfortable when you ride in the back.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        Getting in is easy. Getting out may require assistance.

      1. Alff Avatar

        You got seats. Lucky.

        1. outback_ute Avatar

          Many years ago my sister and I were in the way-back of my uncle’s Jeep Wagoneer (called the Cherokee here in Australia) with a couple of bean bags! Very comfy.

      2. Wayne Moyer Avatar
        Wayne Moyer

        I have an ’87 Ford Crown Vic wagon and I put my two teenagers back there while it was parked and there was just no way they could do it. Granted they shrunk the car in the ’79 update but it made it pretty much unusable.

      3. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

        The thing is those big Fords with the side facing seats were designed to seat only two people in a staggered configuration, which was actually OK, but we always jammed at least 4 kids in the back. Fortunately this was in the 70s when most of wore “Slim” size pants and not “Husky Plus”

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

          I don’t buy it. They had lap belts for four, and those sort-of vestigial seat sections that wouldn’t have been necessary for two.

          1. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

            The ones I was in had one long lap belt per side, sample of 2 country Squires ca 69 and 74 and an early 70s Gran Torino

          2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

            I may be remembering incorrectly. The Country Squire was my best friend’s dad’s; my folks had a vastly superior ’69 Vista Cruiser.

          3. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

            I’ll second the Vista Cruiser, my favorite 3rd row experience was in the back of a Buick Sport Wagon with the same glass roof, and sun visors for the third row.

  2. Maymar Avatar

    I’d actually put forth the Tahoe/Yukon (current generation, in my experience) as one of the worst third rows I’ve ridden in, although at least part of it is because they’re 3 ton behemoths. Because of the placement of the solid rear axle, the floor is only about three inches below the seats – I’m not big, but I still had my knees up around my ears. The Suburban/Yukon XL still lag behind minivans when it comes to the third row, but they absolutely justify their value over their SWB counterparts.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      That’s why I’ve never understood why the Expedition and Expedition EL don’t do better against their GM counterparts. The IRS used in the Fords makes a big difference in third-row usability and comfort.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        How much difference does the IRS make in towing capacity? A lot of people that buy the Suburban and Yukon XL tow big things with them.

        1. Craig Dotson Avatar
          Craig Dotson

          The most recent generations have seen Expedition EL tow ratings eclipse those of the Yukon XL. Max towing for the GMC is only 8300 but the Expo is up to 9200.

      2. Maymar Avatar

        I assume it’s at least part because GM seems to have put more into promoting and updating their big SUVs (also, they’ve been at it for over 80 years, while Ford’s only been doing the 3-row thing for 20). Plus, customers who need more towing capacity than a big crossover or minivan, but not so much as a Tahoe/Yukon, and need three rows to accommodate adults (as opposed to shoving a couple kids back there several times a year), and aren’t willing to step up to the Suburban must be a pretty slim market.

  3. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    2017 Pacifica. It wasn’t too bad, but it’s the only third row I’ve sat in, so it is the worst (as well as the best) third row I’ve experienced.

  4. Papa Van Twee Avatar
    Papa Van Twee

    Never been in the third row, but I have been in the 4th/5th row of one of those 15 passenger vans. I can’t believe any 3rd row being worse than that.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      Those have been just about banned by insurance companies. There were too many churches and other groups that had them and would let just anyone drive them (I was even on the list to drive them at one church I used to go to, drove it a few times too). Way too many of them ended up crashing due to high speed instability issues and inexperienced drivers. Insurance companies stopped insuring them. They have been mostly replaced by E-350 (or newer Ford or M-B based) shuttle buses with dually rear axles and I believe that they now require a CDL to drive too.

      1. CraigSu Avatar

        The last time I drove a 15-passenger van rental for a church men’s retreat I had to pass an online van driver’s safety course sponsored by the insurance company before I was allowed to drive it. Those things are tricky if you’re not used to having that much length (and weight since that’s where the luggage goes) behind the rear axle.
        Maybe it varies by state but in NC any van-based mini-bus up to 20 (maybe 30?) passengers does not require a CDL, just a valid automotive driver’s license.

      2. Papa Van Twee Avatar
        Papa Van Twee

        !4 kids in an old church van!

  5. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    The tiny, 1st gen Suzuki XL-7 was somewhat OK. The only really inexcusable part were the folding seat backs, which were thin, flat, and board-like. However, the GM-based 2nd gen managed to be way worse, even though the new chassis gained width and length. The base cushions were only about 2/3rds normal seat depth and we’re down around your ankles when seated.

    1. Vairship Avatar

      Toyota RAV4 third row; http://photos4.automanager.com/019736/0fc85235a24e52468d18178fbb624125/e139cca35e_640.jpg Yes, your head is up against the rear glass. Yep, you are seated in the crumple zone. Try not to be rear ended, or you will definitely die.

  6. CraigSu Avatar

    My brother and I would sit in the rear luggage compartment of our early-60s VW Beetle and pretend to shoot phasers at the cars behind us. Picture is with the back seat removed since you couldn’t really see the tiny space otherwise.
    Thankfully, we traded up to a ’66 Catalina before we got too big to fit there.

    1. Alff Avatar

      Back in the day that wouldn’t even have been considered irresponsible. I remember regularly standing on the back seat of dad’s Caprice, arms on top of front seatback and head in front seating area so I could talk to mom and dad.

    2. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

      when she was little my wife used to nap in that space on long trips in her parents’ Beetle. Personally my only VW seat time as a kid was in a Squareback and we only only used the seats.

  7. Alff Avatar

    Dang. Hooniverse broken again. First I was stuck living in a van, now I’m trapped in the third row.

    1. JayP Avatar

      Looks fixed to me now.

  8. Borkwagen Avatar

    Lincoln MKT. The sloped back window intruded so much into passenger space that I had to lean forward, and I’m only 5’7″.

  9. outback_ute Avatar

    A VY Commodore wagon with an add-in dickie seat, so no footwell at all, and the seat cushion sitting basically on the floor. Those seats might have an age limit though, they are intended for children. Those Commodore wagons were enormous though, 50 cu.ft behind the second row. They have IRS which allows for a low floor plus they have a very tall roof.

  10. crank_case Avatar

    Not me personally, but the Ford Galaxy MPV (not to be confused with the Galaxie saloon).
    Room isn’t the problem, it can take 7 adults without issue, but one was hired at a place I work and as one of my colleages was getting out from the middle row, he unbuckled is seatbelt by just pressing the button and letting it fly rather than holding onto it, the belt retracted with such violent speed that it smacked the (rather attractive) PA sitting behind him in the face. Wasn’t his fault, but still pretty embarrasing.

  11. Elliott Avatar

    2017 Kia Sorrento; at 6’4″, it was an experience I’ve vowed never to repeat!

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