The three-row crossover segment is one of the most competitive right now, and buyers have a lot of choice. The Ford Explorer is among the most popular in the segment -- it's an SUV that has found a place in millions of suburban driveways over the last two decades.
Does it hold up to a challenge from the Dodge Durango?
What the Ford Explorer Does Well
Ford's latest Explorer shares a platform with the full-size Taurus sedan, stretched to accommodate a standard third-row seat. The base 290-horsepower V6 is adequate, the new-for-2016 280-horsepower 2.3-liter Ecoboost four-cylinder is efficient and the 365-horse 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 is powerful.
Available features include inflatable rear seatbelts, the MyFord Touch system with voice activation for a number of controls, and active park assist that takes the drama out of parallel parking. What's more, all-wheel-drive models come with selectable modes, giving the Explorer more capability than most car-based SUVs.
What the Dodge Durango Does Well
The Dodge Durango comes from much more rugged lineage, being related to the very capable Jeep Grand Cherokee. It has superior towing ability than the Explorer, and offers a V8 engine that rivals full-size truck-based SUVs for pulling power. While it doesn't offer much in the way of fuel efficiency, the Durango delivers an interior that is arguably more luxurious, comfortable and user-friendly than the Explorer's.
While the Durango's range-topping V8 is no more powerful than the Explorer's EcoBoost V6, it does tow significantly more at 7,100 pounds.
Can the Explorer Resist the Durango?
What seals the deal for the Durango as the winner in this matchup is its well-rounded nature. V6 models are smooth, well-priced and come with seating for seven adults; V8 models, meanwhile, viably challenge luxury SUVs for buyers who need to tow boats or trailers. The Explorer has a hard time shaking its utilitarian roots and -- advanced electronics aside -- can't get away from the Durango off-road, either.
Our Verdict: Dodge Durango
While the Explorer may boast the modern electronics and the name recognition, the Durango bests it everywhere else -- making it a superior people and cargo hauler.