And you thought Ford’s only and primary focus was on electrifying their product line. That’s simply not their sole focus, as they’ve followed a trend going on in the auto industry to add more off-road ability to much of their product line.
Case in point, Ford just announced a new off-road trim to the popular Explorer. Ford Explorer Timberline is the seventh new rugged SUV or truck Ford has introduced since 2019. The Timberline trim of the Explorer joins the all-new Bronco brand two- and four-door Bronco and Bronco Sport, all-new F-150 Raptor, and the Tremor lineup of Ford trucks – Ranger Tremor, F-150 Tremor and F-Series Super Duty Tremor.
“Ford is delivering on more capable SUVs with Timberline. Consumer data has shown us that now more than ever, customers want to get outside and explore nature with friends and family,” said Kumar Galhotra, president, Americas & International Markets Group, Ford Motor Company. “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.”
Related story: Ford adds off-road Tremor package to 2021 F-150.
Two consumer trends have come together to support the launch of the Timberline series. The first is the popularity of SUVs and the growing number of buyers who go off-roading. Over the last 10 years, SUVs have jumped from 36 percent to 55 percent of the U.S. market, with actual sales up from about 4.6 million units in 2011 to nearly 7.8 million in 2020. Ford Explorer owners report a 56 percent increase in off-road use over the last three years. Timberline will give customers more confidence and capability to get to their next adventure, whether it’s driving to their favorite fishing site or taking a detour off the beaten path.
Related story: Ford has record April thanks to increase in sales of SUVs.
The second key trend is data showing that people now participate in more outdoor activities and adventures than before the pandemic. Forty percent of all Americans surveyed say they have spent more time outdoors since the pandemic began.
Timberline joins Tremor, Bronco in off-road credibility
Ford touted their GOAT mode in both the Bronco Sport and the upcoming Ford Bronco two-door and four-door. This stands for Go Over Any Terrain. Then Ford announced a Tremor package for both the 2021 F-150 and the Ford Ranger.
Read my full review of the Ranger Tremor here.
The Explorer Timberline has an intelligent four-wheel drive system that adjusts torque between the wheels based on conditions and driver inputs. The Timberline Explorer also has a Torsen limited-slip rear differential which automatically sends torque to the wheel with the best traction and prevents the other wheel from spinning to help keep the vehicle moving.
A standard Terrain Management System features seven drive modes – including Trail and Deep Snow/Sand – that drivers can opt for based on road or trail conditions. Standard Hill Descent Control allows the Explorer Timberline to maintain a constant speed between 2 and 12 mph, enabling drivers to focus on steering down uneven descents.
Explorer Timberline delivers on capability in the form of its standard steel skid plates. The underbody protection starts underneath the front, continues under the engine and transmission and through the rear – all to help protect key components and give customers more confidence while off-roading. Steering calibration, stabilizer bars and springs are specially tuned for Timberline – including an exclusive front rebound spring that helps prevent sudden jarring off-road.
Explorer Timberline raises the ride height 0.8 inch, thanks to a combination of more robust, off-road-capable heavy-duty shocks – originally developed for Explorer Police Interceptor – and high-sidewall Bridgestone Dueler P265/65R-18 all-terrain tires with a tread pattern that balances off-road traction and on-road quietness. This, along with unique front and rear fascias, results in an approach angle of 23.5 degrees and maximum departure angle of 23.7 degrees, plus minimum ground clearance of 8.7 inches for navigating unpaved roads and uneven trails.
Explorer Timberline features a 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine producing 300 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. For customers who need to tow RVs, ATVs and boats to their adventures, the standard Class III Trailer Tow Package brings 5,300 pounds of towing capability.
This all adds up to an Explorer that is more capable than any other previous iteration and falls in line with Tremors and Broncos.
Related story: Tremor package makes Ford Ranger a contender.
I love when special trims like the Timberline have their own distinctive look. And it does not disappoint as the Explorer Timberline launches in a new Forged Green Metallic exterior color.
All models feature blackout treatment around the headlamps and taillamps and a black Ford oval, along with Timberline badges on the C-pillars and liftgate. A set of Red Ember tow hooks at the front are rated at 150 percent gross vehicle weight. Bridgestone Dueler P265/65R-18 all-terrain tires surround high-gloss painted aluminum wheels that feature a laser-etched Timberline logo.
Timberline includes LED fog lamps for illuminating on- and off-road trail edges at night. The dark Carbonized Gray grille has provisions already incorporated along with a wiring harness for dealer-installed Ford Performance auxiliary lights with an output of 160,000 candelas to illuminate nighttime trails, which equates to 2.5 times the brightness of the Explorer Timberline high-beam headlamps.
A Deep Cypress interior trim color complements Explorer Timberline’s exterior, with an Ebony headliner, overhead console, A, B and C-pillar trim, grab handles, visors and moonroof shade. The cabin features a Stone Mesh instrument panel appliqué, distinctive Satin Silver Twilight on the center stack, steering wheel bezel and door armrest trim, Deep Cypress door trim panel inserts, Deep Tangerine stitching on the seats, steering wheel and door trim, plus Timberline logos on the front seats.
When is the Explorer Timberline available and how much does it cost?
The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline is available to order now and arrives at Ford dealers this summer. The 2021 Explorer Timberline will start at $45,765 MSRP which does not include delivery or destination fees of $1,245.
Are you excited about the Timberline Explorer? I love the color and unique look. How important is off-road ability to you as a consumer? Leave me your comments below.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.