Why do you need three rows?

More and more often, we keep seeing midsize and event ‘compact’ SUV’s cram in a third row. When Ford added a third row to the Explorer, I asked why? They had the Expedition for large families. But ok, no big deal. Then Nissan added a standard third row to the Pathfinder. I questioned this big time. Not only is the third row inhospitable for anyone with legs ( even small children need not apply – amputees only please ) , but the first and second row shrunk as well. There aren’t any seats in the Pathfinder that are particularly comfortable. None of the rows have quite enough leg room to really stretch out. And, of course, you have to go through a fairly extreme ritual of moving all seats forward and angling them properly so you can fold down the second and third rows.

But I said ok. Now, Toyota is even offering a third row on the Rav4. You know, the first CUV – that’s Cute Utility Vehicle for those in the know. The opposite of a sport utility vehicle, the Rav4 is supposed to be small and cute. Why in the world does it need a third row seat? Does Toyota want everyone in the vehicle to be as uncomfortable as possible? And they have the Highlander, 4Runner, and Sequoia for big families. That’s three SUV’s that already work. Why did they feel the need to add the tiny RAV4 to the mix?

At some point this has to stop – or we’ll be seeing a third row in the next generation Corolla or Focus. Besides that fact that it’s ridiculous, everyone needs to consider safety. With these smallish vehicles incorporating a third row, there simply isn’t enough room between the third row occupant’s head and the rear of the vehicle. Especially in a RAV4, I can only imagine a child’s head pressed up against the rear glass. Now imagine that RAV4 is rear-ended – where’s the protection? If the vehicle’s rear crumple zone does what it’s supposed to, that means the third row occupants are likely to be crumpled along with the car. They are in the crumple zone! Not a good place for children, is it?

Published on November 17, 2006 in Ponderings

Previous post:

Next post: