The 2021 Ford Explorer Isn’t Recommended by Consumer Reports

If the 2021 Ford Explorer gives you cold feet, you aren’t alone. Consumer Reports listed the Ford Explorer as one of the 2021 SUV options to avoid. That means they don’t recommend it as a reliable option, but let’s see why. 

How Reliable is the 2021 Ford Explorer? 

The 2021 Ford Explorer isn’t looking like a reliable SUV. Consumer Reports gave the Explorer a predicted reliability rating of one out of five. That score is below average, and honestly, it’s concerning. Plus, the predicted owner satisfaction rating is only three out of five. 

A 2021 Ford Explorer parked in front of a carnival
The 2021 Ford Explorer on display | Photo via Ford

But is the Consumer Reports data reliable? Yes, it’s based on user reviews. CR sends out surveys to thousands of drivers. The survey includes 17 potential trouble spots where drivers list what problems they faced. 

The trouble spots range from the transmission to the electrical system and much more. If CR doesn’t receive a large enough sample size to provide credible information, then they don’t publish the results. 

What problems plague the 2021 Explorer?  

Problems reported on previous model years can bring down the predicted reliability rating for the current model year. Issues reported in prior models are pretty extensive. The 2017 Ford Explorer faced paint and trim problems and engine problems. The 2016 Explorer has engine trouble, transmission problems, drive system issues, and more. 

There are also tons of problems reported about the 2020 Ford Explorer, including electronic problems, power equipment issues, transmission problems, minor engine trouble, and more. The 2020 Explorer received a full redesign, so you would expect it to be better. Instead, it looks like it failed to fix older problems. 

We switched gears to find the worst used Ford Explorer model, and it looks like the 2016 model has the most problems reported in recent years. The 2016 Ford Explorer has over 400 complaints about the engine listed on Car Complaints

Drivers reported that their Explorer experienced a total loss of power while driving. The engine also seemed prone to stalling. Some drivers noticed that their Explorer randomly surged forward and throttle control failure. The 2017 model only has 110 engine problems reported, so maybe the issue was corrected. 

Is the Explorer worth buying? 

This information about the Ford Explorer being unreliable is concerning, but you still might be happy with this three-row SUV. According to Edmunds, the 2021 Explorer has plenty of positives to consider. 

For example, the 2021 Ford Explorer has a base model price of about $32,000. This price may seem high, but it comes with a potent 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. 

Plus, the Explorer is offered with rear-wheel-drive and a unibody frame, meaning it has sportier handling and is more convenient for towing. When properly equipped, the Explorer can tow up to 5,600 lb. 

A silver 2021 Ford Explorer with a bag mounted on its roof rack driving down a dirt road
The 2021 Ford Explorer in action | Ford

Should I Buy a Toyota Highlander Hybrid or Ford Explorer Hybrid?

Cargo space is abundant. However, passenger space in the second and third rows is limited. The power-folding seats in the back are very convenient, but the button is placed in the hatch area. 

Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, rear-cross traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic high beams. Optional features include lane-centering assistance and adaptive cruise control.