Ford Escape vs. Ford Explorer

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - October 18, 2019

The Ford Escape and Ford Explorer continue to be its two best-selling utility vehicles. Both offer all-wheel drive, utility, and an adventure-ready package. For 2020, both models were redesigned. We took a closer look to see which of the new generations is worth your attention.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Escape & Explorer »

What the Escape Gets Right

The Ford Escape’s biggest selling point over the Ford Explorer is price. While the Escape can be had for well under $30,000, the Explorer starts close to $40,000. Even upgrading to all-wheel drive is cheaper on the Escape – $1,500 vs. $2,000.

Buyers will save even more money at the pump. The base 1.5-liter engine manages an EPA-estimated 30 miles per gallon combined, which is better than even the Explorer’s hybrid powertrain, which gets 28 mpg combined. The Escape’s hybrid hasn’t been tested yet, but Ford expects that it'll exceed even the Toyota RAV4’s 39 mpg combined.

The Escape Hybrid is vastly cheaper than its older sibling, sliding in under $30,000, while the Explorer Hybrid breaks $50,000. Despite the price difference, the Escape also offers the same active safety technologies, similar feature availability, and a comfortable ride. There’s a plug-in hybrid on the way too.

What the Explorer Gets Right

The Ford Escape may win the efficiency battle, but the Ford Explorer wins on power. Three different powertrains are available, but none have less than 300 horsepower. An available 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 makes 365 hp and allows a towing capacity of 5,600 pounds. The Escape can’t come close to either number.

Another deal breaker for families may be the third row – the Explorer has one, the Escape doesn’t. Even with the third row folded, the Explorer’s capacious cabin gives more space to stretch out.

Predictably, the Explorer wins on cargo space too. With all the seats folded, the Explorer can hold up to 83.9 cubic feet of gear, against just 68.5 in the Escape. For families carrying lots of gear, the size may make a difference.

Despite being the bigger vehicle, the Explorer carries its size well. It rides nicely and handles well for a mid-size SUV.

How Much Is Size Worth?

The decision between these two vehicles comes down to whether the extra size is worth the cash. The Ford Explorer is much pricier, and it’ll cost more to fill the tank. But it’s the more capable vehicle of the two, especially for family-hauling duties. The spacious cabin and upgraded utility may be worth the price of entry for many buyers.

Our Verdict: Ford Explorer

Both of these vehicles fulfill their mission well, but the Ford Explorer does it better. It’s a well-rounded SUV that doesn’t compromise on either practicality or comfort.

The Ford Escape’s efficiency is tempting, however, and may be even more so with the upcoming plug-in hybrid. We wouldn’t blame eco-minded buyers for sticking with the smaller model.

Take a closer look at the Ford Escape »

Take a closer look at the Ford Explorer »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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