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New Toyota Highlander? Or Acura MDX? Or are we missing something?

I’d love input on this: we will buy buying a new car soon, and need one with a third row for the kids and their friends. We don’t want a minivan, keep our cars for a long time (have a 2002 Highlander with 150k+ miles), and quality is important.

We love our current Highlander, and besides the fact having two would make us seem pretty dorky, we would definitely consider another (because the 2002 doesn’t have a third row). We also love the quality/high end touches in the MDX, but are concerned that it may not be roomy enough; we are tall people with tall kids, and I’m wondering about the space in the second row, and the cargo capacity. Price is not a big factor - we would pay up to $50k for the right car. AWD is important, because we get a lot of snow where we live.

As for other options, I’m not sure the Mazda crossover is as roomy as we’d like. I like the look of Volvos, but hear horror stories about their maintenance costs. Are we missing some obvious other options?

Opinions? Thoughts? Personal experiences? Appreciate any insights.

I’d think the CX-9 would be about the same size, as would a Ford Flex, also the new Explorer. But nothing wrong at all with the Highlander. But when it gets down to how your family fits, the only way to tell is to try each one out.

Consider a Buick Enclave. Edmunds estimates that it will cost less to repair, maintain, insure, and fill up with gas than the MDX. It also gets high ratings for comfort and handling. Well, handling is good for such a large SUV. Give one a test drive and see if you like it. BTW, the Enclave has a lot of room. You can compare that to the MDX in a test drive, too.

If you like the 2002 Highlander, how about a Highlander Hybrid. Might as well go “dorky” all the way. We have had 7 Toyota trucks and SUVs and have had very few problems with them. I don’t see why the new Highlander shouldn’t be just as reliable as the old.

Subaru Tribeca has 3rd row i believe.

why are you worried about looking dorky to others. To heck with what others think

We currently own a MDX ('04) and have been very happy with it; drive long distances. It is very comfortable and the power train is amazing. I think you will find the first and the second row seats to be quite spacious; if you put down the third row seats there is ample storage space. I think the recent models now have 6 gears which probably makes them (slightly?) more efficient than my model. The GPS is very intuitive - in fact, of all the GPS systems that I have used (Lexus, Infiniti, and BMW), to me Acura’s is the most intuitive. Finally I have heard and read a lot of good things about SH-AWD system - it has been touted to be one of the best available; so unless you are driving in absolute icy conditions, I think it is likely to help you. Overall, I will say it is very comfortable and also fun to drive. Best of luck!

Thanks, all - appreciate the feedback. We’ll check in to the options suggested by others, test drive a few, and hopefully will have our decision made in the next week or two.

Let us know what you decide, Blisster.

I have a 2009 Honda pilot and the second row is huge and I have put adults in the third row and never heard any complaints. I have almost 50 k on it and haven’t had one problem. The gas mileage has been pretty good for a large vehicle.

Agree with jtsanders. Consider the Enclave. The Highlander’s 3rd row is extremely tight, and consumers rate the Buick Enclave’s 3rd row seat among the best in the midsize SUV/crossover segment. You can see how over 100 consumers rate the top selling medium SUVs at

You guys are making me re-think my bias…my mom drove a Buick Century when I was growing up, and it’s hard to think of me driving a Buick! Others have also suggested the Lincoln MKT. I think I’ll be out at some different dealerships this week…

(and thank you all, again!)

The Century was Buick’s bottom-end car. Not only has Buick come a long way in the last 20 years, they Enclave is the top end of the family of SUVs it is in (Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia are it’s analogs).