First drive: 2022 Ford Expedition Timberline lumbers off-road

The 2022 Expedition Timberline carries Ford’s largest passenger vehicle off the road and onto the trail with more off-road capability. But the trail-blazing edition of the full-size SUV can’t overcome its big and blocky proportions, no matter where it goes. 

During limited testing off-road in the wilds beyond Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, the Expedition Timberline handled ruts and mud with ease, thanks in part to its standard four-wheel drive with a 2-speed transfer case and its black 18-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch all-terrain tires. But when the rain rooted deep into the terrain, and mud slicked the rocks, the Timberline slid before it gripped. Weighing nearly 5,600 lb, the Timberline first had to handle its weight on uneven and unsteady terrain. It’s not unusual for a vehicle so big, but when negotiating between trees or other narrow parts, that bit of slippage caused a bit of anxiety.

Otherwise, on more open Midwestern terrain including a shallow pool, ever deepening mud, and camelback knolls, the new Expedition Timberline instilled confidence. Off-road shocks cushion the weight from the frame, and various drive modes enhance four-wheel drive High, and simplify putting it in neutral and switching to 4L. 

A refreshed look stamps the ends of every 2022 Expedition, with standard LED headlights and new bumpers, but the Timberline stands out the most with more black cladding and accents rimmed with orange.

The Timberline model cashes in on the trend of upfitting an off-road variant straight from the factory. Following in the path of the 2021 Explorer Timberline, the 2022 Expedition Timberline wears an orange-rimmed grille and different bumpers that increase the approach angle from 23.3 degrees to 28.5 degrees and departure angle from 21.9 degrees to 23.7 degrees. Steel skid plates protect the increased exposure from the bumpers, and the knobby tires as well as new springs and other suspension upgrades raise the ground clearance nearly an inch more than the standard Expedition to 10.6 inches. Orange front tow hooks can lend a helping hand.

The skid plates are used in the Ford F-150 Raptor high-speed off-road truck, as is the high performance tune of its twin-turbo V-6 rated at 440 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, and a 10-speed automatic transmission. 

The Ford Bronco lends its Trail Turn Assist function that drags the inside rear wheel to shorten the turning radius—ideal in sand and mud—but also beneficial for the long Expedition when it made 45-degree turns in the woods.

Ford shares other parts from its off-road arsenal. The Ford Bronco lends its Trail Turn Assist function that drags the inside rear wheel to shorten the turning radius—ideal in sand and mud—but also beneficial for the long Expedition when it made 45-degree turns in the woods. The Timberline package is not offered on the extended Expedition Max. A limited-slip rear differential also helps getting through the mud, and the muck and the Midwestern spring. Ford fits Timberlines with its twin-turbo V-6 rated at 440 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, and a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Built off the XLT grade, the 2022 Expedition Timberline adds more interior conveniences in addition to its orange stitching and Timberline badging. Synthetic leather waterproof upholstery covers seats that power-fold in both rear rows of the eight-seater. Driver and passenger sit on power thrones with memory settings for all the drivers on the trail. Keyless entry and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel add some ease and comfort.

Ford equips the Timberline with a surround-view camera system that helps negotiate the trail as well as the parking lot and garage. A 12.0-inch touchscreen comes standard on all Expeditions, but the tester had Ford’s 15.5-inch screen. I prefer the smaller one because it’s underscored by hard buttons and dials for climate and audio.   

All the upgrades cost $10,000 more than the XLT 4WD, to $71,490 for the 2022 Timberline, including $1,795 destination. 

The more powerful engine, increased off-road capability, and interior upgrades justify the price, with or without the orange accents.

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