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.