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10 SUVs to Avoid Before 35,000 Miles: A Reliability Guide

SUVs are everywhere these days, from full-size to midsize, compact, and crossovers. With so many options for buyers looking to purchase a pre-owned SUV, it’s crucial to know that not all vehicles are created equal. Some SUVs might end up costing you more in repair bills than they’re worth.

10 SUVs to Avoid Before 35,000 Miles: A Reliability Guide
10 SUVs to Avoid Before 35,000 Miles: A Reliability Guide

Remember, the warranty on these used SUVs has likely expired, leaving you to handle the costs on your own. Today, we’ll break down 10 used SUVs made since 2020 that have become notoriously unreliable.

We use Consumer Reports’ reliability score to rank them from the least to the most problematic, examining 17 potential trouble spots like the engine, transmission, suspension, and electrical system, all based on thousands of owner surveys.

2020 GMC Arcadia

2020 GMC Arcadia
2020 GMC Arcadia

Starting off the list is the GMC Arcadia. Initially released as a full-size crossover, the Arcadia was redesigned in 2017 to be smaller and midsize, losing 7 inches in length and 700 pounds in weight.

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The automaker claimed this model would offer more technology, better comfort, and safer travel. However, owners have reported issues with the electrical system, noises, and leaks.

Consumer Reports gave the 2020 GMC Arcadia a reliability rating of 37 out of 100. Major issues include the climate control system, electronics, and overall build quality.

Owners noted rough shifts from the 9-speed automatic transmission and various air and water leaks due to hose problems. To date, the 2020 GMC Arcadia has had six recalls, the most serious being missing bolts in the powertrain that could cause a transmission oil leak and lead to power loss while driving.

2020 Lincoln Aviator

2020 GMC Arcadia
2020 GMC Arcadia

Next up is the Lincoln Aviator, taking the ninth spot. Despite its luxurious brand, the Aviator is not more reliable. The 2020 model began the Aviator’s second generation after a 15-year break.

Based on the Ford Explorer, the Aviator offers two engine options, both paired with a 10-speed automatic that connects to rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. It’s a stunning SUV, and you can find a pre-owned one for under $35,000 if you can deal with some issues.

The three-row midsize SUV scored only 22 out of 100 from Consumer Reports for reliability. Problems include the powertrain, transmission, and in-car electronics.

Owners have reported the transmission slipping or failing entirely, and there have been 16 recalls, many related to the electrical systems and some to the powertrain. One owner said they experienced a leaky sunroof within 24 hours of purchase, followed by malfunctioning seat belts and computer issues.

2020 Jeep Wrangler

2020 Jeep Wrangler
2020 Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler, tracing its roots back to the reliable Willy Jeep of WWII, is now far from dependable. The current model, in its fourth generation since 2017, is available in many configurations, including two and four-door bodies with engines ranging from a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder to a 3.6L V6 with 285 horsepower. Both an 8-speed automatic and a six-speed manual are available.

With an average used price of $27,000, the 2020 Wrangler is a cheaper way to get an iconic SUV, but it comes with reliability issues.

Consumer Reports gave it a reliability rating of just 20 out of 100. Issues include the powertrain, steering, and suspension. Many owners reported the steering jerking wildly, known as death wobble, on bumpy roads at highway speeds. This resulted in a class-action lawsuit settled in mid-2023 in favor of the owners.

2022 Audi Q3

2022 Audi Q3
2022 Audi Q3

Taking the seventh spot is the Audi Q3, the brand’s least expensive and most unreliable SUV. Now in its second generation, the Q3 is one of the smallest SUVs on this list.

The 2022 model is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder paired with an 8-speed automatic that sends power to all four wheels through Audi’s famous Quattro system. With an average used price under $30,000, the Q3 offers a taste of European luxury, but it comes with many issues.

Consumer Reports gave the Q3 a rating of 16 out of 100, citing problems with the powertrain, fuel system, brakes, and climate control. Owners have particularly complained about constant issues with the infotainment system, which can seem like it has a mind of its own or outright refuse to work.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas

2021 Volkswagen Atlas
2021 Volkswagen Atlas

The Volkswagen Atlas takes the sixth spot. First introduced in 2017, the Atlas is still in its first generation. It’s great for those who don’t want a huge vehicle but still need a third row. The 2021 model is powered by either a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder or a 3.6L V6, both paired with an 8-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive.

