Ford Authority

Ford Explorer Finishes Last In New Three-Row Comparison Test

The Blue Oval has certainly won its fair share of comparison tests in recent months, with the Ford Mustang Mach-E besting the Kia EV6, the Ford Mustang Mach 1 taking down the Nissan Z and Toyota Supra, the Ford Bronco Raptor beating out the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, the Ford F-150 Raptor R proving a superior choice over the Ram TRX, and the Ford F-150 Tremor taking down the Ram 1500 Rebel, as well as the Chevy Silverado 1500 Trail Boss. However, the Ford Explorer didn’t fare quite as well in a new three-row crossover comparison test from MotorTrend – in fact, that particular model finished dead last.

This time around, the Ford Explorer took on the Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-90, Hyundai Palisade, Subaru Ascent, and Jeep Grand Cherokee L. Those that know a thing or two about the automotive industry as a whole will immediately realize that in this particular group, the Ford Explorer is a bit of a dinosaur, as it hasn’t received so much as a refresh since it went on sale in 2019 for the 2020 model year. Meanwhile, the other models in this comparison are all either new or fairly new.

For this particular comparison, MotorTrend was sent an ST-Line model powered by the turbocharged Ford 2.3L I-4 EcoBoost engine, which in this case stickers for $50,395. In spite of immediately facing a massive disadvantage, MT still praised the Explorer for its comfy seats and adequate amount of space in all three rows, though it wasn’t a fan of the materials used inside the cabin. “The interior feels cheap and chintzy, and the center screen is comically small for the space it occupies,” MT concluded.

Also on the bright side, the Explorer wound up beating the rest of the pack in terms of 0-60 acceleration with its 6.2-second performance, and some reviewers found it to offer up sporty handling, though others thought the ride was a bit rough. Ultimately, Ford’s long-running crossover came up short, finishing at the back of this pack, while the Palisade took home first place.

“Seventh place goes to the Ford Explorer,” MT concluded. “Although it’s definitely a bargain, it’s still a $50,000 vehicle, and from the inside the Explorer simply doesn’t feel that expensive (and higher trim levels don’t adequately solve this problem). The Explorer has some burrs that badly need filing down, like the twitchy throttle response off the line. Still, the Explorer is a competent seven-seater that offers good value in the form of a lot of useful equipment for the price, a strategy Mazda and Jeep would do well to study. Taking up the back of a very competent pack, the Explorer exits with its head(lights) held high.”

We’ll have more on the Explorer soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford Explorer news and non-stop Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Name Ford Retiree

    Age is NOT the problem. It had an obviously cost reduced, cheap interior when introduced as a new 2020 model. The 2020 Escape also wore a cheapened interior. Simply, Ford cares more about cost than satisfying customers or than being competitive.

  2. CWJ

    Should never let GM biased bought and paid for Motor Trend the dignity of saying which is the best suv or any vechicle,,,the Explorer is not old….came out 2019,,,,,it the F 150 that is getting old and dated looking…not the Explorer…glad that Explorer is RWD

  3. Sam

    Whoever did the comparisons didn’t do a good job at all Jeep is just the worst so it’s hard to believe that beat the Ford explorer and the Mazda isn’t that great but to each his own.I love my red ford explorer I get compliments about the look and drive and maybe the one you compared doesn’t have all the upgrades some have in it.

  4. KDBond

    Ford should be ashamed of themselves. When all you make are trucks and SUVs, you should be leading the pack.

  5. Orion

    the ST has a 3.0 V6 not the 4 cyl

    1. Brett Foote

      MT tested the ST-Line, not the ST.

  6. Dale Dantoni

    Let me be blunt. It’s absolute clowns that call themselves automotive journalists that have driven the cost of vehicles up and up and up over the last 20 years.

    Do you have any idea how expensive it is to maintain a vehicle that keeps changing every model year? How hard it is to get parts for a 2021 because the 2022 is different from the 2023 model?

    No you don’t, because you’re handed a press car ever other week and you don’t have to live with the vehicles you do reviews on.

    A “Dinosaur” He calls it. No wonder the thing costs $50,000 and you call that “Affordable.” Wow are you out of touch with reality.

    The G wagon didn’t change every year… The Land Cruiser didn’t change every year. The Sequoia and the Tundra didn’t change for almost a decade. Easy to find parts, easy to maintain, better for the people who actually own them.


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