The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline debuted back in May, riding on the heels of the Explorer King Ranch and Enthusiast ST introductions to become the third all-new model for The Blue Oval’s three row crossover this year. But unlike those models, which are focused on luxury and performance, respectively, the Timberline features equipment designed to take Explorer owners further off the beaten path than past models. We recently encountered a very fetching Timberline at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show and have a solid amount of photos that properly display what separates it from the rest of the Explorer lineup.
Up front, the 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline gains some unique functional and cosmetic touches to make it fit the part of a more trail-ready SUV. For starters, there’s the Red Ember tow hooks, designed to handle 150 percent of the Explorer’s gross vehicle weight. They are complemented by an identically colored accent strip along the front fascia, and terminate at the skid plates that protect the front end. Additional skid plates cover the powertrain and rear end. From this angle we can also see one of the exterior Timberline logos, which are featured on various sections of the Explorer.
Other functional and cosmetic enhancements for the 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline include unique LED fog lamps and a blacked-out Ford oval up front, mounted to a special grille that can accept Ford Performance-branded auxiliary lighting. If buyers do opt for the special lights, they’ll get a set that can output 160,000 candelas, or roughly 2.5 times the lighting power of the Explorer’s high-beam headlamps.
And as this picture demonstrates, the auxiliary lighting housings have special lettering on them.
The side profile of the 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline reveals the new Forged Green paint option, which is admittedly not exclusive to the trim, but nonetheless a fitting option for the model.
What are exclusive though, are these high-gloss black-painted 18-inch aluminum wheels, complete with a laser-etched Timberline logo on each one. They’re designed to feature Bridgestone Dueler P265/65R all-terrain tires with tall sidewalls that Ford claims are simultaneously capable on the dirt and quiet on the highway.
The c-pillars feature this Timberline logo as well, and unlike the one etched into the front grille, this one is a colorized badge.
The rear three-quarters view shows off the special blacked-out taillight treatment on every 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline, in addition to the third Timberline badge on the rear tailgate. Functionally, the new trim features standard four-wheel drive, the Class III Trailer Tow Package, special off-road front struts and rear shocks, a 3.58 Torsen limited-slip differential, and the 7-mode Terrain Management System. The beefier suspension, paired with the taller tires, enable the Timberline to sport a 23.5-degree approach angle, 23.7-degree departure angle, and a minimum 8.7-inch ground clearance.
Like other Explorer models, the Timberline features the Ford 2.3L EcoBoost I-4, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Those interested in the 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline should consult with their local Ford dealer for availability, as the ongoing chip shortage has hampered production at the Ford Chicago Assembly plant.