By Cars.com EditorsOctober 18, 2017
About the video
During our 2017 Three-Row SUV Challenge, we specifically put these SUVs' third rows and cargo space the test to see which was best. Watch the video for more.
(car engine roars) Three-row SUV shoppers, want a vehicle with room for people and cargo.
So as part of our 2017 Three-row SUV challenge, myself and fellow judges, Fred Meyer and Brian Wong paid special attention to the cargo areas and third row seats of our four contenders to gauge their utility and overall comfort. (upbeat music) <v Brian>The Traverse was the largest of our competitors, and it also has the most cargo room behind the third row. It also has a large storage bin for storing valuables. That's really convenient. I really liked the Traverse's third row seat, because it's big enough to comfortably carry adult passengers. There's good headroom, pretty good leg room. And overall it's almost minivan like in its space. I can actually sit in it and I'm 6'2". What I like about the Honda's third row is that once you get there, it actually is really comfortable for a full size adult. What I don't like is that it is hard to get into. What I liked about the pilot's third row is that it's really easy to get out of. There's a one-touch button on the top of the second row seats to move them out of the way. The pilot really does have great third row headroom. And as Mike mentioned, it has that really convenient second row access with a powered button that moves it out of the way. However, the opening is not that big, and I find myself almost tripping to get out of the third row. <v Mike>The pilot was the only one in our test to have a reversible cargo floor. So one side's carpeted and one is washable. The Toyota Highlander is the smallest of our competitors, and it also has the least cargo room. It also has the least workable third row. There's not much headroom or leg room for adults. I wouldn't put anyone I like back there. The Highlander's third row seat reclines really far, but that's about the only thing it has going for it. Otherwise it's really cramped for adult passengers. The small third row in the Highlander surprisingly has seatbelts for three but room for maybe one. <v Mike>Volkswagen's first three-row SUV delivers a solid outing with ample passenger space in all rows of seats. <v Fred>The Atlas third row is the roomiest here for two adults. It's one of the easiest to get into, has plenty of leg room, plenty of head room, but it has one downside. The clamshell headrest hit you in the back of the neck. <v Mike>The Atlas' second row seat slides forward to give you a good space to get back to the third row, and like the Traverse there's good space once you're sitting there. The Atlas makes the most of its available interior space, because when you fold the third row, the seat lowers down to give you more cargo height. The Atlas did not have the biggest cargo area here, that goes to the Traverse, but it had a very large area and it had an advantage in a bench seat. If you haul a lot of cargo, that may be the option you want in the second row, because it gives you a completely flat load floor. <v Brian>The Atlas really does have a great third row that's adult size. It has good headroom and good leg room, and it also has easy access from both the driver's side and passenger side with the second row folding forward. One thing that the Atlas is missing though, is covered storage. There's nowhere to hide a bag or valuables. They'll just be visible from the outside. For the full results, photo galleries and additional stories, check out cars.com. (upbeat music)