The 2011 Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer are big departures from the models that they replace. Aside from the usual styling and refinement differences, the biggest changes for these vehicle are that they both ditch the traditional body-on-frame sport-utility vehicle DNA in favor of unibody constructions. By our definition, these once-SUVs are now CUVs, though their respective parent companies continue to brand them as being traditional sport-utes through and through.
Both the Durango and Explorer offer available seating for seven and all-wheel drive, but that's where the similarities start to taper off. Each vehicle offers a choice of two different powertrains, but while Dodge has opted to go a more traditional route with by fielding the Durango with both 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter V8 engines, Ford has gone in the opposite direction by equipping the Explorer with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost inline-four and a 3.5-liter V6. There are pros and cons for each – the Explorer may prove to be more fuel-efficient, but the Durango ought to tow more.
Each of these new crossovers tries to stay true to the traditional SUV mindset, just in different directions. Ford's Terrain Management system will surely come in handy for people who need more off-road prowess, though the end result remains that the Explorer is arguably more of a tall wagon than an honest SUV. The Durango keeps things a bit more and has a strong, presence that we suspect will still be well-received by people who prefer honest-to-goodness sport-utility vehicles.
We could debate the pros and cons of each vehicle all day, and indeed, we're still waiting for the Full Monty-worth of details and specifications, but we still want to know: What do you think? If you had to choose either the Explorer or Durango, which would get your pick? Cast your vote in the poll below and be sure to sound off with your thoughts in Comments.