If you’re interested in the new Ford Explorer/Expedition Timberline and you think they are Jeep rivals, Jeep wants you to think again. Jim Morrison, the head of Jeep, doesn’t think too highly of the new outdoorsy Ford trims — or the people who buy them — Muscle Cars & Trucks reports.
Jeep has been no stranger to building family haulers that can venture off the beaten path; in the past year, it has debuted the all-new 2022 Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee 4xe, followed by the new 4xe Trailhawk. They’re obviously the heads of their class — but plenty of other automakers are trying to capitalize on the active lifestyle design trend.
Some may think that the recently-introduced Ford Timberline trims could possibly hang off-road with the new Grand Cherokee — they are, after all, more rugged than their base model counterparts.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jim Morrison doesn’t think so. In fact, he says he feels sorry for buyers of the Ford’s effectively saying they’re nothing more than appearance packages:
I actually feel sorry for (Ford Explorer Timberline) customers that get tricked. You can paint a tow hook red. It doesn’t mean that behind the tow hook it would even hold up in the right moment that it needs to.
Damn. He didn’t stop there, either ,pointing out that the Jeep Trail Rated moniker is more than just sales marketing.
We design all of those Trail Rated elements from the ground up… it’s not just a marketing term, it’s capability that’s bred in. You don’t just put stickers and paint on things. We build it in with incredible capability.
Ford’s Timberline trim adds skid plates, a slightly higher ride height the company’s Terrain Management System a limited-slip differential, and… that’s it. Everything else is meant to give the appearance of being rugged without providing any of the muscle to back it up.
While this isn’t the first time he’s singled out Ford, Morrison’s statements can be applied to other automakers. With off-road trims from brands like Subaru, Honda, GMC, and more that don’t quite stack up to Jeep’s legendary off-road capability, he may have a point in that Jeep’s trims are more than just an appearance package.
At the end of the day, though, none of this really matters. No matter the brand, most customers will likely never venture off-road in these vehicles — which is why so many brands can keep creating “off-roading” SUVs that are all bark and no bite.