A real social climber
This heavy-duty 4x4 SUV is built for the bush but also has city manners, PETER BARNWELL writes.
FORD’S climb back into the good books in Australia kickstarted this month with the launch of the Everest 4x4 medium large fourbie, a direct competitor for Holden’s Colorado7 and other ute-based SUVs. It hits dealer showrooms in October.
Ford has spent quite a bit developing the Thai-built Everest, which lobs in a threemodel range — Ambiente, Trend and Titanium — from $54,990 to $77,000.
The company is boldly targeting Toyota Prado with Everest, but Prado has a huge following in this country earned over years of reliable and capable running and enviable resale value.
In Everest’s favour is local development input from Ford Australia, which could stand it in good stead against more established players.
Everest is a seven-seat SUV based on the popular Ranger one tonne ute that combines a rugged look with broad capability.
Ford says there are 10 key customer benefits “available” in the Everest range — a 3000kg towing capacity, emergency assistance, active noise cancellation, SYNC with voice control, Wi-Fi hotspot, auto high beam, active park assist (in top-of-the-range Titanium), lane keeping system (Trend and Titanium), tyre pressure monitoring (Titanium) and power lift tailgate (Trend and Titanium).
The standard 143kW TDCi diesel five-cylinder engine delivers less power than the Ranger without affecting towing or payload.
Everest brings the latest Ford in-car technology and advanced driver assist features, like the standard four-mode Terrain Management System, and a suite of new safety features.
Everest will headline Ford’s SUV portfolio, which includes the EcoSport tiddler, Kuga and venerable Territory.
Ford is pitching Everest at customers who have been waiting for a “smart and highly capable SUV” with the unexpected benefit of a high level of technology, standard features and contemporary design.
The company says it’s built for adventure and comes in Everest, Everest Trend and Everest Titanium grades — all with the turbo-diesel engine driving through a six-speed automatic transmission with sports shift mode.
The 3.2 litre five-cylinder may have lost a few kWs compared to the Ranger ute, but torque remains the same at a robust 470Nm.
Ford is claiming 8.5 litres/100km, giving it a potential range of up to 1100km on one tank.
The 4x4 system has the ability to tackle conditions as varied as the snowy highlands to the rugged, dusty tracks of the Outback.
Available settings are Normal, Snow/Mud/Grass, Sand, and Rock. Each setting provides the optimum traction for the road conditions.
Combined with an electronic locking rear differential and torque-ondemand via an active transfer case that detects wheel speeds with clutches controlling torque split front to rear, the Everest SUV should be right at home in the Aussie bush.
Hill descent control is part of the package for tricky off-road trails. It automatically applies the brakes to hold a controlled and steadied pace down a steep descent, allowing the driver to focus on steering and assessing the terrain ahead.
Generous ground clearance of 225mm, an approach angle of 29 degrees, ramp-over angle of 21 degrees and departure angle of 25 degrees stand Everest in good stead for bush bashing.
Ford says the Everest is a good thing in the city too — could it be the Swiss Army knife of SUVs? There’s a rear view camera and five-star safety rating for all models.