2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2020 Subaru Ascent

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/14

Both the Explorer and Ascent have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Explorer has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Ascent’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Explorer has standard Post Collision Braking, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Ascent doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum has a standard 360-Degree Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Ascent only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

The Explorer’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Ascent doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Explorer and the Ascent have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras and available all wheel drive.

Warranty

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There are almost 5 times as many Ford dealers as there are Subaru dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

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The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Ascent doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 30 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

Engine

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The Explorer’s standard 2.3 turbo 4 cyl. produces 40 more horsepower (300 vs. 260) and 33 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 277) than the Ascent’s 2.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Explorer’s optional 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 58 more horsepower (318 vs. 260) and 45 lbs.-ft. more torque (322 vs. 277) than the Ascent’s 2.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Explorer Platinum’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 105 more horsepower (365 vs. 260) and 103 lbs.-ft. more torque (380 vs. 277) than the Ascent’s 2.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Explorer ST’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 140 more horsepower (400 vs. 260) and 138 lbs.-ft. more torque (415 vs. 277) than the Ascent’s 2.4 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regenerative brakes improve the Explorer Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Ascent doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Explorer’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Ascent doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Explorer V6 Turbo’s standard fuel tank has almost a gallon more fuel capacity than the Ascent (20.2 vs. 19.3 gallons).

The Explorer has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Ascent doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Explorer’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Ascent:

Explorer

Explorer ST

Explorer ST opt.

Ascent

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

13.6 inches

14.3 inches

13.1 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

12.8 inches

13.8 inches

13 inches

Tires and Wheels

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/14

For better traction, the Explorer has larger standard tires than the Ascent (255/65R18 vs. 245/60R18). The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Ascent (275/45R21 vs. 245/60R18).

The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Ascent Limited/Touring’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Explorer ST/Platinum offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Ascent’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

Having a flat tire is dangerous, inconvenient and expensive. The self-sealing tires available on the Explorer can automatically seal most punctures up to 3/16 of an inch, effectively preventing most flat tires. The Ascent doesn’t offer self-sealing tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The Explorer has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Ascent doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Explorer’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Ascent doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 5.3 inches longer than on the Ascent (119.1 inches vs. 113.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 2.5 inches wider in the front and 2.7 inches wider in the rear than on the Ascent.

Chassis

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The front grille of the Explorer (except 3.3 V6 non-Hybrid) uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Ascent doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Explorer Hybrid uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Ascent doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The Explorer has .8 inches more front legroom, 1.5 inches more front hip room, .7 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear headroom, .4 inches more rear legroom, 1.6 inches more rear hip room, 1.6 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.6 inches more third row headroom and .5 inches more third row legroom than the Ascent.

Cargo Capacity

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/14

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the Ascent.

Explorer

Ascent

Behind Third Seat

18.2 cubic feet

17.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

47.9 cubic feet

47.5 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87.8 cubic feet

86.5 cubic feet

The Explorer’s cargo area is larger than the Ascent’s in almost every dimension:

Explorer

Ascent

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

20.8”/49.8”/83.9”

19.9”/47.6”/82.5”

Max Width

59”

50.5”

Min Width

48.1”

45.9”

Height

33.7”

33.9”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Explorer’s second and third row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Ascent doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Ascent doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

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The Explorer’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Ascent’s (3000 vs. 2000 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Subaru Ascent is only 5000 pounds. The Explorer offers up to a 5600 lbs. towing capacity.

Ergonomics

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/14

The Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Ascent doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Explorer and the Ascent have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Explorer is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Ascent prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

On a hot day the Explorer’s driver can lower all the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Ascent can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Explorer’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Ascent’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Explorer’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Ascent Premium/Limited/Touring.

The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Ascent offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Ford Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Ascent doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The Explorer ST/Platinum’s Active Park Assist 2.0 can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Ascent doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/14

The Explorer is available in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Ascent doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/14

The Ford Explorer outsold the Subaru Ascent by over seven to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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