2020 Ford Edge vs Explorer
Looking for a new Ford this model year but not sure which of their SUVs might be the right fit for you? Then it is time that you take a deeper look at both the 2020 Ford Edge and the 2020 Ford Explorer. Both of these SUVs offer a ton of choices on how you want to configure your new ride. Multiple engine choices, different drivetrains, and numerous trim levels will leave you feeling like you basically crafted your very own vehicle.
Both vehicles have the awesome Sync infotainment system, which is truly one of the best there is on the market right now. Even the voice controls work exceptionally well. The infotainment system is a huge highlight for Ford, and it does give them something of a competitive edge. Plus, they throw a massive amount of standard tech features and driver aids at you. Bonus!
On the downside, you get some crazy price jumps on both when you move up the trim level ladders. And, given the prices, you should expect to see something bordering on a luxury SUV when you reach the top... but you won't. Both vehicles have interior designs that just look dull, old, and uninspired. That is definitely not something you should expect for the price you will pay on the higher trim levels.
But is one of these SUVs better than the other? Is the third-row Explorer going to be more convenient for you than the five-seater Edge? Or does the Edge have a better ride quality? These are all questions you might have going into it, and we are here to answer them. In this comparison review, we will go over the Edge's and Explorer's powertrains, drivability factors, and safety features and ratings before telling you which one we think has the most value and is the best buy.
Let us kick things off with discussing the different powertrain options you get on both the Explorer and the Edge. We will put the Explorer up first. The 2020 Ford Explorer has a standard 2.3-L 4-cylinder engine on the base, Limited, and XLT trims. It comes with the same 10-speed automatic transmission that is equipped on every trim level and musters up a cool 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive (RWD from here on out) comes standard while all-wheel drive (also known as AWD) is an option. There is a hybrid version of the Limited that has a hybrid powertrain and 3.3-L V6 engine that combine to generate 318 hp. The high-performance ST trim has a 3.0-L V6 engine that gets 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. With its sport-tuned suspension and Trailer Tow package, the ST ensures you a strong, capable ride. If you go for the line-topping Platinum trim level, you get the same powertrain but with less power output (365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque).
Now, on the 2020 Ford Edge, you get a standard 2.0-L turbocharged engine paired up with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This gets the Edge 250 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive (a.k.a., FWD) is standard while AWD is optional. The ST trim has a twin-turbo 2.7-L V6 engine with the 8-speed, getting it 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. AWD comes standard and is helped by a fantastic sport-tuned suspension and some seriously snappy steering. Then there is the brand-new ST Line trim, which adds 20-inch wheels and a cool black-painted exterior trim, but the power output is the same.
Drivability is not simply about how well a vehicle performs, but it also includes comfort, interior design, how well the technology functions, and how much utility is included in the vehicle's overall design. With that being said, let's see how these two Fords stack up.
When it comes to performance, the Explorer does a fantastic job of balancing out acceleration and handling capabilities. This vehicle is light while going through turns and is willing to make them. You will feel a ton of road grip from the wheels, and the vehicle handles a ton of power with a base engine that leads the pack. The turbo V6 is insanely powerful, of course, so if you crave extra power, consider making that upgrade. The 10-speed automatic transmission downshifts with ease, but it seems to search for gears during slow in-city driving.
The Edge is also quite capable. Its 2.0-L turbo engine could do better with acceleration (as it shows very diminished responses on the highway), but you will feel a good burst of power in the long-run. You can get from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds, and the brakes, handling, and steering all feel rather comfortable. The transmission does shift too much at times, and, with the gas pedal being slow to respond, you might find yourself needing to switch to Sport mode to get a good initial power thrust.
Comfort is kind of hit-and-miss with Fords. The Explorer has some well-shaped front seats, but you will want to skip the optional massaging function since the mechanisms feel really lumpy against your back when the feature is switched off. The second and third rows get progressively less cozy too. There are small road imperfections that will make their way into the cabin, which other SUVs smooth out more easily. There are also too many manual adjustments for the automatic climate control system, and the air vents fail to pump enough air out when set to lower temperatures. You also do not get a terribly quiet ride since the engine can be loud and wind noise enters in at modest highway speeds.
The Edge has well-shaped front seats with a lot of bolstering and soft leather on the higher trims. The rear seats, however, are flat and lack any real shape. The reclining seatbacks are a nice touch though.The suspension and body smooth out midsize bumps, but smaller ones make the vehicle bounce a bit. Still, the cabin remains quiet, being so well insulated against the engine, wind, and road noise. Dual-zone automatic climate control (which is now standard on all trim levels) works well but does let out some lightly audible clicks when the audio system is off.
