Heavy-duty hauler

Herald Sun - Motoring - - IN THE GARAGE - JD

THE last time Carsguide road­tested a Ford Everest, it caught fire. Col­league Peter Barn­well es­caped un­harmed and Ford, af­ter in­spect­ing the charred re­mains, traced the prob­lem to an in­cor­rect bat­tery re­place­ment at the plant in Thai­land.

Even be­fore this “one-off” in­ci­dent, we were keen to get ac­quainted with this re­vived seg­ment of the mar­ket.

Amid the pop­u­lar­ity of “faux-wheel-drives” and “soft­road­ers”, heavy-duty 4WD wag­ons with seven seats have made a bit of a come­back.

The rea­son? They’re rel­a­tively cheap be­cause they’re largely based on ute un­der­pin­nings (the Ford Everest is the same as the Ranger ute from the front doors for­ward).

And some buy­ers want to re­ally get off the beaten track rather than just dream about the big get­away.

We wanted to spend some time with the new Everest given Ford had boldly priced it $7000 above the RRP of the Toy­ota For­tuner and Holden Colorado7. Given that Holden has a long­stand­ing dis­count on Colorado that widens the drive­away gap to $15,000, we were keen to see if the Ford was worth the ex­tra money.

The range starts at $54,990 for the Everest Am­bi­ente but that’s a bare-bones propo­si­tion; we have the most pop­u­lar variant, the $60,990 Everest Trend.

There’s no doubt it drives bet­ter than its di­rect body-onute-frame ri­vals but it’s not as planted as, say, a car-de­rived Ford Ter­ri­tory.

We also no­ticed it takes a few sec­onds for the trans­mis­sion to warm up. Sev­eral times af­ter start­ing the en­gine from cold on a slight in­cline, the Everest un­ex­pect­edly rolled back rather than en­gage in gear — even though Drive in the six-speed auto has been se­lected.

I’m now ac­cus­tomed to wait­ing five sec­onds be­fore se­lect­ing D, some­thing that’s not nec­es­sary in the 250 or so other cars we drive each year.

First im­pres­sions are good, though. And I’m start­ing to no­tice the sub­tle changes be­tween the Everest and the Ranger. Apart from the Everest’s more so­phis­ti­cated rear sus­pen­sion and brake setup, au­dio boffins might ap­pre­ci­ate the su­pe­rior au­dio.

We’re also look­ing for­ward to sam­pling its tow­ing abil­i­ties. Un­til next time …

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