Ford was the leading car brand by vehicle sales volume in 2020, and much of that success can be attributed to their vast range of SUVs.
Within their range of SUVs, the Edge and Explorer are two particularly popular models whose base models are basically the same price.
The larger, 7-seater Ford Explorer had a complete transformation in 2020, while the Ford Edge had a facelift in 2019. As a result, both SUVs are attractive purchases right now, but which one should you pick?
With its extended rear end, the Ford Explorer is substantially longer and capable of seating 7 passengers. The Explorer also feels more fresh because it entered its all-new sixth generation in 2020. While we think the Explorer is the better buy right now, the Ford Edge is more agile and fun to drive.
When comparing the price of these two vehicles, there really isn’t much separating the two. The base model Edge SE starts at $32,750, with all subsequent upgrades coming under $40k. The Edge houses a 2.0L turbo inline-4 gas engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Explorer will set you back $32,925 for its base model. Not to be outdone by its smaller cousin, the larger Explorer has a 2.3L Turbo inline-4 gas engine with a 10 speed automatic transmission. The Explorer can be had in several trims, with the range-topping Explorer Platinum costing $52,730 before any extra packages and destination charges.
For quite a small jump in price the Explorer takes an early lead offering more space, size and power from the onset.
Both the Explorer and Edge sport an inoffensive design you can expect from a Ford SUV. The Edge maintains a familiar look whilst still in keeping with the new wave of Ford’s design.
The all-new Explorer however, is bolder in its superb design. Hard long edges disguise the bulk of the mid-size crossover nicely and give it the look and feel of a more luxurious make. Both the front and rear are also designed to make the SUV stand out in an understated way.
Stepping inside the Edge you get a varied experience. It feels like an updated, minimalist version of a fading aesthetic. The buttons aren’t chunky, giving the interior an uncluttered feel, although it still resembles the interior of cars gone by. An update on a classic, rather than the next generation feel of the Explorer.
Again the Explorer’s excellent design is on show. With an interior that is both sleek and luxurious it has the feel of a higher end model. The large display offers control with a digital touch, complemented by just a few buttons to add to a minimalist trend showing up across Ford’s vehicles.
Again, the larger Explorer pulls in front. With the larger engine, the Explorer generates 300 horsepower and 310lb-ft of torque. Combined with its 10 speed transmission, the Explorer offers a balance of power and control that impresses. Plus, the Explorer has a maximum towing capacity of 5300lbs to add to its versatility.
Keep in mind the $20,000 price difference between bottom and top-end trims of the Explorer mean you can get much better performance if you increase your budget. You also have to remember that the base, XLT and Limited trims are offered as rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
The Edge is impressive in its own right. Producing 250 horsepower, the Edge offers brisk acceleration and power to match. Generating 275lb-ft of torque, it also offers a maximum 1500lbs towing capacity.
It isn’t difficult to make a case for either vehicle in this category with both offering plenty of space for multiple passengers. The 5 seater Edge allows for 39.2 cubic feet of space with the seats up, expanding to 73.4 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. Being a mid-size, there is plenty of room throughout for big and small passengers making it an excellent choice for small families.
Unsurprisingly, the 7 seat Explorer has more space throughout. With all seats up, you’ll have 18 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding down the third row will allow for 47.9 cubic feet but should you require more, fold down the second row of rear seats for a staggering 80 cubic feet of room. The Explorer is higher off the ground however, making it slightly harder to load than the Edge.
Technology and Features
The Edge and the Explorer offer an impressive range of features as standard. Both feature the SYNC 3 infotainment system as well impressive connectivity including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, USB ports, dual-zone automatic climate control, and wi-fi hotspot to keep everything connected.
Whilst the Edge offers an 8 inch screen, the Explorers 10 inch screen is more akin to those found in other high end makes. The Explorer also features Active Park Assist which helps with all steering, shifting, brake, and accelerator controls whilst parking – all with the touch of a button.
With the exception of the Ford Edge ST, all Edge trim share the same Twin-scroll 2.0L EcoBoost® I-4 turbocharged, direct-injection engine. This gets you 21mpg in the city and 27mpg on the highway. The performance-oriented Edge ST boasts a bigger 2.7L V6, which gets you 19mpg in the city and 26mpg on the highway.
Surprisingly, the base model Explorer with its 2.3L I-4 EcoBoost base engine gets the best fuel economy of all, with 27 mpg on the city and 29mpg on the highway.
But in reality very few buyers will settle for the underpowered base trim, and instead opt for any of the other trims which give you the 3.0L V6. This engine gets 18mpg (city) and 25mpg (hwy).
Unlike the Edge, the Explorer is offered as a hybrid with a 3.3L engine. This has a fuel economy of 21/28mpg city/hwy.
The 2020 Edge and the 2021 Explorer are on par in regard to safety. Each have earned a 5/5-star rating for overall safety from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), with each also scoring five stars in the side and frontal crash tests and four stars in the roll over test respectively.
Both vehicles are also equipped with Ford’s Co-Pilot360 tech suite as standard, including the following safety features; a rear-view camera, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, driver drowsiness monitoring, lane keep assist, curve control, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and Ford’s MyKey program. This is a program that gives you the flexibility to set speed and audio limits for secondary drivers who may share the vehicle.
Reviewing the vehicles side by side, the Explorer is the clear front runner. It’s design, features and power make it an excellent value for money purchase, offering both versatility and style.
However, should you only require seating for 5, the Edge is still an excellent choice. It’s more nimble and easier to park, and though its base model is priced close to the base Explorer, it costs less when you want to add more premium features.