The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline Goes Rugged Because Everything Else Is, Too

Ford says this is just the first in a series of future Timberline-branded vehicles.

byChris Tsui|
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Similar in spirit to the F-150 Tremor, Ford is introducing an off-road-focused variant to its Explorer lineup: the 2021 Explorer Timberline. If the ST is the athlete and the King Ranch is the fancy boy, then the Timberline is the outdoorsman of the family. Ford also says it will be the first in a series of future off-roady Timberline-branded models. 

Helping the Explorer Timberline go over unpaved surfaces is a minimum ground clearance of 8.7 inches, 0.8 inches higher than normal, as well as the same heavy-duty shocks out of the Explorer Police Interceptor. Approach and departure angles have been improved to 23.5 and 23.7 degrees, respectively, while steel skidplates keep the Explorer Timberline's belly protected. Chunky Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires are wrapped around 18-inch gloss black aluminum wheels while steering, springs, and stabilizer bars have all been retuned for off-road duty.


When it comes to torque management, this more rugged version of Ford's three-row crossover benefits from a Torsen rear limited-slip differential and a terrain management system with seven driving modes (including Trail and Deep Snow/Sand), as well as hill descent control which can hold the Explorer at any speed between two and 12 mph down uneven surfaces so the driver can focus on steering.

The Ford Explorer Timberline gets the company's 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder producing 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque hooked up to a 10-speed automatic transmission. With the Class III Trailer Tow Pack equipped, max towing capacity rings in at 5,300 pounds.

All in all, Ford says this SUV is the "most off-road-capable Explorer ever." That's a big statement considering some of the body-on-frame models that came before but we're looking forward to getting our hands on this one anyway to see how Ford's claim shakes out. 

In any case, it wouldn't be a new vehicle variant without cosmetic changes. The Timberline Explorer gets distinct styling at the front and rear including blacked-out light housings, a black Ford badge, and LED fog lamps. A new gray grille sits above a piece of red trim and red tow hooks and integrates a pair of auxiliary lights rated at 169,000 candelas. To save you the Google search, a candela is a unit that measures luminous intensity. As you may have already assumed, one candela is equal to the approximate brightness of one wax candle. 

Starting at $47,010, the 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline will hit dealerships this summer.

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