A real so­cial climber

This heavy-duty 4x4 SUV is built for the bush but also has city man­ners, PETER BARN­WELL writes.

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

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.

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