Consumer Reports Warns to Avoid the 2021 Ford Explorer in Favor of a Kia or Mazda

Alex Healey
· 3 min read
When it comes to buying a new car, many drivers are attracted to the most popular models. After all, strong sales are indicative of good quality, right?
Well, not always. So far, the Ford Explorer is the best selling midsize SUV of 2021, but
critics don’t seem to like it
, and the Explorer has also faced a
major recall in recent years
Despite this, Ford’s name recognition, marketing spend, and a few competitive discounts have helped pump up sales.
On the back of such strong sales, Consumer Reports took a closer look at the 2021 Ford Explorer. See why they call it the "midsized three-row SUV to avoid," and why you’d be wise to consider a
or Mazda instead.
A 2021 Ford Explorer.

What is wrong with the 2021 Ford Explorer?

Ford is arguably the most famous automaker in the world. Over the last 115 years, they have forged a reputation for quality and reliability.
Despite this, the 2021 Ford Explorer is a misstep.
Consumer Reports
(CR) found it has poor fuel economy and is prone to mechanical defects. Even if yours doesn’t break down, it is clunky to drive with a rough shifting transmission.
CR does credit the Explorer for its agile handling and roomy cabin, in addition to cutting-edge safety features, but the good doesn’t outweigh the bad.
In testing, the 2021 Explorer was one of the least reliable models in CR’s survey, and unsurprisingly, it received a poor score for predicted owner satisfaction.
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Midsize SUVs from Kia and Mazda are better

If you are in the market for a three-row midsize SUV, Consumer Reports declared the 2021 Kia Telluride best in class.
Telluride has won lots of awards
and it is clear to see why. CR praised its reliability, power, and "smooth-shifting" transmission.
The interior is well-designed and spacious, controls are user-friendly, and the safety systems are impressive for the price tag. And if you want to put your car to work, the 2021 Kia Telluride boasts 5,000 pounds of towing capacity.
When it comes to midsize SUVs, the Telluride can’t be beat, but there is one big drawback: due to popular demand,
they are almost impossible to find right now
As an under-the-radar alternative, Consumer Reports recommends the 2021 Mazda CX-9.
This stylish SUV offers responsive handling, a powerful engine, and decent fuel efficiency. The ride is comfortable and quiet, with a whole host of safety features. Unlike the Explorer, the CX-9 has above-average reliability and good predicted owner satisfaction.
If you’re still not convinced, there is a hidden bonus to owning a Mazda: thanks to
consistently excellent safety ratings
, it’s one of the cheapest brands to insure.

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