Climb­ing Ever­est

It’s our reign­ing 4X4OTY, but how well does the Ford Ever­est re­spond to some mild tour­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tions?

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven - WORDS MATT RAUDONIKIS PHO­TOS MICHAEL HURREN

The un­der­side ben­e­fits from a re­place­ment un­der­body pro­tec­tion plate made from 3mm zinc-coated steel

WE’VE made no se­cret that we here at 4X4 Aus­tralia like the Ford Ever­est. We were in­stantly im­pressed with the abil­ity of the Aus­tralian-de­vel­oped wagon when we went on a devel­op­ment drive through the Simp­son Desert with some Ever­est pro­to­types more than a year before they were launched. We were again knocked out by its ride and re­fine­ment when we fi­nally drove the pro­duc­tion mod­els in Thai­land, and then back home in Vic­to­ria when we pitched it against some key ri­vals in the 4x4 wagon class.

When we lined the Ever­est up in the strong­est 4x4 Of The Year field in many years it took top

1. Sus­pen­sion up­grade comes with a 40mm lift. 2. Tyres of­fer grip for mud­plug­ging and kerb-crawl­ing. 3. Shapely rock-tamer pro­tects un­der the nose.

hon­ours as the pick of 2015, and it backed up that award when we drove our long-term tester on an out­back ad­ven­ture back in June.

The only thing left to know was how well the Ever­est per­formed with some tour­ing kit on it. Un­like many other ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers, Ford Aus­tralia has dropped the ball when it comes to of­fer­ing a strong range of off-road­fo­cused ac­ces­sories for its 4x4s; so it’s left that to an af­ter­mar­ket in­dus­try that is only too happy to jump on the op­por­tu­nity.

ARB cer­tainly took up the chal­lenge, and this ve­hi­cle is loaded with prod­ucts it of­fers for the Ford. As the Ever­est shares many components with the Ford Ranger ute, ARB al­ready had many prod­ucts to suit, but some had to be re-en­gi­neered for the wagon, while oth­ers had to be specif­i­cally de­vel­oped for it.

SUS­PEN­SION & PRO­TEC­TION

THE first up­grade most own­ers will make to any new 4x4 to im­prove its all-ter­rain per­for­mance is to re­place the tyres, and the stan­dard rubber on this Ever­est Trend was re­placed with a set of Cooper ST Maxx on the fac­tory 18-inch al­loy wheels. The ST Maxx is an ag­gres­sive all-ter­rain-style tread pat­tern and is well­suited to a fam­ily 4x4 that sees dou­ble duty in both the bush and the ’burbs.

The tyres work with ARB’S Old Man Emu sus­pen­sion pack­age, which con­sists of raised coil springs that give a 40mm lift in ground clear­ance, along with matched OME Nitrocharger Sport shocks. While the in­creased ride height keeps the un­der­car­riage a bit fur­ther away from the ter­rain, the un­der­side also ben­e­fits from a re­place­ment un­der­body pro­tec­tion plate made from 3mm zinc-coated steel. This bet­ter pro­tects the area un­der the en­gine and steer­ing from those ob­sta­cles that can’t be cleared. With its in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion the Ever­est is prone to bot­tom out on the cross mem­ber and, while the firmer sus­pen­sion does limit its com­pres­sion, the pro­tec­tion plate still gets well used. The un­der­body plate also has al­lowance for the rated re­cov­ery point that is se­cured to the front cross mem­ber.

Also pro­tect­ing the Ever­est is an ARB Sum­mit steel bull­bar, brush bars and side

1 2 Ar­tic­u­la­tion and lat­eral grip make the Ford easy to drive. 3

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