The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline is a slightly more off-road-ready variant of Ford's family crossover. It's got a little more ground clearance, a little more traction, and a little more underbody protection. It also has grille-mounted LED fog lights that, dear God, are going to give me a mild heart attack whenever I see them in my rear-view mirror, because they look so much like the grille-mounted low-profile LED lights you see in basically every Explorer-based police car.
Ford says the Timberline is the seventh new off-roady model the company has introduced since 2019—alongside the two- and four-door Bronco, the Bronco Sport, the new F-150 Raptor, and the Tremor variants of the Ranger, F-150, and Super Duty. But an Explorer Raptor this is not: the Timberline spec brings a 0.8-inch lift with heavy-duty shock absorbers from the Explorer Police Interceptor, 265/65 Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires on unique 18-inch wheels, and unique front and rear fascias to add clearance.
It also gets a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, paired with the Explorer's standard four-wheel drive, plus a seven-mode Terrain Management system and Hill Descent Control. Steel skid plates protect the drivetrain, which consists of the standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder making 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque paired to Ford's 10-speed automatic. The Timberline come standard with a Class III tow hitch and is rated to pull up to 5300 lbs.
Aesthetic changes to the Timberline include the new Forged green paint you see here, plus blackout trim around the lights and badges and red tow hooks and fascia details that look a lot like what you see on the Subaru Forester Sport. Inside, the seats feature Timberline logos and red contrast stitching.
The Explorer Timberline promises the kind of light off-road ability that Ford says customers want—especially in the current moment, where more and more people are turning to outdoor activities as a safer form of recreation. But I'm still going to reflexively check my speed whenever I see those fog lights looming behind me. The 2021 Explorer Timberline is available to order now and hits showrooms this summer.
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