Least Reliable 2021 Midsize SUVs According to Consumer Reports

There are many diverse and upscale midsize SUVs for you to choose from with excellent ratings for dependability. But then there are models that you should avoid if you want a smooth car ownership experience. Here are the least reliable 2021 midsize SUVs that could potentially cause you some annoying problems. 

The SUVs on the list are based on Consumer Reports’ reliability ratings. CR’s determines a vehicle’s reliability based on its scientific Auto Survey and model samples. Furthermore, the org also tests a car based on 17 potential trouble spots, including its engine and electrical system.

2021 Ford Explorer 

A white 2021 Ford Explorer parked on display in front of a country house.
The 2021 Ford Explorer on display | Photo via Ford

The Explorer, among other Ford SUVs, have been extremely problematic this year. Ford did too many redesigns in one year, which significantly dropped the carmaker’s reliability ranks for 2021. In particular, the all-new 2020 Explorer debuted with extensive problems.

CR gave the 2021 Explorer a 1 out of 100 for reliability. That’s one of the lowest scores in CR’s Auto Survey for the year. Owners told CR that they had to get transmission replacements and had other issues with the SUV’s engine, drive system, electronics, and power equipment. 

2021 Dodge Durango

A silver and black 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat driving away from the camera on a dirt road
The 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat in action | Photo via Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

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The Dodge Durango isn’t one of the most complained about FCA vehicles, but it doesn’t get the best reliability ratings. CR gave this beastly midsize SUV a 16 out of 100 for predicted reliability. This low score reflects the trouble spots on the 2018 Durango that included its fuel system and climate system. 

Owners have also complained about the Durango’s in-car electronics, suspension, and paint trim. On the flip slide, the 2021 Durango did well in CR’s road test. The team appreciated its comfortable ride quality and excellent towing capabilities. 

2021 Subaru Ascent 

A blue 2021 Subaru Ascent driving down a road
The 2021 Subaru Ascent in action | Photo via Subaru

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. For 2020, the Subaru Ascent was among CR’s most raved about models. CR recognized this Subie for its luxury-like ride quality and decent off-road potential. But the 2021 Ascent has taken a turn for the worse. It’s one of the least reliable midsize SUVs with an 18 out of 100 for predicted reliability. 

Reported trouble spots for the Ascent include its transmission major/minor, steering/suspension, in-car electronics, and climate system. These problems indicate an unsatisfactory owner experience. Some people have even taken to Reddit to say that repairs were delayed because Subaru lacked necessary parts.  

2021 Volkswagen Atlas 

A red 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion on a paved road with mountains in the background.
2021 Volkswagen Atlas | Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Atlas is another attractive SUV with terrible reliability ratings. This VW appeals with its European style and ample interior space. It’s also among the smoothest rides in the midsize SUV class. Still, it has a few problems that are hard to overlook.

CR’s data shows that the Atlas’ most common problem areas include its emissions/fuel system, exhaust system, engine minor, and climate system. Other downsides to the Atlas is its lack of agility, fuel economy, and quickness. Conversely, the Toyota Highlander is the more well-rounded pick. 

2021 Jeep Wrangler 

A photo of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 on the road.
2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 | FCA

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The 2021 Jeep Wrangler scored better than the other midsize SUVs on this list. This iconic Jeep received a 27 for dependability. But this score is still below-average, making it one of the least reliable 2021 midsize SUVs. CR admits that the Wrangler has made improvements over the years, but its unimpressive score reflects persisting issues with its steering/suspension and power equipment.