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2020 Dodge Durango vs Ford Explorer

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2020 Dodge Durango vs Ford Explorer

2020 Durango vs Explorer - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

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Three-row SUVs continue to be a popular choice for a variety of families. Two of the heavy hitters in this vehicle class are the Dodge Durango and the Ford Explorer. Both have been around for quite some time and have their own unique take on what a family SUV ought to be.

The Ford Explorer is one of the originals when it comes to this segment of the market. Fully redesigned for 2020, it continues to prove that it has the features drivers are after. It is returning to rear-wheel drive and offering more cargo and passenger space than ever before.

On the other hand, the Durango is made by the same brand that makes some of the most iconic muscle cars out there. Dodge uses the same ideas in their SUV, giving it a standard V6 as well as two V8 options. They also give it plenty of features that help make it appealing to families. However, this vehicle is still in its third generation, which debuted in 2011. No major changes have been made for the 2020 model.

Anyone in the market for a rugged three-row SUV should put both the 2020 Dodge Durango and the 2020 Ford Explorer at the top of their lists. To help buyers decide which is ultimately the better choice, the following guide will compare these two options in detail.

The Powertrain

Drivers get a great deal of power from the standard 3.6L V6 engine found underneath the hood of the 2020 Durango. It generates 295-horsepower along with 265 lb-ft of torque. For even more satisfying acceleration from this large vehicle, drivers can opt for the 5.7L V8. It produces 360-horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque.

Dodge doesn't stop there. The SRT model of the Durango gets a 6.4L V8 that pumps out 475-horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. This model also gets performance-enhancing upgrades such as a sport-tuned suspension and larger Brembo brakes. All three engines come with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

All versions of the Durango tow an impressive amount of weight. Properly equipped models with the V6 can bring along up to 6,200 pounds. The 5.7L V8 can tow up to 7,400 pounds and the mighty 6.4L option can tow up to 8,700 pounds.

Moving onto the 2020 Explorer, consumers will find a turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder engine comes standard. It makes an impressive 300-horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. The Limited Hybrid trim goes with a 3.3L V6 engine combined with an electric motor to make a combined 318-horsepower.

A turbocharged 3.0L V6 is also available for those who are looking for more muscle. When underneath the hood of the Platinum trim, it makes 365-horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. The performance-oriented ST trim also uses this engine but gets 400-horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque out of it instead. A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard for all Explorers.

Properly equipped models of the 2020 Explorer can tow up to 5,600 pounds. This is more than previous generations and beats many competitors in the midsize SUV segment of the market. Still, this number is nowhere near the maximum towing capacity of the 2020 Durango.

Both the Durango and the Explorer come standard with rear-wheel drive. Most models of the Explorer are eligible for four-wheel drive, with the top trims coming standard with this. The Durango is can be upgraded to all-wheel drive.

The Durango is not as fuel-efficient as the Explorer in 2020. With its standard engine, this three-row Dodge SUV gets 19mpg in the city and 26mpg on the highway. Going with all-wheel-drive reduces each number by one. Not surprisingly, the V8 options guzzle quite a bit of gas. The 5.7L option will get drivers 14mpg city and 22mpg highway, while the 6.4L engine goes all the way down to 13mpg city and 19mpg on the highway.

On the other hand, the 2020 Explorer offers great fuel economy numbers for its class. The standard engine is good for 21mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway. Once again, upgrading the drivetrain reduces each number by just one. The turbocharged V6 doesn't do quite as well, getting 18mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway.

Warranties are identical when looking at the 2020 Durango and the 2020 Explorer. Both get the standard three years or 36,000 miles basic along with five years or 60,000 miles for the powertrain. J.D. Power predicts that the Durango will be a bit more reliable, giving it four out of five stars compared to the Explorer's three out of five.


Both the Durango and the Explorer can seat up to seven people. When comparing head, shoulder, hip, and legroom in all three rows, the Explorer has more space in almost every category. One notable exception is the third-row legroom, however. The Durango offers over an inch more here. It also offers a couple more inches of hip room in that last row. Otherwise, passengers will find the Explorer to be more spacious.

The Durango offers an adequate amount of cargo space. Behind its third-row, drivers get 17.2 cubic feet. Folding down the third-row will mean getting 43.3 cubic feet. The maximum cargo capacity is 85.1 cubic feet. The front passenger seat of the Durango can fold flat, making this SUV very practical for hauling.

As nice as those numbers are, the Explorer actually does better. Behind its last row of seats, there are 18.2 cubic feet. With the third-row down there are 47.9 cubic feet and with the second-row down there are 87.8 cubic feet to work with. A power liftgate comes standard to help make life easier. There is also a cargo management system available that adds extra cargo bins as well as a reversible cargo mat.

