Ford Explorer Ground Clearance

The base 2022 Ford Explorer gets 7.9 inches of ground clearance. The Timberline trim increases that number to 8.7 inches.
Written by Shannon Fitzgerald
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The ground clearance for the 2022 Ford Explorer is 7.9 inches in every trim except the Timberline, which raises you to 8.7 inches. Getting a 4WD build can raise the ground clearance on non-Timberline trims to 8.2 inches, however. 
SUVs are known for their rugged appearance and adventurous off-roading capabilities. While it’s standard to look at the engine power, tires, and drive type to determine how well these powerhouses can handle wild terrain, it’s just as important to look at ground clearance specs.
We're here to guide you through everything there is to know about the Ford Explorer’s ground clearance, from trim level differences to how the Explorer’s ground clearance has evolved. Let’s dive in! 
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Ford Explorer ground clearance

The Ford Explorer’s ground clearance varies by trim level—but typically not by much. Here’s how the ground clearance minimums break down in the latest model: 
  • Base: 7.9 inches
  • XLT
    : 7.9 inches
  • Limited
    : 7.9 inches
  • ST-Line
    : 7.9 inches
  • Timberline: 8.66 inches
  • ST
    : 7.9 inches
  • King Ranch: 7.9 inches
  • Platinum
    : 7.9 inches
Equipped to handle intense off-roading, the Timberline trim predictably features the highest ground clearance. If you go with a 4WD build on every other trim level, however, you will increase your ground clearance to 8.2 inches.

Ford Explorer ground clearance over the years

If you’re hitting the off-road in a Ford Explorer model from the last few generations, your ground clearance might actually be marginally higher than the current generation. However, this tends to only be the case for ground clearance maximums.
Ground clearance minimums (typically the RWD configuration) run lower in previous generations. Debut generations have significantly less starting ground clearance.
Here’s a look at how those ground clearance numbers have shifted over the years: 
  • 1991 (1st generation): 6.3 inches
  • 1998 (2nd generation): 6.7 inches
  • 2004 (3rd generation): 6.7-8.5 inches
  • 2008 (4th generation): 8.3-8.5 inches
  • 2019 (5th generation): 7.8-8.3 inches 
As you might guess, the Ford Explorer’s ground clearance really depends on the model year, trim level, and drive type. While there is a general trend of the Explorer’s ground clearance increasing over the decades (then decreasing marginally), there are still outliers within each generation. 
For example, the 2004 and 2005 Ford Explorer models are both in the third generation, but the 2005 model’s ground clearance begins at 7.9 inches, whereas the 2004 model starts at 6.7 inches in the same 2WD XLT configuration. 
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What is ground clearance—and why does it matter?

While ground clearance might seem like an extra spec most drivers forget about, it actually holds special significance for off-road SUVs. Measuring the space between the lowest point on the car’s chassis and the ground, ground clearance essentially lets you know how well your car can handle uneven terrain. 
The higher your ground clearance, the less likely you’ll damage your vehicle’s undercarriage while on an off-roading adventure. Experts generally recommend that you stick to the pavement or light gravel unless your vehicle has at least 8.5 inches of ground clearance.
Therefore, you’ll want to go with the Timberline trim—which was designed with off-roading in mind—if you want to take your Ford Explorer down the most untrodden paths. 
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Is the Ford Explorer a good off-road vehicle?

The rugged Timberline trim is designed with enhanced features like all-terrain tires, a suspension lift, and underbody skid plates to give the Explorer solid off-roading capabilities. 
That said, while the Timberline trim comes with that 8.66 inch ground clearance lift, it lacks the option to add the aggressive 400-hp twin-turbo V6 that can power the King Ranch,
, and
models. Rather, it only comes with a 300-hp 2.3 L four-cylinder, which doesn’t give quite as much off-roading edge as the
Sequoia TRD Sport’s standard V8 engine or the
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
’s optional V8.
However, the Ford Explorer Timberline does come with revised grilles and bumpers and limited-slip rear differential, which is useful in damage protection and maximizing traction off-road. 
The Timberline also comes with all the extra safety features available in the
, like lane-keeping assist, evasive steering assist, and a surround-view camera system. At around $48,800, the Explorer Timberline is a more affordable off-roader than both the Jeep Cherokee and the Toyota Sequoia. If you’re purchasing an SUV with off-roading in mind, you may want to stick with one of the less expensive classics, like the
Jeep Wrangler
MORE: Ford Explorer ST V6

How to insure your Ford Explorer for less

If you’re itching to use the Ford Explorer Timberline’s high ground clearance to your advantage on your next off-roading adventure, you’ll want to make sure your SUV is protected against any damage it might take on. 
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The average user ends up saving more than $800 a year on
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