Ford and Dodge both launched all-new seven passenger SUVs within weeks of each other. Despite a tough economy, high gas prices, and the public's seeming fascination with greener, electrified cars, two-thirds of the Big Three feel strongly that a market still exists for the type of vehicles Americans fell head over heels in love with a decade ago. We'll go ahead and say three out of three, as GM will happily sell you a Chevy Traverse. But let's not digress.
In the Dearborn corner you have the 2011 Explorer, once the USA's best-selling SUV, now reborn as a crossover instead of the more familiar body-on-frame truck. In the Auburn Hills corner you have the 2011 Durango, looking much leaner and cleaner than the last version, and now a CUV. We've haven't had the opportunity (yet) to line these two up for a full-blown comparison, but we figure we'd use our seat time in both to answer some questions. Chiefly, how do these two stack up?
As it turns out, within inches. The Dodge is not quite 3 inches longer than the Ford, though the Explorer is just over 3 inches wider. In fact, the Explorer is 3 inches wider (and about that much shorter) than its sister, the Flex. Both the Flex and the Explorer are based on the same Volvo-derived D4 platform that underpins the Taurus. Meanwhile, the Durango rides on the platform that sits beneath both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Mercedes-Benz M/R/GL-Class. The Durango's wheelbase is 5 inches longer than the Jeep's, and a fairly substantial 7.5 inches longer than the Explorer's. Based off our time in not only the Explorer and the Durango but in the Grand Cherokee, the Dodge's extra inches between the wheels pays off with a more subtle and refined ride. We found the Explorer to be just on the hard side of comfortable.