Compare the Ford Escape and Ford Explorer

Whether you need roomy accommodations for your family and their cargo, or you want versatile cabin space without sacrificing maneuverability, the right SUV can make all the difference. Two of the most popular SUVs in the Ford lineup are the Escape and Explorer. Both are standout options in their segments, and each one offers refined interiors, confident handling, and flexible capacities for passengers and cargo. Deciding which one best suits your needs depends on a few factors. Here's a quick look at some of the key differences between these exciting and capable Ford SUVs.

Interior and Dimensions

The Ford Escape and Ford Explorer both received sporty makeovers for the 2020 model year, returning for their new generations with sleek lines, aerodynamic profiles, and dynamic front fascia. On the inside, these models feature attractive and inviting cabins, with high-quality materials and intuitively arranged controls. While the Escape and Explorer are similar in many ways, their most obvious differences have to do with their sizes.

Ford Escape

The Ford Escape is a two-row, compact, crossover with comfortable seating for up to five people and 33.5 cubic feet for cargo space. With the 60/40-split rear seat folded down, available cargo capacity grows to 65 .4 cubic feet.

Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is a three-row, mid-size, crossover with seating for up to seven and 20 cubic feet for cargo behind the third-row. And unlike many models in its class, the Explorer's third-row isn't a penalty box for adult-sized riders. The E-Z entry second-row seats and 50/50-split third-row and can fold in several configurations for up to 90 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity. The Ford Explorer also offers second-row captain's chairs, which reduce seating to six but improve ease of access and passenger comfort.


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Whether you are getting up to speed to merge onto the highway or trying to quickly and safely get around a slow-moving tractor-trailer, you will not need to worry about having enough power. Both the Ford Escape and Ford Explorer offer ample engine performance and impressive fuel-efficiency for their respective sizes.

Ford Escape

Standard power for the Ford Escape S, SE, and SEL comes from a 1.5-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine that generates 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, this advanced new engine features a fuel-save system that can shut down one cylinder when it's not needed. EPA-estimated fuel ratings reach 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined.

For even better fuel economy, the Escape SE Sport and Titanium feature a 2.5L iVCT Atkinson-Cycle four-cylinder hybrid powertrain. Matched with a continuously variable automatic transmission, the 200-horsepower hybrid engine gets an EPA-estimated 41 mpg combined.

If performance is more of a priority than efficiency, SEL and Titanium trims can option a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that ramps up engine output to 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.

Escape can tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.

Ford Explorer

The Explorer may be large and in charge, but it has no problem getting up to speed thanks to a standard turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder that cranks out 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Standard rear-wheel-drive improves the Explorer's handling, both on and off the road.

The Limited Hybrid trim features a 318-horsepower 3.3-liter V-6 hybrid powertrain that achieves am EPA-estimate 29 mpg.

For added excitement on your drives to Winnemucca or Spring Creek, the Explorer platinum packs a bigger punch, with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 that generates 365 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. The performance ST trim gets a higher-output version of the same engine (400 horsepower, 415 pound-feet of torque), and features several sporty handling and aesthetic upgrades.

All Explorer engine options pair with a 10-speed automatic transmission. When properly equipped, the Explorer can tow up to 5,600 pounds.


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The Escape and Explorer both offer an array of standard and available technologies that deliver a more enjoyable driving experience. Trims for the escape include S, SE, SE Sport, SEL, and Titanium. Trims for the Explorer include base, XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid, ST, and Platinum.

Ford Escape

The Escape's S trim is a little more basic, but it does come with FordPass Connect and the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of safety features. Moving up one trim level to the SE adds the SYNC 3 system, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat.

Notable available amenities include 18-inch wheels, a 12-inch digital gauge cluster, a hands-free liftgate, remote start leather upholstery, and a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.

Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer loads up on standard features, including dual-zone automatic climate control, LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, a power liftgate, and advanced safety features. The eight-inch SYNC 3 touchscreen infotainment system is also standard. With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, this popular feature integrates essential smartphone functions like hands-free calls and texts, music, maps, weather info, calendars, and more.

Popular Explorer upgrades include navigations, tri-zone automatic climate control, 20-inch wheels, a hands-free liftgate, a larger 10.1-inch touchscreen, a wireless charging pad, and a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.


Both the Escape and Explorer include the Ford Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver-assistance technologies as standard equipment. 

  • Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking
  • BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Lane Keeping Assist
  • Auto High-Beam Headlamps

Additional available driver aids include:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
    • Escape: Standard on Titanium; Available on SE, SE Sport, and SEL
    • Explorer: Standard on Limited, Limited Hybrid, ST, and Platinum; Available on XLT

  • 360-degree Surround View Parking Camera
    • Explorer: Standard on Limited, Limited Hybrid, ST, and Platinum

  • Active Park Assist Automatic Parking System
    • Escape: Standard on Titanium
    • Explorer: Standard on ST and Platinum.

Test Drive the Ford Explorer and Ford Escape at Gallagher Ford

For more information about either of these versatile and capable SUVs, click or call to get in touch with the team at Gallagher Ford. We will be happy to provide information as to available trims, options, and Ford financing and incentives. When you are ready to try one out for yourself, visit Ford dealership in Elko, NV, for a test drive. We would love to give you a tour.

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