Ford's latest new vehicle is an Explorer that's meant to offer more off-road capability. The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline gives the three-row crossover some of the credentials that made the original Explorer so popular, including more ground clearance, more traction, and a new suspension. It also has styling changes inside and out to help it fit in with the rest of Ford's off-road lineup.
The automaker says this Timberline is the seventh "rugged" truck or SUV it has introduced since 2019. It's also the first of a new Timberline series, though Ford hasn't yet said which other nameplates could get the badge. "Consumer data has shown us that now more than ever, customers want to get outside and explore nature with friends and family,” said Ford markets group president Kumar Galhotra. "Timberline hits a new sweet spot with these customers who want an ideal combination of passenger space, moderate off-road capability and great manners around town."
The changes start with 19 mm more ground clearance thanks to borrowing the heavy-duty shocks from the Explorer Police Interceptor and combining them with the thick sidewalls and all-terrain grip of a set of Bridgestone Dueller tires. Tweaked fascias front and rear allow for slightly higher approach and departure angles (how steep of a hill you can drive on or off without scraping bumpers), and the Timberline has 220 mm of ground clearance total.
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Making sure the off-road tires grip is a Torsen limited-slip differential in the rear that makes sure the tire with traction is getting work done in mud, dirt, and even snow and ice. Steel skid plates underneath protect the major components from trail and debris damage, and the steering, springs, and sway bars have been calibrated for the Explorer Timberline, all useful upgrades for buyers planning to head down something a little bit worse than a gravel road this summer, but also practical for winter and pothole season.
Just one engine is offered, Ford's 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder with 300 hp and 310 lb-ft, with a 10-speed automatic and a towing package that can let you bring up to 5,300 lbs of boat, camper, or anything else on the hitch with you. Seven total drive modes can be chosen from including Trail and Deep Snow/Sand, while hill descent control is also standard.
On the outside, the Explorer Timberline stands out with LED fog lights, blackout trim including around the headlights, and a set of functional red tow hooks. The grille is a special grey unit that has mounting points and a wiring harness for Ford Performance trail lights. Inside, the Timberline gets Deep Cyprus trim, a stone mesh instrument panel appliqué, ActiveX upholstery Ford says is easy to wipe clean, and tangerine stitching.
The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline is available to order now with deliveries expected to start in the summer. Pricing starts from $50,799.