Need a Bigger Bronco? Is the Ford Explorer Timberline or Expedition Timberline the Better Choice?
We don’t need to tell you that Ford has really been on a roll with its off-road pickups and SUVs over the last couple of years.
There’s the legendary F-150 Raptor and the upcoming V8-powered Raptor R to be excited about. And then there are the many flavors of the new Bronco and even the little Bronco Sport CUV.
Or for those with more people and more gear to haul around, there are the new Timberline versions of the Explorer and Expedition SUVs, each factory-prepped for off-road exploration—or at least the appearance of it.
Both may be three-row 4WD SUVs powered by turbocharged engines, though the Expedition is clearly the larger, more expensive Timberline. But is it worth the extra money and Is there a better choice between the two? Let’s take a look.
The $22,000 Question
Before we get into the rest of the differences between these two SUVs, let’s address the starting price. The smaller Explorer Timberline has a starting MSRP that comes in just under $50,000, which all things considered, is fairly reasonable in the current market.
The Expedition Timberline meanwhile has a starting MSRP of about $72,000. That’s a difference of over $22,000 between the two Timberlines, so what do you get for that extra money?
Turbo 4 vs. Turbo 6
Both SUVs have Ford’s EcoBoost power under the hood. But, being the smaller, lighter of the two, the Explorer gets the smaller, less powerful engine.
It uses the 2.3 liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, which makes 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission. Interestingly, other Explorer models can be had with a 3.0 EcoBoost V6 with 400 horsepower but for now, the Timberline is four-cylinder only.
The Expedition Timberline gets a 3.5 liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 that makes 440 horsepower and 510-pound feet of torque, which is almost identical to the output of the F-150 Raptor.
For the most part, the Timberline treatment on both models does similar things with additional ride height, off-road-tuned suspension, all-terrain tires and more rugged styling. The more expensive Expedition gets a few extra bits, like the Trail Turn Assist system from the Bronco.
The big differences in capability between the two comes mainly from the SUVs they are based on. Despite its new RWD-based layout, the unibody Explorer is closer to a crossover than the body-on-frame Expedition.
Compared to Explorer, the Expedition Timberline is larger inside, is more powerful and has a more traditional 4x4 system with a two-speed transfer case. And being more like a truck it also has more ground clearance.
Both SUVs can tow pretty well, with the Explorer Timberline being able to handle up to 5,300 pounds. Those looking to pull heavier loads will probably want the Expedition and its 9,000-pound tow rating.
The Explorer Timberline is an intriguing package overall. It’s not overly expensive and is very capable for what it is. And it should be well worth your consideration if you were in the market for something like a Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride or another higher-end three-row crossover with extra off-road capability.
On the other hand, if you’re more of a 4x4 pickup buyer looking for a roomy SUV, or even a more family-friendly version of the F-150 Raptor, the Expedition Timberline is probably the SUV for you.
Yes, it costs significantly more to buy (and will also use more fuel), but that added cost gets you a nice upgrade in capability and interior space.
It should also be mentioned, that if you are planning on doing additional modifications like new wheels or larger, more aggressive tires, the Expedition probably gets the nod thanks to its shared components with the F-150 and Raptor.
Ultimately, the fact the Ford offers two different three-row SUVs with off-road upgrades and personality off the showroom floor, and both are welcome additions into the world of SUVs that can double as family haulers and weekend adventure mobiles.
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- Or maybe if you don't need the family-friendly space of the Explorer or Expedition Timberline, you can just go all out and try to get a new Bronco Raptor for your SUV thrills.