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2021 Ford Explorer Timberline: Ford’s Off-Pavement Answer to Cabin Fever

ford-explorer-timberline-2021-oem-04-angle--dynamic--exterior--front--green--off-road--towing.jpg 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline | Manufacturer image

The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline isn’t built for off-roaders looking to conquer the extreme trails of Moab — that’s the Bronco’s turf. Instead, the Explorer Timberline wears Ford’s newest off-road trim, aimed to accommodate the American family’s pandemic-inspired appreciation for the great outdoors.

Related: 2021 Ford Explorer Now Comes in Value Versions of ST, Platinum Trims

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The Most Off-Road-Capable Explorer 

According to Ford, 40% of Americans claim they are spending more time outdoors due to the pandemic. The automaker also says that more than 50% of current Explorer owners report an increase in off-road use in the last three years. To give owners more confidence to go off-pavement, the Explorer Timberline comes standard with the automaker’s four-wheel-drive system, which automatically adjusts torque to optimize traction. It adds a limited-slip differential, seven drive modes including Trail and Deep Snow/Sand, standard Hill Descent Control and a 0.8-inch increase in ride height thanks in part to specially tuned shocks originally developed for the Police Interceptor variant of the Explorer.

The Timberline is armed with standard steel skid plates to protect the front, underbody and rear of the vehicle from damage. Improved approach and departure angles (23.5 degrees and 23.7 degrees, respectively), a ground clearance of 8.7 inches and all-terrain tires that Ford says balance on-road quietness and off-road traction add to the Timberline’s off-road credentials. 

Under the hood is the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine found elsewhere in the Explorer lineup that’s good for 300 horsepower and 310 pounds-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and offers a maximum towing capacity of 5,300 pounds. 

Form and Function

The Explorer Timberline wears specific front and rear styling with a raised lower bumper, a blackout treatment around the headlights and taillights, and LED foglamps. Tow hooks rated for 150% gross vehicle weight are there to assist when the trail gets too messy, and Forged Green Metallic exterior paint is exclusive to the Timberline.

Inside, the Timberline features Deep Cypress trim, Stone Mesh instrument panel applique and the Timberline logo sprinkled throughout the interior. Cloth inserts on the seats keep occupants from sliding around rough trails, and the easy-to-wipe fabric and standard rubber floor liners help eliminate unwelcome evidence of outdoor adventures.

Tech and Creature Comforts 

The SUV comes with standard Co-Pilot360 and Co-Pilot360 Assist Plus technology that includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and road sign recognition, lane-centering steering, evasive steering assist, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and a standard 360-degree camera system to see obstacles around the vehicle. Additionally, a front camera gives drivers a better view during off-road hill climbs. For drivers that plan to make use of the Snow mode for winter adventures, the Explorer Timberline also offers heated front seats and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

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2021 Explorer Timberline Pricing, Competition 

The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline starts at $47,010 (all prices include destination). When it comes to nonluxury, off-road-capable family SUVs with three rows, the alternatives are scarce.

In the full-size class, shoppers will find the 2021 Nissan Armada (starting at $50,095) and the soon-to-be-discontinued 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser that, despite its age, comes with an eyebrow-raising $87,030 starting price. The mid-size Toyota 4Runner ($37,940 to start) is a capable off-roader but lacks the on-road composure and third-row space to comfortably accommodate a family road trip. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Kia Telluride ($33,415 to start) is comfortable on-road and can handle mild adventures, but its off-road capabilities are less impressive.

Customization and Availability 

The 2021 Explorer is the first in a series of off-road vehicles to wear the Timberline badge. Ford will offer three Outfitters packages for the Explorer Timberline: Outfitters SkyBox, Outfitters MegaWarrior and Outfitters FrontLoader. All packages offer all-weather floormats, crossbars and a Yakima rooftop.

The SUV arrives at Ford dealers in the summer, and orders can be placed now on Ford’s website.

Related Video: 2020 Ford Explorer: First Drive

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