2022 Ford Explorer Timberline Review – Off-Road Ready, If Needed

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Fast Facts

2022 Ford Timberline Fast Facts

2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (300 horsepower @ N/A, 310 lb-ft of torque @ N/A)
Transmission/Drive Layout
10-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Fuel Economy (U.S., MPG)
19 city / 22 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating)
Fuel Economy (Canada, L/100km)
12.2 city / 10.5 highway / 11.5 combined (NRCan Rating)
Base Price
$47,540 (U.S.) / $56,480 (Canada)
As-Tested Price
$47,540 (U.S.) / $60,875 (Canada)
Prices include $1,295 destination charge in the United States and $2,295 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

The 2022 Ford Explorer Timberline is aimed at a very specific audience – and if you aren’t part of that audience, other Explorer trims will better suit you.

If you are in that specific audience, this Explorer can do a few things that the other trims likely cannot.

This trim is the perfect example of how use case can dictate vehicle purchase decisions.

In other words, if you don’t ever go off-road, you don’t need this trim. If you do some light wheelin’, however, it’s capable.

To an extent, anyway. Serious wheelers will need a Bronco or maybe a Bronco Sport Badlands. But if you need to tackle some tricky terrain to launch your kayak or get to the campsite, you’ll be fine.

Select the Timberline, and you get a small ground clearance lift – 0.8 inches, for a total of 8.7 inches – off-road shocks, approach and departure angles of 23.5 and 23.7 degrees, different front and rear fascias, a limited-slip rear differential, and all-terrain tires.

Ford’s EcoBoost four-cylinder that makes 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque is underhood, and the gearbox is a 10-speed automatic transmission.

There’s always a concern that off-road-oriented packages can negatively impact on-road performance, both in terms of ride and handling and noise/vibration/harshness. That’s not really the case here – the all-season tires are a skoosh noisy, but not obnoxiously so. The ride was perhaps a tad stiffer but didn’t seem unduly harsh, and the handling didn’t seem dramatically different from the last Explorer I drove. Both ride and handling are about what you’d expect for a commuter SUV – not particularly sporty or fun, but not sleepy, either.

Indeed, on-road, the Timberline doesn’t feel super different from its brethren, aside from the aforementioned extra tire noise and slightly stiffer ride. It’s an Explorer that does Explorer things in a very Explorer-like manner.

I don’t mean to sound flippant – the Explorer is, in general, a well-packaged family hauler. I also had no chance to go off-road so I can’t say if the Timberline treatment is worth it for weekend warriors.

I can say it’s probably not worth buying if you don’t go off-road/camping/kayaking/whatever. Again, there’s not a huge sacrifice at play here, but unless you like the styling differences, other Explorer trims will suit on-road driving better. That said, the Timberline’s base price is about mid-pack for Explorers.

The Timberline’s cabin gave me mixed feelings. Kudos to Ford for keeping radio knobs, and there are nice little storage cubby holes up front. The dial shifter annoys some, but it does take up less space. Meanwhile, the tacked-on infotainment screen looks a tad, well, tacky.

We don’t always cover exterior styling in these reviews – you see the pictures – but I’d be remiss not to talk about the Timberline’s, at least a bit. My more cynical side suggests that more than a few Timberlines will move based solely on the rugged looks – the only gravel they’ll see is at the unpaved lot at the youth soccer fields.

To that end, the blacked-out rims and beefier looks aren’t bad. The package does look the part, at least, and for some, that will be a draw.

Other standard features on the Timberline include front tow hooks, LED headlights, a power liftgate, roof rails, trailer-sway control, LED fog lamps, first- and second-row heated seats, heated steering wheel, tri-zone climate control, 360-degree camera, navigation, Sync infotainment, and remote start. Eighteen-inch wheels were a no-charge option.

All told the price with destination was $47,540.

For those so concerned, fuel economy is listed as 19/22/21.

For some, the Timberline trim will be unnecessary. For others, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

What’s New for 2022

The Timberline was introduced to the Explorer lineup in 2021 and carries over essentially unchanged.

Who Should Buy It

The Explorer intender who either gets off-road on the weekend or just likes rugged looks.

[Images: Ford]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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2 of 30 comments
  • El scotto El scotto on Apr 30, 2023

    Gentlemen, I stand corrected.

  • Cprescott Cprescott on May 01, 2023

    Reminds me of the new notion Honduh has that you can take a Honduh offroad. Honduh should realize Honduh drivers force others off the road.

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