Ford Authority

2023 Ford Explorer Should Be Avoided: Consumer Reports

The current-generation Ford Explorer has long held a reputation for being one of the more unreliable vehicles on the market, earning it “distinctions” such as being one of Consumer Reports10 least reliable vehicles on sale today not just once, but twice, as well as a two- or three-row SUV that shoppers should avoid due to its reliability concerns and low owner satisfaction. Ford is working to rectify its quality woes with a goal of obtaining best-in-class reliability by 2025 for select models, though that process could ultimately take months or even years to begin to produce results. In the meantime, Consumer Reports has once again identified the 2023 Ford Explorer as a popular vehicle to avoid.

Consumer Reports notes that many new vehicle shoppers intend to prioritize things like reliability and safety, but ultimately, wind up falling for styling or image instead. That’s precisely where this list comes into play – the 2023 Ford Explorer still sells in large quantities, and yet, its reliability data lags behind the competition.

“The Ford Explorer may be a common sight in your neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice,” CR said. “In fact, while the mediocre SUV ranks near the bottom in the three-row category, it outsells the excellent Kia Telluride by more than two to one. It handles with relative agility, but an overly firm ride, rough shifts, and a noisy engine hurt the Explorer’s road-test score. Plus, reliability is well below average.”

Indeed, the 2023 Ford Explorer has a predicted reliability score of just one out of five, though there are no specific reliability trouble spots to note, as the vehicle is too new at this point. Regardless, the Explorer is also plagued by a low owner satisfaction score of two out of five, further complicating its case among new vehicle shoppers.

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. crabbymilton

    Sad state of affairs. This thing along with the LINCOLN AVIATOR were lemons from the beginning. Just ask any cop. While they have good power and comfortable vehicles, it’s doubtful they are going to fix these things reading between the lines of that article.

    1. Jim Glass

      The change to a CVT transmission needs to be stopped immediately. Not only are they horrible to drive, the tend to have serious problems. STOP IT NOW

      1. Jim O

        It’s does not have a cvt. It’s a 10 speed auto. I happen to own one. I like the former heavy duty suspension, the engine noise does not bother me. The transmission is mostly ok, shift a little hard when initially cold but is otherwise seem less. My complaint however is build quality/ fit and finish. This 21 explorer rattles more then my 16 year old mustang and 8 year old escape. After being a loyal Ford guy for more years then most have been driving I am going to shop other brands. I hate rattles!

        1. Dan Akers

          Sounds like me I hate rattles also! Try any Honda they cost a little more but if Honda tells you they will make whatever take it to the bank!
          Dan A.

        2. Vincent Sammut

          I leased a 2021 Explorer and found the vehicle to be unfinished in many areas.
          Engine/transmission calibration needed recalibration, NVH level too high with 2.3,
          Base radio very poor sound quality.
          Very dependable during three year lease
          So I leased a 2023 Explorer STLine and I am totally satisfied.
          Engine calibration seems to be perfect. Transmission does not clunk and is velvety smooth, NVH much improved. B&O radio worth the extra cost!
          The current Explorer drives like a different vehicle. 2024 is a carryover 2023.
          The 2025 model should be interesting. Hope Consumer Report gives it a fair evaluation!

  2. JME80

    I want to see what Jim Farley is going to do with the refreshed Explorer as that’s more on his watch than was the 2020-2023, which was on Hackett’s watch…

  3. Gary . Virginia.

    I have a 22 explorer and haven’t had any problems and no rough shifts. Sorry consumer reports for your opinion but I actually own one and so far it’s been a good vehicle.

  4. Gary . Virginia.

    Maybe it Consumer Report that needs to be avoided?

    1. Dennis Thompson

      I was an avid reader of Consumer Reports in the 80’s. Bought two cars they highly recommended and both were lemons. Those lemons soured (pun intended) me on listening to CR then on.

    2. Deadarmadillo

      I agree with that. Regarding vehicles, they basically hate American made and hate Ford in particular. My wife hase a 2016 Explorer that we bought new. Has been a great car even though at the time CR gave it one of their typically low scores.

  5. Dan White

    I have owned over 50 vehicles and many being Fords. Funny I have never once been asked to participate in a CR survey. I have a 22 Explorer with over 30k on the mileage. No issues at this point.

    1. Kent A

      I think only subscribers are asked to participate.

      1. Richard

        That is why the survey is faulted. The sample should be based on registrations. Their current method has a built in bias.

  6. Shockandawe

    Another win for Ford, please share it with commercials.

  7. Jim Glass

    It’s really a shame that the folks working to build this SUV don’t seem to take much pride in the product if all the complaints are to be believed. It’s a fine looking vehicle sitting on a rear drive chassis that should give it better handling than most SUVs. I’ve found Ford’s tech to be just fine too. On another note I think Ford missed the boat on the Fusion. It’s the one sedan that should have been continued and not required any massive styling changes over the years. It could have been built into a luxury sports sedan so easily with a wide variety of engines from 3 cylinders to the Coyote V8 rivaling BMW at least though the 5 series. Shame, shame Jim.

    1. Kaelie CE

      Lincoln’s MKZ with the AWD 3.0 TT is a car they really should have hung on to. It’s a fabulous vehicle It got lumped with the 2.0L/hybrid/3.0 FWD versions in the press, and even amongst most car folks. I’ve driven them all and believe me—they are not at all the same car.

      The AWD 3.0 was criminally under appreciated, especially at the top trim level. Mine is a 2019 and there’s nothing on the road I’d trade it for.

      I don’t care what Ford’s research said—not all of us want an SUV (or a soulless compact SUV). Quality issues can be ironed out but give us something to love besides the Mustang.