The interior of the Explorer offers a ton of space up front. The driver can quickly adjust the seat and steering wheel to find the comfiest driving position, and the large glass windows and big mirrors mean outward visibility is superb. On the downside, the second row has subpar leg and knee room, and the third row will really only fit children who are out of their car seats. The rear door access is awkward too since space is so tight between the huge door map pockets and bulky wheel arches. Third row access is helped by a folding mechanism, but raising the row for passengers can only be done from the hatch area.
The Edge's interior design is spacious, and the primary controls seem intuitive enough. The secondary controls (especially for the climate control system) are not as great. You get wide door openings up front, but rear seat access is much tighter. The steering wheel and seat can be moved so that the driver can easily find a good driving position, for forward visibility is diminished by broad roof pillars.
On the tech front, Ford does pretty well. The Explorer has a standard 8-inch touchscreen, the epic Sync infotainment system, and standard smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Limited trim level adds built-in navigation and an impeccable-sounding Bang & Olufsen premium sound system. Skip the optional 10.1-inch vertical touchscreen though; it is way too narrow, so the rearview camera and smartphone app integration are not properly displayed.
The Edge has the Sync 3 infotainment system, and voice controls work exceptionally well on it. The 8-inch touchscreen does need more hard key shortcuts for features you will be often using, but the graphics are crystal clear and pinch-zoom is perfect for use during navigation. WiFi hot spot is also standard, and you get two USB ports up front, many 12-volt outlets, and an optional 110-volt household-style outlet for charging up your devices.
While tech is fun to have, utility is more of a necessity. The Explorer has a fairly generous cargo area but pales in comparison to a few top contenders. There are a lot of small item storage areas. The LATCH system is easy to use with latches in the second row. RWD is great with the Trailer Tow package, giving you easy access to a receiver hitch, 4- and 7-pin wiring, and full support for add-on electric trailer brake control. You also get tow-haul transmission mode and an enhanced blind spot monitoring system for the whole length of the trailer.
On the Edge, you get 39.2 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats upright, which is almost best-in-class. The rear seats are 60/40-split folding but do not fold down ll the way flat. There are plenty of LATCH anchors available, but rear-facing car seats will be a tight squeeze if a front seat occupant needs a lot of leg room.
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Safety is a huge concern when buying a vehicle, so you should know what kinds of features you will be getting and how National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (better known as NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (otherwise called IIHS) have rated a vehicle.
When it comes to features, the Explorer has standard automatic emergency braking, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams, and lane keep assist. The Limited trim adds lane centering and adaptive cruise control, both of which work fairly well, but the alerts tend to all sound alike. Also, lane centering might occasionally accuse you of taking your hands off the wheel when you didn't. The Edge has the same standard features, and the SEL gets evasive steering assist and adaptive cruise control. The Titanium gains automated parking.
NHTSA has rated both vehicles for the model year. The Explorer received 5 stars overall with a star lost on the rollover test. Complaints from customers include that the vehicle might not respond when pushing down on the accelerator, an abnormal sound at 20 mph leading toa leak in the transmission coolant lines, and the mid-row captain's chairs not being securely locked into place. NHTSA also rated the Edge 5 stars overall with 4 stars on the rollover test. There are no complaints or recalls on it yet.
IIHS gave the Explorer mostly "Good" ("G") marks, but it got an "Average" ("A") on the small overlap front driver side for a "Poor" ("P") score on the lower leg and foot area. The headlights and LATCH system also got "A" score. IIHS named the Edge a 2020 Top Safety Pick and gave it mostly "G" marks. The Titanium with the 301A package and ST with the 401A package received "A"s for the LED projector beam headlights giving some glare. The SE, SEL, Titanium, and ST got "P" scores for excessive glare from the LED projector beam headlights. The LATCH system also got an "A" since the anchors might be confused with other hardware.
Which Has the Best Value
So, which Ford has the best value? The Explorer's 2.3-L EcoBoost engine is supposed to get better fuel economy than its rivals (24 mpg combined) but really only gets about 21 mpg combined. You will also find a ton of hard plastics inside of it, which do not at all justify the price jumps between trim levels.
The Edge fares slightly better, as its 23 mpg combined EPA estimate holds out in real world testing. You do get a good base engine that competes well, along with a generous warranty and roadside assistance. The build quality does suffer, and this shows that Ford might still be going cheap on some of its parts. However, we do think that the Edge is the better deal because of its fuel economy and use of space.
Which is Better?
Overall, the Edge will likely appeal to more people. Many will find that the Explorer doesn't quite meet their needs, and that the mid-row captain's chairs make the vehicle far from worth buying. Skip the hassle and go straight for the 2020 Ford Edge. It might have less seating, but it comfortably carries five people plus a good amount of cargo.