2022 Ford Explorer Timberline
Class: Midsize Crossover
Color: Forged Green Metallic
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.
Miles driven: 192
Observed fuel economy: 19.1 mpg
Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 19/22/21 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $46,245 (not including $1295 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: None
Price as tested: $47,540
The great: Generous passenger space, deft ride and handling balance, rugged off-road appeal
The good: Plenty of power, ample cargo space, uses regular-grade gasoline
The not so good: Timberline available only as well-equipped near-top-trim-level model
Forget sporty. The new extroverted trend in crossovers is not “go fast,” it’s “go anywhere.” And, frankly, while sporty crossovers seem like something of an oxymoron, off-road capable examples feel much more in keeping with the whole SUV paradigm.
New, or recently new, midsize 3-row crossover trail-ready trim levels include the GMC Acadia XT4, Honda Pilot TrailSport, Hyundai Palisade XRT, Kia Telluride X-Pro, and, seen here, the Ford Explorer Timberline.
While the aforementioned vehicles vary in degrees of real off-road prowess, all feature special wheels and tires, addition ride height, and unique exterior and interior trim. And, all are priced somewhere between the midlevel trim and topline editions of each lineup.
Consumer Guide recently spent a week with a 2022 Ford Explorer in Timberline guise. We found that the off-road trim and hardware did little to detract from the Explorer’s basic utility, while spicing up the midsize Ford’s look and giving us a little deep—snow piece of mind.
In fact, were it our money, we might opt for the Timberline in lieu of the high-lux Platinum trim level, because we prefer the casual woodsy look, lower price, and Snow-Belt appropriate gear. And, who knows, we might actually venture off the pavement given the opportunity.
Presented here are the five coolest things about the Explorer Timberline. If you think we missed something, drop us a line. The place to leave comments is down below.
5 Cool Things About the Ford Explorer Timberline
Plenty of Power
Muscular for a base engine, the Ford 2.3-liter “EcoBoost” 4-cylinder serves up plenty of passing and merging power, and ample low-speed shoot-through-traffic torque. Also found under the hood of the Ford Mustang, this smooth four cranks out 300 horsepower and mates well with the standard and very responsive 10-speed automatic. Note that some of our drivers complained that the transmission did too much shifting in stop-and-go traffic, which they found annoying.
In mostly city driving, we saw better than 19 mpg with our test Timberline. While this number is low relative to the EPA estimates for the truck, it’s better than we generally see for an AWD 3-row crossover, and surprisingly good given the additional ride height and off-road ready tires. And, as new noted above, the Explorer Timberline is no slouch in the muscle department.
Impressive Ride and Handling
The Explorer Timberline leans towards sporty handling, and surprises with rewarding steering feel. Ride quality does not suffer however, as the suspension absorbs most road imperfections with little trouble, and settles in nicely for long highway drives
Legitimate Off-Road Bits
Though we have not evaluated the Timberline’s off-road performance, we are impressed by some of the hardware and upgrades that come as standard equipment. Chief among the updates is the elevated ride height. The Timberline boasts 8.7 inches of ground clearance, about an inch more than other Explorers. The added clearance will prove beneficial when fording deep snow, or when traversing deeply rutted roads. Also cool is the Torsen-brand rear differential, which will provide added traction when things get rough. The Timberline also comes standard with front tow hooks, but it you actually need to use them, you likely confused your Explorer with a Ford Bronco.
It may be a short-lived trend, but we really like the black wheels, which are set off nicely by the Forged Green Metallic paint seen on our test truck. Additionally, the judicious use of red exterior accents, especially the tow hooks, add just the right amount of sporty flair. The cabin is appropriately businesslike, though the contrasting orange, sorry, tangerine, upholstery stitching sports things up just enough. The seats themselves look sturdy and inviting; they’re also quite comfy.
Ford Explorer Timberline Gallery
Click below for enlarged images.