FORD Ever­est

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

THE Ever­est ar­rived on the CSR with big ex­pec­ta­tions – mainly be­cause we’ve been so im­pressed with it else­where – and it in­stantly as­serted it­self as a con­fi­dent con­tender. On free­way cruises its ac­tive noise can­celling is a win, suit­ably hush­ing road and en­gine noise to the point where it is deci­bels qui­eter than its ri­vals. That makes a big dif­fer­ence when trav­el­ling big kays.

Sim­i­larly, its com­po­sure at speed is im­pres­sive. Sure, there’s a ladder frame chas­sis shared with the Ranger, but it’s quite clear that Ford’s en­gi­neers have in­vested plenty to en­sure the Ever­est be­haves bet­ter on the black top than its tray-back sib­ling.

Less im­pres­sive are the head­lights, one of the few over­sights on the Ever­est. At least three of our driv­ers checked and rechecked to en­sure they were ac­tu­ally on high beam; the lights have noth­ing like the il­lu­mi­na­tion of the Toy­otas, which blast well down the road for a pretty stan­dard set of can­dles.

Get­ting on to the dirt con­firmed our early ex­pe­ri­ences with the Ever­est: its on-road as­sured­ness trans­poses beau­ti­fully to dirt tracks. Ob­vi­ous early on is the fan­tas­tic body con­trol; the Ever­est set­tles very well over bumps and re­cov­ers swiftly, and it’s not fazed by mul­ti­ple lumps. Push on along snaking trails and the Ever­est is border­line sporty, ably quelling bumps and thumps and ac­cu­rately track­ing the path the driver di­rects of it.

Yet at the same time it’s rel­a­tively com­fort­able; there’s some firm­ness, but it’s well con­trolled and ul­ti­mately

com­pli­ant. Team that with fan­tas­tic front seats and a good driv­ing po­si­tion and it makes for easy days in the sad­dle.

Its 3.2-litre five-cylin­der en­gine is also an as­set worth plenty out here. With 470Nm it’s loaded with pulling power and it puts it to good use through an in­tel­li­gent six-speed auto. As well as quickly slot­ting into gears when it’s told to, it does a good job of pre-empt­ing the terrain, quickly ready­ing it­self for crest­ing a sand dune, just for ex­am­ple.

The ef­fort en­gi­neers have put into the 4WD sys­tem and its Terrain Man­age­ment Sys­tem is also ap­par­ent. We’d love the Rock set­ting to be avail­able in high range, though; the re­al­ity is most of the Can­ning is run in 4H, yet there are de­cent rocky out­crops where it would be handy to ac­cess the tai­lored throt­tle re­sponses that come with that set­ting.

Engi­neer­ing ex­cel­lence is high on the Ever­est’s agenda, but it’s some­thing you pay for. At $60,990 for the Trend – the base Am­bi­ente has a cheaper cabin feel and tiny screen for the sound sys­tem – it’s to­wards the up­per end of this quar­tet, bring­ing nav­i­ga­tion and radar cruise con­trol, as well as 18-inch wheels, an inch up on its three ri­vals.

Sys­tem clev­erly pre­empts terrain changes. Equally ca­pa­ble on dirt or tar­mac.

One of the thirsti­est on the CSR trek.

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