2022 Ford Explorer Timberline
Class: Midsize Crossover
Miles driven: 243
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||B|
|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.|
|Engine Specs||300-horsepower 2.3-liter|
|Engine Type||Turbocharged four|
Real-world fuel economy: 19.2 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: Mediocre observed fuel economy, Timberline available only as well-equipped near-top-trim-level model
The tested Timberline looked as woodsy as its name in Forged Green Metallic paint, Deep Cypress upholstery (with Tangerine accent stitching), LED fog lamps in a series-specific dark-gray grille, and black-painted 18-inch alloy wheels with 265/65R18 all-terrain tires. The front tow hooks, skid plates, and limited-slip rear axle stand heighten its boondocks credibility, all for a reasonable $47,540 with delivery.
Passenger room in the first two rows is comfortably generous—and seat heating is standard for them. The easily accessible third row is, however, not the most hospitable for adults. The seat cushion is low, so they will sit with their knees up, and sitting behind one of the middle-row captain’s chairs set when tracked all the way back leaves precious little leg room for back-benchers.
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As a middle-of-the-pack Explorer (at least pricewise), plenty of plastic surfaces mix in amid soft and padded areas. Electronic driving controls are bright and legible. The 8-inch Sync3 infotainment screen seems a little retrograde in an era of ever-expanding displays (and Ford itself has its share of them) but it is simple and logical to use. Separate climate controls—a mix of function buttons and repetitive-push toggles for temperature settings—are easy to decipher and use. Cabin storage isn’t bad, with a big glove box, deep console box, large pockets in all doors, and pouches on the front seat backs. Cup holders are in the console, and third-row passengers are served by cup holders and shallow trays molded into the sidewalls.
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With the rearmost seats raised, there is enough remaining cargo space to cart home three large pots of mums. The load floor conceals a wide storage bin good for holding small items out of sight, and covered cubbies are built in the rear corners. The 50/50-split third seat folds absolutely flat with the floor to greatly expand cargo capacity.
The Timberline’s 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has a decent level of power—300 horsepower isn’t a bad level for getting around—but there can be moments of lag that make for uneven acceleration. The 10-speed automatic transmission behaved well. EPA city-driving estimates are 19 mpg; this driver’s run with 72 percent city-type operation came close to that at an indicated 18.6 mpg. Ride in “Normal” mode is comfortable and compliant but summoning “Sport” makes for ride quality that is a little more brittle. Steering is light and maybe a little short on road feel.
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For slightly more money than the popular Limited trim level costs, Explorer shoppers go with the Timberline and enjoy a sporty, woodsy look with some real off-road acumen tossed in for added value. The Timberline rides and handles much like any Explorer–which is to say, pretty well–and offers owners plenty of front- and second-row passenger space. Though the turbocharged 2.3-liter engine provides plenty of power, the attached 10-speed automatic can be less than smooth shifting gears around town. Additionally, our observed fuel economy fell a little below EPA estimates, and a little below our expectations. Neither of these complaints are deal breakers, however, as Explorer remains a fundamentally solid crossover, and the Timberline trim level only adds to the truck’s appeal.
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