8 Best & Worst Ford Explorer Years (Stats & Examples)

Since its debut in 1991, the Explorer has gone undergone several redesigns and updates, with each new model promising improved performance, better features, and increased reliability. 

However, not all Explorer models are created equal, and some have fared better than others over the years. 

Whether you’re considering purchasing a used Explorer or simply interested in learning more about this iconic SUV, this comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

The Best and Worst Years for Ford Explorer Are:

According to a host of consumer and reliability reports, the 2001, 2010, 2019, 2021, and 2022 model years are the most reliable for the Ford Explorer. However, the 2002, 2015, and 2017 models should be avoided based on a lack of dependability, low crash test ratings, and unsatisfactory reviews.

What Ford Explorer Years Are the Most Reliable?

If you’re in the market for a used Ford Explorer, reliability is likely one of your top concerns. 

While many factors can impact a vehicle’s dependability, certain Explorer model years have a reputation for being more reliable than others. 

In this section of the article, we’ll look at some of the most reliable Ford Explorer years based on data from reputable sources such as Consumer Reports and J.D. Power.

2021 & 2022 Ford Explorer

The 2021 and 2022 Ford Explorer models have been regarded as the most reliable model years of all time due to their high-reliability ratings, positive consumer satisfaction reviews, and advanced technology and safety features.

According to J.D. Power, the 2021 Ford Explorer received a dependability rating of 83 out of 100, which is above average for its class. 

Consumer Reports also listed the 2021 and 2022 Ford Explorer under ‘recommended SUVs’, praising their spacious interiors, comfortable ride, and improved fuel economy.

In addition to their reliability ratings, both model years offer Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assist features as standard, which includes:

  • Lane departure warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Automatic emergency braking

The 2021 and 2022 models also have a standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Moreover, the 2021 Ford Explorer is equipped with a hybrid powertrain option, which delivers an impressive 27 city and 29 highway MPG, making it one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs in its class. 

The Explorer ST trim level is a high-performance model that offers a twin-turbo V6 engine, capable of producing a surprising 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque.

In summary, the Ford Explorer models for 2021 and 2022 have established a new benchmark for dependability, safety, and technology in the SUV segment. 

These model years stand out from the others thanks to their cutting-edge features, enhanced fuel efficiency, and outstanding customer satisfaction ratings.

2019 Ford Explorer

The 2019 Ford Explorer is a model year that has proven to be reliable, with solid ratings and a track record of dependability. 

The following are some of the factors that contribute to the 2019 Explorer’s reputation for reliability.

The 2019 Ford Explorer received an above-average dependability rating of 83 out of 100 from J.D. Power, which is higher than average.

Another contributing factor to the 2019 Explorer’s reliability is its safety ratings. 

While the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2019 Explorer with its highest rating of ‘Good’ in all categories, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the vehicle a five-star overall safety rating.

Furthermore, the 2019 Ford Explorer is equipped with a range of advanced safety features, including a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, and Ford’s MyKey system, allowing parents to set driving limitations for their teenage drivers.

The V6 models also offer a maximum towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds, making it an ideal choice for those who need to haul heavy loads.

Overall, the 2019 Ford Explorer’s high dependability ratings, top-notch safety ratings, and advanced safety features make it a reliable choice for those in the market for a midsize SUV.

2010 Ford Explorer

The 2010 Ford Explorer model is often regarded as one of the most reliable SUVs of its time, with impressive ratings in power, reliability, and exterior design. 

According to J.D. Power, the Explorer received a dependability rating of 4 out of 5, placing it above average for its class.

That said, one of the standout features of the 2010 Ford Explorer is its powerful towing and cargo-hauling capabilities. 

With a maximum towing capacity of up to 7,000 pounds and a spacious cargo area, the Explorer is an ideal choice for families and adventurers who require a vehicle that can transport heavy loads with ease and tackle any road trip.

In addition to these capabilities, the 2010 Explorer model also boasts a high-quality exterior design that has stood the test of time. 

Its rugged yet refined look remains popular among SUV enthusiasts, and its design has been replicated in later models of the Explorer.

As a great value vehicle, the 2010 model can be bought for a lower price point compared to newer models, yet it still offers impressive features and capabilities. 

This makes it an ideal choice for buyers looking for a reliable and capable SUV at an affordable price.

2001 Ford Explorer

The 2001 Ford Explorer is a model year that has gained a reputation for being reliable, with numerous statistics to support this claim. 

According to a report by Edmunds, the 2001 Ford Explorer received a 90% vehicle recommendation primarily due to its longevity and towing capabilities.

One of the main reasons for the 2001 Explorer’s reliability is its durable construction.

The vehicle was built with a sturdy body-on-frame design, which made it well-suited for off-road driving and towing heavy loads. 

This made the Explorer a popular choice for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike, as it offered plenty of space for passengers and cargo, as well as the ability to haul a trailer or boat.

While the 2001 Explorer may not have the most up-to-date driving experience, it has a retro feel that many cars can’t match today. Its simple yet functional design, spacious interior, and reliable performance make it a classic model that has stood the test of time.

