Pickup trucks are all the rage these days, in an era where cars seem to be getting bigger. Myself, I’m not entirely attracted to these ginormous land crawlers, but hey, folks seem to like them. Big trucks, big vans, big SUVs, big crossovers… And 3 row trucks. I won’t be shocked if you’re surprised at that. How can a pickup truck, with an already spacious bed in the back, have 3 rows and seating up to 6 or 7?
Surely, seeing how big modern pickup trucks already are, fitting another row in there would be unnecessary and impossible, no? Well, not so fast. Thanks to the underground world of modification and conversion kits, you can pretty much turn any vehicle into something it shouldn’t be. If you could make a flying car, then why not stretch that truck of yours, eh? This isn’t a new concept, either.
On occasions, you might catch a glimpse at elongated 3 row trucks every once in a while. Or, maybe you saw one floating around on Reddit or Instagram. Converting a regular two-cab – or 2 row – truck to accommodate another row has been done before. A quick answer to our title would be No, it’s not some mythical creature. But why would you even need 3 row trucks in your life, anyway?
- 6-Seater Trucks
- Pros & Cons
- Why Don’t They Exist?
- Should You?
- Third Row Conversion
- How Are They Made?
- Final Thoughts
How Did 3 Row Trucks Come To Be In The First Place?
First, you might be wondering, why bother with 3 row trucks, anyway? The first reply you might get would be, “Well, I have a big family”. To be fair, there are plenty of trucks these days that can seat 6 at a time. These are mostly your typical 4-doored double cab design. Having to fit in 6 people will entail adding a central middle seat both front and back. So, that’s 3 in the front, and 3 in the back.
Hence, it’s a great compromise for most folks out there. You can have that rugged go-anywhere and do-anything pickup for your work. Yet, you still have an abundance of room in the cabin for a whole family. Granted, those middle bench seats in the front and rear are quite cramped. But given how large modern trucks are, they might still easily accommodate children or tinier adults, like me.
You’ll have to look quite closely at the truck in question, however. Most mid-size trucks don’t have bench seating, so they could fit in 5 people, at most. Therefore, you’ll have to look further up in the scale if you want moderately comfy seating for 6. Full-size, light-duty, heavy-duty, and other similar commercial trucks are likely to carry seats for 6. Otherwise, maybe a large full-size SUV would do.
Some, like the Ford Expedition, could happily fit up to 8 people at a time. But then again, few people are lucky enough to be able to afford two separate vehicles. A big SUV for your large family’s daily runabout and a big enough truck to haul your working gear or cargo is a far-off dream for many. So, if you need a 6-seater truck, there are, thankfully, quite a few options to choose from.
What Are These 6-Seater Pickups (That Aren’t 3 Row Trucks)?
And these 6-seater trucks don’t need 3 rows to sufficiently squeeze in your entire crew. You can just walk into any one of the dealerships, and get a truck right away. With warranty and servicing as a part of the package, too. There’s no need to shell out for a pricey 3 row conversion or contend with driving around in 3 row trucks that are possibly far too large for most roads and parking spaces.
So, what are these 6-seater (4-door) trucks? As we mentioned, these are among the larger of regular production pickup trucks that you’ll see driving around today. As proof that 2 rows could be enough, here’s a look at some of the most popular 6-seater, 2 row trucks…
1. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
It starts at $28,500 for the old 2020 model year or $33,200 for the newer 2021 model year. For 6 seats, you’ll have to pick either the Double Cab or Crew Cab variants.
2. Chevrolet Silverado HD (2500 Or 3500)
For the 2020 model year, the 2500 starts at $34,600, while the 3500 will set you back $35,800. As for the current 2021MY, you’re looking at $37,700 and $39,100 for both the 2500 and 3500, respectively. As a larger heavy-duty truck, 6-seater options are available in the Double Cab and Crew Cab versions.
3. Ford F-150
The base price for the older 2020 model year F-150 will be $28,475, or just a tad higher $28,940 for the 2021MY. As the best-selling truck in North America by far, you can opt for 6 seats in the bigger SuperCab or SuperCrew Cab variants.
4. Ford F-Series Super Duty
For the 2020MY, the F-Series Super Duty will cost you at least $37,865. Its refreshed 2021 model year can actually be had for a tad cheaper, starting at $36,565. Either way, it’s just like the simpler F-150s, in that you can have 6 seats in the SuperCab or SuperCrew Cab versions.
