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Ford News: Jeep Challenge is on as Ford Grows Rugged SUV Lineup!


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The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline edition is the most off-road capable Explorer ever due to increased ground clearance, improved approach and departure angles, steel skid plates, Torsen limited-slip differential, Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires, new shocks, springs and stabilizer bars.

The Timberline sports a functional, capable appearance with unique front and rear styling combined with three rows of seating for everyone.

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Fords marketing data shows that over the last 10 years, SUVs have jumped to command 55% of the U.S. Market with sales growing from 4.6 million units in 2011 to 7.8 million for 2020. This same Ford data is saying that owners are reporting a 56% increase in off-road use over the last 3 years alone. Timberline was built to give customers more confidence and capability to get to the their next adventure be it fishing or a remote off the beaten path spot.

A second very important trend is the data showing people are now participating in more outdoor activities and adventures than before due to the pandemic. 40% of all Americans surveyed say they spent more time outdoors since the pandemic began.

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The Ford Explorer Timberline off-road credibility starts with Ford's standard intelligent four-wheel drive. A system that automatically adjusts torque between the wheels based on conditions and driver inputs delivering best traction, pre-empting wheel slip with proper application of torque per wheel.

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Ford continues the off-road passion with the following details:

  • Intelligent four-wheel drive
  • Torsen Limited-slip rear differential
  • Terrain Management System featuring seven drive modes (based on 2020 version, could be different on the 2021)
    • Normal mode
    • Eco mode
    • Sport mode
    • Slippery mode
    • Deep Snow and Sand mode
    • Trail mode
    • Tow/Haul mode
  • Standard Hill Descent Control for constant speed control between 2 to 12 mph maximum
  • Timberline capability
    • Heavy duty steel skid plates
    • Enhanced steering calibration
    • Heavy duty stabilizer bars and springs tuned for the Timberline
      • Includes exclusive rebound springs in the front to prevent sudden jarring off-road
    • Heavy Duty Shocks raises the ride height 0.8 inches (Developed for the Explorer Police Interceptor)
    • Bridgestone Dueler P265/65R-18 All-Terrain tires
    • Approach angle of 23.5 degrees and departure angle of 23.7 degrees
    • Minimum ground clearance of 8.7 inches
  • EcoBoost 2.3L engine producing 300 HP and 310 lb/ft of torque paired with a 10 speed automatic transmission giving a 5,300 lb towing capability.

Ford only states a couple modes in their press release and as such it could be using the same 7 modes from the 2020 Explorer, but since this is the Timberline edition of rugged off-road prowess, it could be using the Bronco 7 G.O.A.T. modes which stands for Goes Over Any Type of Terrain. This would be the first 5 listed above and then would include a Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes for the final two. Either way you will have a very capable off-road SUV.

The Explorer Timberline edition launches a new Forged Green Metallic exterior color with a blackout treatment and red ember tow hooks rated at 150% gross vehicle weight. Ford has already incorporated a heavy duty wiring harness that allows Fords wide dealer network to install Ford Performance auxiliary lights giving an output of 160,000 candelas of illumination for nighttime trail riding. This equates to 2.5 times the brightness of the Explorer Timberline high-beam headlamps.

Ford's Deep Cypress interior trim color compliments the new Forged Green Metallic exterior and includes the standard Co-Pilot360 with Assist+ technology featuring Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go and Speed sign recognition, Lane Centering, Evasive Steering assist and voice activated touch screen navigation. Standard 360 degree cameras provide views of all potential obstacles including a front view camera to help with cresting hills off-road.

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Ford has partnered with Yakima Rooftop accessories for customer to take any and all the equipment they want on their adventure.

2021 Ford Explorer Timberline is available to order now and arrives at Ford dealers summer of 2021.

Ford Grows Rugged SUV Lineup with New Ford Explorer Timberline – Most Off-Road-Capable Explorer Ever | Ford Media Center

What’s New in the 2020 Ford Explorer Terrain Management System? (akinsford.com)

Terrain Management System - Ford Technology| Ford KSA

2021 Ford® Bronco Sport First Edition SUV | Model Detail & Specs


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Have to say that Ford is really bringing it in competition to Jeep with the partnering with Yakima to ensure off-road fans have the ultimate play time outdoors.

