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2019 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Dodge Durango: Which Is Better?

  • The 2019 Ford Explorer and the Dodge Durango both offer room for seven passengers.

  • The Dodge Durango is available in a potent, performance-oriented SRT guise.

  • Both vehicles are due for a redesign.

Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2019 Ford Explorer review, and the 2019 Dodge Durango review.

Two of the longest running 3-row SUVs on the market are the 2019 Dodge Durango and the 2019 Ford Explorer. Despite the fact that both are a bit long in the tooth, they’ve managed to remain competitive thanks to a few updates over the years. If you’re on the hunt for a 3-row crossover, it’s likely that you’ve considered one or both of these, so below we’ll compare the two to determine which is the better buy in 2019.

2019 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Dodge Durango

Background

With its 2011 redesign, the Explorer went away from a body-on-frame, rear-wheel-drive platform for the first time, adopting a front-wheel-drive, unibody platform, which allowed for it to better compete in its segment thanks to improved driving dynamics and more competitive fuel economy. Now entering its ninth model year since its last major redesign, a number of updates over the years have helped the Explorer to stay competitive, and compelling Platinum and Sport models now sit at the top of the model range. See the 2019 Ford Explorer models for sale near you

Also last fully redesigned for 2011, the Durango rides on a RWD unibody platform shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. In fact, you might even consider the Durango to be like a 7-passenger Grand Cherokee, or the Grand Cherokee to be a smaller, 5-passenger Durango. The Durango offers muscle-car aesthetics through the availability of aggressive-looking GT and R/T trim levels, along with the SRT model, which offers bona fide sports car performance, at least when it comes to straight line acceleration. When it comes down to it, the Durango offers a lot of compelling options for anyone looking family transportation with some style. See the 2019 Dodge Durango models for sale near you

2019 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Dodge Durango powertrain

Powertrain

2019 Ford Explorer buyers have three different engine options to choose from. Lower trim level Base and XLT models come with a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 290 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. FWD Explorers equipped with this engine earn 20 miles per gallon in combined driving, while opting for all-wheel drive nets 18 mpg overall. Limited models get a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 280 hp and 310 lb-ft. FWD Limited models earn 22 mpg combined, while the AWD Explorer Limited trim earns 20 mpg combined. Sport and Platinum models come with Ford’s potent 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, which makes 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque and returns 19 mpg with standard AWD.

Durango buyers have three engines to choose from as well. Chrysler’s 3.6-liter "Pentastar" V6 is the most common engine, making 290 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Regardless of whether they’re equipped with RWD or AWD, Pentastar Durangos earn 21 mpg in combined driving. A 5.7-liter V8 is optional on most trim levels and is standard on R/T models. The HEMI V8 makes 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. With the 5.7-liter V8, the Durango earns 17 mpg combined. The top-of-the-line, high-performance Durango SRT makes use of a 6.4-liter V8 making 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, making the Durango SRT the most potent vehicle in the segment. The Durango SRT comes standard with AWD and earns 15 mpg combined.

2019 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Dodge Durango interior

Dimensions and Space

In terms of exterior dimensions, the Explorer is 198.3 inches long, 78.9 inches wide and 70.0 inches tall, while the Durango is 201.2 inches long, 75.8 inches wide and 70.9 inches tall. The Ford Explorer is slightly shorter, but also wider than the Durango. Ground clearance is about the same for both vehicles, with the Explorer offering 7.8 inches and the Durango offering 8.1 inches.

On the inside, the Explorer has 41.4 inches of headroom and 42.9 inches of front seat legroom. In its second row, the Explorer offers 40.6 inches of headroom and 39.5 inches of legroom. Third row passengers in the Explorer are offered 37.8 inches of headroom and 31.1 inches of legroom.

The Durango offers front seat passengers 39.9 inches of headroom and 40.3 inches of legroom. Second row Durango passengers get 39.8 inches of headroom and 38.6 inches of legroom, while third row occupants get 37.8 inches and 31.5 inches.

While their interior dimensions are similar, the Explorer makes better use of its space.

In terms of cargo space, the Explorer offers 21 cu ft. behind its third row, 44 cu ft. with the third row folded, and 81 cu ft. with both the second and third rows folded. The Durango offers slightly more room. While it only offers 17 cu ft. behind the third row, space expands to 48 cu ft. with the third row folded and 85 cu ft. with the second and third rows folded down.

2019 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Dodge Durango infotainment

Infotainment

Both the Explorer and the Durango offer competent infotainment setups on par with what buyers should expect from a new vehicle on sale in 2019. Either can be had with a large touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, along with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi capability. The Explorer offers four 12 volt outlets, while the Durango offers three. Both vehicles also come with three USB ports.

2019 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Dodge Durango features

Features

Available on the Explorer are such features as a terrain management system, a dual panel moonroof, power adjustable pedals along with a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated, ventilated, and massaging power front seats with a memory driver’s seat, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a power folding third row, a foot-activated power tailgate and a Bose premium audio system.

Sport and Platinum models both offer the potent 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6. Sport models focus on, well, sporty interior and exterior features, while the Platinum focuses on luxury, offering high-end appointments like quilted leather seats.

The Durango offers most of the same features as the Explorer, although it lacks massaging seats and power adjustable pedals, and is only available with a traditional sunroof of the non-panoramic variety. The Durango’s premium audio system is Beats-branded.

While the Explorer Sport and the Platinum take around 5.8 seconds to go from 0-to-60 miles per hour, the fastest Durango, the SRT model, achieves this feat in a blistering 4.4 seconds.

2019 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Dodge Durango safety

Safety

Neither the Explorer nor the Durango performs at the top of its class when it comes to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Crash Testing, likely indicative of their aging platforms. This is most clearly evident in their performance in the new small front overlap test, where both earn cringe-worthy scores of ‘Marginal.’

When it comes to driver-assistance safety features, both vehicles offer just about everything a driver could want and expect, although the Explorer lacks automated emergency braking, while the Durango goes above and beyond in this regard, offering this system in both the front and rear.

Neither of these vehicles offers these safety features as standard. Combine that with their lackluster crash test performance and it becomes clear that there are safer 3-row crossovers out there than either of these two.

Reliability

While competitors like the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander have great reputations for reliability, according to JD Power brand studies, buyers should expect only average reliability from the Explorer and below average reliability from the Durango. Both Ford and Dodge offer 3-year/36,000-mile basic and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranties, on par with most other automakers.

Autotrader’s Advice

Heading into the 2019 model year, neither of these vehicles is a leader in the 3-row crossover segment. Since either one was last redesigned, most of the competition, including General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen and more, have introduced all new versions of their respective family haulers, leaving the Explorer and the Durango feeling pretty old. The Explorer is due to be all-new for the 2020 model year, while a new 7-passenger crossover from Fiat-Chrysler is expected to be introduced in short order as well. Still, manufacturer and dealer incentives can make even an antiquated SUV a compelling purchase, and when it comes down to these two, the Explorer offers more efficiency and better reliability and resale value, while the Durango offers more style and performance. That said, we recommend testing out alternatives like the Honda Pilot, the GMC Acadia and the Volkswagen Atlas before making your decision. Find a Ford Explorer for sale near you or Find a Dodge Durango for sale near you

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