Consumer Reports doesn’t take its job lightly. Testing and rating vehicles so that consumers can be safe in SUVs and cars that will be reliable for a long time is a complex process that requires a great deal of knowledge and experience to do well. That’s why it’s particularly disappointing when a favorite SUV from one of the big car manufacturers ends up on their list of SUVs to avoid. When it’s two SUVs, it’s even more perplexing. And yet two Ford SUVs are on Consumer Reports’ list of SUVs to avoid. How did the 2021 Ford Explorer and 2021 Ford Escape end up on the list?
The 2021 Ford Explorer is a large SUV on Consumer Reports ‘avoid’ list
The 2021 Ford Explorer is a great SUV in many regards, but it’s got some serious shortcomings. Fuel economy in the 2021 Explorer isn’t great, at only 21 mpg. Consumer Reports also called its ride “stiff” and “less compliant” than others in its category.
At the same time, the 2021 Ford Explorer has lots of space and headspace. Even the second row has plenty of room, which is great for families with kids. Like many SUVs, the third row isn’t quite as spacious, but the Explorer does come with a ton of safety features that may make up for it, including forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring.
The IIHS also gives the 2021 Ford Explorer its highest honor: a Top Safety Pick+ award. Additionally, the NHTSA gives it five stars for everything except for rollover. Both the 2WD and 4WD rollover ratings are four stars.
The 2021 Ford Escape is a small SUV you should avoid
The 2021 Ford Escape is another SUV on Consumer Reports ‘avoid’ list. It’s a small SUV that’s pretty popular, but unfortunately unreliable. Consumer Reports gives the 2021 Escape just a 1/5 for reliability. Major problem areas in the Escape include body integrity, power equipment, and in-car electronics. Consumer Reports also didn’t like its ride and called its braking “oversensitive.”
On the other hand, the 2021 Escape has good gas mileage. It gets a combined 26 mpg. It also has Co-Pilot360, Ford’s suite of safety features that includes the same equipment as the Explorer. In addition, the IIHS gives the 2021 Ford Escape all good ratings, and the NHTSA gives it five stars for everything except for rollover, which only gets four stars.
What SUVs should you buy instead?
Consumer Reports recommends a few SUVs if you’re interested in the Explorer and the Escape but are inclined to avoid them as Consumer Reports advises. The 2022 Chevy Traverse is what Consumer Reports recommends if you’re interested in the Explorer. The Traverse price starts at $33,700 and it gets 28 mpg. The 2022 Traverse has a “comfortable ride, quiet interior, easy-to-use infotainment system,” and it’s spacious. You may also want to opt for the 2022 Mazda CX-, which starts at $34,160.
If you like the 2021 Ford Escape, you may want to choose the 2021 Mazda CX-5 instead. Its price starts at $25,370, and it’s quiet, responsive, and handles well. The 2022 Hyundai Tucson is another great choice, starting at $24,950.
While in many ways the 2021 Ford Explorer and 2021 Ford Escape are solid SUVs, there are good reasons to avoid them. With so many other options that combine safety, reliability, and drivability, there’s no reason to choose any of these SUVs with the “avoid” label.