Check Out These 2021 Ford Explorer Alternatives

The 2021 Ford Explorer is a three-row SUV with tons of tech, safety features, and available interior options. However, the Explorer exists in one of the most competitive sections of the U.S. auto industry. As a result, it needs to excel in all areas if it wants to be a segment favorite. According to Consumer Reports, the 2021 Explorer isn’t the three-row SUV you’ll want to buy. Instead, you should look at these two excellent options.

Why doesn’t Consumer Reports love the 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 2021 Ford Explorer marks the second model year of the completely re-designed sixth-generation model. Despite this, Consumer Reports did not rate the Explorer highly during its testing or after its customer surveys. In fact, this American SUV is one of the lowest-ranked three-row SUVs Consumer Reports has tested.

According to Consumer Reports, their problems with the 2021 Ford Explorer begin with its four-cylinder turbocharged engine. Despite being relatively smaller than the engine options available for competitors, it isn’t significantly more efficient. Additionally, the standard 10-speed automatic transmission delivered fairly rough shifts in normal driving. Finally, Consumer Reports notes that its ride quality is fairly stiff, leading to a decently uncomfortable daily driver.

On the plus side, the 2021 Ford Explorer manages to deliver a quiet cabin with tons of standard safety features. Regardless, Consumer Reports gave the SUV poor predicted reliability and predicted owner satisfaction ratings.

Buy the 2021 Kia Telluride instead

A dark-colored 2020 Kia Telluride drives on a paved road through a desert
2020 Kia Telluride | Kia

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Since Consumer Reports advises skipping the 2021 Ford Explorer, it recommends you buy a 2021 Kia Telluride instead. As far as SUV rankings go, the Telluride sits at the very top as the best three-row SUV Consumer Reports has tested. For starters, the Kia has excellent predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings.

Unlike the 2021 Ford Explorer, the Kia Telluride reportedly has a smooth ride, tons of interior space, and excellent standard equipment options. During Consumer Reports’ road test of the Telluride, the SUV managed to impress in all significant categories, including the acceleration, braking, transmission, and driving experience categories. As a result, this may be the most well-rounded SUV you should consider.

In terms of pricing, you won’t save much by picking the Telluride over the Explorer. This is because they start at $32,190 and $32,220, respectively. However, given the poor reliability ratings for the Ford, you may save more throughout the years.

The Mazda CX-9 is also a great choice

A red Mazda CX-9 on display
A Mazda CX-9 on display | Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

If the Kia Telluride isn’t for you, there is another recommended alternative to the 2021 Ford Explorer. According to Consumer Reports, you should also give the 2021 Mazda CX-9 a close look. However, it is worth noting that it has a higher $33,960 base price than the Ford or the Kia. Regardless, Consumer Reports praised excellent ride quality, handling characteristics, and on-road quietness. Importantly for a daily driver SUV, the CX-9 received excellent predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings.

During Consumer Reports’ testing of the CX-9, the three-row SUV scored even higher fuel-efficiency ratings with an average of 22 mpg. The CX-9 only struggled in the braking, emergency handling, and cargo area sections. As a result, you may want to give the Telluride a closer look if you want as much space as possible. Regardless, now you’ve got two great options to look at in your search for the ideal three-row SUV.