10 most reliable Ford models

Aivaras Grigelevičius

Aivaras Grigelevičius

Ford is one of the oldest car manufacturers in the world, and has made a significant contribution to the automobile industry. However, having a wealth of knowledge doesn’t mean Ford vehicles are without flaw.

To help you choose, we've compiled a list of the most dependable Ford vehicles and explored their issues.

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How we made the list

Every year automotive information and consumer rights organizations study how vehicles behave in the long-term and analyze feedback from owners. All this data helps other vehicle buyers to make the right decision.

In order to create an objective list of the most reliable Ford cars, we considered the findings of prestigious and respected entities like Consumer Reports, J.D. Power, and others.

10. Ford Ranger

Orange Ford Ranger in a showroom
Source: Rutger van der Maar / Flickr

Americans have a soft spot for pickup trucks, and there are few compact trucks like the Ranger. This model offers decent maintenance costs and fuel efficiency without sacrificing its towing capability.

However, the Ford Ranger truck's reliability varies depending on its model year. For instance, the 2019 models have suffered numerous recalls. Furthermore, Consumer Reports only gave the 2019 model a 1 out of 5 reliability rating.

Later models, however, have significantly improved. The 2020 model year models have received a Consumer Reports reliability rating of 4 out of 5. Furthermore, 2021 model year Rangers received a predicted reliability score of 85 out of 100.

The most expensive and commonplace problem with the Ranger is transmission failure because of worn bands and clutches. To reduce wear and tear of the transmission, owners recommend changing transmission oil every 30,000 miles.

9. Ford Explorer

Blue Ford Explorer in a showroom
Source: Rutger van der Maar / Flickr

Big, equipped with extensive features, and capable of carrying seven people in absolute comfort – the Explorer is a formidable vehicle. Because of Ford's company policy and desire to impress even luxury vehicle owners, the Explorer can be fitted with a Plug-In Hybrid powertrain, offering an impressive 450 hp and 620 Nm of torque.

According to various reliability reports, the most recent Ford Explorer generation performs decently well, but is typically outperformed by Japanese rivals. While Toyota or Honda have higher quality standards and dependability ratings, J.D. Power gives the Explorer SUV a better reliability rating than other Ford models.

Early Explorers have had problems with the transmission. It may lurch and jolt, which can be unsettling. If your vehicle won't shift into gear, slips out of gear while driving, or jumps gears unexpectedly, you may want to visit your mechanic.

Warping and bubbling paint (which can lead to rust and corrosion) is another common Explorer problem.

8. Ford F-Series

Silver Ford F-Series pickup truck
Source: Crash71100 / Flickr

The most lovable and the most popular Ford model is a unique proposition. It’s practical, roomy and with the right engine, it can be economical. And best of all, it can tow another truck or trailer with a passenger car in it.

Although the Ford F-Series pickup truck has excellent capabilities in various settings, its reliability is average. The F-Series has received a 3.5 out of 5.0 reliability rating from RepairPal. A similar conclusion was reached by J.D. Power as well (predicted reliability score of 77 out of 100).

Existing and future owners of the F-Series should be aware of paint bubbles and peeling paint. This problem is so common that there’s even a class action lawsuit against the F-150's rust and corrosion.

According to the lawsuit, F-150 trucks corrode prematurely because of paint and aluminum body flaws. Ford is also blamed for knowing about the problem but not doing enough to assist customers.

7. Ford Edge

Dark brown Ford Edge in the sunlight
Source: Crash71100 / Flickr

Mid-size SUVs are very well-liked in North America, where cabin space and a comfortable chassis are priorities. While the Ford Edge was priced competitively in North America, the story is different in Europe, where the Edge was positioned as an upmarket crossover with a 50% price bump. The quality has failed to demonstrate a corresponding 50% improvement.

Much like the considerably larger F-150 series truck, the Edge delivers a decent reliability rating. J.D. Power has consistently rated the Ford Edge as one of the top 5 most dependable midsize SUVs. Furthermore, according to RepairPal, The Ford Edge also ranks 7th out of 26 other vehicles in its class.

That said, electrical issues are quite common in the Ford Edge. For example, the Edge has an annoying door ajar light issue. When a door is open, the door ajar sensor detects and alerts your vehicle's ECU. It then activates the dash icon, indicating that the door is open. If the light remains on, you may have a complex problem to resolve.

6. Ford Fiesta

Blue sporty Ford Fiesta ST
Source: More Cars / Flickr

For decades, the Ford Fiesta was one of the company's bestsellers in Europe. Small dimensions and low maintenance costs have helped to persuade buyers, but today these qualities are not enough. Because of decreasing sales, Ford has discontinued the Fiesta in North America, South America, Australia, and Asia.

Although Ford's sales numbers won't be much affected by the Fiesta's discontinuation in North America, the company has lost one of their most dependable vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Volkswagen Golf, and the Volvo XC60 were all outperformed by the Ford Fiesta in the AutoExpress ownership survey, Driver Power. Fiesta owners gave it an overall rating of 84.84%.