These features have made the 2001 Explorer a reliable SUV that has remained a popular choice for those seeking a larger vehicle that can handle both on-road and off-road driving.

What Ford Explorer Years Should You Avoid?

While the Ford Explorer has been a popular SUV for decades, not all model years have been created equal. Some model years have had recurring issues or design flaws that have led to poor performance or reliability. 

As a car buyer, it’s essential to do your research and understand which Ford Explorer years you should avoid if you’re looking for a dependable vehicle. 

Below we’ll look at the Ford Explorer years that have had the most problems, giving you a better understanding of the Ford Explorer models years to steer clear of.

2002 Ford Explorer

The 2002 Ford Explorer is a model year that has a reputation for being unreliable and has received poor consumer satisfaction reviews.

According to J.D. Power, the 2002 Explorer was rated as the least reliable SUV in its class, with a below-average dependability rating. 

This poor rating was due to a range of issues, including:

  • Transmission problems
  • Engine troubles
  • Electrical malfunctions

On CarComplaints, the 2017 Explorer has received the site’s number one spot on the vehicles to ‘Avoid Like The Plague’ list, with owners reporting multiple issues that can be both frustrating and expensive to repair.

In fact, the site reflects that the 2002 model has received over 8000 complaints (most related to transmission), 10 recalls, and 7 National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) defect investigations.

Therefore, the 2002 Explorer’s safety ratings were sure to be concerning. 

The NHTSA gave the 2002 Explorer a two-star rating for its rollover safety, which is the lowest possible rating, and cited the Explorer’s high center of gravity as a factor.

The 2002 Explorer’s poor reliability rating is reflected in consumer satisfaction reports. 

Consumer Reports reflect that the 2002 Explorer received a rating of 14 out of 100, which is one of the lowest ratings for any SUV. 

That said, the 2002 Ford Explorer is a model year to avoid due to its well-documented reliability issues. 

While it may be tempting to purchase a used 2002 Explorer due to its low price, the potential for costly repairs and safety concerns make it a risky investment. 

2015 Ford Explorer

The 2015 Ford Explorer is a model year with low ratings and negative consumer satisfaction reviews. 

Consumer Reports gave the 2015 Ford Explorer an undeniably low rating, with a score of 40 out of 100, which is well below average for its class. 

This low score was due to the high number of reported issues and complaints from owners, particularly in areas such as:

  • Transmission
  • Engine
  • Body hardware

These complaints seem justified when looking at reliability ratings from J.D. Power. The 2015 Ford Explorer received a dependability rating of 2 out of 5, which is below average for its class.

This rating indicates that the 2015 Explorer had a high number of reported problems and issues with its reliability, particularly in the areas mentioned above.

In addition to the reliability issues, the 2015 Ford Explorer also received low ratings for its fuel economy and handling. 

Many reviewers noted that the 2015 Explorer felt heavy and sluggish to drive and that its fuel economy was below average for its class.

One of the most common issues reported by 2015 Ford Explorer owners is transmission problems. 

Many owners reported experiencing jerking or shuddering when shifting gears, and some even had their transmissions fail. 

Other issues reported by 2015 Explorer owners include electrical problems, such as malfunctioning door locks and windows.

Based on these reliability ratings and consumer satisfaction reports, the 2015 Ford Explorer is a model year to avoid. 

Its low dependability rating, a high number of reported issues, and negative consumer reviews make it a risky choice for buyers looking for a reliable and safe SUV.

2017 Ford Explorer

The 2017 Ford Explorer has been a model year to avoid due to its tendency to show significant wear and tear over less than 25,000 miles. 

One of the most significant issues reported with the 2017 Ford Explorer is premature wear and tear on its front wheel bearings.

Multiple owners have reported hearing a grinding or whining noise coming from the front wheels, with some cases requiring complete replacement of the bearings at less than 25,000 miles. 

Another common issue with the 2017 Explorer is its transmission. 

Many owners have reported transmission slipping, rough shifting, and complete transmission failure at low mileage, with some vehicles requiring a full replacement of the transmission. 

Overall, multiple issues with its front wheel bearings, transmission, and electrical system have been reported by owners, leading to costly repairs and frustration.

If you are considering purchasing a used 2017 Explorer, it’s essential to inspect the vehicle carefully and be prepared for potential repair costs down the line.

What Are Some Typical Problems With the Ford Explorer Models?

While the Ford Explorer has been a popular SUV for over two decades, it’s not immune to common problems affecting its performance and reliability. 

Understanding the typical issues that can arise with Ford Explorer models can help you make an informed decision when purchasing one or assist you in maintaining your current vehicle. 

Below are some of the most common problems reported with Ford Explorer models over the years. 

  • Transmission issues
  • Wheel bearing failure
  • Paint bubble issues

For a more in-depth analysis, please read our article about common issues with Ford Explorers.

Whether you’re an Explorer owner or considering purchasing one, we hope this guide has provided you with essential knowledge about potential problems to look out for when buying an Explorer.


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Here Are The Ford Explorer Years To Avoid

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