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