LO­CAL HERO

THE CUR­RENT 4 X 4 OTY MAKES THIS LIST OFF THE BACK OF GREAT VALUE FOR MONEY AND A BROAD SPEC­TRUM OF CA­PA­BIL­I­TIES.

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

JUST in case you didn’t know, the Ever­est is es­sen­tially a wagon ver­sion of Ford’s highly suc­cess­ful Aus­tralian-de­vel­oped Ranger ute. Aside from the ob­vi­ous body change, there are coil springs in place of leaf springs for the rear axle, disc brakes in­stead of drums at the rear, and an ac­tive full-time 4x4 sys­tem rather than the Ranger’s part-time sys­tem. The wheel­base has also been re­duced from the Ranger’s ex­traor­di­nar­ily long 3220mm.

Our pick of the three-model, all-au­to­matic range is the mid-spec Trend, which is the 4X4 Of The Year win­ner.

For an ex­tra $6000 over the still well-equipped, base-spec Am­bi­ente, the Trend gains adap­tive cruise con­trol, for­ward-crash mit­i­ga­tion, lane­keep­ing as­sis­tance, pro­jec­tor head­lights with auto high-beam on/off, day­time run­ning lamps, auto wipers, front park­ing sen­sors and a power tail­gate.you also get a premium au­dio sys­tem, a much big­ger touch­screen (eight-inch in­stead of 4.2) and sat-nav as a $600 op­tion, which is not avail­able on the base spec at all. That’s plenty of kit for just $6K.

Mind you, you also get 18s in­stead of 17s. The Ever­est runs Prado tyre spec in 17- and 18-inch sizes, so tyre avail­abil­ity is good. Mean­while, the jump to the top-spec Ti­ta­nium is a sig­nif­i­cant $16K, but for that you get 20s, which you def­i­nitely don’t want if you are plan­ning to take your Ever­est to the bush.

The Ever­est shares the 2015 face-lifted Ranger’s 3.2-litre in­line five-cylin­der diesel en­gine, but with Ad­blue pol­lu­tant-re­duc­ing tech­nol­ogy and a touch less power. The five-cylin­der de­sign is a lit­tle lumpy at idle but smooths out nicely at high­way speeds, where it has a re­laxed gait quite dif­fer­ent to com­peti­tor four-cylin­der de­signs. It’s strong at low revs and doesn’t need to be revved hard to give its best.

De­spite the Ever­est’s hefty weight and live-axle rear sus­pen­sion it feels quite sporty through cor­ners, and the elec­tric power steer­ing, which is ex­cep­tion­ally light at park­ing speeds and when off-road, firms up nicely at higher road speeds. Ac­tive full-time 4x4 is also a ma­jor ben­e­fit on all­road, all-weather driv­ing.

The Ever­est could do with a tad more clear­ance and wheel travel when driv­ing off-road, but it does have the ben­e­fit of a driver-switched rear locker, which doesn’t can­cel the trac­tion con­trol across the front axle when en­gaged.

The Ever­est of­fers a spa­cious and com­fort­able seven-seat cabin thanks in part to a wheel­base – while short­ened from the Ranger – that matches a Land Cruiser 200. The amount of lug­gage space be­hind the rear seats when the third row is de­ployed is im­pres­sive. Not so good is the vi­sion from the driver’s seat or the lack of tilt-and-reach steer­ing wheel ad­just­ment.

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