However, like the Edge SUV, the Fiesta hatchback has issues with the door ajar warning light. Also, its turbocharged engines may be susceptible to carbon deposits building up in the inlet manifold.

5. Ford Focus

Yellow Ford Focus ST
Source: Michael / Flickr

For years, the Focus was a symbol of Ford’s passenger car lineup. While the Focus is still sold in various parts of the world, it’s not as popular as it used to be. But it is still very reliable!

The What Car? reliability study gives the Focus a reliability rating of 90.5%, beating the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Honda Civic, and the technology-infused Volkswagen Golf.

As for common problems, some Focus cars have small displacement three or four-cylinder engines that also come with a particulate filter to cut down the emissions. The latter usually becomes an issue, as models with 1.0-liter and 1.5-liter petrol engines start getting a warning message.

Owners of the Focus have also reported problems with the auto-hold system. This issue is caused by the battery management system, which turns off the auto-hold function when battery charges fall below a certain level. The good news is that these issues can be resolved simply by turning off the start/stop system.

4. Ford Escape

White Ford Escape parked by the curb
Source: RL GNZLZ / Flickr

Four generations of the Ford Escape (also known as the Kuga in Europe) have helped the company increase its market share in its competitive segment. The 4th generation Escape has a Plug-in Hybrid option, which can go 37 miles (60 km) on electricity alone.

While the 4th-generation model arrived in showrooms only in 2019, it would generally be premature to discuss the technical issues of the new model. However, RepairPal gave Ford Escape a high reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0. J.D. Power was also impressed by it, giving a predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Minor problems seemed to prevent Ford Escape from getting excellent ratings. Some owners are irritated by the 12-volt battery, which may drain overnight. However, battery issues are uncommon, so it's safe to say that the 4th-generation model is still quite dependable.

3. Ford Transit Connect

Silver Ford Transit Connect on grass
Source: Michel Curi / Flickr

The Ford Transit Connect city van is known for compact dimensions, agility, impressive roominess, and an affordable price. While these vehicles are very popular in Europe, Ford also sells them in other parts of the world.

The Transit Connect is equipped with the same suspension components, comfort features, and technology as other Ford passenger vehicles. This also means that the Transit Connect is safe and reliable.

The NewsFleet dependability study has proven the vehicle’s reliability credentials. The survey places the Ford Transit Connect, which outperformed the larger and more expensive Ford Transit Custom, fifth among vans.

Overall, the Transit Connect has just a few niggles with the brake hydraulic system, the rear doors, and the transmission and shifter cable.

2. Ford Mustang

White Ford Mustang V8 5.0
Source: FotoSleuth / Flickr

The Ford Mustang is a global model made for a specific type of buyer – young, rebellious, and ignoring current automotive industry trends. Like its owners, the Ford Mustang is also very different compared to usual sports cars, which is why the Mustang is so great.

The 6th-generation Ford Mustang has proved more dependable than several competitors in this class. However, the 10-speed automatic transmission may cause issues. Because of faulty valve bodies, the Mustang’s transmission may become unresponsive or even nonfunctional.

Owners also report issues with air conditioner compressors, faulty seat memory systems, and loose rear-view camera connectors.

1. Ford Fusion

Red Ford Fusion
Source: Abdullah AlBargan / Flickr

A genuinely global model sold in the most important markets worldwide, including Europe, the US, and China. Ford has ensured that the Fusion (also known as the Mondeo) offers excellent fuel economy, good value, and high safety ratings.

In terms of reliability, the Ford Fusion is the most dependable model in the lineup. In the highly competitive midsize car class, the Fusion achieves the same reliability rating in the J.D. Power vehicle dependability study as the Toyota Camry and the Mazda 6. Also, it’s one of the most reliable American car models, making it a very attractive alternative to some very well known cars.

The most common problems with the Fusion are transmission half shaft leaks and a power steering failure. These issues are well known and documented, so resolving them won’t be a problem. However, it can be costly.

Is Ford more reliable than Toyota?

Dark grey fully electric Ford Mustang Mach E
Source: Dennis Elzinga / Flickr

Toyota makes cars that don’t break very often. Even today, with more complex electrical systems and an impressive list of safety equipment, Toyota has maintained its position as a reliable vehicle manufacturer.

Ford is generally nowhere near as reliable. According to several vehicle durability studies, including those conducted by J.D. Power and Consumer Reports, Toyota stands firmly among the most reliable vehicle manufacturers. At the same time, Ford usually struggles to produce cheap and reliable car models that could overcome rivals from Europe and Japan. All that said, some Ford models are comparably reliable.

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Aivaras Grigelevičius

Article by

Aivaras Grigelevičius

Aivaras has been excited about cars since he was a little kid. Later, this passion for drivable objects (and everything that surrounds them) grew into work as an automotive journalist. Since then, Aivaras has written for several different magazines, covering anything with an accelerator pedal. He has a soft spot for cars with an Alfa Romeo badge.