At around $25,000, the 2021 Atlas is one of the cheapest 3-year-old German SUVs you can buy, but Consumer Reports suggests avoiding it.

With a reliability rating of just 14 out of 100, issues include the engine, brakes, electronics, and overall build quality. Owners have complained about loose trim pieces, rattling doors, and various other build quality problems.

The 2021 Atlas has had 16 recalls, the most serious being a possible fractured steering knuckle which could cause loss of vehicle control.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

In the fifth spot is the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L. As part of the newest fifth generation of the Grand Cherokee line, the Grand Cherokee L added 6.9 inches to the previous generation’s two-row model and included a third row of seats.

While the non-L version was produced in the same factory that first built the Grand Cherokee, the L was assembled in a new factory, possibly contributing to its reliability issues. It is powered by either a 3.6L V6 with 290 horsepower or a 5.7L V8 Hemi with 357 horsepower, both paired with an 8-speed automatic.

Consumer Reports gave the Grand Cherokee L a reliability score of 13 out of 100. Major issues include the powertrain, transmission, electronics, and various noises and leaks.

Owners reported problems from the transmission failing to struts coming loose, along with the usual unresponsive infotainment systems.

2021 GMC Yukon

2021 GMC Yukon
2021 GMC Yukon

The GMC Yukon is a best-seller among full-sized SUVs year after year. The 2021 model was the first in the Yukon’s latest fifth-generation iteration. Behind its imposing grill are three powerful engine options: a 3.0L 6-cylinder turbo diesel with 277 horsepower, a 355 horsepower 5.3L V8, or a 420 horsepower 6.2L V8. Despite these powerful engines, reliability is lacking.

The big SUV received a 12 out of 100 from Consumer Reports. Issues include the engine, powertrain, and fuel system. Owners have criticized the transmission for slipping at low speeds or clunking when changing gears.

One owner reported, “My new 2021 Yukon with 3,000 miles on it already has an engine failure. The dealer says a lifter failed, which in turn damaged a push rod.” There have been 11 recalls for this model, ranging from seat belt malfunctions to fuel system problems that can cause the vehicle to stall.

2021 Chevy Suburban and Tahoe

2021 Chevy Suburban and Tahoe
2021 Chevy Suburban and Tahoe

Next up are the Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, badge-engineered siblings of the GMC Yukon. It’s no surprise they share its poor reliability.

The 2021 Tahoe model was the first in its newest generation, with the same three engine options and transmission. Both trucks share the Yukon’s 12 out of 100 reliability rating, along with steering and electronics issues. Owners have specifically called out the fuel system for causing their SUVs to refuse to start due to no fuel delivery.

The Tahoe outdoes the Yukon with 13 recalls, including a serious drive shaft failure that can result in sudden power loss.

2021 Ford Explorer

In second place is the 2020 Ford Explorer. Ford’s workhorse SUV has been around since 1990, with the 2020 model marking the start of its fifth generation.

It has four engine options, ranging from a 2.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder to a 3.0L turbocharged V6. With a pre-owned price just below $25,000, the Explorer offers a three-row SUV experience, but it’s plagued with reliability issues.

Consumer Reports gave it a rating of 12 out of 100, noting problems with the powertrain, transmission, and body hardware. Owners reported issues with the transmission’s rough, jerky shifting and numerous complaints about loose trim and random squeaks and noises.

The 2020 Explorer has had 22 recalls, covering almost every system you can think of, with the most concerning being a possible disconnecting drive shaft that could cause power loss or allow the car to roll away when parked.

2022 Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid

Taking the top spot for the least reliable SUV is the 2022 Volvo XC60 plug-in hybrid. Despite Volvo’s reputation, this model is a massive outlier. Introduced during the XC60’s second generation, the plug-in hybrid version has serious reliability issues. It’s powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder paired with a hybrid system, combining for 400 horsepower.

Consumer Reports gave it a score of just 4 out of 100, citing problems with the powertrain, battery, climate control, electrical system, and overall build quality.

Issues with the hybrid system not charging or powering the car have severely affected its reliability. Many owners also complained about the nightmare of using the infotainment system, which often decides not to work at all.

So that’s our list of the 10 most unreliable SUVs since 2020. Were there any surprises for you? Let us know in the comments below, and feel free to share your unreliable SUV horror stories. If you like content like this, remember to like and share.

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