Trucks & SUVs

Consumer Reports Says to Avoid This Three-Row SUV

There are a lot of good reasons that crossovers and SUVs are becoming more and more popular for consumers looking for a new vehicle. They offer more versatility, more space for storage as well as passengers, and they’re generally more powerful than smaller passenger cars. And if there is one thing to look for in your next vehicle purchase, it’s reliability.

There’s one three-row SUV that Consumer Reports ranked low on reliability – so much so that they’re saying you should buy a competitor instead.

The Ford Explorer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Ford's premiere three-row SUV, the Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer | Mario Tama/Getty Images

Consumer Reports compiled a list of different 2019 models of popular vehicle types and compared them to one another, looking especially at their reliability and owner satisfaction scores. In the three-row SUV category, it was their opinion that the 2019 Ford Explorer is the one to avoid if you’re looking for a new vehicle this year.

The Explorer’s lowest score was reliability, where it only scored a 2/5. This score is based on reports from Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Survey, where subscribers report any serious problems they had with their vehicle over the previous 12 months. They also categorize the severity of the reported problems and the cost to fix them. They use this data to average the overall reliability score for the vehicle as well as predict the reliability of the following year’s model.

The Ford Explorer has received poor reliability scores for the past 10 years. For owner satisfaction, it is ranked “good,” or 3/5. It has poor fuel economy and emergency handling, but it scored well in comfort, convenience, and acceleration. Because of this, Consumer Reports says that the Ford Explorer is the one three-row SUV you should avoid, as the cons clearly outweigh the pros.

What’s their alternative SUV option?

Their recommended three-row SUV is the Toyota Highlander. The Highlander scored higher than the Explorer in every available category. Its reliability score is 4/5, which is significantly better than the Explorer’s 2/5. The Highlander also has a 4/5 score for owner satisfaction. In this category, it ranked the highest in comfort and styling and a little lower in value, which is dependent on the price each consumer paid for their vehicle.

The Toyota Highlander is rated fifth out of all midsized SUVs behind the Kia Telluride, the Hyundai Palisade, the Subaru Outback, and the Mazda CX-9. The main area it ranked somewhat low was in fuel economy; the 2019 Highlander gets 22 MPG combined, which is still quite a bit better than the Explorer’s 18 MPG. Overall, it’s clear that Consumer Reports greatly favors the Highlander over the Explorer, and we can see why.

What features does the Toyota Highlander offer?

The Toyota Highlander clearly has a lot to offer. The 2020 model has most of the latest smart technology, making your ride safer and more convenient than ever before. It’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, giving you the ability to hook your smartphone up with your vehicle’s touchscreen control center as well as the ability to control it through voice commands.

Another cool feature of the 2020 Highlander is its digital rearview mirror. Instead of relying on good lighting and an empty trunk, your rearview mirror actually displays a video from a rear-facing camera on the back of your vehicle. This gives you a real-time clear image of what’s behind you, instead of a sometimes-difficult image from a traditional mirror.

The latest available safety features include blind-spot monitoring, parking assistance, and roadside assistance through Toyota’s ToyotaCare program. Toyota clearly knows what they’re doing to get the Highlander ranked so highly with a company like Consumer Reports.