It's easy to dismiss crossovers when it comes to their off-road abilities. These typically do not come with low-range gearing, reactive all-wheel-drive systems, and not a whole lot of ground clearance. However, Ford wants to change that perception by giving the Explorer more trail-ready hardware.
They call it the Explorer Timberline, and Ford insists it's more than a station wagon on tall tires. Think of it then as an Explorer with a bit of Raptor and FX4 bits thrown in for good measure.
From the outside, it looks like a garden-variety Explorer with off-road accessories and beefier tires. But the upgrades made to the popular crossover are beyond cosmetic. For instance, the road-oriented springs and dampers were thrown out in favor of a more robust arrangement. The automaker says it's the same ones used for the law enforcement version of the Explorer, the Police Interceptor. The new parts also give the Explorer Timberline 20 mm more clearance over the standard model. As a result, the ground clearance is now rated at 221 mm.
The raised suspension has another benefit of off-roading. With more space between the ground and the chassis, the Explorer has better approach and departure angles. That means fewer chances of scraping when it's on the trail. A steel skidplate also protects the underbelly of the crossover from anything that can pierce vital components. Also included in the Timberline variant are a set of Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires, beefed-up stabilizer bars, and a limited-slip differential.
All these upgrades help the Explorer's standard Terrain Management System. It includes Trail, Deep Snow, Mud, Tow/Haul, Eco, Normal, and Sport modes. That allows the driver to optimize the vehicle's capabilities in various situations. Hill-descent control is also standard, a must for those tricky and slippery downhill trails. As for wading capabilities, it is rated close to 530 mm.
Powering the Explorer Timberline is not the potent (and new) 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6. Instead, it comes with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine sourced from the entry-level Mustang. It might not have six cylinders under the hood, but it still packs 305 PS and 420 Nm of torque. The boosted four-cylinder shifts with a ten-speed automatic transmission.
This model is exclusive to the North American market, at least for now. Then again, the redesigned Explorer is now available at select dealerships in the country, albeit in Limited form. Should it sell well enough, it might be enough for Ford Philippines to consider bringing in a few units. If not, the standard model looks promising nonetheless. If you're interested in it, the local-spec Explorer Limited starts at PHP 2,998,000.