Hot-rod Euro SUVs are abundant fun and all, but what if you’re attractive for three rows and to absorb about bisected the boilerplate abject amount of, say, the super-utes in this contempo allegory test? You can aphorism out abate two-row European SUVs such as the Audi SQ5, BMW X3 M, or Mercedes-AMG GLC SUV. And amid three-row options, Audi’s SQ7 starts at $85,795, BMW’s X7 M50i commands $100,595, and the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 absolutely won’t be cheaper than the approachable model, which stickered for $126,150. So you’ll be defective to buy American. May we advance one of these two Yankee high-po utes, the Dodge Durango 4 SRT 392 or the Ford Explorer ST?
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You should apperceive that a Ford Explorer ST with all the boxes ticked aloof acme $65,000 (from a abject of $55,985), and the Durango 4 SRT 392 starts at $64,490 and can top out at added than $80K with agog box-ticking. So their prices almost overlap—until the acceptable rebates and incentives on the crumbling Durango bang in, abnormally now that all eyes are on its badly able new Hellcat sibling. It’s additionally account advertence actuality that the new-for-2020 sixth-generation Explorer is hardly below in length, height, and wheelbase but beyond central in every ambit but third-row hip allowance than the third-gen Durango, which entered assembly in 2010. Let’s see how these two hot-rod Yankee-doodle three-row SUVs compare.
The V-8 Dodge weighs 642 pounds added than the Ford, which agency that although it enjoys 75-hp and 55-lb-ft advantages in agent output, the accountability anniversary of its horses carries is alone 0.6 batter less. Furthermore, Ford’s twin-turbo V-6 gets the added advantage of two added automated manual ratios. We accordingly accepted the two to run a abutting race, but the Durango jumped out to a 0.3-second advance at 30 mph, and the gap alone widened from there, catastrophe up at 1.7 abnormal by 100 mph. The 60-mph mark flashed by in 4.6 abnormal for the Dodge, 5.3 for the Ford, with the division mile falling in 13.2 abnormal at 103.5 mph for the Durango and 13.9 abnormal at 99.9 mph for the Explorer.
Relative to their abject variants, the Ford runs a solid 1.5 abnormal quicker to 60 mph than an Explorer XLT with the 2.3-liter turbo-four, and the Dodge is absolutely 3.0 abnormal advanced of its abject V-6 counterpart. The Durango SRT accurately hangs with analogously priced abate achievement SUVs such as the (5.0 seconds) and Mercedes-AMG (4.7 seconds). BMW’s $93,595 three-row X7 xDrive 50i with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 additionally needs 4.7 abnormal to hit 60 mph. Of course, the Dodge is still active a additional abaft our estimated backpack boilerplate for this year’s super-ute showdown.
Both cartage administer to accomplish active agent notes. That’s no baby accomplishment for the Explorer, with aloof three cylinders shouting through a turbocharger on anniversary bank. But somehow the Ford manages to arm-twist a rowdy, naughty, choked chase car vibe in the Action drive mode. Dodge’s 392 sings a accustomed beef car tune, alternate by those fun snorts and ancestor that appear aback you lift off the burke and the injectors accelerate a few surplus drops of ammunition through aloof for the audition fun of it. The lighter Explorer never does this, which may accord in a tiny way to its 5-mpg advantage in anniversary EPA measure. Ford’s 10-speed automated deserves a appropriate shoutout for its aberrant Action access tuning. It anxiously holds lower apparatus whenever you punch up some g endless in a curve, and it is lighting quick to downshift aback you alarm for abounding giddyup. It additionally helps that there are two added ratios to assignment with.
So abundant for the going, what about the whoaing? The Durango stomps the Explorer in the anchor department. The 60-0-mph stats are close—110 anxiety for Dodge, 114 for Ford. What’s not abutting is how they feel. The Dodge/SRT assemblage fits able Brembo monobloc calipers all around, boasting six pistons in advanced and four in back. Ford sticks with an inherently below adamant animate sliding-caliper architecture ahead and aft, accretion them and painting them red with the alternative ST Street amalgamation ($995) and abacus high-performance pads for addition $600 on the ST High-Performance package. Our analysis and photo cartage alone had the former, but both Detroit Editor Alisa Priddle and I begin the ST’s brakes to be disconcertingly grabby. They chaw adamantine at the top of the pedal and afresh crave added accentuation than Dodge’s added beeline Brembos. We both acquainted greater aplomb bombing into a bound bend in the Dodge than in the Ford, which is counterintuitive aback you accede the Durango’s 642-pound weight disadvantage.
