DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. was hit with more bad news Thursday, thanks to the problematic launch of its Ford Explorer.
Ford's namesake Blue Oval brand placed 22nd in the latest Annual Auto Reliability Survey from Consumer Reports, down six spots from last year. The luxury Lincoln brand placed last at 26th, down 11 spots.
The 2020 Auto Reliability Surveys are based on data collected from Consumer Reports members about their experiences with more than 300,000 vehicles. The survey findings were announced at an online news conference before the Detroit-based Automotive Press Association.
Among new or redesigned vehicles, 44% have much-worse-than-average reliability. But as issues are worked out, reliability improves over time.
The Explorer was one of the lowest scoring models from any manufacturer — foreign or domestic. Owners reported to Consumer Reports the need for transmission replacements, along with drive system, in-car electronics, power equipment and engine and body hardware issues.
In a statement to The Detroit News, Ford spokesman Mike Levine said: "Each vehicle launch is unique. In this case, the transformation at Chicago Assembly to build Explorer was one of the most complex in the company's history.
"Since launching Explorer, we have been relentless on improving its quality and our quality processes at the plant. Our most recent internal surveys show that we have improved Explorer quality to where our customers expect."
Ford has been battling the ramifications of the botched Explorer launch since last year. The Dearborn automaker's profits dipped 99% in 2019 because of the troubled launch. A rushed production caused long delays and SUVs with faulty seats, loose wiring harnesses and digital displays with buggy software.
Meanwhile, Ford's F-250 and F-350 pickups, Expedition, Fusion, and Mustang were all ranked average. The Edge was Ford's only model to score above average.
Lincoln ranked low because its brand-new SUVs share platforms with their problematic Ford peers, Consumer Reports said. The luxury brand was also hurt by its decision to discontinue the Continental and MKZ, which had been reliable sedans.