Why Consumer Reports Says You Might Want a Hyundai Palisade Over a Ford Explorer

Ford loves making trucks and SUVs, and for the 2020 model year, Ford has completely redesigned the Ford Explorer. However, despite this upgrade, the 2020 Explorer may not be worth its price tag. Here’s why Consumer Reports suggests that you buy a Hyundai Palisade over a Ford Explorer.

A 2020 Hyundai Palisade on display at an auto show.
The 2020 Hyundai Palisade | ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

The Hyundai Palisade has superior ride comfort and quality

Although Consumer Reports had a lot of nice things to say about the Explorer, its ride quality wasn’t one of them. Consumer Reports said that the Explorer does feel smooth on the highway and that the ride quality is never really that harsh.

But for some reason, the Explorer will cause the cabin to jiggle when it’s driving over most roads. It’s not known why that happens, but Consumer Reports cited that as a frequent issue with the Explorer. 

Likewise, in terms of noise, Consumer Reports also generally praised the ability of the Explorer to keep things quiet inside the cabin. Once again, however, Consumer Reports reported that the engine did have a slightly annoying noise and that did hurt the noise level rating for the Explorer.

Overall, those two drawbacks were the reasons why Consumer Reports said that the Explorer’s ride quality and noise levels were just worse than some of its counterparts.

That said, Consumer Reports didn’t say that the Explorer’s ride quality was the worst in its class, just that there were SUVs, such as the Hyundai Palisade, that were simply better in that area than the Ford Explorer was. 

Drivetrain problems were frequent on the Ford Explorer

One problem with the Explorer that Consumer Reports noticed across multiple engine options was that its transmission felt clunky to use at lower-speeds. Transmission problems were one of the most frequent issues that the 2002 Explorer faced, so these transmission issues on the latest model year of the Explorer isn’t a good look. 

It’s not likely that those old transmission problems will come up again, but, as Consumer Reports said, the fact that the 2020 Explorer has those issues makes the Explorer seem “unrefined.”

That said, as Consumer Reports mentioned, this clunky transmission problem only happened at the lower-speed gears. At higher speeds, the transmission felt fine, according to Consumer Reports. 

In terms of fuel economy, the Explorer was overall unremarkable. Consumer Reports tested multiple engines, and the 2.3-liter four-cylinder standard engine only got a combined fuel economy of 21 MPG.

The hybrid trim of the Explorer only got about 23 MPG combined. As Consumer Reports said, these fuel economy figures aren’t very impressive, even if they’re slightly better than the older Explorer models. 

The Palisade gets a similar fuel economy, but with a much larger and more powerful, 3.8-liter V6 engine. 

Why the Hyundai Palisade is just better than the Ford Explorer

Another problem area with the Explorer is in its interior. As Consumer Reports said, the Explorer, even in the $50,000 trim that Consumer Reports tested, had a plain looking interior. The Palisade, on the other hand, had a much nicer interior for a more affordable price, according to Consumer Reports.

Price is the ultimate reason why the Palisade is better than the Explorer. Consumer Reports doesn’t hate the Explorer, as the Explorer is an overall decent SUV in its class.

It’s just that the Palisade, when equipped similarly to the Explorer, is the same in some areas and better in others, and at the same time, the Palisade ends up being about $6,000 cheaper than the Explorer is, according to Consumer Reports. 

Again, overall, the 2020 Explorer is a decent SUV, and Consumer Reports gave it a 69 out of 100, which is a nice rating. But, in comparison, the Palisade got a score of 87 out of 100, and again, the Palisade is significantly more affordable than the Explorer is. For those reasons, Consumer Reports suggests that buyers choose a Palisade over an Explorer.