If you’re thinking about getting an SUV and you’re finding it to be a bit overwhelming, you’re not alone. With SUV’s and crossovers dominating the market, narrowing down the choices can be difficult with a couple cars let alone more than you can count. How are you supposed to know which is best for you, your family?
There are many brands to look at and choose from, but one sticks out among the rest. One brand that is known for strength, capability, versatility and comfort.
Ford has been making SUV’s since the 1960’s, although back then no one was calling them SUV’s. They were off roading vehicles, or ORV, although people still didn’t call them that, either. To Ford, it was simply the Bronco.
While the Bronco existed for generations before hand, because of a run-in with a certain notorious ex-football player, it has developed its own nefarious identity in American culture. Officially being laid to rest in 1997, to the generations of drivers and fans before that fateful low speed chase that took over television screens, the Bronco was the first beloved SUV in America.
Today, you will find that Ford offers 6 choices of SUV’s and crossovers, and it’s rumored that the Bronco will be making a return. If you need to look any further than Ford dealers for choices of SUV’s, be prepared to keep notes. But if you trust a name that has helped build America’s automotive industry, then Ford is where you start.
The Bronco originated in 1966 as a response to the Jeep CJ and International Scout. Offered in a cabin, half cab and the less popular, roadster, which was eventually dropped to pick up the sport package. By 1978 the second generation came on a larger, redesigned package modeled after the shortened F-100 pick up. This was the last model to use a solid front axel. The Bronco received redesigns both in the beginning of its third generation in 1980 and in its fifth generation, 1992. Updates to size, transmission and powertrain were consistent with generation redesigns.
There was a Bronco II that was introduced in 1984 but lasted only until 1990 when the Explorer took over. Designed as a compact, smaller Bronco, it never saw the same success as its older brother. Ford would not release another compact SUV until the Escape in 2001.
The Explorer picks up where the Bronco left off and would become the iconic SUV. In its first generation, the Explorer sold over 300,00 units per year outselling Jeep and the Chevy Blazer. In its second generation it sold over 400,000 units per year. By 1994, its third year of existence, the Explorer became the 9th best selling car in the U.S.
Although it took some heat in the late 90’s for rollovers, it remained the number one selling SUV in America until the gas prices started significantly rising and fuel efficiency started taking front seat priority. Since then, the Explorer has improved its fuel economy by taking on EcoBoost engines in 2013 and switching from a truck-base frame to a unibody frame moving the Explorer into the large crossover segment.
Where the Explorer took over for the compact Bronco II, the Expedition did the same for the Bronco. Built on the F150 platform it’s nickname as the “Big Kahuna” is certainly accurate. Currently the largest SUV in the Ford family, it is no wonder that Texas holds 20% of all Expedition sales. I have heard they like it bigger in Texas.
Currently in its third generation, the Expedition is available in V8 options for towing capacity or V6 EcoBoost for fuel efficiency which still offers 365 horsepower and 420 best-in-class torque. As a luxury SUV, the Expedition is perfect for active families who live on the go and ready for another adventure. With available third row seating providing plenty of space for extra passengers or cargo, the Expedition is sure to provide refined luxury and quality in the eight trim levels available.
Introduced at the height of extra large SUV’s, the excursion was even bigger than the Expedition, leading the Ford SUVs in size. However, its size was sometimes too big. At 77.2 inches tall, it was sometimes too tall to clear certain garages. Powered by a standard 5.4L V8 engine, producing 255 horsepower and 310 lb/ft of torque, it also offered a V10 for the even heftier jobs. With 7.3L of Power Stroke turbo diesel produced 525 lb/ft of torque and could tow up to 10,000 lbs. Available in all luxury trims, the Excursion was top drawer.
While gas prices were low during its first couple years, rising fuel prices coupled with the size of the Excursion ultimately led to its untimely end. The wheelbase went on to the lengthen the Expedition in 2005 when the Excursion was officially done being produced.
From the largest to the smallest, the Escape is the smallest on Fords SUV lineup. Since entering the market in 2001, the Escape has marked Ford’s place in the crossover segment as well. With the acknowledgement that most SUV drivers do not need off roading capabilities but do prefer the interior size as well and safety features and cargo room, the Escape was built to be smaller than all other SUV’s.
Getting better fuel efficiency than other Ford’s, the Escape introduced a hybrid in 2005. By 2009 the updated hybrid was now getting 34 mpg generated by a more powerful V6, but that wasn’t enough to sustain it. By 2013, both the hybrid and V6 were discontinued. The Escape did get a total makeover for the 2013 year included a redesign face and an EcoBoost engine options to make up for the discontinued V6. The redesign meant forgoing the looks of an SUV and taking on more sleek lines of a crossover. Currently the Escape is offered in three trims and gets about 32 mpgs.
The Edge 2007
No, not U2’s famous for not speaking bassist. The Edge is Ford’s midsize crossover an currently larger than the Escape. Tired of putting out truck like SUV’s, Ford decided to make a crossover that would still reflect their values of strength, power, comfort and luxury. The Edge immediately became a crossover for families. Starting out in 2007 with V6 engine producing 265 horsepower, the strength was all there. Because of its relative youthfulness, the Edge comes standard with the latest in safety technology including hands free liftgate, front 180 degrees camera, blind spot information and available lane change system.
Completely redesigned and updated for the 2015 year, the Edge now comes with an EcoBoost 4 cylinder that acts like a V6. The 2015 Edge surrounds you with up to date technology.
The Flex 2009
As the full size in this crossover segment, Ford has made this the most distinguishable in appearance. With a large, rather boxy stature, it resembles an updated wagon. The name itself reminds buyers how flexible their brand is yet consistently providing the best in quality, power and strength. A seven passenger vehicle, it possess the highly demanded third row with power folding seats.
When the back to rows are folded, the cargo space opens up to 83.2 cubic inches. After receiving its last redesign in 2013, it too got an EcoBoost V6 engine providing 365 horsepower. With its sporty exterior, incredibly spacious interior and remarkable drive quality, it is as cool as it is pragmatic. Unique to the Flex is that while it distanced itself from Fords Blue Oval trademark in 2013, it only reads “FLEX” on the grill with no specific markings identifying it as ‘Ford’.