Car Review: Ford offers an off-road ready Explorer with the rugged Timberline edition

The popular Explorer SUV had a makeover two years ago and Ford continues to tweak it to boost appeal. The latest Explorer is an adventure-seeking Timberline trim level.

(WTOP/Mike Parris)

With more ground clearance, the Explorer Timberline looks like a proper off-road SUV. The front-end styling is unique to this model with a dark gray grill and LED fog lamps tucked up and away to keep them safe in the brush.

There is even a front skid plate to keep the Explorer’s undercarriage better protected when the going gets rough. The black 18-inch wheels come with all-terrain tires that are ready for action. The Forged Green paint suits the Explorer — and people move out of your way not knowing if you’re a police vehicle or not.

With this latest makeover, its ride and handling are vastly improved. A better handling SUV means it’s better at tackling more types of roads with confidence. The ride is pleasant. Even as a large three-row SUV, it feels smaller as the speed picked up. The base engine is a turbo four-cylinder power plant that actually gets the job done.

Its louder sound on acceleration gives away that it’s not a V6. The Explorer Timberline comes with standard AWD that will give you confidence in all conditions. The all-terrain tires that are ready to play off-road lead to more noise in the cabin.

A better looking interior greets you when you hop in the Explorer these days. The improved layout is more practical and easier to navigate. Those riding up front have a spacious and airy place to pass the miles with comfortable heated seats. The second row comes with heated seats, but the seat bottoms are a bit stiff. The third row of seats is a bit tight for a vehicle this size. The cargo space has improved compared to the last generation with more room when all seats are in use.

Cost: $46,015; as tested: $49,120

MPG: 19 MPG City; 23 MPG Highway. I managed 20.9 in 217 miles of mixed driving.

Safety: Ford Co-Pilot360; adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go; SOS post-crash alert system; blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert; pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking; lane keeping assist; auto high-beam headlamps; 360-degree camera; reverse sensing system.

Things to know: The Explorer Timberline is a more rugged version of this popular SUV. With improved off-road ability, the Explorer is ready to excel on the road and even venture farther when the road ends.


  • The Explorer Timberline is ready to leave the road with more confidence.
  • More space than before.
  • Base engine will satisfy many buyers.


  • The infotainment system is a bit slow to respond.
  • Some extra noise is made from the all-terrain tires.
  • MPG suffers, even with four-cylinder engine.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up