It may not look markedly different from the outgoing model, but the Explorer has been completely redesigned for 2020. We enjoy its agile handling and spacious, quiet cabin, but the clunky transmission, noisy engine, and stiff-edged ride leave it with a middling rank among three-row midsized SUVs. Further, some comparably equipped rivals, such as the Hyundai Palisade and Subaru Ascent, cost about $6,000 less.
Alerts
There are 11 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.
Emissions
Greenhouse Gas Greenhouse Gas The Greenhouse Gas Rating represents the amount of carbon dioxide the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).
Smog Rating Smog Rating The Smog Rating represents the amount of health-damaging and smog-forming airborne pollutants the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
NA
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Transmission Minor Transmission Minor Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.
NA
Drive System Drive System Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
NA
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS standard. Side air bags available 1999-2001, standard from 2006. Head protection air bags available from 2002, standard from 2008. ESC available from 2003, standard from 2005.
Road Test

It may not look markedly different from the outgoing model, but the Explorer has been completely redesigned for 2020. We enjoy its agile handling and spacious, quiet cabin, but the clunky transmission, noisy engine, and stiff-edged ride leave it with a middling rank among three-row midsized SUVs. Further, some comparably equipped rivals, such as the Hyundai Palisade and Subaru Ascent, cost about $6,000 less.

The Explorer's new rear-drive-based platform (most competitors are front-drive-based) contributes to its newfound handling chops and improved tow rating—5,300 pounds on our test vehicle. Our all-wheel-drive Explorer proved adept through corners, with responsive steering and firm suspension that gave drivers confidence. Ride quality is less compliant than many rivals, though, and it transmits frequent jiggles into the cabin.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear, 2 third
Drive Wheels
AWD , Rear
Warranty
Coverage varies among versions of this vehicle

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
4-door SUV
Transmissions Available
  • 10-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 2.3-liter 4 turbo (300 hp)
  • 3-liter V6 turbo (365 hp)
  • 3-liter V6 turbo (400 hp)
  • 3.3-liter V6 hybrid (318 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2020 Ford Explorer owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Coolers and lines

"Transmission cooler leaked with 11,000 miles while on a trip from Michigan to Florida."

Anonymous, MI (2020 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"Transmission cooler stopped working and had to be replaced. Vehicle only had 2500 miles at that time and vehicle was in the shop for three weeks. New design and flawed production roll out."

Anonymous, KY (2020 Ford Explorer XLT 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Rough shifting

"A customer satisfaction software update was completed to alleviate rough and sporadic shifting from the 10 speed transmission."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"Shifts rough in 1st and 2nd gear up and down and is especially noticeable in stop and go traffic"

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"On three separate occasions the vehicle has had issues accelerating from a stop, always in a turn. The vehicle will lurch, shift very hard, then lock itself in a gear, usually second or fourth. It will remain in this gear until you put in it park and shut off the vehicle. It feels like when you drive a manual and don't release the clutch all the way. I have had it happen on right hand and left hand turns and it is causing me to questions it's safety. We will be taking it into the dealer for repairs soon."

Anonymous, MI (2020 Ford Explorer XLT 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Transmission computer

"Transmission would not shift gears when leaving parking lot. Sometimes I would be driving on the freeway and it would not shift gears or it would stop driving forward and the engine would rev up very high. This happened a few times and sometimes it would correct itself when I would stop on turn the car off then back on. I eventually had to have it towed to the dealership where I bought it. They said it was a known problem from Ford and they reprogrammed the transmission computer. Then I had to take it back to the dealership a couple of months later because they had another recall on the transmission and it had to be reprogrammed again."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"Transmission would not shift up past 2nd gear and shift extremely rough"

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"I am left to believe the the issues I have had with the transmission are the result of software issues."

Anonymous, MI (2020 Ford Explorer XLT 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Transmission leaks

"The transmission cooler began leaking fluid into the ground at approximately 7000 miles. The part was on backorder. This is a common issue with the new 2020 Explorer."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Display screen freezes up

"Micosoftsync is not working properly for Siruis/CM"

Anonymous, MA (2020 Ford Explorer XLT 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Display screen goes blank

"This problem would occur intermittently with the other problem of the screen locking up. These problems would occur sometimes on startup and sometimes it would happen while driving. I could only get it to work again after turning the car off then back on. Eventually, the dealership fixed it by replacing some module for it. They didn't say that it was part of a recall but, instead they said that my radio had the wrong module in it and they needed to order and put in a new one."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Routine software updates