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Looks competent and competitive w/ the GC Trailhawk, but I wonder about the engine choice...how reliable will a turbo 4 be in the long term.   Not a fan of 4 cyls in hefty SUVs. 

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1 hour ago, Robert Hall said:

Looks competent and competitive w/ the GC Trailhawk, but I wonder about the engine choice...how reliable will a turbo 4 be in the long term.   Not a fan of 4 cyls in hefty SUVs. 

I also wonder about that, when the all new Ford Explorer ST came out in 2017 It had the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 and Alex my son compared it to the Jeep Grand Cherokee V6. Our impression was the same as he took the family along to test drive. Both were nice, but the Jeep was nicer at a much lower price and did not feel plastic cheap. He still has his Rhino Colored Jeep GC and loves it. I honestly while liking the looks of the Timberline model above think for the price of $60K dollar plus in base form, for a Turbo 4 banger only it is over priced and I also wonder about long life.

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I'll admit I'm biased as a GC owner and that I generally loathe 4 cylinders.   I've sat in the current gen Explorers at auto shows and found them to be cheap and plasticky inside, with the door openings being a particular turnoff...they look very cheaply finished around the door sills...first thing you notice getting inside. 

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I think this is pretty dang sweet but I think it is a complete failure to not offer either more powerful powertrain option, the hybrid or TT3.0.

I mean 300hp/310tq isn't anything to laugh at but it just seems like a package that deserves a little more of an option. 

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3 hours ago, Robert Hall said:

Looks competent and competitive w/ the GC Trailhawk, but I wonder about the engine choice...how reliable will a turbo 4 be in the long term.   Not a fan of 4 cyls in hefty SUVs. 

It doesn't have a low range transfer case or a rear locker, the Trailhawk would still eat this up if the trail/path really got tough. 

The 2.3 has been around since 2015. I wouldn't worry about reliability anymore but I would prefer the TT3.0 in a vehicle this size. But, it isn't like 300hp/310tq won't move this thing with the 10spd. 

1 hour ago, Robert Hall said:

I generally loathe 4 cylinders.

Have you driven a modern turbo-4 in a vehicle that isn't 3 rows? They're pretty impressive. 

I have a buddy I work with who recently bought a Traverse and was SUPER against a four cylinder in their new-to-them family vehicle(just had their first kid). He was looking at some Hyundai's and other things but was against the four cylinder engines. I told him to give them a shot, they're not the n/a engines that are extremely lethargic in basic vehicles, like his Sonata.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

It doesn't have a low range transfer case or a rear locker, the Trailhawk would still eat this up if the trail/path really got tough. 

The 2.3 has been around since 2015. I wouldn't worry about reliability anymore but I would prefer the TT3.0 in a vehicle this size. But, it isn't like 300hp/310tq won't move this thing with the 10spd. 

Have you driven a modern turbo-4 in a vehicle that isn't 3 rows? They're pretty impressive. 

 

I'd rather have an N/A V6 or V8 over a turbo 4.  I just don't believe in 4 cyl engines outside of small economy cars or small sports cars like Miatas.     

Maybe it's generational, but I associate 4 cyl with cheap despair boxes, horrible gray plastic interior misery with buzzy engines.  I wouldn't want to spend more than $25k on anything with a 4 (outside of a few small sports cars).   

Edited by Robert Hall
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10 hours ago, David said:

Speed sign recognition

NNOOPPEE!!!!
 

48 minutes ago, Robert Hall said:

I just don't believe in 4 cyl engines outside of small economy cars or small sports cars like Miatas.

Going to repeat my recent comment- the 1.5T in the Malibu is a sweet lil motor. It doesn't strain or fall flat, it's not buzzy, and it moves out quite rapidly.

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2 hours ago, Robert Hall said:

I'd rather have an N/A V6 or V8 over a turbo 4.  I just don't believe in 4 cyl engines outside of small economy cars or small sports cars like Miatas.     

Maybe it's generational, but I associate 4 cyl with cheap despair boxes, horrible gray plastic interior misery with buzzy engines.  I wouldn't want to spend more than $25k on anything with a 4 (outside of a few small sports cars).   

So have you driven a modern turbo-4? 

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

So have you driven a modern turbo-4? 