    2. Jim Elsasser

      I agree. Why Ford discontinued the Fusion is beyond me. It was a good seller and dependable vehicle. Now Ford is considering a 4 door Mustang. Makes absolutely no sense.

  8. J johnson

    Sounds like a hit piece to me, consumer reports… what a joke. And then slip in the Kia compliment in the article, give me a frickin break

    1. Richard

      KIA paid them more

  9. Kent A

    We have a ‘22 Limited with only a couple of minor issues. Good car overall. I’m a CR member but have never taken time to fill out the annual survey they send me.

  10. Cap

    I’ve owned a 2011 and now drive a 2015,the 2011 had 130,000 on it and the
    2015 has 90,000 with no issues

  11. Bill Bailey

    We have a 2021 Explorer XLT
    It has been great!
    No issues to date.
    We had a 2013 XLT with 176,000Mi that we traded in on the new one.

    I have every intention to keep buying Explorers

  12. Richard Klima

    Consumer reports cannot be trusted. JD Power gives the Explorer a rating of 83 out 100. In their rating scale this is “great”. By the way, I work for a Ford dealer.

    1. Lincoln Fan Mark

      Yep, I agree. I’ll skim Consumer Reports occasionally, but find some of their criticisms inane. They seem to like the Nautilus but consider the “piano key shifter” a major drawback in that, and other Lincoln models. Really? That’s just nonsense.

      I do agree that FMC needs to work on the quality issues that have plagued several models recently. When all corporate priorities are seen through an EV lens, ICE products are neglected and marginalized, undermining the reputation of a historically great company.

      1. Byron

        Stop Listening To Cosumer Reports Consumer Reports Is A Communist Website

  13. Devesh Kumar

    Own a 2022 XLT. 2.3Turbo is a silent and refined motor. It’s a 10 speed transmission and not a stupid CVT and much needed for my towing needs. I appreciate Ford for not bribing consumer reports. I regret paying 10k more over msrp though. Have owned Atlas and GLE in the past. Probably those complaining should not be driving this class of vehicle and stick to sedans. Explorer is a baby truck. If you don’t get that emotion, don’t buy one.

  14. William Mountford

    I absolutely love my 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum. No issues and is fun to drive.

  15. Materialman

    My Brother in Law had one, it was noisy, rattled, and had a taxi cab interior. He got rid of it and got a used Lexus.

  16. ArtG

    They don’t tell you what Kia dealers are charging for the Telluride. My daughter wanted one. A 36-month lease, 10K miles/yr lease started at $7500 down and $1200/month. From there, they went to $10G and $15G down. Who would put that kind of money down on a lease?

    That said, my son had an Explorer Sport. Biggest piece of crap ever.

  17. Marc

    I do not give a rat’s ass for Consumer Reports and their opinions. I still remember how they were giving top ratings to Toyota some years ago without ever driving their cars . . . while Toyota was having serious problems with some of their engines . . . problems they finally addressed after they lost a class action lawsuit.

  18. Shockandawe

    Are all these compliments from Ford employees schilling for Ford?

    1. BlaubKnaub

      Curt Schilling?

  19. wjtinfwb

    Explorers are built in Chicago, a Ford plant with a history of poor quality and labor challenges. My 3 Ford’s were built in Kentucky and Wayne Michigan and have been essentially perfect. Ford may need to reevaluate the Chicago plant for future product if they cannot get their act together.

  20. DRW

    Say what you will about Consumer Reports, and some of it is justified, their conclusion is consistent with a product that has been recalled and recalled and recalled time and again. Farley is better at talking than he is at execution. He has been on the job for two years and still the recalls keep on coming.

  21. Bob Dobson

    Consumer reports is a bunch of grumpy old dudes who are upset when they cant park in the parking spot next to the mall front doors. They no longer have credibility as they were proven to be biased towards Toyota.

    That said, I have a 21 ST and it is now on recall #7, build quality is terrible and there is no QC. The Chicago Assembly Plant Employees are made up of BLM and ATIFA supporters. Im selling mine and buying a Genesis GV70. Good bye Woke Ford Good luck building EVs.

  22. CW

    This should be the better Explorer….it the prevous one….that was front wheel drive…and had water pump inside camshaft timing chain area…that went bad and cooked engine…class action lawsuit on it….aleast this is rear wheel drive…

  23. John

    I guess this was designed to boost Ford ESP sales. 😆

  24. Richard

    In the current auto issue Consumer Reports gives a rating for the engine, engine cooling, fuel system and exhaust system for the Mach-E. Duh!

  25. Douglas

    I’m a fleet Manger of a large law enforcement agency. We have transitioned from Dodge Chargers to Ford Explorer PIUs. Our agency has not experienced any systemic issues with Ford Explorers. In fact, they have proven to be far more reliable than Dodge Chargers and Chevrolet Tahoes. I purchased a new, 2021 Ford Explorer XLT for my personal vehicle. It has functioned flawlessly for nearly 40K miles.

  26. JB

    I have a 2017 Explorer with 35000 miles on it. Has been great vehicle with no problems.

  27. Shelia Vaughan

    Don’t like the design of the 2022 or the 2023. Looks like someone kicked the rear end in. The body looks like its been squeezed in. Leans back like the shocks are bad. Their just ugly to me. I’ve been trying to make myself like it, but can’t. I love my 2013 design. Sometimes newer is not better. Same with the new edges.

  28. Elena

    Brought brand new Hybrid 2023 Ford Exorer Limited addition. Now facing elecectric battery replacement at 15000 miles and rear camera issues, second row captain seat creeps . Not a happy buyer .


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