Ford’s mid-size three-row returns to its roots with new off-road-oriented trim.
With the Bronco family and F-150 Raptor leading the off-road charge, Ford is expanding its rough-and-tumble offerings with the 2021 Explorer Timberline. The Blue Oval showed off the rugged SUV early Wednesday, promising the “most off-road-capable Explorer ever.”
In the increasingly crowded off-road trim hierarchy, Timberline will slot in below the Tremors and the Raptors of the world. Ford has bumped up the ground clearance to 8.7 inches (220 mm), in part due to a set of meaty, 265-section Bridgestone all-terrain tires at all four corners. All-wheel drive is standard, with a Torsen limited-slip differential on the rear axle. Ford has also slung the heavy duty shocks from the Explorer Police Interceptor on the Timberline. That seems appropriate, since the steel skid plates and in-grille LED lights will almost certainly fool some folks into thinking a cop is in their rearview.
Off-roaders will be looking at three numbers with the Timberline: approach, departure, and breakover angles. Ford quotes 23.5, 23.7, and 18.9 degrees, respectively; comfortably more than the rest of the lineup.
Other exterior cues include red tow hooks and lower bumper pinstripe, along with a smattering of triple-mountain Timberline logos. You’ll now find the Black Oval in the center of the grille, too. A new Forged Green Metallic paint option is the hero hue for the Timberline. The forestry color continues inside, with an easy-clean green faux-leather seating material. Orange contrast stitching completes the look. A funky “Stone Mesh” texture surrounds the instrument panel, with the center console done up in satin silver. Standard rubber floor liners should keep the carpet clean.
Under the hood sits Ford’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four, producing an even 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. For now, Ford will only offer the Timberline with this engine, not the available 3.3-liter V6 nor larger EcoBoost motor. The Co-Pilot Assist+ suite of driver assists is along for the Timberline ride too, including automated emergency braking, lane-center assist, road sign recognition, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, and Evasive Steering Assist.
When the Timberline goes on sale this summer, it’ll slot into the middle of the existing Explorer lineup at $47,010 ($52,699 CAD), including destination.
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