Both of these SUVs offer up respectable infotainment systems. The standard screen size for the Durango is 7-inches, with an 8.4-inch option available as well. Models with the larger screen automatically get navigation as well. For the Explorer, an 8-inch touchscreen is standard and a 10.1-inch vertically oriented screen is available.

Standard across the board for both the 2020 Durango and the 2020 Explorer are both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It is worth noting that the newly redesigned Explorer has both a built-in WiFi hotspot and satellite radio. The Durango offers the satellite radio but not the WiFi.

Both options offer impressive audio upgrades. Upper trim levels of the Dodge Durango get either a nine-speaker system from Alpine or a 19-speaker setup from Harmon Kardon. The Explorer offers both a 12-speaker and a 14-speaker premium audio system from Bang & Olufsen.

The Durango is a hearty vehicle and it shows when driving it. On the plus side, it has the ability to absorb most bumps in the road. It also blocks out the majority of wind and road noise. On the negative side, the steering feels a bit slow and drivers will have to make do without a lot of feedback from the road.

As for the redesigned Ford Explorer, drivers will find it offers balanced handling. The steering is easier and the ride is comfortable overall. Ford's decision to go back to rear-wheel rather than front-wheel drive means the Explorer feels athletic and engaging to drive.

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Thorough safety testing is performed on new vehicles by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For the 2020 Durango, they awarded four out of five stars overall. The SUV got four stars in frontal crash testing and five in side crash testing. When it came to rollover tests, models with rear-wheel drive got four stars. The models with all-wheel drive got only three stars.

Families will want to know that the 2020 Ford Explorer managed to get five out of five stars in NHTSA testing. This is due to the fact that it got five stars in both frontal and side crash tests. As for rollover testing, the vehicle received four stars, regardless of the drivetrain.

Testing is also conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The 2020 Durango got a "Good" rating in four out of six categories. When it came to the driver's side small front overlap test and headlight testing, it got a slightly worrisome score of "Marginal."

The same tests were conducted on the 2020 Explorer. This vehicle also got a "Good" rating on the same four tests as the Durango did. As for the driver's side small front overlap and headlights, it got an "Acceptable" score.

Drivers wanting to stick with an entry-level trim will be disappointed in the Durango when it comes to advanced driver aids. The obligatory rearview camera is the only one to be found. Optional on every trim level is a blind-spot monitor as well as rear cross-traffic alert. From the GT trim and up, buyers can add a package that gives them adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

The Citadel trim level and up of the Durango gets automatic high beams. They also get rain-sensing windshield wipers. Select models also give drivers both front and rear parking sensors as an option.

Looking at the Explorer, drivers will find a much longer list of standard safety equipment. All trim levels have the Co-Pilot360 package, which means they get lane keep assist, a blind-spot monitor, automatic high beams, rear cross-traffic alert, post-collision braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. The rearview camera even comes with a handy lens washer.

Even more advanced driver aids are available for the Ford Explorer. Buyers can get adaptive cruise control featuring stop and go technology, for example. They can also get traffic sign recognition, evasive steering assist, a 360-degree camera system, and an active parallel and perpendicular park assist. None of those features can be found on the 2020 Durango.

Which Has the Best Value

The Durango can be had at a much lower price than the Explorer if buyers stick with the basics. For the entry-level model of the Durango, the price is around $30,500. This is significantly lower than the Explorer, which starts at around $36,700

On the flip side, buyers can spend a lot more on the Durango than the Explorer if they are interested in top trims. The top-of-the-line Explorer Platinum has a starting price of about $58,250. Those after a Durango SRT are looking at spending over $62,000.

Savvy consumers also look to see what a vehicle will cost to own in the foreseeable future. In order to determine which is a better value, let's compare the Explorer Limited with the Durango Citadel. The assumption is that these midrange vehicles have been driven approximately 15,000 miles a year for five years.

For the Ford Explorer Limited, buyers are looking at an initial price of around $51,000. Over the course of five years, the true cost to own is actually around $60,900. This means it costs nearly $10,000 in fuel, insurance, maintenance, etc.

As for the Dodge Durango Citadel, the initial price will be right around $47,700. By the time five years is up, drivers can expect to have spent around $53,500 in total. The difference here is closer to $6,000, which implies that the Durango will cost less as time goes on. Although it will cost over $1000 more in fuel, it is predicted to lose less value to depreciation over those five years.

Which is Better?

The 2020 Durango will appeal to anyone who wants a powerful SUV with room for the whole family. While the base model may be lacking in safety features, there are enough available to make this a good choice for a variety of drivers. Its initial price plus lower predicted cost of ownership is certainly appealing as well.

On the other hand, the 2020 Explorer is a modern SUV for the modern family. Drivers will appreciate fewer stops at the gas pumps and the long list of standard driver aids. Those who are after a family vehicle that will make everyone happy will likely find the Explorer worth its price.

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