The Ford Explorer Has Failed Ever To Earn Consumer Reports Recommendation

It goes without saying that Ford is a highly trusted and popular brand. Of its many models, the Explorer is arguably one of the most recognizable and widely owned examples. However, going back all the way to the 2000 model, an Explorer has never earned a recommendation from Consumer Reports, and it sometimes earns an incredibly low ranking. Let’s take a look into why that might be, and why you just might want to ignore this omission. 

Ford Explorer SUVs on display at a dealership
A row of Ford SUVs at a dealership | Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Consumer Reports has a problem with the Ford Explorer

Even looking at the most recent model, Consumer Reports just doesn’t seem to like the Ford Explorer. According to Consumer Reports, the most recent model has positives, such as being agile and roomy, but it suffers from a clunky transmission, engine issues, and a low mpg overall. The Explorer’s infotainment system is praised, but everything else seems to be viewed as standard, and average. 

Are previous years any better?

Consumer Reports does not give earlier years of the Ford Explorer much higher praise. Looking way back, the Ford Explorer was redesigned in 2002, and Consumer Reports its main drawbacks involved an unrefined engine and lackluster performance, which are heavy complaints.

It was then redesigned in 2006 and reviews indicated an improved interior and handling, but little else. 2011 brought yet another redesign, which seemed to improve upon prior complaints, such as a noisy cabin and secure handling, but now Consumer Reports had issues with the tech features. Finally, the 2020 model was a redesign, and reviews were almost identical to 2021. 

So, what gives?

Consumer Reports seems to have the biggest issue with reliability problems with the Ford Explorer. The consumer organization consistently reports transmission issues, engine, and body hardware issues.

These can be serious problems, which is why reliability ranked low. However, despite all of this, the Explorer has remained a popular car. Here’s why you might want to ignore Consumer Reports on this one. 

Redeeming the Ford Explorer

RELATED: Is the Ford Explorer Really a Better Option Than the Toyota Highlander?

The Chicago Tribune reported Ford as blaming the recent past for the Explorer’s problems. The relaunch of the model was rushed, and the company has been continuously trying to make up for it.

The relaunch 2021 model had quite a few mechanical errors that had to be recalled. It doesn’t matter how any great features a vehicle has if it has to be initially taken to the mechanic for early problems.

So, could Consumer Reports be simply holding a grudge? It depends who you talk to. According to many, the Ford Explorer has greatly improved. With the 2020 model, consumers are given the option for different engine types, rear-wheel drive, better handling, and a quieter cabin.

The final word

Overall, Ford is a very trusted brand and the Explorer is a popular model. If you’re looking for a new SUV and you have your heart set on Ford, you probably won’t be disappointed in the new models.

Economically, they come at a reasonable price point and have decent re-sell value. However, it’s always a good idea to pay close attention to complaints and reviews on Consumer Reports, particularly if you’re able to shop around. Perhaps time will save the Ford Explorer from negative reviews on Consumer Reports. We will have to wait and see.