10 Best Used SUVs with Captain’s Chairs
All you have to do to determine the American public loves SUVs is to look on any street in the country. SUVs are everywhere. This year, many industry observers predict that U.S. car buyers will purchase twice as many SUVs and trucks as passenger cars. People like the elevated driving position and the people-carrying versatility that SUVs are so well-known for. And that people-hauling ability is enhanced in vehicles that offer captain's chairs in the second row. Not only are the captain's chairs typically more comfortable than a spot on a bench seat, but they also make it easy to get into and out of the third row. Yes, three-row SUVs with captain's chairs typically are expensive vehicles, but a great way around that is to buy a recent-vintage used version. Here is our list of the 10 best used SUVs with captain's chairs.
1. 2018 Toyota Highlander
A comfortable mid-size crossover SUV that offers substantial interior space, the Toyota Highlander has been a popular family SUV for years. Its three-row versatility enables seating for up to seven when equipped with captain's chairs in the second row. The third-row bench seat has seatbelts for three. For the 2018 model year, the Highlander is well-equipped even in base trim — alloy wheels, automated headlamps, remote keyless entry, a split/reclining second row, and a 60/40-split third row. Among the upscale features on many used Highlanders are leather seating, a 110-volt power outlet, a 9-inch touchscreen, a rear-passenger communication system, parking sensors, and rear-seat entertainment. The base engine is a 185-horsepower 2.7-liter four-cylinder, but we heartily endorse the 295-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is a widely chosen option.
2. 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe
Buying a Chevrolet Tahoe full-size SUV with second-row captain's chairs turns the vehicle into a virtual limousine. Like its close sibling the GMC Yukon, the Tahoe is based on GM's full-size pickup truck chassis, but it doesn't ride like a truck. In fact, quite the contrary. A popular SUV with the highest sales in its segment, the Tahoe will provide all aboard with a smooth ride and quiet comfort. It is powered by conventional V8 engines, the most popular of which is the 5.3-liter V8 that produces 355 horsepower. New for 2018 was a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 teamed with a 10-speed auto transmission. Not surprisingly, the Tahoe's fuel economy isn't great at 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway, but this is a vehicle that will transport seven people comfortably even with captain's chairs, and it will and tow more than 8,000 pounds. It also features 94.7 cubic feet of cargo space. For its comfort, convenience, and longevity, the Chevy Tahoe is one of the most popular traditional SUVs of all time.
3. 2018 Buick Enclave
The Buick Enclave crossover SUV has become a mainstay of the brand because of its combination of good looks, luxurious interior accommodations, comfortable ride, and significant value. With three rows of seating, it will transport seven passengers with ease, and as an upscale-brand vehicle, it delivers plenty of upscale features. The 2018 model-year Enclave is a good one to buy because the vehicle got a complete remake that year. Positive changes include a more fuel-efficient powertrain with nine-speed automatic transmission and more available safety aids like automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. Infotainment improved with an 8-inch touchscreen system offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Available in front- or all-wheel-drive configurations, the 2018 Enclave is powered by a 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine. The driving experience is skewed toward comfort and quiet, just another reason the Enclave finds a home in many suburban driveways.
4. 2018 Ford Explorer
The 2018 model year was a carryover year for the popular Ford Explorer mid-size SUV. The vehicle was two years away from the major reboot that occurred in 2019. In contrast to today's rear-drive-oriented Explorer, the 2018 is based on a front-drive platform, so the less expensive two-wheel-drive versions are driven by the front wheels. In 2018, as it is now, the Explorer was one of Ford's most popular models. Higher trim levels like the Limited and Platinum models offer captain's chairs plus added niceties like a surround-view camera system, remote engine start, and push-button start. Engine choices include the 280-horsepower 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine, and the 365-horsepower twin-turbo V6. The Explorer is one of the best-looking vehicles in the mid-size SUV segment.
