5 Three-Row Vehicles With the Best Fuel Economy

Even if you need a new set of wheels that can haul a lot of people and their stuff, a three-row vehicle doesn’t have to be a gas guzzler.

White Kia Sorento PHEV parked outside a ship dockKia

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Not long ago, you were looking at high fuel bills if you needed a three-row vehicle for carrying the family. Today, the era of hybrids and battery-electric cars has changed that scenario. We combed Environmental Protection Agency data to find the latest models that offer three rows of seats with the highest fuel economy ratings, whether that was for gas, electric, or a combination.

Based on EPA city and highway combined mpg estimates, here are the most efficient three-row vehicles.

White Tesla Model Y with a surfboard parked by waterTesla

2022 Tesla Model Y AWD Long Range: 122 MPGe

Standard with two-row seating, the battery-electric Tesla Model Y compact SUV offers the option of a third row for $3,000 to seat up to seven on board. The dual motor Long Range all-wheel drive (AWD) is the base model for 2022. With just 26.5 inches of legroom and a sloping roofline constraining headroom, the third row is perhaps best suited for children. The EPA estimates a 330-mile range on a fully charged battery. Starting around $72,000.

White Tesla Model X driving down freewayTesla

2022 Tesla Model X Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive: 102 MPGe

Tesla’s Model X mid-size SUV offers five-, six- and seven-seat versions. Rear passengers enter through what Tesla calls “Falcon Wing” doors, which car enthusiasts might know as “gull wing,” as on the 1980s’ DeLorean sports car or ‘50s’ Mercedes-Benz 300SL. The Dual-Motor AWD is the standard model for 2022 and offers up to 32.2 inches of third-row legroom and 348 miles of range on a charge. Starting around $132,000.

White Kia Sorento PHEV driving in front of buildingKia

2023 Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid: 79 MPGe/34 mpg combined

The six-passenger Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid’s (PHEV) impressive 79 MPGe rating applies only to the battery-only driving range, which can be up to 32 miles. After that, the 34 mpg EPA combined fuel economy rating applies. Suppose you regularly plug in the Kia compact SUV to keep the battery at full charge before driving. In that case, the Sorento PHEV can beat the standard Sorento Hybrid on fuel usage by about 25%. Third-row legroom, while perhaps tight for adults at 29.6 inches, should be fine for kids. Starting around $51,000.

Green Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid parked in front of city viewsChrysler

2022 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: 82 MPGe/30 mpg combined

Why doesn’t the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, with its 82 MPGe rating, beat the Kia Sorento PHEV? Both have the same 32-mile electric-driving range, but the seven- or eight-passenger plug-in Pacifica’s lower 30 mpg combined gas fuel economy bumps up annual fuel costs a bit. If you keep the battery charge topped off when not driving, the EPA estimates the Hybrid could cut annual fuel costs by more than half compared to the standard Pacifica gas model. The Pacifica’s 36.5 inches of third-row legroom is suitable for adults. Starting around $49,000.

White Toyota Sienna parked at rock formationToyota

2022 Toyota Sienna: 36 mpg combined

If you’re looking for the most efficient three-row vehicle with no plug, it’s the Toyota Sienna, offered only as a regular hybrid. It’s available in seven- and eight-seat configurations, and you can also choose between front-wheel drive and AWD (35 mpg). The latter uses a separate rear electric motor rather than a typical AWD torque-transfer system. The Sienna is the third-row legroom champ on this list, at 38.7 inches, while its base price is the lowest. Starting around $37,000.

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Jim Koscs
Jim Koscs has been writing about cars for more than 30 years, his byline appearing in national enthusiast and trade publications, newspapers, and websites. He covers a broad spectrum of topics in automotive business, culture, collecting, design, history, racing, and technology. The "car thing" goes way back for Jim. At the 1968 New York Auto Show, he snuck away from his father to get a better look at a Rolls-Royce... from underneath it, to see if it had dual exhausts. (It didn't.)