The Ford Explorer is a very important model for Ford, especially since the year 2011. That was the year the automaker transformed its struggling SUV, sales of which were in the doldrums, by giving it a unibody chassis instead of the old ladder truck structure. The Explorer was reborn as a much more civilized and fashionable SUV.
The success that followed was resounding. Just between 2010 and 2011, sales jumped from 60,687 to 135,704 in the United States, and between 2011 and 2019 sales continued to grow dramatically. In 2017, Ford sold 271,131 versions of its SUV. Even in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, just over 200,000 were snapped up by the end of November. As of September 30, 11,447 units sold in Canada, already far ahead of the 9,000 or so units that sold in all of 2019.
Obviously, the model appeals to many. And there’s no denying it has several qualities. But there are storm clouds swirling above the Explorer. The current generation, introduced for 2020, is having a difficult start. The model’s reputation has taken a hit in the face of production stumbles and several recalls.
It thus behooves us to take a look at the issues the new generation has faced, before getting to the specifics of the hybrid version we very recently test-drove.