LOCAL HERO IN A TUX
It may have started life as a ute, but the Ford Everest Titanium is now as flash as they come.
JUST in case you didn’t know, the Everest is essentially a wagon version of Ford’s highly successful Ranger ute. Aside from the obvious body change, there are coil springs in place of leaf springs for the rear axle, disc brakes instead drums at the rear, and an ‘active’ full-time 4x4 system rather than the Ranger’s more utilitarian part-time system. The wheelbase has also been reduced from the Ranger’s extraordinarily long 3220mm (which is even longer than a Toyota LC79 cab-chassis) to 2850mm, which is the same as a Toyota LC200 (still very long).
POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE
THE EVEREST shares the 2015 facelifted Ranger’s 3.2-litre inline fivecylinder diesel engine. Changes from the original Ranger engine include a smaller, more efficient turbo for faster spool-up, a more sophisticated higher-pressure common-rail fuel system, and other changes to the cylinder head designed to improve engine NVH.
What the Everest has that the Ranger lacks is SCR pollutant-reducing technology, which allows the Everest to meet upcoming Euro 6 emission regulations. The Everest’s maximum power of 143kw is 4kw less than the Ranger, although torque max remains at a solid 470Nm, which comes on-stream at a low 1750rpm.
Thanks to its strong low-rpm power and five-cylinder design, the Everest’s engine has a nicely relaxed low-revving gait on the highway, despite having the shortest gearing of the three wagons here. It’s not as refined as the Kakadu’s new 2.8 or the Discovery’s V6, but it’s still a generally polished engine. The Everest’s 3.2 is the largest-capacity engine here, but it can’t match the heavier bi-turbo Discovery for pedal-to-metal performance; although, it does have the wood on the slightly lighter but taller-geared Kakadu.
The Everest comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, which is the only gearbox option for the Ford wagon. It offers smooth and decisive shifting and has a closer spread of gears than the new six-speed in the Kakadu.
ON-ROAD RIDE AND HANDLING
FORD’S engineers have done a good job on the Titanium’s on-road dynamics. Despite its weight, height and off-road-capable suspension, it feels quite sporty through corners. What part the Watt’s linkage rearaxle location (instead of a simpler Panhard rod) plays is difficult to say, but the whole thing works nicely – even if the live axle at the rear can make its presence felt through bumpy corners.
On the flip-side, the Titanium’s ride is a little sharper than the plush-riding Kakadu or even the Discovery. That the Titanium is on 20-inch tyres wouldn’t help here.
Like the facelifted Ranger, the Everest has electric power steering, which is exceptionally light at parking speed but firms up nicely at higher road speeds, without ever quite offering the feel and feedback of a good hydraulically assisted system.
THE Everest doesn’t have the front or rear wheel travel of the Kdss-equipped Kakadu, and it can’t match the front travel of the Discovery. However, it has the benefit of a driver-switched rear locker, the performance of which is further enhanced by the fact that engaging it doesn’t cancel the traction control across the front axle.
Like the Discovery, the Titanium also has an ‘active’ electronic self-locking centre diff, whereas the Kakadu has a mechanical limited-slip centre diff that has to be locked by the driver.
The end result of all this is that the Titanium generally competes well off-
EVEREST TITANIUM $76,990
The Everest’s rear diff lock is integral to its off-road prowess.