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Two-row or three-row? Is the 2020 Ford Explorer or Escape right for you?

The Ford Escape and Explorer are two formidable SUVs.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Both the 2020 Ford Escape and the 2020 Ford Explorer are meant for consumers of all kinds, from the parent carting their kids to sports practices to the avid outdoor explorer. The vehicles have both form and function – they will get you where you need to go and will do so in style. Ford has completely redesigned the SUVs from the ground up for the 2020 model year.

Driving these vehicles back to back emphasized their commonalities. Both can comfortably transport you, your passengers, and your cargo. On the surface, the primary differentiator between the two vehicles is the number of rows. The Explorer's three-row, six-passenger standard configuration allows you to transport more passengers and/or cargo than the Escape's two-row/five-passenger setup.

2020 Ford EscapeThe Ford Escape was redesigned for the 2020 model year.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Here's a little more information to help inform your decision.

2020 Ford Escape

The Escape comes in five trim levels: S, SE, SE Sport, SEL, and Titanium.

The SUV's new powertrains give greater fuel economy and better range. Ford offers four powertrain choices for the Escape: 1.5-liter EcoBoost, 2.0-liter EcoBoost, 2.5-liter hybrid, or 2.5-liter plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The 2.5-liter hybrid engine is most fuel efficient. The EcoBoost powertrains are paired with eight-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid and plug-in powertrains are paired with PowerSplit, an electronic continuously variable transmission.

The Escape feels spacious due to smart design. A dial shifter frees up space between front row seats, and a sliding second row offers optimal flexibility between legroom and cargo space. When the second row is fully indexed forward (six inches), the trunk can accommodate a normal sized dog crate. Unlike the Explorer, the Escape does not have a third row of seats. The way the second-row seats move is one of the most impressive parts of the Escape. It is easily configurable to accommodate passengers and cargo.

2020 Ford EscapeThe Ford Escape has a large cargo area.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Despite its spacious interior, the vehicle feels compact and maneuvers easily on both surface streets and freeways. The Escape swings easily into parking spaces and has good visibility so you don't have to rely on a camera to get between the lines.

Driver assist technology, including a blind spot information system, lane-keeping system, and automatic emergency braking come standard on the Escape in a suite called Ford Co-Pilot360. Additional safety and driver assist technologies are available as part of options packages.

2020 Ford EscapeThe interior of the Escape is logically set up.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

According to Ford, the Escape's main competitors are the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker is quick to point out that the Escape distinguishes itself from these competitors with its technological capabilities, interior flexibility and styling, and distinctive looks.

The Escape is a great choice for anyone looking for an attractive vehicle suitable for errand-running, exploring, and anything in between. This vehicle offers the flexibility and functionality that today's consumers need. The Escape looks just as at home parked outside a restaurant while you enjoy a fancy dinner as it does perched next to a mountain stream while you set up your campsite.

2020 Ford Explorer

Ford offers three powertrain choices for the Explorer: 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, 3.3-liter hybrid, or 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6. The Explorer is as fuel efficient as a 2020 Honda Pilot but not as efficient as the 2020 Toyota Highlander.All engines are paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission. Driving the Explorer with the EcoBoost engine felt smoother than driving an Escape with an EcoBoost engine.

2020 Ford ExplorerThe 2020 Explorer got a complete redesign and now rides on a rear-wheel drive platform.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Explorer is available with three rows of seats but the Escape is not. Driving the Explorer at first felt like driving a minivan, but it quickly became clear that the vehicle is easily maneuverable on both surface streets and freeways. Despite its length, the Explorer was easy to park.

According to Ford, the Explorer is the bestselling SUV in the U.S. More than six million Explorers have been sold since the vehicle's introduction in 1991. The 2020 iteration is the sixth generation of this vehicle. This Explorer has the SUV's broadest lineup ever: Base (fleet only), XLT, Limited/Limited Hybrid, ST, and Platinum.

The wheelbase of the Ford Explorer was expanded for the 2020 model year by six inches, meaning that the front and rear axles are six inches further apart than they previously were. This positively affected the capability and looks of the SUV both inside and outside allowing the vehicle to feel more planted on the road in this new generation.

2020 Ford ExplorerThe 2020 Explorer shares many of the design hallmarks of the last-get Explorer.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Explorer feels more spacious (although it expanded by no more than a tenth of an inch in any direction). Passengers have more leg and shoulder room and the trunk can fit more cargo. The SUV has improved departure and approach angles for off-roading.

It can now tow up to 5,600 pounds (one of the highest towing capacities in the segment) whereas previously it had a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.

The engine and transmission are now mounted north-south, giving the vehicle a nearly 50-50 weight distribution, which helps it feel balanced and agile.

The Explorer also has great technical abilities, including autonomous emergency breaking, reverse break assist, traffic sign recognition, and side wind stabilization.

2020 Ford ExplroerThe 2020 Explorer features a large 10-inch screen in the center of its dashboard in premium models.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The SUV has a focus on human-centered design. The configurable cargo management system allows you to hold a variety of cargo, from groceries to sporting equipment. Step cleats allow easy access to the top of the vehicle. A console in the second row allow passengers to store beverages and other items. Its low profile ensures that the third row is still easily accessible.

According to Ford, the Explorer's main competitors are the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander. Reasons to choose the Explorer over its competitors are its range, horsepower, and long list of standard equipment.

The 2020 Ford Escape and the 2020 Ford Explorer can take you from the mall to the mountains and do so with panache. As Lee Newcombe, Explorer Marketing Manager at Ford, summed it up, all of the vehicles' features are "meant to make your daily drive or your adventure drive easier on you".

What may not be easy on you is the price tag. The 2020 Ford Explorer starts around $32,000 and tops out well over $58,000. The Escape is more cost-effective coming in with a starting MSRP of $24.885 and reaching $33,550 in its top Titanium trim.

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The Hemi Orange package brings unqiue style to the Durango.

Dodge

The Dodge Durango isnt the newest or most refined SUV on the market, but it offers great comfort, good tech, and a handful of raucous powertrian options. The long-running family hauler is due for an update, but in the meantime, Dodge has given it a new Hemi Orange package with unique styling touches.

Dodge already offers the Hemi Orange package fo the Challenger and Charger, and now it's available for the three-row Durango. The package is available for the R/T trim, which comes with a 5.7-liter V8.

Dodge Durango Hemi OrangeDodge offers four exterior colors with the package. Dodge

Much of the Orange package's content comes on the outside, where Dodge adds orange and gunmetal hod stripes, black taillights, and grey/orange badging. The SUV rides on black 20-inch wheels, and Dodge offers different black "Lights Out" 20-inch wheels. Four exterior colors are available: Destroyer Grey, Diamond Black, Octane Red, and White Knuckle. Inside, the Durango gets orange sticthing and unique patterns in the upholstery. Dodge says the stitching extends throughout the interior, including to the gauge cluster, armrests, console lid, and steering wheel.

Two upgrades are available for the Hemi Orange Durango. The first is the Orange Plus Package, which adds a power sunroof, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and a load of driver aids. The Tow N Go package is available for four-wheel drive models, and brings the 20-inch Lights Out wheels, orange brake calipers, and a Bilstein high-performance suspension system.

The Durango R/T Hemi Orange is available now. It carries a price tag of $1,995. The Orange Plus package costs $4,500 and the Tow N Go package costs $5,095.

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Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.

Lincoln

TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

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