While SUVs are mainly bought by city-dwelling folk these days, Ford says more and more of its customers are taking their cars off the beaten track. To that end, the Blue Oval has become the latest company to introduce a more rugged model called the Explorer Timberline (not to be confused with a certain outdoor boot maker), adding a bit of go-anywhere ability – just like the Subaru Outback Wilderness shown last month.

This trim level blesses Dearborn’s mid-size SUV with a standard variable all-wheel drive system and a new rear Torsen limited-slip differential, with the previously optional Terrain Management System also fitted. This gives the driver seven modes to choose from, including Trail and Deep Snow/Sand, in order to adjust the car’s settings to suit any given terrain. Hill descent control also comes as standard.

On top of that, the Timberline adds steel skid plates that run the entire length of the underside. Off-road-biased chassis tweaks include recalibrated steering, unique spring and anti-roll bar tuning (including a new rebound spring to prevent any jarring movements) and heavy-duty dampers from the Explorer Police Interceptor. The latter, together with the Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tyres, raise the ride height by 20 mm.

Ford says the Timberline has a minimum ground clearance of 221 mm and claims maximum approach and departure angles of 23.5 and 23.7 degrees respectively, thanks to redesigned front and rear bumpers. A standard Class III Trailer Tow Package adds 2,400 kg of towing capacity. Under the bonnet lies the base 300 hp/420 Nm 2.3 litre EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine, paired to a ten-speed automatic gearbox.

Setting the Timberline apart from regular Explorer models are the blacked-out head- and taillights, beefier front and rear plastic body cladding, Red Ember front tow hooks and 18-inch gloss black alloy wheels with a laser-etched Timberline mountain logo. The new grille, which comes with additional LED light strips, also features provisions and a wiring harness for dealer-installed Ford Performance auxiliary lights.

The Timberline is also offered in a new Forged Green Metallic paint option, matching the easy-clean Deep Cypress ActiveX faux leather interior upholstery. Black headlining, Stone Mesh dashboard decor, Satin Silver Twilight centre console, steering wheel bezel and door armrest trim, Deep Tangerine stitching and Timberland logos embossed on the front seats complete the look.

Other bits of standard kit include rubber floor liners to keep the carpets clean, plus heated front seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Timberline also comes with the full suite of Co-Pilot360 and Co-Pilot360 Assist+ safety technologies, such as adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane centring assist, evasive steering assist and traffic sign recognition. A 360-degree camera system is also fitted.