Mountain of gear
The Everest Titanium is pricey even for a seven-seat 4WD. For $16,000 less, the Trend is a better buy and you can get a rear-drive version for less again. There is plenty of kit to justify a price tag that is close to $80,000 on the road yet it feels a little down-market, never quite shrugging off its ute origins. Latest eight-inch touchscreen brings sharper graphics, faster performance and improved voice control, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Three-year/100,000km warranty. Servicing is $1470 for three years/45,000km.
Ford has done well to turn the Ranger ute into a familyfriendly SUV. It looks terrific, has plenty of legroom front and back and a third row that’s kidsized. There’s even space for luggage. Ride quality remains smooth even on bumpy roads. The instrument panel is cleverly designed, with configurable info screens either side of the speedo, but why are the aircon controls duplicated in the touchscreen?
Gets the full five stars for from ANCAP with a score of 35.8/37. Even for a big brute, ANCAP says, pedestrian protection is acceptable. Standard reversing camera is supplemented by front and rear parking sensors. Other driver aids include rollover prevention, blind spot alert, lane departure assist and forward collision warning, though the latter won’t automatically apply the brakes.
Surprisingly smooth for a genuine 4WD. Noise from the diesel engine isn’t intrusive and once you’re off the mark, ingear acceleration is strong. Normally drive is directed to the rear, unless it loses traction or you lock in 4WD to go offroad — there are four allterrain modes and a locking rear diff. Adaptive cruise, park assist and auto high beam are handy additions. With lowrange and plenty of ground clearance, it can mix it with the best off-road. Tows 3000kg, not as much as the ute, but it has more civilised rear suspension and better steering, although it is still a little vague.
ALTERNATIVES Holden Trailblazer 2.8 LTZ, from $52,490
Based on the Colorado ute and formerly known as the Colorado7, the Trailblazer has been recently upgraded inside and out. It has more torque than the Everest, with a 2.8-litre turbo diesel (147kW/500Nm) and sixspeed automatic. Uses 8.6L/100km and tows 3000kg. Warranty is average at three years/100,000km. Pay $1396 for three years/45,000km servicing.
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.4 Exceed, $52,750
Based on Triton ute, its styling is polarising. Highest tow rating but lacks satnav. Propelled by 2.4-litre turbo diesel (133kW/ 430Nm) with eight-speed auto returning 8.0L/100km. Tows 3100kg. Warranty is longer than Everest at 5 years/100,000km. Servicing is $1510 for three years/45,000km.
Toyota Fortuner 2.8 Crusade, $59,990
Based on HiLux ute, with good compromise between on and off-road ability. Driveline is a 2.8-litre turbo diesel (130kW/ 450Nm) and six-speed auto. Claimed thirst is 8.6L/100km. Tows 2800kg. Warranty is three years/100,000km, servicing is $1080 for three years/60,000km.
Looks rugged and has plenty of family appeal, with seven seats and all the credentials to get off the beaten track and tow a caravan — but it’s overpriced.