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Ford Reveals First-Ever Explorer Timberline

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2021 Ford Explorer Timberline on a hill
All-new Ford Explorer Timberline is king (or queen) of the hill among three-row off-road SUVs
Photo: Ford

Ford just can’t stop beefing up the 2021 Explorer lineup. Following the addition of the iconic King Ranch and a more affordable Enthusiast ST option, Ford adds the most off-road-capable Explorer ever made in the form of the Timberline.

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Yes, the most off-road-capable Explorer ever. Ford makes sure that the 2021 Explorer Timberline is as advertised, giving it standard Intelligent 4WD with the Terrain Management System and Hill Descent Control. From there, the 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline gets a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, steel skid plates, and retuned springs and steering.

With new heavy-duty shocks and burly Bridgestone Dueler P265/65R-18 all-terrain tires, the Explorer Timberline gets a 0.8-inch boost in ride height. That means 8.7 inches of minimum ground clearance, a max approach angle of 23.5 degrees, and a max departure angle of 23.7 inches.

Cap that off with the 300-horsepower 2.3-liter EcoBoost and standard Class III Trailer Tow Package, and you’ve got a beastly SUV that can tow up to 5,300 pounds and rip it up in the wilderness.

“Timberline hits a new sweet spot with these customers who want an ideal combination of passenger space, moderate off-road capability, and great manners around town,” said Ford President of the Americas and International Markets Group Kumar Galhotra.

Explorer Timberline gets earthy aesthetics

  • 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline on the trail
  • 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline in the woods
  • 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline wheel and front bumper
  • 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline red recovery hooks with Timberline emblem
  • 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline front row dash
  • 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline Deep Cypress door details
  • 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline Deep Cypress seats with Timberline embroidery and Deep Tangerine stitching

Ford didn’t just make the new Explorer Timberline the most capable off-roader in the lineup. It’s also one of the most visually distinct. The 2021 Explorer Timberline gets a unique Forged Green Metallic exterior color at launch. That’s punched up with Red Ember tow hooks up front and blackout details around the exterior. Finishing off the look of the 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline are high-gloss painted aluminum wheels and a Carbonized Gray grille.

On the inside? Ooh-wee. The Explorer Timberline gets a rich Deep Cypress interior color theme and easy-to-clean ActiveX seats. Punching that up are Stone Mesh, Stain Silver Twilight, and Ebony details as well as spicy Deep Tangerine contrast stitching. We fancy now.

Ford Explorer Timberline addresses growing trends

2021 Ford Explorer Timberline set up at camping site with accessories
Explorer Timberline available with three Outfitters packages with accessories by Yakima
Photo: Ford

The first-ever 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline doesn’t just bolster the three-row SUV’s lineup. It also keeps up the theme of making the Ford portfolio more rugged. Ford now offers the Explorer Timberline; red-hot Bronco Sport; all-new F-150 Raptor; and Tremor versions of the Ranger, F-150, and Super Duty. This summer, the all-new Bronco two- and four-door hit the streets (and trails and so on), putting Ford in position to knock Jeep off its off-road pedestal.

And the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Ford launches the Explorer Timberline at a point where interest in SUVs — and, specifically, off-road SUVs — is at a high. Sales of SUVs, Ford notes, are up considerably over the last 10 years. SUVs topped 7.8 million in 2020, up 4.6 million from 2011 — all the more impressive given the impact of COVID-19.  

Ford also notes that 56 percent of current Explorer drivers say they’ve increase off-road use in the last three years. This lines up with a study in which 40 percent of Americans polled say they’ve spent more time outdoors since the start of the pandemic.

The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline is available to order now. Deliveries should kick off this summer.

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