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Ride and Administration
The Dodge’s agent is way added able than the Ford’s, its brakes are added serious, and abiding enough, its tires are grippier and its anatomy feels bigger damped and added responsive. Actuality again, it was appetizing to brainstorm the heftier Dodge ability be a straight-line demon and a bit of a palooka on the figure-eight or a arced road, but in a word: nope. Or as Priddle put it, “Durango may be congenital like a linebacker, but it’s as ablaze on its anxiety as a dancer. Explorer looks added like a aesthetic ballerina but is in actuality clumsier on its feet.”
On the figure-eight, the beastly Durango lays bottomward a 25.5-second lap with an boilerplate g-vector of 0.75, while the lighter Explorer ST trailed at 26.4 abnormal and 0.72 g. The aiguille crabbed g challenge was additionally won by Dodge, at 0.89 against 0.85. Substantial acclaim charge go to Dodge’s “we apperceive nobody’s demography this affair off-road, so aloof put summer tires on it” thinking, which gives us Pirelli P Zero run-flats. Meanwhile, the Michelin Latitude Action 3 tires on the Explorer we activated accomplish greater concessions to bargain rolling attrition (remember those abundant EPA numbers?) and bigger wet traction, and the Pirelli Scorpion Zeros adapted to the ST archetypal we collection in Michigan is added tailored against all-season running. There’s additionally a aberration in footprint, with the added Dodge cutting 295/45R20s to the Explorer’s hardly narrower 275/45R21s.
“I acquainted an burning aplomb in the Durango that I did not feel in the Explorer,” Priddle said. “It has an absorbing aggregate of animation and ability that the Explorer didn’t, whether assuming a lane change or administration the curves on the drive route.” That’s impressive, accustomed the weight aberration in a barter with almost the aforementioned footprint. I managed to beat the banned of adherence in the Explorer in the tightest turns at speeds that would not contrarily accept had a commuter clawing for a grab handle.
The accomplished Durango active acquaintance is far added customizable than the Explorer’s. Your best of active modes includes Track, Sport, Custom, Auto, Snow, and Tow. Go for Custom and set the council toStreet; Action and Track aloof accomplish it feel gluey. Beware the Track abeyance mode—you feel every bedrock and dimple. The ride is hardly below acute in sport, but Priddle and I both begin ourselves extensive for the Auto access as anon as our adrenaline subsided.
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The Explorer’s Action access primarily impacts agent and manual calibration. Ride affection is adequately commensurable amid the Explorer’s and the Durango’s Auto abeyance modes. Both trucks ride firmer than their abject ancestors (or the Durango R/T archetypal we abiding tested), but neither ride feels backbreaking until you close up the Dodge.
Adding to the fun in the SRT are countless displays and screens acquisitive to characterize all sorts of air-conditioned information, such as g-force circles, tallies of max crabbed and longitudinal g’s for a accurate run, ability and torque meters and history graphs, and dragstrip achievement stats—you know, the affectionate of being that no amenable disciplinarian has any business casual bottomward to attending at in the average of the blazon of action that absolutely makes those displays interesting. Maybe they’re for the account of dupe passengers?
By contrast, the Ford’s drive modes accommodate Tow/Haul, Sport, Eco, Normal, Slippery, Trail, and Deep Snow/Sand. The Explorer’s alone fun screens portray off-road advice such as alone caster torque administration and angle and cycle angles, as if to absolve the best of those hardly added all-season-oriented tires.
So the Durango calmly wins this class and can almost adhere with analogously priced Euro hot-utes like the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 (0.91 g, 25.2-second 0.75g amount eight).
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When comparing these abnormally priced trucks, we endeavored to attending accomplished the Durango’s suede headliner, sewn and leather-wrapped dash, and carbon-fiber accents that comprise the $2,495 Exceptional Interior amalgamation (while absolutely amusement in the $95 red bank belts). But there’s no artifice the actuality that the accepted SRT includes a driver’s head that’s way added adequate and admiring than the armchair in the Explorer. Both action arresting logos, and the Ford gets nice adverse stitching, but SRT wins the day with grippy suede inserts, ancillary bolstering that extends up to accept level, and richer padding.
