2023 Ford Explorer Has 1 Huge Thing Toyota Highlander Doesn’t Offer

Two longtime favorites in the midsize SUV segment are the Explorer and the Toyota Highlander. While both SUVs continue to be successful and have multiple strengths, there is one key factor in the Explorer’s favor. The 2023 Ford has one huge thing the 2023 Toyota Highlander doesn’t offer: an off-road model with Timberline trim.

Unlike the 2023 Toyota Highlander, the 2023 Ford Explorer has an off-road model: Timberline trim

2023 Ford Explorer Timberline | Ford

Off-road SUVs are all the rage these days. People yearn to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and head towards the wilderness. The 2023 Explorer fills this need with the powerful Timberline off-road model. If you want an SUV that can drive off the beaten track, then the Explorer is the way to go.

models for some of its other SUVs, including the RAV4, 4Runner and Sequoia, there isn’t one available for the Highlander. The Highlander is great for city driving, but not so much for off-road use.

Even if you never intend to ride off-road, the Timberline Explorer has other benefits. This includes traveling in adverse weather conditions, such as snow and. Also, the midsize SUV is more effective for driving on poor quality roads, such as broken concrete, cracks and potholes.

Features of Explorer Timberline 2023 that make it better for off-road use than Highlander 2023

Front angled view of gray 2023 Toyota Highlander midsize SUV
2023 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

The 2023 Ford Explorer Timberline midsize SUV’s increased off-road capabilities begin with its standard Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system. Intelligent 4WD, also offered for other Explorer trims, provides optimal traction in difficult terrain.

It is a highly advanced system, proactively providing traction before wheel spin occurs. This is achieved by automatically adjusting the torque between the wheels based on conditions and driver inputs. While the 2023 Highlander offers an all-wheel drive system, it’s not as advanced as the all-wheel drive system in the Timberline and other Explorer models.

Additionally, the Timberline Explorer has plenty of ground clearance: 8.7 inches. The high ground clearance allows the mid-size SUV to drive more safely and effectively over uneven terrain, such as rocks. By comparison, the Highlander only has up to 8.0 inches of ground clearance.

Also, the Explorer has various features. This includes a Torsen limited-slip rear diff, hill descent control, skid plates, heavy-duty shock absorbers and all-terrain tires. It also features a Terrain Management System with seven riding modes, such as Deep Snow/Sand and Trail.

Other strengths of the Ford Explorer over the Toyota Highlander

How much does a fully loaded 2023 Ford Explorer cost?

In addition to its Timberline off-road model, the 2023 midsize SUV has other strengths over the 2023 Highlander. That includes more powerful engine options: a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 (400 horsepower), a 3.3-liter V-6 hybrid (318 horsepower) and a 2.3-liter EcoBoost I-4 (300 horsepower).

All of these engines are more powerful than the Highlander’s standard turbocharged 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine (265 horsepower). The Highlander also offers a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid, but it’s even weaker (243 horsepower).

Additionally, the Explorer can tow a heavier load than the (up to 5,500 vs. 5,000 pounds). It also has a roomier cabin, with a maximum cargo capacity of 87.8 cubic feet and total passenger volume of 152.7 cubic feet. The Highlander has only 84.3 cubic feet of stowage space and 141.3 cubic feet for passengers. Additionally, the Explorer’s cabin is more upscale, especially for the higher trims.

With its Timberline off-road model, the 2023 Ford Explorer has one huge thing the 2023 Toyota Highlander doesn’t offer. If you’re a midsize SUV buyer who craves some off-road adventures, then the Explorer is probably the best choice for you.

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