2017 Dodge Durango vs Ford Explorer

August 16th, 2017 by

The 2017 Dodge Durango and the Ford Explorer have more in common than just being full-size crossover rivals. In fact, they’re both models that used to be midsize SUVs but then grew into full-size offerings, and they were both originally built on ladder-frame platforms before moving to a modern unibody design. They’ve both also been in production for almost the same amount of time, so let’s see which has matured into the better buy.

2017 Dodge Durango vs Ford Explorer


Despite so many similarities, these two vehicles look very different from each other. The Durango hasn’t gone entirely contemporary crossover on us over the years, so it still has a strong element of SUV styling that plenty of people will appreciate. It’s a good balance between tidy crossover and imposing truck-like sheet metal, without going too far in either direction.

The Explorer is very much in line with the Edge in terms of its styling. You’ll get plenty of clean edges and sharp corners, while the grille and cladding add some contrasting textures. It’s a more modern look than the Durango, but it is a little derivative so the Durango gets the vote for its relative originality in this segment.

Interior Comfort

You’ll find a decent amount of room inside the 2017 Dodge Durango, and all the seats are good for adults–even the third-row as long as the journey isn’t too long. The second row can be specified as a bench or as a pair of captain’s chairs based on your preferences. The last time the interior was updated, the dash was pushed back for more space and the materials and trim were thoroughly upgraded, making the Durango a very impressive interior.

There’s even more room inside the Explorer than in the Dodge, including a useful 21 cu.-ft. of space behind the third row when the seats are up and in use. Ford has done away with the fiddly touch-sensitive buttons the Explorer used to have and replaced them with real ones, and all models except the entry level have acoustic glass to reduce noise. We like the updates on both models, but give the narrow edge to the roomy Durango with its upgraded accents and trims.

Fuel Economy

We might not be as concerned as we used to be about fuel economy, but it still matters when you’re driving something as big and heavy as these two are. The EPA rates the Durango with rear-wheel drive and the V-6 at 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg, while all-wheel drive drops those numbers to 18/25/21 mpg.

Front-wheel drive versions of the Explorer with the 2.3-liter inline-four are the most economical model with ratings of 19 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined, while all-wheel drive changes that to 18/25/21 mpg. This is perhaps a surprising win for the V-6 Dodge over the four-cylinder Explorer then.


Although the size and bulk of the Durango could lead you to expect good safety ratings, the Dodge isn’t the best in its class in this area. It gets a four-star rating from the NHTSA, and despite a number of good test results it hasn’t yet achieved Top Safety Pick status from the IIHS.

In federal NHTSA testing, the Explorer gets almost perfect scores, but it’s a similar story to the Durango when it comes to the IIHS. But if you look beyond the crash test results, the Explorer offers excellent visibility, and blind spot monitoring is available to solve the one visibility problem caused by the chunky rear pillars. This is a victory for the Ford Explorer then, although it is a narrow one.

Learn More about the Dodge Durango

Both the Durango and the Explorer are comparable SUVs in terms of quality, but you’ll find a lot of difference between them in how they package and deliver it. But the 2017 Dodge Durango has more character than the Ford Explorer, with a more budget-friendly price tag, along with the roomy interior that any SUV buyer wants. Overall, the Durango is the better pick.

Posted in Dodge Comparison