2021 Ford Explorer Timberline

The News for May 7th, 2021

Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. This week: Ford debuts new Explorer that’s built for exploring, NASCAR Next Gen is a major overhaul for the sport, some new dumb Ferrari, the Lightning name may be coming back to Ford, and Porsche is reuniting with Penske for LMDh program.

Ford Explorer Timberline

2021 Ford Explorer Timberline

Ford’s king of the SUV market continues to expand its lineup. The Explorer has had Sport, ST, and King Ranch trims added recently, but there wasn’t much for buyers who were interested in taking their family SUV deep into the wilderness. Until now. Say hello to the Ford Explorer Timberline, what Ford calls the most rugged, off-road capable Explorer ever. Or in other words, it’s an Explorer that you can truly explore with.

What’s likely to be the first in a series of Timberline trims among Ford SUVs, this one sets the stage for a more potent competitor to various Jeeps and other “go anywhere” SUVs. Ford says customer data indicates a strong desire to get outside and explore nature, so they’ve built the Explorer Timberland to be a companion for those people. Its off road abilities begin with standard “intelligent” four-wheel drive and a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, a first for the Explorer. It also receives a Terrain Management System with seven drive modes covering all sorts of road conditions and Hill Descent Control.

2021 Ford Explorer Timberline

The Explorer Timberlake has more ground clearance with an increased ride height of 0.8 inches. This is thanks to more robust shocks borrowed from the Explorer Police Interceptor and the high-sidewall Bridgestone Dueler P265/65R-18 all terrain tires. Its steering, stabilizer bars, and springs are all specially tuned for this package. It also adds an exclusive front rebound spring to help prevent sudden jarring while on your favorite trail or when driving through downtown Atlanta. Its new front and rear fascias aren’t just for looks – they’re really meant to allow for a greater approach and departure angle of 23.5 degrees and 23.7 degrees respectively. And should the Timberleaf’s minimum ground clearance of 8.7 inches prove to be insufficient, it’s protected by standard steel skid plates. This starts underneath the front, continues under the engine and transmission, and through the rear of the vehicle. The only powertrain Ford mentions as being available with the Timberwolf is the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four cylinder, but with 300 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque that’s not exactly a bad thing. It also features the Class III Trailer Tow Package from the other Explorers as standard, which increases towing capacity to 5,300 pounds.

2021 Ford Explorer Timberline

Other features geared towards the off road lifestyle are the LED fog lamps designed to illuminate trail edges at night. You can also fit auxiliary lights to the grille, whichs ship from the factory with provisions already incorporated. The dealer can install Ford Performance aux lights with an output of 160,000 candelas, roughly 2.5 times the brightness of the Explorer’s high beams. Meanwhile the interior features standard rubber floor liners and ActiveX seat trim with cloth inserts which makes it easy to clean up the cabin after some exploring.

No word on pricing yet but expect to see the Explorer Timberridge on dealership lots this summer.

NASCAR Next Gen revealed

NASCAR Next Gen Mustang

This was a big week for NASCAR who just unveiled their next generation race car, creatively named NASCAR Next Gen. At a media event in Charlotte, all three OEMs were present to show off what they had created in cooperation with NASCAR. This will be a high level overview to demonstrate how dramatic of a change this is for the sport, but there’s a lot of nitty gritty details to geek out over as well. Friend of Hooniverse and totally not a robot Bozi Tatarevic was on hand for some good tweets and a highly detailed article for Road & Track.

But here’s the skinny. The massive screaming V8s remain largely unchanged, but they are paired with a new five-speed sequential transaxle from Xtrac and sing through dual side exit exhaust. So they’ll be rung through tighter gearing and shifting more often and will also sound a little different. Perhaps the most controversial change is in the wheel department. Gone are the old school five-lug steelies. The Next Gen cars will be running 18″ center-locking aluminum wheels. While the spectacle of a tire change is going to be quite a bit different, the changes should be quicker and I’d imagine safer as well with fewer opportunities to improperly tighten a lug. But it seems the main reason for the bigger wheels was to fit bigger brakes. The new brakes are almost the size of the old wheels and will do wonders for road course performance. They will also handle better with new independent rear suspension with coilovers.

NASCAR Next Gen Mustang

Another massive set of changes have been made to the bodies of these cars. They are now symmetrical, made entirely of composites, and have more modern aero and cooling ducts. The package also allowed each manufacturer to add little details to more closely resemble the road cars. The cars are also meant to be a little more resilient to wheel-to-wheel impacts and wall brushes during hard racing. Drivers will always find a way to break stuff, but cut tires and damaged suspension components from side-to-side battles should happen less often.

The 2022 Daytona 500 will be the first competitive outing for these cars but testing has already been underway for over a year and a half. More tests with more teams should start in the coming months.

