3rd Row Seats RAV4: Why Did Toyota Discontinue Them?

The 3rd row seats RAV4 was a thing back in the day as it helped car owners in more ways than one. The company also gave varying reasons as to why they introduced middle seats, which included convenience and family size. However, after about 5 years, the seats were discontinued owing to various reasons such as lack of interest and limited spacing in the SUV.

3rd Row Seats RAV4


In this guide, discover the other reasons why the seats were removed as well as how the seats looked like, whether or not it really helped a large family, and if it was convenient.

Why Did Toyota Discontinue the 3rd Row Seats RAV4?

Toyota discontinued the 3rd row seats RAV4 in 2012 due to a loss of interest in the vehicle. Though many people loved its capacity to accommodate big families, they soon discovered that the space was too small for when the family is growing.

Why Did Toyota Produce 3rd Row Seats RAV4

The space could only fit small children, thus, as the kids grew bigger, they could hardly fit into the tight space. Therefore, many car buyers were back to square one – the need for a bigger SUV to fit their growing kids.

Due to the lack of space for bigger kids/people and the need to purchase another vehicle to commute large families, interest in the RAV4 3rd row seats dwindled. People started exploring other alternatives which didn’t necessarily have 3rd-row seats but had enough room. 

Also, adults who wanted to carpool found it inconvenient as they couldn’t properly fit into the 3rd row. Many quickly abandoned the idea and soon went into for other SUVs with bigger legroom to feel comfortable. By 2013, Toyota had returned to their 2 seats RAV4 and abandoned the 3 seats. However, you can still get a RAV4 with 3-row streets from your car dealer but before you do, here are the specs of the 3rd-row seat RAV4.

– 3rd Row Seats in the RAV4 Specs

To describe the space in the RAV4 with 3 seats, we will use the headroom, legroom and passenger volume measurements to give you a fair idea. For the 1st row, the headroom is 40.8 inches while the legroom is 41.8 inches. The headroom for the 2nd row of seats is 39.7 inches and the legroom is 38.3 inches. The 3rd row seats have a headroom of 37.2 inches while legroom is 30.3 inches.

The measurements above indicate that the 3rd row seats have a smaller space compared to the other rows, thus they were only convenient for commuting children. Therefore, if you’re planning to get a 3-row seat RAV4, take note that you’ll be able to haul only small children that are probably 4 years old and below. However, once the children get bigger you’ll have to look elsewhere for an SUV with a bigger headroom and legroom.

– The 2022 RAV4 

In case you’re wondering, “Does the 2022 RAV4 have 3rd Row Seating?”, the answer is no. To get a 2022 Toyota RAV4 3rd row seat for sale will be impossible because they’ve added 3 rows of seats for RAVe4. However, you can purchase them aftermarket which comes at an extra cost and is deemed unsafe. Alternatively, you can get a 2011 RAV4 third row seat for sale online or anywhere across the US but it would be extremely difficult.

Others also ask, “What year RAV4 has 3rd row seating” to which the answer is the ones that came in 2007. A 2012 RAV4 third row seat for sale may have the seats installed by a third party, which may be unsafe. Therefore, we strongly recommend you get a similar car with a third-row seat from the many Toyota SUVs or any car brand. However, make sure that the vehicle will meet all your needs before purchasing to avoid regret later on.

Why Did Toyota Produce 3rd Row Seats RAV4?

Toyota produced 3rd row seats RAV4 to cater to large families and to compete with other SUV brands that offered the same feature. The company gave the rationale behind adding 3rd-row seating to the Toyota RAV4 and it made sense at the time.

Here are a few reasons why the company produced middle seats:

– The 3rd Row Seats RAV4 Was to Cater To Large Families

The major reason the extra seats were introduced was to help seat family sizes of about 6 to 8 members. Having a large family comes with its added difficulties, including commuting to school, football games or even recitals. Thus, many families had to get an extra car, which came with extra costs including gas, insurance and repairs.

This put a strain on the pockets of larger families, not to mention the increased risk of road accidents. Therefore, many families were seeking vehicles that would help them travel safely and soundly without the additional cost of owning or renting an extra vehicle.

Toyota then introduced the 3rd row to the RAV4 and it seemed to help with the transportation needs of large families. Families who bought the 3rd row seats RAV4 did not have to worry about space as the car helped them with their commuting needs. Purchasing the vehicle also solved the problem of extra costs and helped to save some money for a rainy day. The RAV4 with 3rd row seats also allowed families to look “cool” in an SUV instead of a minivan.

– The 3rd-Row Seating Was to Compete With Other Brands

Since big families preferred more space without sacrificing their “coolness,” they went in for other SUVs that came with extra seats. Cars like the Lexus GX, Porsche Cayenne, Volvo XC70 and Genesis V80 were preferred as they came with extra seats to accommodate extra passengers. However, Toyota introduced 3rd row seats to its RAV in 2006 and it immediately took over the market with over 152,000 sales that same year. That was more than a 100 percent increase on the 70,000 Toyota RAV4s sold in 2007.

Compare that to the measly 10,000 sales managed by the 2006 Porsche Cayenne and you’ll appreciate it. The sales of the car then shot up with many people expressing interest in the Toyota SUV. However, by 2011, interest in the car began dwindling and sales went slightly down with 132,000 sold compared to the over 170,000 sold during the previous year. In 2012, Toyota quit producing the Toyota RAV4 3-row seats due to other reasons which will be explored in the following paragraphs.

Can You Install 3rd Row Seats on a Toyota RAV4?

Yes, you can install 3rd row seats on a Toyota RAV4, but it is not recommended due to safety concerns. According to the NHTSA, the aftermarket seats are not endorsed by the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards, thus they warned drivers to steer clear of purchasing them.

