Car Review: 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline
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Ford’s top-selling SUV in the U.S. and its number two utility in Canada will see its lineup expand to include an off-road-focused grade when the Explorer Timberline goes on sale across North America this summer.
Rugged, off-road trucks and utilities continue to occupy a growing share of Ford’s business with several new models arriving in company dealerships over the past two years. In addition to the newly revived Bronco nameplate, which is spawning three models, two and four-door along with Bronco Sport, Ford has also rolled out an all-new F-150 Raptor and three Tremor off-road truck models, one each for the F-150, Super Duty and Ranger.
All have joined Ford’s lineup since 2019, and their rationale echoes those from other manufacturers when new trucks and utilities are announced: rising sales volumes in those categories, coupled with a rapidly shrinking passenger car market. During the Explorer Timberline product presentation earlier this week, Ford claimed the market for the latter currently sits at just 21 per cent in the U.S. And cars aren’t fairing much better in Canada, according to Ford, where SUVs alone now account for almost 50 per cent of the new vehicle market.
In that light, with more that 226,000 sold in the U.S. last year and another 16,000-plus in Canada, another Explorer offering is hard to argue against.
For the Timberline, Ford is loading it for bear with all manner of off-road kit. Among its many standard features is a TORSEN limited-slip rear differential, a Terrain Management System with seven drive modes, hill descent control, heavy-duty shocks modified from its Explorer Police Interceptor package, extensive steel skid plating and unique front and rear fascias with greater approach (23.5 degrees) and departure angles (23.7 degrees) and 220 mm (8.7 inches) of ground clearance. Ride height has also been raised by 19 mm (0.8 inches).
The Timberline also receives 18-inch painted aluminum wheels that ride on beefier 265/65R18 Bridgestone Dueller all-terrain tires, a Class III Trailer Tow Package with 2,404 kg (5,300 pounds) of towing capacity, loads of blacked-out trim, unique badging and an all-new exterior finish, Forged Green Metallic. Red Ember front tow hooks, which are rated at 150 per cent of gross vehicle weight also come standard, along with LED fog lamps, and a Carbonized Grey grille with a wiring harness for dealer-installed auxiliary lights.
Regarding powertrain, the Timberline receives Ford’s 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that produces 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque and it’s being paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and standard 4WD.
The cabin treatment includes a Deep Cyprus hue that looks black to these eyes, with an ebony headliner, overhead console A-, B- and C-pillar grab handles, visors and moonroof shade. Other unique Timberline touches include a Stone Mesh applique on the instrument panel, Satin Silver on the centre, stack steering wheel bezel and armrest. The seating features Deep Tangerine stitching, which is also found on the steering wheel and door trim. Timberline logos are also embossed on the front seats.
In terms of rugged outfitting, the Timberline comes with standard rubber floor liners and ActiveX seat trim with cloth inserts that are grippier over rough terrain and can be wiped clean. Heated front seats and a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel are also standard issue.
Other standard kit includes Ford’s Co-Pilot360 and Co-Pilot360 Assist+ safety suite which comes with intelligent adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, speed sign recognition, lane centring, evasive steering assist, along with voice-activated embedded navigation and a 360-degree camera.
The Explorer Timberline has a starting MSRP of $50,799 and is now available for order.