NASCAR Cup Series Camry

As someone who used to be big into NASCAR, this new car is genuinely exciting. I remember the whole Car of Tomorrow saga vividly… that was my first exposure to a big change in NASCAR. Though it was deserving of some of its complaints, namely that it was pretty ugly, it was still a big step forward and a huge improvement in safety. This Next Gen car is a leap. It’s a lot of change for fans to digest all at once, but I think the benefits will become clear as soon as it races for the first time.

[Sources: Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, @BoziTatarevicRoad & Track]

Ferrari 812 Competizione

big dum ferrari 812 competizione

I’m only including this story because of SEO.

Coming soon to a Dogecoin investor’s Instagram near you, Ferrari has revealed a new limited edition 812 variant called the 812 Competizione and 812 Competizione A. One is a coupe. The other is a targa. Both are fast and have lots of power and lots of tech and stuff. They were both sold out before you and I wasted brain cells with knowledge of this car.

[Source: Jalopnik]

Report: Ford is resurrecting the Lightning name

According to a report from Car and Driver this week, Ford is bringing back the Lightning, but not how you may have expected. It’ll make a lot of sense though.

Ford announced an all-electric F-150 was in the works and have been teasing it regularly. Almost immediately, the Lightning name – originally used on a batch of beloved sports trucks in the 90s – was brought up as a potential name for it. I mean, it just makes sense for an electric pickup, right? Well according to a Ford document provided to C&D, Ford thought so too. Very little is known about the truck but it’s believed it will have dual-motor AWD and be at least somewhat performance-oriented. So it may not have been the supercharged, tire-shredding hot rod of a truck we originally wanted, the new Lightning should be the next best thing.

[Source: Car and Driver]

Porsche and Penske are reuniting for LMDh program

porsche lmdh

The NASCAR Next Gen announcement wasn’t the only big news for motorsports this week. Porsche and Penske announced that the band is getting back together to run their future LMDh program. If you can remember the distinctive DHL-liveried Porsche RS Spyders that were a constant dominant force in ALMS and the successful 917 prototypes in the 1970s, yeah… that partnership is coming back. Under the name Porsche Penske Motorsport, two of their LMDh prototypes will compete for overall victories in IMSA here in the US and in WEC globally beginning in 2023.

Suddenly, everyone else in Hypercar and LMDh has a lot to worry about.

[Source: Porsche]

What’s your automotive news?

hooniverse news whats your naws

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.

Have a good weekend.

I'm the guy that spoiled the site with all the new car stuff. Hooniverse News Editor since 2011, amateur motorsport photographer, sim racer, and mountain road enthusiast.

24 Comments

  1. Proper sidewall tires look good on the Explorer, and I like that several manufacturers go for green in their press photos. More obvious here than in others (btw, is hunting mentioned as a pastime for those outdoorsy customers or will that be another trim line?).

    Tomorrow, I will have my first anniversary with the Centennial. It’s been gone for weeks, but I cross my fingers that it’ll be ready for summer drives soon.

    Screening old photos yesterday, it hit me that cars with colour mismatched, replaced panels are not much of a thing anymore. When did people stop doing that? Photos of cities until about the late ’80s, early ’90s, do include the occasional clown car.

    1. In that time period you would be seeing more VW Golfs in factory Harlequin paint scheme. For modern times I’m not so sure cars are constructed in a way that makes it easy for the cheapskate to pop-rivet in a junkyard fender. Not many people have the skills or mindset these days to replace a door or a hood themselves. In my state the insurance companies make it difficult to take a payout instead of having their affiliated shop do the whole replace and respray. (If you do get a payout, it’s less than what they wrote the claim for. “Because we can’t vouch for the quality of your repair, versus our affiliate.”)

  2. I’m not usually lured in by catchy trim packages, but I like what they did with the Explorer. I’ve been wanting to see a major grille revision since the truck debuted, but just that bar that they added here helps immensely. I don’t disagree with any of the mechanical/physical changes they’ve made– all seem to be functionally beneficial.

    And metallic green? With hell-yes! green leather interior? That’s a hook that’ll reel me in every time.

    1. Maybe it’s just that Greg knows his audience, but I was pleased the Timberframe write up didn’t list any interior creature comfort crap. Like maybe it really is just an off-road focused driveline and running gear setup. And a little merit badge for the fender.

  3. First round of gear setup is done for the Dana 44 going in the rear of my TJ. The ARB is in, and a tweak or two and I’ll have a good gear pattern and be ready to seal it up. This is only my second time setting up gears, but thankfully it’s gone fairly smooth other than a new but defective bearing that had to be cut off. Next up I tackle the front end…

  4. I’ve still not found anyone who can tell me why that new Ferrari super duper extra fast has a small, ill fitting hood inside the main hood.