5. GMC Sierra 1500
Also being made by GM, the Sierra is almost identical to the Silverado. Thus, it’s not a surprise that 6-seater styles can be had in the Double Cab or Crew Cab. On pricing, the 2020MY has a starting price of $34,860 for the 1500. It’s seen a big discount for the new 2021 model year models if you can find one, which will set you back around $30,100.
6. GMC Sierra HD (2500 Or 3500)
It’s a slightly redesigned 2500 or 3500 HD Silverado. In regards to pricing, the 2020MY has a general base price of $35,800. The current 2021 model year is a step up in expense. It has a sticker price of $38,400 for the 2500 and $39,800 for the 3500. The Sierra HD can be optioned in either the Double Cab or Crew Cab forms if you want seating for 6.
7. Nissan Titan
The 2020 model year Titan begins at $36,190, while the 2021MY will leave your wallet lighter by at least $36,650. It hasn’t been as popular of a truck as some others in this list, but it can fit 6 with ease. That’s if you pick the heftier King Cab and Crew Cab styles.
8. Ram 1500
Ram’s 1500 is among the most well-known light-duty trucks today. The outgoing 2020MY starts at $32,145, whereas the concurrent 2021 model year will cost you $32,795, minimum. If you want 6 seats, the Quad Cab and Crew Cab variants should be adequate.
9. Ram HD (2500 Or 3500)
Following a very familiar naming scheme, Ram’s heavy-duty trucks could easily fit 6 people. That’s if you choose the Crew Cab or Mega Cab styling. Back in the 2020 model year, the Ram HD was priced at $33,895 and $35,345 for the 2500 and 3500 models. 2021 saw a notable increase in its default price, rising to $38,575 and $39,925, respectively.
10. Toyota Tundra
Toyota’s Tundra is among the most sought-after trucks right now. Should you want to fit 6 people, its Double Cab and CrewMax Cab versions are plenty big enough. For the 2020 model year, pricing was $33,575 at the low end, as it rose to $34,025 in 2021.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Getting A 3 Row Conversion On Your Truck?
Of the more conventional 2 rows, 4-door, 6-seater trucks, some of them do stand out. If you’re looking for maximal interior space – which counts leg-, head-, and shoulder-room altogether, the Ford F150 and its beefier Super Duty siblings take the crown. The F150 with the SuperCrew Cab, in particular, strikes a compelling package if you need a large pickup truck that could seat 6 comfortably.
The Toyota Tundra with its massive CrewMax cab comes in at a close second and is equally as cozy of a truck to carry 6 people around in. With that being said, maybe you’ll think to yourself, “Well, it’s great and all… But I need a lot more space“. Remember, these trucks can theoretically seat 6. One caveat is that it won’t be a seating layout that you and your passengers will be happy with.
Unless you’re transporting children and babies, adults would no doubt struggle in what could rather quickly become a claustrophobic cabin. You’ll be rubbing and pushing each other constantly, which can make longer trips most unpleasant. This is why some folks are more than happy to invest some spare change to create 3 row trucks through a conversion kit. More, as they say, isn’t a bad thing.
With 3 rows on your truck, you could ferry around 6 people with optimal relaxation and serenity. If you happen to run into a situation where you may have to carry 8 (or even up to 9) people, this extra row will make its money’s worth in a pinch. For those of you who have to drive around large groups of passengers at a time, but still require the functionality of a pickup, 3 row trucks are your answer.
1. The Pros Of 3 Row Trucks
But what else do you gain, and what do you give up by adding that other row? To find out, here’s a quick summary of the many benefits and downsides of 3 row trucks…
- Extra Interior Space – If you count the front-middle bench, you could carry up to 9 people in a 3 row truck. That’s 3 in each row, which ought to be more than enough for most families. Otherwise, you could have your passengers stretch out like they’re in a first-class cabin.
- Added Luggage Space – While the size of the bed should remain the same, another row for the cabin means that you could store more stuff inside. Think of looser items like luggage.
- Cool Factor – There’s no such thing as a production 3 row truck at present. By taking that added step of putting another row, you’ll undoubtedly stand out from the crowd and their 2 row trucks.
- Doubles As A Limousine – What if you need to bring your friends to prom, but the roads at your neck of the woods are too rough for a common limo? With 3 rows, your truck could part-time as an ultra-rugged off-roading limousine.
