4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

IT’S BEEN six months since our 2015 4X4 Of The Year test, where we judged the Ford Ever­est Trend as the pick of the sea­son’s crop. We haven’t seen much of the Aus­tralian-de­signed and en­gi­neered wagon since then, but we’ve re­mained keen to spend some more time with it and see how it per­forms over some out­back kilo­me­tres.

So when Ford Aus­tralia’s of­fer of a three-month Ever­est loan co­in­cided with the an­nual Finke Desert Race in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, we jumped at the op­por­tu­nity to seek out the red dust and stun­ning sun­sets.

The white Trend lobbed to our of­fice with 10,000km al­ready on it, so it was well and truly run in. The run to Alice Springs for the Finke race was just days away, so we sought out a set of more durable tyres than the OE of­fer­ing. For­tu­nately for us, Cooper Tires had just re­leased a new size in its A/T3 range: 265/60R18s. Th­ese are just right for the Trend, with the added dura­bil­ity of Light Truck con­struc­tion and the trac­tion of an All-ter­rain tread pat­tern. Some of our writ­ers have had great re­sults with the Cooper A/T3S, with un­be­liev­able mileage, so we were pretty sure they’d suit the Ever­est with­out up­set­ting its on-road ride and dy­nam­ics.

The on-road ride and re­fine­ment had been in­stru­men­tal in the Ever­est’s suc­cess at 4X4OTY, and th­ese traits were still at the fore as we loaded it up with camp­ing kit and left Mel­bourne early on a win­ter’s morn­ing. The re­laxed gait of the five-cylin­der diesel en­gine cou­pled with the six-speed auto trans­mis­sion had the Ford cruis­ing com­fort­ably; we were in a sim­i­lar state as we rolled into Mil­dura for break­fast.

Mel­bourne to Mil­dura is a rel­a­tively te­dious drive, but it was made eas­ier by the great driv­ing po­si­tion, du­al­zone cli­mate con­trol and qual­ity sound sys­tem. How­ever, our re-ac­quain­tance with the Ever­est re­minded us of a few com­plaints we had with its in­te­rior de­sign. Firstly, the lack of reach ad­just­ment on the steer­ing col­umn means that the tiller is too far away for long-legged driv­ers. Se­condly, the HVAC con­trols are a poor de­sign, with small but­tons po­si­tioned too low and in a dark part of the cen­tre con­sole. It would have been so much bet­ter if the vol­ume and tun­ing di­als of the au­dio sys­tem were lo­cated up higher in the cen­tre stack near the A/V screen; and the tem­per­a­ture con­trol di­als, not but­tons, could go in the space va­cated by them.

Our aim was to break the back of a long drive and put as many kilo­me­tres be­hind us as pos­si­ble on the first day, and it seemed like no time be­fore we rolled into Peter­bor­ough to en­joy a cou­ple of well-de­served coldies and a coun­try feed.

From Peter­bor­ough it was a long morn­ing’s drive be­fore we grabbed lunch at the his­toric Fa­rina bak­ery. This place is a must-see lo­ca­tion, op­er­at­ing among the ru­ins of the old town­ship just south of Mar­ree. It was great to see the work done by the vol­un­teers here, and we grabbed a pie from the age-old un­der­ground oven.

Mar­ree was the start­ing point for our ad­ven­ture drive along the old Ghan Rail­way Line up to Alice Springs, which you’ll read about in next month’s mag­a­zine. The Ood­na­datta Track had just re-opened after a few days of rain and we were anx­ious to see how the Ever­est han­dled the out­back roads. Stay tuned.

Out with the old and in with the new. A/T tyres are more our style. It didn’t take us long at all to get the Ever­est nice and dirty!

143kw/470nm 3.2-litre turbo-diesel is mated to a six-speed auto.

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