Off-Road Mania: The Rugged 2021 Explorer Timberline is Ford's Answer to Jeep's Trailhawk & Subaru's Wilderness
When it comes to the modern American SUV, few names are more established than the Ford Explorer. From the early 1990s through today, the Explorer has been one of the most popular family haulers on the road, and with the latest generation Explorer Ford has added even more options.
For those looking for a road-going SUV tuned for street performance the Explorer ST occupies a unique niche and now for 2021 a new Explorer model has joined the lineup aimed at off-road adventure seekers.
The "rugged" SUV and crossover market is hot right now, with Jeep's line of Trailhawk models recently being joined by the Subaru Outback Wilderness. Known as the Explorer Timberline, this new model is sporting some substantial upgrades over the standard Explorer.
Four-wheel drive is standard on the Timberline, and the big change is out back where it gets a new Torsen limited slip rear differential complimented by a seven-mode terrain management system. Under the hood is Ford's tried and true 300hp 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The suspension is also unique on the Timberline model, with re-tuned shocks and an extra 0.8 inches of ride height and 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Also added to the mix are additional underbody protection from front to back.
Outside there are new front and rear bumpers that bring both a more aggressive look and improved approach and departure angles, along with unique 18" wheels and meaty all terrain tires.
Other touches include unique badging throughout, a new "Forged Green Metallic" exterior color and special interior trimmings with easy-to-clean upholstery.
Ford says the Explorer Timberline can tow up to 5,300 pounds and Ford Performance will also be releasing a line of accessories aimed at those who want to take their Timberline off-roading and camping.
Interestingly, some of the biggest competitors for the Explorer Timberline might be Ford's own Bronco and Bronco Sport Badlands—although it seems like the company has done a good job differentiating each of these adventure-ready SUVs from each other in size and purpose. And too much choice is never a bad thing.
Look for the Explorer Timberline to start arriving in Ford dealerships this summer.
More From Driving Line
- Want to see what the Timberline will be competing against? Here's a breakdown of Jeep's Trailhawk models.
- And here's a refresher on the recently introduced Subaru Outback Wilderness.