Trucks & SUVs

Skip the Popular 2021 Ford Explorer for This ‘Under the Radar’ Mazda SUV

For anyone looking to buy a new SUV, trying to figure out which one to invest in can be daunting. Where one SUV shines, it might fail to impress in another crucial area. This gives another SUV the opportunity to take the lead, like the Mazda CX-9 did with the Ford Explorer.

Consumer Reports, which is known for doing the leg work as far as testing SUVs, found the 2021 Ford Explorer a little lackluster in spite of its stellar reputation. So why did it fail to impress? And how did the CX-9 beat it out?

The 2021 Ford Explorer isn’t as great as it seems

RELATED: The 2021 Ford Explorer Struggles in 3 Key Areas

The Ford Explorer has been around long enough to draw in consumers based merely on the name. That’s not always such a good idea, however. It’s better to do your research on the model year you’re looking at purchasing before signing on the dotted lines.

Consumer Reports gave the 2021 Ford Explorer a score of 42. If that’s not bad enough, it came in at number 20 out of 21 midsize SUVs. The only SUV that got a worse score was the 2021 Jeep Wrangler.

While the Ford Explorer earned praise for being large, roomy, and having a smooth ride, there were too many flaws to be overlooked.

The gas mileage is poor. It only gets an estimated 14 city, 29 highway, and 21 mpg overall according to Consumer Reports.

While that wouldn’t be enough to turn some consumers away, the stiff ride just might. If that doesn’t, the predicted reliability rating of 1 out of 5 probably will.

The 2021 Ford Explorer has a price range of $32,225 – $54,480. This makes it slightly less than other midsize SUVs at the starting price, but also higher than others for the top trim levels. 

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 tends to fly under the radar

RELATED: The 2020 Mazda CX-9 Stands Out From ‘Humdrum-Handling Rivals’

Sometimes a great vehicle don’t get the attention it deserves. It might be due to a lack of advertising, and sometimes it doesn’t get enough reviews from critics to make it stand out. Whatever the reason, it fails to stand out from the crowd even though it has the chops to do so.

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 definitely falls into that category. It comes equipped with a 227 hp, 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. It’s not the most powerful, but it offers a smooth, comfortable ride.

The reliability rating is above average, which definitely puts it in a different class from the Ford Explorer. It has a score of 80, and came in at number 6 out of 21 midsize SUVs.

Not all is perfect with the CX-9, however. It only gets an estimated 22 mpg overall, which isn’t terrible, but also isn’t great. The third-row seat is also very tight, and definitely not suitable for adults. Finally, dial operated infotainment system can a pain to get used to.

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 has a price range of $33,960 – $46,605. That’s about average for other midsize SUVs on the list.

Which SUV is the better choice?

RELATED: Consumer Reports Recommends Avoiding the 2020 Ford Explorer

Yes, the 2021 Ford Explorer has its ups, but there are too many downs to be ignored. In spite of all Ford has done to try to outclass its rivals, its falling behind the Mazda CX-9. 

The Mazda CX-9, on the other hand, manages to outclass the Ford Explorer even if it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It has its flaws, but these are negligible. Even though the CX-9 starts around $1,735 more than the Ford Explorer, the superior reliability alone makes up for that.