The Ford Everest slots into a space in the lineup where car manufacturers haven’t seriously looked at for over least a decade. The full-size four-wheel drive has been neglected in favour of crossover SUVs designed for the urban jungle, but the new model from Ford aims to bring a bit more on and off the road.
We took a ride in the Everest to put it to the test.
The Everest comes at a time when the four-wheel drive is king. Station wagons have been vanquished, people movers are backed into a corner, and even mid-size sedans are under attack. Car buyers love big four wheel drives for their space and look, regardless of their actual capability.
Lucky then that the Ford Everest comes equipped to work comfortably on the road and in rougher environments.
The direct comparison to make is to put the Everest up against the other seven-seater in the range, the Territory. In fact, although the new Ford sits on a larger wheelbase, the Territory sits wider from mirror to mirror and just 4mm shorter overall than the Everest. Despite this, the Everest feels more spacious inside, and has a more aggressive presence sitting in the driveway.
Of course, the key difference to the Everest is its off-road capability. Instead of the Territory’s all-wheel drive system which lives in RWD or switched to constant 60-40 AWD, the Everest has a proper on-demand, low range four-wheel drive set up that can make sure you get from A to B easily and without breaking a sweat.
The 3.2L, 5-cylinder turbo diesel is pulled straight from the Ford Ranger range, although it has been retuned due to different laws applying to commercial and passenger vehicles. There’s no noticeable difference, the Everest powers along much the same way as the Ranger (which is to say, rather well) thanks to its shorter wheelbase than the flagship ute of the Ford Range.
On the road, the Everest drives remarkably smoothly for what is, superficially, a four-wheel drive based on a commercial ute. This is due, in part, to the engineering of the Everest that shares very little with the Ranger – in fact, most of the architecture under the bonnet has been developed by Ford to up the comfort for those on board in any environment.
Handling is fine; there isn’t the kind of boat-like wallowing that plagues a lot of large SUVs. Of particular note, the electronically power-assisted steering (EPAS) system –recently introduced in the Ranger – does wonders to make the Everest seem nimble and lighter than its kerb weight of over 2.3 tonnes would suggest. In tight city streets, it can pull around smoothly and easily, and is unfazed at highway speeds.
Offroad, the Everest is incredibly smooth and light to drive. With the added capability of low range and diff lock options, it also has the Terrain management system, which allows you to choose a mode from sand, to rock to snow. The sand function, recently tested on the ultimate beach 4x4 proving ground - Fraser Island, gave the accelerator increased sensitivity to help add some additional power when your momentum slowed, without the usual flat spot or lag.
Overall, Ford’s has found a winning formula to get a seven-seater family wagon so capable both on and off the tarmac.
Ford pioneered car-like handling in SUVs when it launched the Territory, and refined off-road comfort with the Ranger. That means that now, with the launch of the Everest, the blue oval brand can apply what it’s learnt in both segments to create a full-size SUV that can capably go off-road, before returning to the bitumen and changing its ride to suit everyday driving.
Comfort is sorted for all passengers, with separate vents to each row and independent climate control for the rear climate zones for the second row passengers. Seats all around the cabin are pretty supportive, and the third row seats have a decent amount of room and can be split 50:50, so you can have storage and seating. Starting from the mid-range Trend, the Everest receives a power rear liftgate to make loading the back easier, and the Titanium adds a panoramic power sunroof on top of that. One thing that is still not standard across the range is the addition of Ford’s SYNC2 audio display system, which is nixed from the entry Everest Ambiente – which, if you’re serious about getting off-road, is no big deal; but if you want to keep the Everest in the suburbs for any extended stretch of time – the SYNC2 system is much nicer to live with on a daily basis. You also miss out on standard sat-nav on anything below the top-spec Titanium, which can be sorted by Google Maps, but it would still be nice to have.
One ingenious feature of the Everest is the Active Noise Cancellation, which uses microphones on the inside to detect wind and road noise and negates them by piping soundwaves through speakers in the cars cabin. It sounds a bit naff, but in practice it works well – you wouldn’t have to raise your voice to a yell to hold a conversation with passengers in the third row.
Safety is sorted with seven airbags, as well as safety aids such as emergency brake assist, rear parking sensors and rear view camera standard across the range. From the Trend upwards, the Everest also receives Ford’s Lane Keeping system, as well as Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Alert, front parking sensors and the driver alert system that keeps track of your driving behaviour if you seem tired or otherwise impaired. Titanium models get the full suite of features with Blind Spot Monitoring with cross-traffic alert, tyre pressure monitoring system and semi-automatic parallel park assist.
The Everest starts from $54,990 for the Ambiente, $60,990 for the Trend and $76,990 for the Titanium before registration, other on-road costs or any accessories. All come with a six-speed automatic transmission, and although you can get your Genuine Ford Accessories, there aren’t that many factory options to put on each model: you can upgrade the Trend with satellite navigation for $600 and add a towbar to all models for $1000.
Premium paint is $500 for anything other than Cool White.
Ford Service Price Promise gives capped price servicing for the life of the Everest, and service intervals are set every 12 months or 15,000kms.
The raft of SUVs built to stay solely in the confines of the city and suburbs has poached a healthy chunk of car buyers who want the look and lifestyle of a four-wheel drive but don’t have the time, expertise or even desire to go off-road. Unfortunately, this limits the options for a serious 4x4 that can also double as a suburban wagon for mums and dads who like to take to the road on the weekends and school holidays.
The Everest fits the bill to give families that like to hit the road together an option of a seven-seater that’s not only comfortable but capable too.
Interested in a test drive? Motorama Ford is the place to be - so make sure you come and see the Motorama Ford team in Moorooka.Visit dealership
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