The Ford Explorer Timberline Is Ford's Latest Off-Road Play Thing

Illustration for article titled The Ford Explorer Timberline Is Ford's Latest Off-Road Play Thing
Photo: Ford

Ford has so many off-road signaling trims now — Ranger Tremor, F-150 Tremor, Super Duty Tremor, Bronco, Bronco Sport, F-150 Raptor — that I’m beginning to lose track. But here is another one: the Ford Explorer Timberline.

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As with most new trims, Explorer Timberline can come in a new color, called Forged Green Metallic. There is also a specialized LED lamp situation, which can be two-and-a-half times the brightness of the high beams. Here is more of the meat of it, according to Ford:

A new addition for Explorer Timberline is 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.

Ford also says that it has seen a “56 percent increase in off-road use” among Explorer owners in the past few years, which seems high to me. I asked Ford about it and a spokesperson gave me the following:

Throughout the calendar year we survey new vehicle buyers. Customers self-report to a set of standard questions, one of which is “Frequency of Off-road use”.

Since 2018, the Explorer segment has seen the largest % of growth in owners who report taking their vehicle off-road (+27%). Within the segment itself, Explorer owners reported a 56% increase in off-road use.

National Park use was up before the pandemic, so I will attribute some of the increase to that, and I know overlanding is all the rage these days but I would have a hard time believing that this many Explorer owners are now doing it. Perhaps Explorer owners have simply looked at the state of American roads and declared them to functionally not exist.

Anyway, you can order the Explorer Timberline now, deliveries this summer. It starts at $47,010, according to Car and Driver, or right in the middle of what people pay for SUVs these days. And in a pandemic when a lot of people have taken to the Great Outdoors this makes a lot of sense to me from a business perspective, though I do wonder how much things will change again even as soon as the fall, when, presumably, a lot of us will be back in the office and international travel is (maybe) a thing again. On the other hand, what am I saying, people keep saying we are closing in on Peak SUV and that keeps being wrong.

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News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

DISCUSSION

Blockheads

Why is orange trim a thing? NOBODY LIKES THIS.