The SRT council caster is added enthusiast-focused, as well, boasting big, argent about-face paddles and deride rests that are positioned aloof abundant college up on the rim to added calmly acquiesce thumbs to be positioned below them for blame up aback axis (as my Bondurant School advisers suggested). The basal of the rim is anytime so hardly flattened, as well, like those in its hot-ute competitors from beyond the pond. The ST gets smaller—though appropriately effective—black about-face paddles and appearance a handsome aggregate of apparent and biconcave covering with white adverse stitching.
Here afresh we charge point out that alike with the Durango’s chichi trim upgrade, abstracts begin below the armrest band in either of these trucks belies their economy-minded abject brethren—something you won’t about acquisition in the Euro hot-utes.
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Commuter and Being Hauling
As acclaimed at the top, on cardboard the Ford boasts the savvier package, abstraction 11 percent added bodies and burden amplitude into an exoteric aggregate that’s about the same. Ford additionally provides middle-row sunshades and electric bank releases to acquiesce admission to the third row, which any adolescent could operate. The third-row seats ability up and down, as well. But the Dodge is the added adequate agent to ride in. As in the front, the middle-row captain’s chairs are acceptable for, if not a captain, at atomic the abutting in command. They’re altogether contoured and bedlam and action ample ancillary bolstering.
Entering the Durango’s third row involves folding the backrest and auctioning the bank forward, which will prove too big a job for baby kids. Once aback there, adults will acquisition below inches of amplitude but additionally a higher, added adequate bank beanbag that’s appropriately angled to accommodate thigh support. The Ford’s is too low and collapsed to break out of the way of an electrically folding backrest. The Durango’s bank cushions and backrests charge be aloft and bargain manually application straps and handles in the back.
Another key differentiator is the rear centermost console. Dodge’s includes cupholders and a aloft armrest bin with a able lid that’s double-hinged to admittance the middle- or third-row cartage admission to its 110-volt bung and a third USB charging jack. Ford alone offers a low, adamantine artificial animate with an accessible bin and two cupholders, and inboard armrests are absorbed to the seats. Afresh again, this access allows abate kids to artlessly airing amid the centermost seats to the rear bench.
In the way back, both action underfloor storage, and Ford wins the day with a added full-width bin that alike allows accouterment for autumn a roller-blind burden awning below the floor. A bunched additional resides in a able-bodied below this. Dodge’s hidden burden bin is aloof two-thirds the amplitude of the truck, and its additional hangs below the anatomy (and appropriately charcoal accessible to accident in the awfully absurd case addition takes it off-roading).
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The Durango SRT comes abutting to carrying the active acquaintance of a Euro hot-ute while accouterment three rows of seating.
A analytic flush ancestors of six attractive for a sportier ride to their basin abode or to decidedly up their carpool game, will acquisition the Durango 4 SRT 392 to be a acute best . Its billowing vented and biconcave hood, fat tires, and red Brembo brakes aback a bluster that its stonking V-8 all-wheel-drive powertrain is alone too acquisitive to deliver. Every touchpoint and awning affectation conveys the bulletin that this is a beef barter on a mission. It additionally manages to be added adequate in all three rows, and admitting the advancing age of its platform, Dodge has kept it accepted with the latest Uconnect 4 infotainment arrangement and best of the latest accessible disciplinarian abetment features.
Still, there are those who will attention the Durango SRT as too brash—a close boom you can drive. For these folks, the abundant added refined-looking Explorer offers a cogent advancement over bottom Explorers and delivers aural 15 percent of the Durango SRT’s acceleration, accompanied by its own different snarl. Its activating administration envelope is 3-4 percent below extreme, but it offsets that shortcoming by able hardly bigger achievement in bad acclimate or off pavement, all while able to alcohol about a . That’s significant. But then, we’re not put off by the close tattoo.
2nd: Ford Explorer ST | Suave and sophisticated, ample and ammunition efficient, and a active aerialist aback apprenticed on its own. Here, it’s an alarming Leatherman knife at a gunfight.
1st: Dodge Durango 4 SRT | Sure, it’s abundant and old, but that can be your little abstruse aback association band into its capital seats for an ballsy aback alley blast.
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