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Should I Get Two Captain’s Chairs or Bench Seats in an SUV? Pros and Cons of Each

Captain's Chairs with foldable table

Only a handful of SUVs offer captain’s chairs in the second-row position. A bench seat in an SUV provides extra seating and a vast space to carry items. However, captain’s chairs give your passengers a commanding view and their room with personal armrests.

This seating position is the most comfortable if your trips take you on extended forays. When you add the ability to recline and controls to adjust these features, well, the ride gets so much better. Whether traveling around town or across the country, I have never been one that liked riding in the second seat, unless it is that of a luxury car or van with captain’s chairs.

This is especially so if you get stuck in the middle. Have you ever sat in the middle of the backseat of an SUV or other vehicle? I am always glad when the trip ends, and I can get out and breathe.

An SUV equipped with captain’s chairs moves the ride of your passengers into the realm of luxury. In addition, they make access to the third-row seat easier for passengers going to the back and those in the second row.

The Benefits of a Bench Seat in an SUV as Opposed to Captain’s Chairs

Gray Bench Seats

The most significant advantage of a bench seat in an SUV is the passenger room. Whether you are transporting four people or seven, adding seating is often beneficial. A bench seat is easy to strap a baby seat in with space for another passenger to ride beside them.

Of course, such a benefit may not suit all of us. However, child safety is a big concern for parents, and a car that easily accommodates their children is essential. Growing and extended families require an SUV that has a capacity of seven or eight people.

The bench and third-row seating or an SUV works perfectly for them and their needs. However, for a lone traveler or retired couple whose needs are different, a bench seat may not be the most suitable configuration for their SUV. Although not infinitely variable, the bench seats in today’s SUVs offer many different configurations.

For example, you can leave one down for easy access to the third-row seat or fold the entire second and third-row seats for extra carrying capacity. Even SUVs with Captain’s Chairs offer seats that fold flat, so you gain the comfort of individual seats for second-row passengers without losing the storage capacity of an SUV with a flat floor.

The Benefits of Two Captain’s Chairs Instead of a Bench Seat in an SUV

Comfort and access are the two most obvious reasons for captain’s chairs in an SUV over a second-row bench seat. If you do not need to transport seven, eight, or nine people, why buy a vehicle configured in such a manner? Unless it is space that you want later or for another purpose.

Taking the bench seat from the second row and replacing it with a captain’s chair offers your passengers comfort. Having a personal seat that reclines, is adjustable, and has its own set of armrests is the only way to travel. Yay! The rear passengers will have easier access to the third-row seat with the captain’s chair.

Getting into the third-row seat of many SUVs can be quite a feat, and getting out an even greater one. The center opening between captain’s chairs offers more accessible access to this tight space than a bench seat. The captain’s chairs in today’s SUVs will cradle your passengers as you traverse miles of road for hours at a time.

So naturally, a captain’s chair is more comfortable if you take a long trip in your SUV. However, it is the more comfortable option if you do not need a bench seat space.

Do You Use Your SUV to Haul a Couple or a Crowd?

How you use your SUV can determine whether you need one with a second-row bench seat or one with a captain’s chair. If your main goal is to shuttle family members, then an SUV with a bench seat may be the best purchase for you. Younger people have no trouble accessing the third-row seat of an SUV, so that is not an issue.

In addition, the way today’s second seats are configured, making space for rear passengers to load and unload only takes a couple of moves, and the second seat is out of the way. However, suppose the only passengers in your SUV are you and a partner or friend. In that case, captain’s chairs will offer the perfect perch for the occasional travelers that join you.

For smaller families who travel a bit, an SUV with a captain’s chair will make the ride more comfortable for everyone. That is unless you are stuck in that third seat. But then, I hope you do not have to share it.