When you hear the phrase ‘Built Ford Tough’ most peoples’ minds are taking to a place built upon visuals of F-Series crashing through deep, mud-soaked puddles or large snow embankments.
Speaking to the power and versatility of Ford engineering, it’s no real surprise that our natural inclination is to associate such dynamic visuals with trucks. However, the ‘Built Ford Tough’ ideology can also be used to better understand the SUV and crossover domination, experienced in recent years. Not because Ford SUV and crossover lay exclusive claim to the segment, but simply because most SUVs were conceived with some idea of ‘tough’ in mind.
By today’s standards, it’s easy to forget just how far family vehicles have evolved in the last four decades. For example, the 1980’s oversaw the transformation of the classic family station wagon into the more streamlined, and passenger-centric minivan. But by the early nineties, the minivan had found itself branded by stereotypes. And with those stereotypes came certain stigma, as if sitting behind the wheel of a minivan implied some kind of enforced domestication, robbing both men and women of their spirited youth.
The solution was realized by 1991’s introduction of the Ford Explorer (and other SUV of its ilk). Intended as a more refined substitute to the oversized Bronco II, the Explorer was built around the chassis and powertrain of a Ford Ranger. The result was a family-friendly vehicle, offering the convenience and similar fuel economy of a minivan, albeit with a sportier, aggressive styling and truck-like versatility. Proof that you could have your cake and eat it too, a generation of SUV drivers were born.
And since then, SUV offerings have continued to mature and evolve. Offering improved fuel economy, enhanced performance, increased utility features and countless technologies designed to please all kinds of passengers, today’s sport-utility vehicles offer something for everyone. And while most are designed with families in mind, the true beauty of today’s offerings is that their appeal isn’t limited to the domesticated. Earning their sports-utility moniker, these vehicles remain a perennial favorite of athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. And with many models employing updated styling, innovative paint selections, and tech-savvy design, SUVs and crossovers are often favored by younger drivers more than ever.
So, how well do Ford offerings measure up against the evolving expectations of the SUV and crossover customer base? Let’s take a closer look at each of the six models included in Ford’s 2018 program, and find out.
2018 Ford Ecosport
The EcoSport’s introduction to the U.S. market draws little attention to its fourteen-year legacy as a best-selling offering elsewhere in the world. Priced to start around $19,995 MSRP this crossover replacement for the Fiesta, serves as a modest eco-friendly introduction to Ford’s offerings.
2018 Ford Escape
Truer to the expectations of a small crossover, the Escape stands confidently among its competitors. Offering near best-in-class cargo space and refined styling, the all-wheel-drive Escape is available in four trim levels (including the new-to-2018 SEL trim). With luxury touches, quick turbocharged powertrains and capable performance, the Escape is well-worth considering…especially since it’s priced (so accessibly) around $23,850 MSRP to start.
2018 Ford Edge
Earning frequent top picks among midsize crossovers, the Ford Edge is a great pick for anyone whose needs would be exceeded by a larger SUV with third-row seating. Available in four trim levels, the all-wheel driveEdge comes with three different powertrain options, including a 2.7-liter V6 serving up 315 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. And for those in need of storage, the Edge’s 73.4 cubic feet of (seat down) cargo space rates among the best in class. This versatility, combined with impeccable comfort and smooth drivability make the Edge a solid offering, nestled comfortably within the lineup.
2018 Ford Flex
Priced to start around $30,195 MSRP, the wagon-inspired Ford Flex remains one of the automaker’s most distinctively styled offerings. Seating up to seven passengers, the Flex is available in three trim levels. Equipped with a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 across all trim levels, the (top-of-the-line) Limited is eligible for an upgraded power rating of 365 hp and 350 lb-ft. Sprinting to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, it stands as one of the fastest crossovers available.
2018 Ford Explorer
With nearly three decades under its belt, the Explorer endures as the elder statesman of Ford’s SUV lineup. Priced to begin around $31,990 the Explorer’s wealth of configuration options enable it to keep one foot firmly planted in economy, with another stepping confidently into luxury territory.
With seating up to see, the Explorer is available in five trim levels and in three different powertrains. The first is the 3.5-liter V6, rated for 290 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque, followed by the more fuel-efficient 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that churns out 280 hp & 310 lb-ft. Opt for the Sport trim, and the Explorer comes with a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, pumping out 365 hp and 360 lb-ft.
2018 Ford Expedition
Atop the line sits the rugged yet luxurious, three-row Expedition. With seating for eight, the Expedition offers a spacious cabin, with plenty of options to create the perfect passenger-centric environment.
And there’s no shortage of capability, wrangling 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque courtesy of its turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic. With a 6.5 second sprint to 60 mph, the Expedition is both fast and strong. In fact, it offers best-in-class towing numbers when properly equipped.
Which is Right For You?
Regardless of which option best suits the unique demands of your lifestyle, you can trust that ‘tough’ will be part of the package. That said, you can also aim for sportiness, luxury and/or tech-savvy. Dig deep in terms of the options for each, and you’re bound to recognize just how well-realized a lineup of crossovers and SUVs, Ford has to offer.
When you’re ready, call or stop by our showroom and let us show you what the DePaula difference really means to our customers.