Three-row SUVs have become the family vehicle of choice, and it's a segment that's seen a lot of change in the last year. So we thought it was time to bring back the winner from our past challenge, the Honda Pilot, and stack it up against three new competitors: the updated Toyota Highlander, the redesigned Chevrolet Traverse and the all-new Volkswagen Atlas.
Coming in fourth place was the Toyota Highlander. Even though it gained new styling and an updated V6 drivetrain for the 2017 model year, the changes weren't enough in the face of the bigger, roomier competitors in our test. Though the Highlanders multimedia system is lacking the SUV's unique dashboard device tray recognizes the importance of smartphones in people’s lives.
When we tested three-row SUVs a year ago the Honda Pilot won. But newer competitors bumped it down to third place this time around. The Pilot is still a roomy SUV with lots of storage space and a neat one touch feature for entering or exiting the third row. But the multimedia system and 9-speed automatic transmission frustrated the judges.
Finishing in second place was the Chevrolet Traverse which has been completely redesigned for the 2018 model year. It’s still a big SUV but it doesn’t feel large from the driver’s seat and was easy to control and maneuver. Judges also liked the Traverse’s composed, comfortable ride and quiet cabin.
The winner of Cars.com’s 2017 Three-Row SUV Challenge is the all-new Volkswagen Atlas. Where other competitors suffered from a lack of cabin space or hard to use technology, the Atlas did almost everything well. Highlights include smooth and direct steering that helped make the Atlas easy to drive, a responsive 8-speed automatic transmission, a roomy and comfortable cabin and an easy to use multimedia system that was the judges’ favorite.