Latest Reader Question (April 14, 2018)

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply:

Kurt asks: I just heard about how you answer questions on the Tom Woods show. Your prior appearances brought me to your site as well; however I was unable to find an answer in searching your web site. Can you provide some guidance on a three-row SUV with space in the back? We take longer trips (Minneapolis-Cleveland, Minneapolis- Bozman, ETC…) and are looking for something to replace the 4 door VW Golf TDI hatchback.  I enjoyed your review of the VW Atlas and while it gave me some concern it is currently on my shortlist as is the Honda Pilot.  I am open to new an used ideas.  Any other vehicles I should be looking at?

My reply: Based on the models you mention, I’m assuming you are open to crossover SUVs – i.e., light-duty, car-based designs – which is good, because it will give you more options than a short-list restricted to truck-based large SUVs (e.g., the Chevy Tahoe, Ford Expedition and so on). The main difference between these two categories of vehicle is that crossover SUVs are usually based on a front-wheel-drive layout, with all-wheel-drive available (or standard, in some cases) while the SUV will usually be based on a rear-drive layout, with a heaver-duty four-wheel-drive system available optionally. The four wheel-drive will usually include a two-speed transfer case and Low range gearing. This gives the vehicle an additional measure of capability off-road. Also, truck-based  SUVs are usually more rugged and can tow more. The downside is they tend to be heavier and less fuel-efficient. Also, they are not as space efficient inside.

There are several mid-sized crossover SUVs with three rows but the third row is usually pretty cramped. The same goes for mid-sized SUVs.

You may want to test drive some full-size models, of both types. In addition to the models you mention, I’d recommend (in a crossover) having a look at the new Chevy Traverse, as well as the Toyota Highlander. In an SUV, I am a big fan of the Tahoe (and its bigger brother, the Suburban). Huge room, ample power, tremendous capability and not-unreasonable appetite, despite the big V8.

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