"Routine software update to the SYNC system are problematic. Just checking to see if there are any usually results in the system staying in a loop checking. If you fiddle with it enough (15, 20 minutes) you can usually find out if there is an update and the last time the system was updated. But I have very little confidence that any of the information is correct. An additional issue, which is probably more important, is a "routine" software update that was applied to my vehicle which was NOT a SYNC update. the only reason I knew about the update was that the "Ford Pass" iPhone app told me that that one had been applied and that I had to start my vehicle "in person" (I think the app said "manually") as the remote start option would not work until this was done because vehicle software had been updated. How would I have known that the software had been updated if I didn't have the app? Exactly what software was updated? What different behavior should I expect from my vehicle?"

Anonymous, MI (2020 Ford Explorer ST 3.0-L V6 turbo)
Software update fixes

"Sync 3 is slow to respond and constantly updating. When you put car in reverse you have to wait for backup camera to display. Backup camera fills less than a quarter of the 10 inch screen which makes it hard to see. 10 inch screen is in an awkward location, should be in the landscape position not portrait."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.0-L V6 turbo)

"The first time it starting jerking and would no go over 20 miles an hour-had to have car towed to the dealership. They said it was a "computer glitch". The second time it would just not start. Would not do anything. Again had to have towed to dealership. They could not find anything wrong with it. I would trade it in but would lose too much $ and Ford Headquarters does not respond to my letters. I am still waiting for reimbursement for the expenses incurred with the first breakdown. There is a reason FORD is known as Found on Road Dead. This is a PRIME EXAMPLE! Traded my CRV HONDA for this . . wish I had it back!"

Anonymous, AZ (2020 Ford Explorer Unsure 3.0-L V6 turbo)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Loose exterior trim or moldings

"after a car wash in a facility with rotating brushes I noticed the wheel well trim was protruding out farther than the adjacent trim"

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer XLT 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Loose interior trim or moldings

"Moulding on passenger door were loose. Pwer liftgate does not always open all the way."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"Damaged front drivers side door sill. Broken mounting tabs."

Anonymous, IL (2020 Ford Explorer ST 3.0-L V6 turbo)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Engine computer

"Vehicle was in service for 3 months"

Anonymous, MI (2020 Ford Explorer Platinum 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Oil leaks

"Defective valve cover gasket leaked oil."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer ST 3.0-L V6 turbo)

"We noticed small pools of oil in the garage under where the car is parked. We took it to the dealership. They said some part had cracked and had to be replaced. It took about 4 days in the shop. It was completely covered under warranty. No issues now that it has been fixed."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer XLT Unsure)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Glass defects

"2 -3 inch diameter scratched circles on both sides of rear glass. Visible at time of delivery. Assembly issue probably."

Anonymous, IL (2020 Ford Explorer ST 3.0-L V6 turbo)
Mirrors

"Defective mirror - loose mounting caused by mechanical problem"

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer ST 3.0-L V6 turbo)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Transmission rebuild or replacement

"Transmission failed after about 300 miles and was replaced under warranty. Without vehicle for 3 weeks."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.0-L V6 turbo)

"Just driving and it started changing gears. Something came loose and caused the problem."

Anonymous, NE (2020 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Pulsation or vibration

"Vehicle up shifted erratically/jerky. Downshifted abruptly especially at low speed - jerked us forward in seats."

Anonymous, CA (2020 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.0-L V6 turbo)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Wiper motor or washer

"The wipers quit working so my daughter was unable to use her car if there was any chance of rain. The dealership provided a loaner car during the repair which took over a week for them to decide to change out the whole wiper motor."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer XLT Unsure)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Air or water leaks

"One of the drains for the sunroof was improperly formed at the factory, resulting in water leaking into the headliner and running to the back of the car, pouring down the D pillar."

Anonymous, OH (2020 Ford Explorer ST 3.0-L V6 turbo)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

"Air conditioner system was not charged with gas at factory. Dealer took care of problem."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.0-L V6 turbo)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Electrical failure

"The first time the "computer glitch" was supposedly fixed with a hard download of new software. I was obviously NOT the first person with this problem. The second time they could find nothing wrong . . but it would not start-would not do anything."

Anonymous, AZ (2020 Ford Explorer Unsure 3.0-L V6 turbo)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Fuel pump

"Pump hose disconnected from engine. Called Ford and they towed it the dealer where it was repaired."

Anonymous, (2020 Ford Explorer Limited 3.0-L V6 turbo)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

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