Probably in various rental cars ('16 Malibu, '16 Fusion, '17 Passat).  And my sister's Trax which is a 1.5 turbo.  Which is fine for a small subcompact CUV. 

Still wouldn't want to own anything with one, though. 

Edited by Robert Hall
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Robert Hall said:

I'll admit I'm biased as a GC owner and that I generally loathe 4 cylinders.   I've sat in the current gen Explorers at auto shows and found them to be cheap and plasticky inside, with the door openings being a particular turnoff...they look very cheaply finished around the door sills...first thing you notice getting inside. 

cheap interior and 4 cylinder motor are my big turnoffs on the new Explorer.  I didn't really care for the ride and handling of the new RWD bias chassis either (not that it was bad it just didn't strike a chord with me).  The engine itself has some power, but after owning several NA V6's and a couple turbo fours now, i would say the 6 cylinder has a nice smoothness they just can't seem to get four cylinders to match.  My ideal desire for any vehicle moving forward is a turbo six.  With the constant crackdown on good ICE engines, there won't be a lot of affordable turbo sixes to pick from.

On the Explorer, its a big price jump to the 6.

A big reason i eliminated the Explorer from our vehicle search when we got our second Pacifica recently was because the four cylinder, i didn't want anything to do with it in a family hauler.  The v6 so much nicer.

1 hour ago, Robert Hall said:

Probably in various rental cars ('16 Malibu, '16 Fusion, '17 Passat).  And my sister's Trax which is a 1.5 turbo.  Which is fine for a small subcompact CUV. 

Still wouldn't want to own anything with one, though. 

Even though the Turbo 4 in my Tour X is pretty strong, i really wish it had came with the Regal GS v6 at times.  Again, i would so dig a turbo six.

Edited by regfootball
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I think more and more companies are going this route, the off-road, rugged look seems every in, Subaru has a rugged version of the Outback now, there is the TRD RAV4, etc.  They are all going to go into this off road thing, like SUVs went after designer body cladding in the 90s, with Eddie Bauer editions, Jeep GC Orvis, Joseph Aboud Buick Regal and all those sort of cars.

As far as 4 cylinder goes, pretty much everything is going that way, so I don't think that will hurt the Explorer really.  People are going to drive and and go by power and feel, not how many cylinders it has.  Although that being said, my work car is a Ford Escape with the 1.5 turbo 3-cyldiner, it is a terrible engine because of how non-linear the power delivery is, plus the NVH is bad.  But I think that is more the result of bad tuning  and programming more so than cylinder count.

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On 5/7/2021 at 8:39 AM, David said:

I also wonder about that, when the all new Ford Explorer ST came out in 2017 It had the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 and Alex my son compared it to the Jeep Grand Cherokee V6. Our impression was the same as he took the family along to test drive. Both were nice, but the Jeep was nicer at a much lower price and did not feel plastic cheap. He still has his Rhino Colored Jeep GC and loves it. I honestly while liking the looks of the Timberline model above think for the price of $60K dollar plus in base form, for a Turbo 4 banger only it is over priced and I also wonder about long life.

The main issue with this latest Explorer/Aviator is it continues to feel unfinished, unrefined, and harshly cheaped out with atrocious QC. It's actually super odd, even vs. Ford normal.

The last FWD platform Explorer always felt better screwed together, and had better materials. So much could be great with the Mustang-esque RWD guts, yet the quality issues are terrible and these drive with a clunky unrefined nature.

It's good to see added cool trim levels like this, and the ST always looks cool, but the quality on these is so poor and the drivetrain such a hobbled "oops we forgot" clunk mess, I'm wondering if they mostly sell due to incentives and net net lease payments, or what the deal is. Customer reviews online are horrendous.

Thanks Explorer. You make a Durango feel like a Bentley. This echo'd a test drive I had early on...

 

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1 hour ago, caddycruiser said:

The main issue with this latest Explorer/Aviator is it continues to feel unfinished, unrefined, and harshly cheaped out with atrocious QC. It's actually super odd, even vs. Ford normal.

The last FWD platform Explorer always felt better screwed together, and had better materials. So much could be great with the Mustang-esque RWD guts, yet the quality issues are terrible and these drive with a clunky unrefined nature.

