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2015 Ford Explorer vs. 2015 Ford Edge: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro July 2015

If you're interested in a new family crossover or SUV, you may have discovered that Ford offers two: the 2015 Ford Explorer and the 2015 Ford Edge. Both are excellent SUVs and both offer a wide range of family-friendly features at reasonable prices. But what exactly is the difference between the Edge and the Explorer? And which one should you get? We've created a close comparison that details exactly that, teaching you more about the two crossovers to help you decide which one is best for you.

Exterior

From the outside, it's immediately clear that the Edge and Explorer are related, but it's also just as clear that these are two distinct crossovers with different styling and sizing. As for styling, there are some major changes that distinguish the two SUVs, such as the Explorer's larger grille, the Edge's more unique taillight setup, and a rear window design that includes a pronounced C-pillar in the Explorer. When the two crossovers are parked right next to one another, the Explorer also looks much bigger than its Edge cousin, which it is: The Explorer comes in at 197.1 inches long, compared to the Edge's more manageable 188.1 inches.

Interior

Despite major stylistic differences on the outside, the Edge and Explorer are surprisingly similar on the inside. Interior styling is nearly the same, and both SUVs share a lot of materials, including the center control stack, the steering wheel and the large center display screen. For front passengers, the only real differences relate to the vent shape of the climate-control system and roominess, as the Explorer has slightly more space. In back, however, there's a major difference between the Edge and the Explorer: The Edge only has two rows of seats, for a total capacity of five passengers, while the Explorer touts three rows and a 7-passenger seating capacity. That can be a big deal for drivers who need a third row, and it can be just as important for those who want a new SUV without the bulk of 3-row seating.

Mechanicals

The Explorer and Edge offer roughly the same powertrain options, but not in the same manner. For instance, while the Edge comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 245 horsepower and returns up to 20 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, that engine is an extra-cost option in the Explorer, where it's billed as the "fuel-saving" choice at 20 mpg city and 28 mpg hwy. The Explorer, meanwhile, comes standard with a 290-hp 3.5-liter V6 that's capable of up to 17 mpg city and 24 mpg hwy, and that engine is optional in the Edge, where it returns up to 18 mpg city and 26 mpg hwy.

Lastly, both crossovers tout a high-performance version that's dubbed the Sport. The Edge Sport uses a 315-hp turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 that's capable of up to 18 mpg city and 27 mpg hwy, while the Explorer Sport boasts an impressive 365-hp turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that returns up to 16 mpg city and 22 mpg hwy.

While all these numbers can be confusing, the general idea is the same: Both the Edge and the Explorer offer a 4-cylinder, a V6 and a high-performance Sport trim, and each time, the Edge beats the Explorer in fuel economy ratings by a few mpg.

Features & Technology

By virtue of being two recently redesigned crossovers from the same automaker, the Edge and Explorer stand essentially identical when it comes to features and technology. That's a good thing for technophiles, as these two crossovers seemingly have it all: high-tech safety features such as forward-collision alert, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control, along with modern convenience and comfort features such as ventilated seats, an automated parking system, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof and a rear DVD entertainment system. In our opinion, these are two of the most technologically advanced crossovers on the market, and we think most gadget lovers would be happy with either one.

Driving Experience

Behind the wheel, both crossovers offer a comfortable, solid feeling and secure handling. But the Edge seems a little lighter on its feet than the Explorer, which makes sense given the size differences between the two crossovers. More specifically, the Edge seems to go around corners with a bit more verve -- and its engines offer a little more pep than the Explorer's. The exception is the Edge Sport, which is quick but is no match for the speedy Explorer Sport. The crossovers also offer slight differences in visibility (where we prefer the Explorer with its larger windows) and low-speed maneuverability (where we think the Edge has the advantage). Otherwise, drivers familiar with one of these Ford SUVs will have no trouble assimilating behind the wheel of the other.

Safety

In federal government crash-testing carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the 2015 Ford Edge and the 2015 Ford Explorer earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. Although the Edge has not yet been tested by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Explorer earned only average scores thanks to a troubling marginal rating in the firm's challenging small-overlap front crash test.

As for safety equipment, both crossovers seem to have it all. Standard features include front-side airbags, front-knee airbags, side-curtain airbags and Ford's Curve Control stability control enhancement, while the safety options list is truly impressive and includes features such as lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, forward-collision alert, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and inflatable seat belts.

Interestingly, a backup camera is standard on the Edge but optional on the Explorer, which is something that Ford is changing for the 2016 Explorer.

Conclusions

Although some crossovers differ dramatically even when they're in the same family, that's not true for the Edge and the Explorer. Both offer everything most shoppers are looking for: reasonable pricing, a comfortable ride, lots of equipment, a wide array of safety features and several excellent engine choices. If you're deciding between the Edge and the Explorer, you won't have to give up much by choosing one over the other. Simply make your decision based on the size you want, and then pick the corresponding Ford crossover. We highly recommend both SUVs.

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Used 2015 Ford Explorer
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Used 2015 Ford Explorer 4WD XLT
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Ford Explorer vs. 2015 Ford Edge: What's the Difference? - Autotrader