5. 2018 Chevrolet Traverse
The mid-size Chevy Traverse was newly redesigned for the 2018 model-year, and the changes made a desirable vehicle even more desirable. Compared with other mid-size SUVs, it is notably larger, with plenty of passenger and cargo space. Ample power comes from the Traverse's 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine teamed with a nine-speed automatic transmission, while some models were equipped with a 257-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. For 2018, the Traverse was offered in six trim levels — L, LS, LT, RS, Premier, and High Country. Even the base L offers the Chevy MyLink infotainment interface with a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, voice-activated controls, and six USB ports. It also includes three-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, a rear-seat reminder, and Teen Driver monitoring. The Traverse has developed a strong reputation for reliability, and we suggest looking for an example with the optional array of safety aids like blind-spot monitoring and a forward collision alert.
6. 2018 Honda Pilot
The Honda Pilot is one of the roomiest crossover SUVs in its class. Its 152.9 cubic feet of passenger space outdoes virtually all others in its competitive set, and that makes the second-row captain's chairs very nice places to be. That said, many 2018 Pilots were purchased with a second-row bench seat that accommodates three. The 2018 Honda Pilot is equipped with a 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to either a six-speed or nine-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain with the nine-speed delivers the best fuel economy: an estimated 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway with front-wheel-drive. Going to all-wheel-drive involves a minimal 1-mpg penalty. Not only does the Pilot have minivan-like passenger space, but it also has a ride quality with a bit of a minivan feel, especially in its front-drive version.
7. 2018 Dodge Durango
The Dodge Durango is a mid-size SUV that is often called upon to do the work of a full-size sport-utility. Its rear-drive platform and available V8 engine mean it is up to that challenge, and the 2018 Durango can be an excellent tow vehicle. The 2018 Durango is a good choice as a used SUV because Dodge added standard features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a rearview camera that year. Shopping around, you might find an example with LED daytime running lights, a 115-volt power outlet, remote start, a power-operated liftgate, and a 10-speaker Beats by Dre sound system. The base engine is a 290-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, while both 360-horsepower and 475-horsepower V8s are also available. The latter of those is in the high-performance SRT version that includes captain's chairs as standard.
8. 2018 Ford Expedition
After standing pat for years and years, Ford completely redesigned its Expedition full-size SUV for the 2018 model year. The changes were all-encompassing from the aluminum bodywork to an all-new powertrain lineup to a completely revitalized modern interior with up-to-date connectivity. With a chassis based on the highly popular Ford F-150 full-size pickup, the Expedition is equipped with some of that vehicle's most capable powertrains. The base engine is a 3.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6 that delivers 375 horsepower, while the top trim level gets a 400-horsepower version of that engine. Both variants are backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission. 2018 Expedition models are available in three trims: XLT, Limited, and Platinum. A long-wheelbase version of the Expedition, called the Expedition Max, competes with the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL.
9. 2018 Nissan Armada
As a used vehicle, the 2018 Nissan Armada might be considered a potential bargain-buy among full-size SUVs. It is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 engine with 390-horsepower teamed with a seven-speed automatic transmission. One of the Armada's strong suits is its upscale interior, including the second-row captain's chairs. The interior is well-designed with a premium look, and the seating comfort in all three rows is a cut above many others in the segment. If you are seeking electronic safety aids, look for a Platinum trim version of the 2018 Armada. It will be equipped with a forward collision warning with brake assist, adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring. In overall size, the Armada is equivalent to the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Tahoe.
10. 2018 Chevrolet Suburban
The Chevrolet Suburban — one of the longest-running nameplates in America — competes with the long-wheelbase Expedition Max, and it is a kissing cousin to the GMC Yukon XL. The major difference between the Suburban and the Tahoe is length: The 2018 Suburban is about 20 inches longer than the same model-year Tahoe, and that translates into superior interior space for both passengers and cargo. One big benefit of the greater length is a much more accommodating third row of seating, which is comfortable for three adults. When it comes to powertrains, the 2018 Suburban uses the venerable 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. Rear-drive is the standard configuration while four-wheel-drive was optional and is widely available in used Suburbans. The Suburban and Tahoe also offer equipment and amenities that are nearly identical.