It's good to see added cool trim levels like this, and the ST always looks cool, but the quality on these is so poor and the drivetrain such a hobbled "oops we forgot" clunk mess, I'm wondering if they mostly sell due to incentives and net net lease payments, or what the deal is. Customer reviews online are horrendous.

Thanks Explorer. You make a Durango feel like a Bentley. This echo'd a test drive I had early on...

 

Was some of the reasons my son bought his Jeep Grand Cherokee. He said the interior material and the over all solid feel of the GC made the Explorer ST feel like a clunky after thought. Ford has some serious quality issues to resolve IMHO.

Love the look of this Timberline edition, but hate the Turbo 4 banger and worry about the long term fit n finish as well as if it will stay assembled after going off road or while off road.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, David said:

Was some of the reasons my son bought his Jeep Grand Cherokee. He said the interior material and the over all solid feel of the GC made the Explorer ST feel like a clunky after thought. Ford has some serious quality issues to resolve IMHO.

Love the look of this Timberline edition, but hate the Turbo 4 banger and worry about the long term fit n finish as well as if it will stay assembled after going off road or while off road.

Ford struggles horrendously with the GM/Ford 10 speed in their truck products, including the "new" 2021 F-150 that's now getting odd reviews with "when it's cold it slams and bangs gear to gear".

I put a couple thousand miles on a 2019 Mustang 2.3T 10-speed convertible I loved the tuning of, but it's horrendous in bigger Ford utilities. I got to drive an earlier 2020 Explorer and between the rattles, a dash panel that was detached a squeaky seat, and the shudder slamming of the powertrain, it felt 3rd world rental car.

Ford is trying desparately to get the Aviator out of the same plant screwed together better, but even those have ongoing issues with rattles and powertrain oddities.

Let's hope 2022 gets some further enhancements beyond this cool looking new package. The 2.3T is a beast, in all honestly, but not when it's slamming you around and the garbage interior is rattling...

Edited by caddycruiser
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Ford's 10-spd issues in the F-150 apparently were confined to 2017-2020 models.
At GM, the problems with the same basic unit (each OEM does proprietary tuning/calibrating), the 10L80 has been remarkably good from all I've read. MOST of the trans issues were with the 8L80 gearboxes.

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On 5/7/2021 at 7:10 AM, Robert Hall said:

Looks competent and competitive w/ the GC Trailhawk, but I wonder about the engine choice...how reliable will a turbo 4 be in the long term.   Not a fan of 4 cyls in hefty SUVs. 

Mated to the 10 speed it does well in my Ranger. That being said next gen Ranger will offer a V6. Would be tempted to do that if I were to buy a Ranger Bronco or Explorer.

On 5/10/2021 at 2:18 PM, caddycruiser said:

The main issue with this latest Explorer/Aviator is it continues to feel unfinished, unrefined, and harshly cheaped out with atrocious QC. It's actually super odd, even vs. Ford normal.

The last FWD platform Explorer always felt better screwed together, and had better materials. So much could be great with the Mustang-esque RWD guts, yet the quality issues are terrible and these drive with a clunky unrefined nature.

It's good to see added cool trim levels like this, and the ST always looks cool, but the quality on these is so poor and the drivetrain such a hobbled "oops we forgot" clunk mess, I'm wondering if they mostly sell due to incentives and net net lease payments, or what the deal is. Customer reviews online are horrendous.

Thanks Explorer. You make a Durango feel like a Bentley. This echo'd a test drive I had early on...

 

There is a reason Ford has a thirty week supply of Explorers and Hyundai is selling them as fast as they can build them.

On 5/7/2021 at 11:32 AM, balthazar said:

NNOOPPEE!!!!
 

Going to repeat my recent comment- the 1.5T in the Malibu is a sweet lil motor. It doesn't strain or fall flat, it's not buzzy, and it moves out quite rapidly.

Seems to work well for you.

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On 5/7/2021 at 10:24 AM, ccap41 said:

I think this is pretty dang sweet but I think it is a complete failure to not offer either more powerful powertrain option, the hybrid or TT3.0.

I mean 300hp/310tq isn't anything to laugh at but it just seems like a package that deserves a little more of an option. 

Bigger motor more attention to details on the interior. Looks great though.

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