2. The Cons Of 3 Row Trucks
- Poor Manoeuvrability – Pickup trucks are gradually turning into full monster trucks. Already, a larger 2 row truck is hard enough to drive around tight streets and alleyways. Let alone having to navigate it slowly around a parking space. An additional row in the middle will make things worse.
- No Parking – Most parking spaces that you see could barely fit in a modern truck. 3 row trucks, as a result, may have to be parked elsewhere, as they can’t possibly fit. Or, you can be that guy that takes up to parking spaces, instead.
- Poor Gas Mileage – Trucks aren’t the most economical machines around, but they get by decently well. With 3 rows instead of 2, you’ll be hauling around significantly more weight. Your fuel economy will suffer as a consequence, without even counting the potential load in the bed.
- More Maintenance – More mass will wear out your car much faster. Your engine needs to work much harder, as does the transmission. The suspension will have to offset the added weight, as your tires will wear out quicker. That one row could see your maintenance bills skyrocket. This is for having to cover hastened fluid changes, repeated part replacements, servicing, and so on.
- Voiding The Warranty – I doubt that any of the mainstream truck manufacturers – Chevy, GMC, Ford, Ram, etc. – is willing to honor your warranty once you undergo that third-row conversion. So, you’ll be out of luck if there’s a recall or are keen on claiming that warranty for repairs. On the bright side, this won’t matter if you have an older, already out-of-warranty truck.
Why Aren’t There Any Production 3 Row Trucks Around?
Having considered the numerous advantages and disadvantages of a 3 row truck, there’s an elephant in the room we’ve yet to answer. Why is it that mainstream truck brands – like the ones we’ve just mentioned – haven’t yet made 3 row trucks of their own. Rather than an aftermarket conversion, a from-the-factory triple-row, six-doored truck could bring plenty of benefits for owners.
Since it came from the actual manufacturer, this entails you getting an official warranty and aftersales support. This isn’t to include the ease of servicing and handing it to a dealer for any maintenance or repairs. Plus, you’ll be assured that these big brands will most likely ensure robust build quality and trustworthiness. That’s compared to putting your faith that the modified third row won’t split in half.
With all these benefits in mind, why is it that carmakers haven’t put 3 row trucks on the market? To put it simply, there isn’t as large of a potential audience and demand for one. Not many people are that keen – frankly speaking – on having a third row, when 2 is just about right. So, why go through all the trouble of creating 3 row trucks for what they know to be a highly niche clique?
Millions – sometimes billions – of dollars are burned when a new vehicle is made. This includes the amount of money, energy, time, and dedication put into every aspect of a car. That means hiring a design team to pen how it looks. Then, prototypes have to be made, as engineers fine-tune all the nooks and crannies to make it drive well. Finally, there’s production hell that it has to go through.
Should You Get A Taste Of 3 Row Trucks For Yourself?
An expensive bet, which may not yield as much practical benefit to the brand is why none of the big truck manufacturers have yet to commit to making an as-is 3 row truck. This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not possible. Moreover, there’s a growing following and appreciation towards these gigantic 3 row trucks. So, the question remains… Should you get a 3 row truck, or is it just a passing fad?
First, you’ll need to accept the fact that 3 row conversions on a truck aren’t cheap. After all, what a conversion like this does is by cutting your truck in half. Then, a central cab for passengers is welded together in the middle. Subsequently, it adds some extra length and arguable practicality to your truck. Making sure this is done right takes precision, skill, and a lot of time and materiel.
Shop around, and a typical third-row extension for a pickup truck costs at least $30,000. This doesn’t include the price of the truck, mind you, which you’ll have to donate to a workshop of choice. Given the expense, I’d argue why not spend that $30k on an SUV, instead? You have your truck for work, and you could buy a pretty good full-size 7 or 8-seater SUV for that 30-grand. It makes sense, no?
It’s a highly subjective topic, of course. For example, I’ve read in one blog that chronicles how one family goes traveling from one end of the States to another in their 3 row truck. A family of six, this meant they could travel together in relative comfort. And, with enough power to tow around an RV, and have a working bed. In this case, a 3 row truck would be the perfect long-distance companion.
How Are 3 Row Trucks Converted And Built From Regular Pickups?
Clearly, 3 row trucks and other elongated vehicles have amassed their own enthusiasts. I’ve managed to find many popular conversion shops across the States. These include CABT, Big Limos, Your MTH, King Series Pickups, Stretch My Truck, and more. Between them along, they’ve completed thousands of conversions in the past, so you know you could trust them. You generally have a few options for a build…
- Get a brand new truck from their showrooms, already post-converted. Usually, these elongated 3 row trucks are Ford F-Series heavy-duty models. You could spec it with them however you want, and you truly get a bespoke experience. Personalization will be abundant once you get started. A from-scratch build like this could cost you $80,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on your spec and the truck.
