Ford says our long collective house arrest has us itching to hit the trails, accelerating a trend that has seen Explorer owners reporting a 56 percent increase in off-road use over the last three years. To ensure these increasingly outdoorsy family SUV customers don’t defect to the forthcoming three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee L, the company is rolling out the 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline, which it claims will be “the most off-road-capable Explorer ever.”
Ford has given the Explorer a total off-road-readiness overhaul in creating the Timberline. Starting from the bottom up, there’s a rugged set of 265/65R-18 Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires, with an aggressive yet allegedly quiet tread pattern. Those tires alone provide a quarter-inch of additional ground clearance, to which a mild suspension lift increases the total to 0.8 inch. That raises the Explorer’s minimum running ground clearance from 7.9 to 8.7 inches. Revised bumper fascias further improve the approach and departure angles to 23.5 and 23.7 degrees respectively, up from 20.1/22.0. In case that’s still not quite enough clearance, an extensive set of steel skid plates protects the chin, powertrain, and other vulnerable underbody bits.
In addition to the lift, there are revisions to the power steering calibration; new anti-roll bar and spring rates; and heavy duty shocks from Police interceptor are modified for off-road use and subbed in for the stock pieces, with the fronts incorporating rebound springs to smooth things out when traversing the wildest whoop-dee-dos. For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.