I tested out the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, and Nissan Armada today.
The ford explorer seems to meet the basic requirements, plenty of room for gear and 3 car seats. Cons: I don't think the driver or rear seats are very comfortable and the driving characteristics were IMO worse than the highlander.
Pathfinder, does not have enough room for the rear facing child seat behind the driver seat. And limited room for gear with half the 3rd row folded down. So we skipped the test drive.
Tested this at the dealers recommendation. Armada, very big, lots of room for everything. I like the handling of it even compared to the "crossover style" cars we had been testing to this point. I have driven big trucks / SUVs for work (dodge ram 2500, Expedition, etc...) I like the handling of this better than those, by a fair margin. Cons: Poor gas mileage. The motorized folding seats are weird. Maybe too big for our real need.
The dealer called me back an hour after we left and let me know that the price for the Armada was really $37K, not $42K. So far it seems to be coming down to the Pilot or the Armada.