    No Civic news this week? Did we cover it last week? It’s a nice improvement and what they did with the interior is fantastic. Reminds me of an older Audi.

    No car news this week.

  5. No news here on the automotive front except that the 5 Series reached the ‘12-months-since-last-oil-change’ point. I know this because not only did a little orange car-shaped light pop up on the display; I also received the following email:

    ” Your BMW 530i has indicated that it is time for a service appointment. You may not have noticed, but your BMW knows when the time is right because it is equipped with BMW Teleservice, which monitors your service needs and transmits vital information to us automatically. Your BMW is due for the following: Engine oil, Coolant level, Microfilter.

    Please contact us if you haven’t already scheduled your appointment. Regular maintenance is vital to preserving the performance and value of your BMW.”

    Großer Bruder schaut zu…

    On a different note, I would like to ask for some automotive, uhm transportation Dying Fad? news:

    Where have all the electric scooters gone? In my area at least they seem to have vanished. Admittedly, I am a denizen of suburbia who rarely enters the big citybut I suddenly realized I haven’t seen -even one- in many months. I knew that all those rentabicycles vanished when the scooters appeared, but now it seems the scooters have gone as well.

    Is this a local phenomenon -Dallas Texas was never an ideal climate for scootering- or has COVID killed them off, or am I just unobservant, clueless to what is lurking unseen in my particular part of the (sub) urban jungle?

    1. Heh, I think I went 15 months between oil changes – I was due shortly after the lock down started and just kept putting it off, finally caved last month and went to a quick lube place.

      Also, I still see enough of the e-scooters around although my city is in the process of trying to ban them.

    2. My wife and I send our kids away for the first double, double sleepover since they were born this weekend. With the overwhelming freedom of two-and-a-half-days without kids, we rigorously proceeded to…clean the house. Anyway, saturday night, we went out eating in our city, Norway’s second biggest, thirty minutes away. Outside of the absolute city centre core, we were just about the only people moving on feet around midnight. Everybody else scooted pass us on those rent-by-the-minute super-expensive startup-company scooters. They seem to have a mandatory wiggly line mode, but basically everybody appeared to enjoy themselves riding them.

  6. “Ford Performance aux lights with an output of 160,000 candelas, roughly 2.5 times the brightness of the Explorer’s high beams.” How do they keep you from flashing the oncoming guy who never turns off his high beams? That’s instant blindness right there.

  7. My 2019 One Lap of America co-driver and I went out to GingerMan Raceway to watch the last road course rounds of One Lap 2021 and catch up with everyone. It was a lot easier last year not being in it when it wasn’t being run. Anyone want to sponsor a solid mid-pack Chevy SS for 2022? We definitely want to run again and free Hooniverse stickers we got from Jeff in ’19 won’t quite cover the entry fee.

  8. “what Ford calls the most rugged, off-road capable Explorer ever”

    I find this hard to believe when the back catalogue includes 102″ wb, dual range transfer case vehicles with much better clearance angles.

    1. Rugged is debatable against what was essentially a Ranger wagon, but the BOF Explorers didn’t have much offroad chops either (although at least they were more aftermarket-friendly).

  9. So the free scooter got a registration plate! The carburetor still needs adjustment but it’s roadworthy, lights and mirrors and all.
    The 944 has a nearly-seized rear brake, and I would swear that grins developed on the trip to tech inspection… I have six weeks to fix it, easily feasible.

  10. My son and four friends have a road trip mini vacation coming up after finals. I thought a BOF station wagon would be the ideal mode of transportation for that; those 70’s Show kids seemed to enjoy cruising the Vista Cruiser, and the Griswolds had their Family Truckster.

    In preparation, I bought some new shocks from Rock Auto. FedEx kept pushing out the delivery date. They finally arrived late Sunday afternoon, no time to get started this weekend.

    I don’t know whether the shocks currently installed are original to the car, but I’m sure their age can be measured in decades. And when I got the car, it had Minnesota plates and a New York inspection sticker on the windshield. I’m kind of wondering how rusted and inaccessible the rears are going to be.

    1. Don’t tease us like that, we need more details like yr make model and powertrain. Speaking of that 70’s Show Vista Cruiser I saw an article the other day saying that Fez owns the one used in the show but that it lacks an engine. To me that seems sad since he should be able to afford to have someone drop in a power train and make it run again. An Olds 455 would be my choice, but an LS or even an old school SBC would be better than it not running and driving.

      1. 89 Ford Panther. Rollin’. in the 5 point oh, with the rear widow down so my hair can blow.

        Cosmetically, it’s quite a beater, but it attracts a ton of reminiscent reactions from the over-40 crowd.

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