Some people wonder whether it’s possible to install another row of seats to the “normal” RAV4 model. This is usually termed as adding RAV4 third row seat aftermarket. Well, the answer is “yes” and “no”. Yes because you can install it and no because it is deemed unsafe to do so. 

The federal agency stated that the seats were made for children and were often advertised as “safe and approved for use.” We, therefore, advise compliance with the agency’s directives to avoid any unforeseen circumstances.

In addition, take note that installing another set of seats after purchase may come at a high cost as certain adjustments have to be made to accommodate the extra set of seats.

As mentioned earlier, aftermarket 3rd row seats are the seats that did not come with the RAV4 but were installed after purchase. These seats have been declared unsafe by the NHTSA, but here are a few reasons our experts think that you shouldn’t install them:

– The Seats May Not Be Properly Fixed

Car manufacturers stick to certain measurements which must be accurate to ensure both driver and vehicular safety. Altering these measurements could dent the integrity of the car and put the driver and car at risk. This is an important factor to note about installing your own 3rd row seats that are not certified by the car manufacturer.

The Seats May Not Be Properly Fixed

Thus, if a car is not originally designed for 3rd-row seating and its internal arrangements are altered to accommodate them, then there’s a high chance the seats won’t be properly fixed. This could be dangerous, especially for small kids who use these seats.

– The Seats May Not Fulfill Seatbelt Requirements for the RAV4

This is because the seats are not manufactured by Toyota but a third-party company that makes “general” 3rd-row seats for all SUVs. Thus, there’s a high chance that the seatbelt safety requirement for the Toyota RAV4 may not be adhered to, which could pose problems for passengers. Given the importance of seatbelts in vehicles, we recommend that you don’t compromise the safety of your passengers by adding another row of seats.

– The RAV4’s Suspension Is Not Made for 3rd-row Seats

The car’s suspension helps it to remain stable by absorbing energy from the tires, especially on a bumpy road and can be affected by weight. It also makes passengers comfortable and unaffected by uneven roads.

The RAV4’s Suspension Is Not Made for 3rd-row Seats

Therefore, if your vehicle is not made to accommodate weight beyond a certain limit, it is advisable to adhere to comply. Aside from that, the seats could be quite uncomfortable when you hit a bumpy road as compared to the original seats. This could pose a danger to the health of the passengers in the 3rd-row seats, or worse still, put their lives at risk.

What Are Other Toyota Alternatives to RAV4 That Come With 3rd-row Seats?

Other Toyota alternatives to RAV4 that come with 3rd row seats include the Toyota Sequoia, Toyota Highlander, and Toyota 4Runner, among others. Fortunately, this car company does have cars that can accommodate large families without sacrificing space, comfort and safety.

Toyota is generally known to be one of the most reliable car brands in the market, thus it is understandable why people would still want it to have vehicles that can carry large families. Because of this, Toyota still continues to offer these vehicles that can carry a lot more passengers than usual cars. Here are a few such vehicles:

Toyota Sequoia

The 2023 Sequoia comes with a 3-row seating that has enough headroom and legroom for all passengers. The new Sequoia has 7 or 8 seats, depending on what you prefer, and you can even opt for captain’s seats in place of the 2nd-row seats. Also, the 2nd row of seats can be flipped or folded to allow more legroom for passengers in the 3rd row seats. Another advantage is that seats in the 3rd row can move 6 inches forward or backward, allowing for more room.

The Sequoia has a cargo management system that allows drivers to properly arrange items in the cargo areas to make more space in the vehicle. The vehicle operates on a V8 engine that allows you to haul trailers for camping or boats to the seaside for a fun time. However, the downside is that you’ll spend more on fuel due to the size of the vehicle and the power of its engine. Other vehicles that compete with the Sequoia include Mazda CX-9, GMC Yukon and Ford Expedition.

Toyota Highlander

Though it is a little smaller than the Sequoia and bigger than the RAV4, the Toyota Highlander 3rd row 2022 is a crossover SUV that can seat up to 8 passengers. Its size means that though passengers in the 3rd row will get some room to stretch, it won’t be as comfortable as the Sequoia but better than the RAV4.

Toyota Highlander Detailed Review

The cargo compartment is smaller, which means the 3rd row seats may be sacrificed to accommodate huge or many loads. However, it is a better alternative to the RAV4 since its seats in the 3rd row are made by the company and suited to the vehicle.

– Toyota 4Runner

Currently, only 3 versions of the Toyota 4Runner have 3rd row seats and they are the SR5, SR5 Premium and the Limited. The 3rd row seats in the 4Runner mean that the space in the cargo area is significantly reduced.

However, that shouldn’t be a problem if you don’t have a lot of loads to pack into the vehicle. The 3rd row seats come with a headroom of 34.3 inches and a legroom of 29.3 inches.


So far, we’ve looked at the various reasons why Toyota made RAV4 with 3rd row seating but decided to discontinue them. Here is a recap of all that we’ve read so far:

  • Toyota started making 3rd row seats for the RAV4 because it wanted to cater to families with many children and also to compete with other brands.
  • This strategy helped boost the revenue of the car manufacturing giant as many people preferred the RAV4 to other competitors.
  • Unfortunately, the company had to cease making the RAV4 with third-row seats because interest in the vehicle was waning among the general public.
  • First, car buyers soon realized that the car could only fit small children and were very uncomfortable for older ones or adults.
  • However, Toyota has other vehicles that have third-row seats such as the Sequoia and 4Runner, which can seat between 7 and 8 people depending on your preference.

It is not advisable to purchase a new Toyota RAV4 and add a third-row seat to it as that may affect the vehicle’s performance and pose a danger to passengers. You can get a RAV4 with three rows of seating but it might be a tad difficult in the current market.

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