The Everest’s sticker puts it at the peak of Ford’s price range — it’s big money for a ute-based wagon
MEET the Everest Titanium, the most precious metal in the Ford Australia line-up.
Forget about the V8 Mustang convertible that’s just arrived. At almost $84,000 on the road ($85,000 if you want one with a tow bar), the Everest is comfortably at the summit of the Blue Oval price range.
Ford argues that the big offroader is good value when compared with a Toyota Prado but fails to mention that it is roughly $25,000 more than the competing Holden and Mitsubishi. Which brings us to the $85,000 question — is it worth the outlay?
Ford has done an excellent job of distancing the Everest from the Ranger working ute it’s based on. Some of its rivals look like utes with a roof tacked on but the Everest Fortuner looks as if it was built from the beginning as a wagon.
Inside, there’s evidence that the Everest starts life as a considerably cheaper workhorse. There are plenty of hard plastic surfaces on the door trims and centre console, although the fake stitched leather finish on the dash lifts the tone a little, as does the soft blue ambient lighting that fills the cabin at night.
The centre screen and instrument panel have a hi-tech feel and are refreshingly easy to navigate. The instrument panel in particular has a space-age feel. There is a digital readout on either side of the central speedo and these can be configured for myriad displays.
One side shows satnav, music library and phonebook and the other trip information plus special off-road aids. The latter give you the pitch and yaw of the vehicle and display which of the four wheels are engaged and locked — in this, the displays rival what you get on some Land Rovers.
The leather trim is more functional than fashionable, though, and there’s no push- button to start the car, which is a rarity at this price.
The third-row set up is well thought-out, with the middle row of seats sliding to enable a mix and match of legroom with the third row, which folds automatically for a flat floor. An adult or taller teen could ride in the third row on a short journey, although headroom is a bit tight.
The iPhone and laptop generation is well catered for with four 12-volt outlets, two USB ports and a household power point. Ford is good at making cabins family-friendly — note the Territory — and this is no exception.
If the cabin is lacking a little in finesse, the Everest makes up for it in driver aids for negotiating the rush-hour traffic. It can automatically guide you into a parallel park, watch your blind spot, warn you if you’re drifting out of your lane and slam on the brakes at low speed to avoid that rearender in the traffic.
The rear view camera readout is clear and there are guidelines for the dummies. The satnav warns of school zones and has real-time traffic alerts, although they can be a little too frequent and unnecessary — do you really need telling every 30 seconds that there’s traffic up ahead?
The Everest is a comfortable way of negotiating the urban sprawl. The suspension soaks up bumps and road imperfections with little fuss while the steering is light enough for negotiating tight Uturns and carparks.
As with all big off-road wagons it can feel somewhat large and clumsy around town and the telltale diesel rattle is a constant at low speeds. There’s no fuel-saving stop-start technology so fuel consumption will head for the mid-teens in heavy traffic.
ON THE ROAD
The Everest is surprisingly capable and composed on the open road. It will lean in corners, the steering is a little vague but it is the least truck-like of all the vehicles in this class.
It doesn’t want to skip sideways when it hits a midcorner bump, nor will it jiggle around on corrugated surfaces. As far as comfort and cornering ability go, it’s up with the best of this breed.
The diesel has lots of grunt for towing and freeway overtaking and the diesel clatter is less noticeable on the freeway where it purrs along at low revs. It’s well equipped for the great outback trek, too, with 3000kg towing capacity, 800mm wading depth and good clearance for offroading.
There’s no doubt the Everest is a quality offering and a worthy rival for the Toyota Prado, which has had the family offroader market cornered for some time.
It has offroad smarts, impressive towing capacity, more hi-tech safety gear than the competition and good road manners.
The only real question mark is the value. It’s big money to ask for what is essentially a utebased wagon.