- If that’s too rich for you – and indeed, it is for most mere mortals like us – some of them even sell pre-owned examples. These are trucks that past owners have had lengthened, and are keen to part ways with it over to you. Once again, the price varies from one truck to another. But you can find relative bargains if you look hard enough.
- Send over your existing truck, and have several more inches added to that. As we mentioned, a job like this will cost you at least $30,000 for the conversion. While the conversion shop is at it, you may want to consider some repairs or minor restoration work. You’ll be adding a lot of weight, so the truck must be able to withstand it. On top of a bespoke build, the bills will keep racking up.
How Are 3 Row Trucks Made?
Now, you might be wondering as to how a 3 row truck conversion is done. Say you’ve gone ahead and put down that deposit, what happens now? The entire process is quite complex, so here’s one condensed step-by-step on how a third row is added to your pickup…
- Everything is taken apart. And yes, that includes the seats, wiring, cabling, carpeting, headliner, not to mention the various mechanical components underneath. The driveshaft, fuel tank, exhaust, lines, and absolutely every part and accessory are removed. Thus, you’re only left with the bare frame.
- Next, your truck is cut in half. To be more specific, the actual cutting point lies between the front and rear passenger cells. This way, a third passenger cell (or cab) can be added in between. Slowly, they’ll cut all the way around.
- A donor body is now welded into the middle. Sometimes, you may have to source the donor body by yourself. If it’s a 3 row pickup, then the donor body ought to be the rear passenger cab of the very same truck that you have. The technicians will then cut away this section of the cab/bodywork from the donor truck.
- The donor can thus be welded together, with the new cab sandwiched between the two halves of your truck. They’ll have to make this as seamless of an addition as possible. While they’re welding that extra row onto your truck, they’ll also strengthen the frame and chassis to hold that tacked-on weight.
- Once the entire frame of the truck has been stiffened and qualified to be safe to drive, they can start putting everything back together. A repaint will be necessary, as components such as the exhaust, fuel lines, wiring, or driveshaft are modified to cover the extra length.
Three-Row Pickup Trucks: The Next Step?
- Ram showcased a Ram Revolution BEV concept that includes a third-row jump seat for the pickup truck, made possible by the space savings that come with an all-electric powertrain.
- The Ram Revolution BEV concept is not close to production form but indicates where Ram wants to take things, and the third-row concept is something that can clearly fit in a reasonable-looking crew-cab truck.
- The crew-cab Ram pickup truck currently offers more rear-seat legroom than a Mercedes S-Class, and single-cab trucks are an endangered species.
- It was only 20 years ago that the crew-cab half-ton essentially did not exist, and if you wanted your truck to haul your family, you put them in the bed.
- Laws restricting or barring passengers from truck beds have gotten more common, and more Americans have started using their trucks as everyday transportation.
- Three-row SUVs are enjoying record sales, and American car buyers solve for their worst-case scenario, not their everyday usage, so more capability almost always wins out.
- A seven-seat four-wheel-drive vehicle with a five-foot bed and a 13,000-lb towing capacity solve every problem the average American is likely to encounter, and dozens of problems they will never encounter.
- Three-row pickup trucks could benefit work crews and large families if companies are willing to play with pickup design, push the cab forward, and get creative with layouts.
- However, as we transition to a cleaner, electric market, it’d be wise to be naturally wary of excess and to think about whether new designs solve salient problems.
- The fleet of modern half-ton crew-cab pickups is already large, and we have to consider whether the problem with them is that they are not big enough.
My Final Thoughts On 3 Row Trucks
As a whole, 3 row trucks have slowly become more popular over the years. Although we spoke of the pricey expense of adding that third-row, some have done it for cheap. Enthusiastic DIYers – with the right tools, knowledge, and dedication to the craft – could manage a project like this in their garage. You might be lucky enough to find a pre-converted 3 row truck second-hand for a bargain.
Though I won’t understand the need for such a large truck, I can certainly see where the fascination stems from. Just that one extra row could yield you plentiful benefits. Especially if you have a large family, this could be your one and only vehicle for work and daily driving. Who needs a spare SUV if you could do everything with just a single truck, right? Whether it’s worth it, we’ll leave that to you.