The 2020 Ford Explorer Is the Most Popular 3-Row SUV to Avoid, Says Consumer Reports

We all know that sometimes the more expensive option isn’t always the better choice. The 2020 Ford Explorer received much lower Consumer Reports ratings than other midsize, three-row SUVs in its class, despite the Explorer having a higher price tag. 

The 2020 Kia Telluride and the 2020 Hyundai Palisade far outperformed the Explorer in numerous categories, including engine, transmission, and comfort. Owners were more satisfied overall with the Telluride and Palisade, and a large percentage said they would purchase those vehicles again. 

Is the 2020 Ford Explorer a good choice for a three-row SUV?

According to Consumer Reports, the 2020 Ford Explorer is the “most popular three-row SUV to avoid.” The Explorer only received a rating of 69, making it No. 13 in a list of 25 midsize SUVs. The biggest flaws with the SUV are the clunky transmission, excessive engine noise, and uncomfortable ride.

At low speeds, shifting from one gear to another is pretty rough. Although the Ford Explorer accelerates fairly well, the engine noise is noticeable. The ride at highway speeds is fairly smooth, but passengers will notice a jiggle cabin on city roads. The test of the four-cylinder turbocharged engine and the 10-speed automatic transmission also found that the SUV’s fuel performance wasn’t any better than its V6 competitors. 

The interior of the vehicle doesn’t have many frills, which is a bit odd since the test SUV ran nearly $50,000. The third row is cramped with very little leg space and uncomfortably hard seats. It’s also difficult to get to, requiring a lot of bending and twisting. These drawbacks make the third-row seats best suited for small children. 

What is a good alternative to the 2020 Explorer?

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Consumer Reports awarded the 2020 Kia Telluride an overall score of 92. The Telluride is an excellent choice for a midsize SUV, and slightly more affordable than the Ford Explorer. The midsize SUV scored five out of fie on all reliability trouble spots – this is the category that closely examines engine and transmission performance. 

In the performance category, the Telluride scored five out of five on transmission and braking. The Kia received a five out of five in several comfort categories as well, including rear-seat comfort and noise. 

Consumer Reports calls the Telluride a “formidable competitor” in the midsize, three-row SUV group. The V6 engine responds quickly and provides plenty of power for quick acceleration. The transmission shifts smoothly and the engine is quiet. 

Passengers will enjoy a quiet, comfortable ride in the cabin. The suspension absorbs bumps very well, and the electronic stability control system makes it easy to avoid obstacles. The front seats are roomy and suited for any body type. The second row of seats can move forward and out of the way at the touch of a button, making the third row of seats more easily accessible. 

Are there other options? 

Another good option when considering midsize, three-row SUVs is the 2020 Hyundai Palisade. The Palisade was rated an 87 by Consumer Reports – not quite as good as the Telluride but far better than the Ford Explorer. The price is comparable to that of the Telluride. 

The Palisade scored five out of five in the Overall Owner Satisfaction category. This rating measures areas such as driver experience, comfort, and styling. When asked if consumers would buy this vehicle again, 93 percent responded yes while only 90 percent of Telluride owners would purchase that vehicle again. 

The Palisade’s V6 engine is quiet and powerful. The suspension is decent at absorbing bumps, but the larger wheels make the ride slightly rougher than the Telluride. The cabin is comfortable with good seating that’s a bit less plush than the Telluride. Steering is a little tougher in the Palisade, but good stability control makes it perform well when avoiding obstacles. 

Overall, both the 2020 Kia Telluride and the 2020 Hyundai Palisade are great alternatives to the more expensive, poorer performing 2020 Ford Explorer.