U.S. consumers can't seem to get enough of the new Explorer. It is the fastest-turning vehicle in Ford showrooms these days.
But Consumer Reports -- one of America's favorite shopping guides -- isn't so enamored of Ford's latest crossover.
In its latest issue, on sale this week, the magazine ranked the redesigned Explorer 17th among 19 similar vehicles tested.
In fact, the new Explorer placed just ahead of the Ford Edge and Nissan Pathfinder -- two models the magazine says scored too low when road tested earlier to be recommended.
Ouch. For a company reveling in recent product successes and quality advances, that has to sting.
Ford spent years and millions of dollars to overhaul and transform the Explorer into a car-based SUV. And for good reason: It is one of Ford's most vaunted nameplates and a one-time cornerstone of the automaker's profit machine -- perhaps second only to the F-series pickup.
The new Explorer is far more advanced and polished than the truck-based Explorer SUV that once generated annual U.S. sales in excess of 400,000 units and dominated the segment for years.
And as Consumer Reports noted, the slimmed-down Explorer now achieves 18 mpg overall -- a notable improvement over 15 mpg on the previous model.