Great ex­am­ple of Aussie smarts

South Western Times - - Wheels - Alis­tair Kennedy

FORD Ever­est is a big, rugged 4WD / SUV that’s been around in other coun­tries since 2003 but didn’t ar­rive in Aus­tralia un­til the re­lease of the third gen­er­a­tion model in late 2015.

Al­though it’s fully im­ported from Thai­land it is an im­por­tant model for Ford Aus­tralia as the com­pany moves away from ve­hi­cle pro­duc­tion while re­tain­ing lo­cal em­ploy­ment by pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal in­put through its re­search and de­vel­op­ment in­vest­ment.

Al­though the ar­rival of Ford Ever­est al­most dove-tailed with the de­par­ture of the pop­u­lar Ter­ri­tory the two ve­hi­cles are quite dif­fer­ent. Ever­est is a se­ri­ous off-roader that’s built on the same plat­form as the com­pany’s \ Ranger ute while the lo­cally-pro­duced Ter­ri­tory was a typ­i­cal ur­ban fam­ily wagon based on the Fal­con.

Ever­est, as the name sug­gests, is big. At just un­der five me­tres long and over two me­tres wide it takes up a fair bit of road space with con­verts into a ver­sa­tile and spa­cious cabin ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing up to seven oc­cu­pants and gear in rel­a­tive com­fort.

Our Ever­est road test ve­hi­cle was the en­try-level Am­bi­ente AWD. It comes with 17-inch al­loy wheels which tend to look a bit puny inside the big wheel arches de­signed to cater for the 20-inch­ers of the top-spec Ti­ta­nium.

The big and bold chromed trape­zoidal ra­di­a­tor grille is flanked by the lat­est in in­te­grated pro­jec­tor head­lamp / day­time run­ning light set-ups that im­proves vis­i­bil­ity to approaching drivers in poor weather con­di­tions. At the rear there sculpted tail lamps with in­te­grated LED light­ing.

The higher specced Trend and Ti­ta­nium mod­els also get run­ning boards.

Ever­est is avail­able in three vari­ants, Am­bi­ente, Trend and Ti­ta­nium span­ning a price range from $47,990 to $74,701. The en­try-level Am­bi­ente has five seats with a pair of third-row seats avail­able for an ad­di­tional $1000. Trend and Ti­ta­nium mod­els have seven seats.

Am­bi­ente and Trend come with ei­ther rear- or four-wheel drive.

All Ever­est mod­els are pow­ered by Ford’s 3.2-litre five-cylin­der turbo-diesel Du­ra­torq en­gine as used in the Ranger. It gen­er­ates 147 kW of power at 3000 rpm and torque of 470 Nm from 1750 to 2500 revs. Tow­ing ca­pac­ity of up to 3000kg is of­fered if the trailer is braked.

It’s not the qui­etest diesel en­gine we’ve en­coun­tered but shouldn’t be an is­sue with a ve­hi­cle of this sort. The only gear­box is a sixspeed au­to­matic.

For off-road driv­ing Ever­est uses Ford’s Ter­rain Man­age­ment Sys­tem to al­ter throt­tle re­sponse, trans­mis­sion, trac­tion con­trol and an in­tel­li­gent four-wheel drive sys­tem to max­imise per­for­mance un­der vary­ing con­di­tions. From a knob on the cen­tre con­sole the driver can se­lect from nor­mal, snow, gravel, grass, sand or rock.

The con­trol also in­cor­po­rates hill de­scent con­trol, which can be ac­ti­vated in any con­di­tions. An elec­tronic lock­ing rear dif­fer­en­tial helps pre­vent the rear wheels from spin­ning while driv­ing off-road, in­creas­ing trac­tion in dif­fi­cult ter­rain. It can be locked au­to­mat­i­cally when us­ing off-road TMS modes, or switched man­u­ally us­ing the dif­fer­en­tial lock but­ton.

All Ever­ests are avail­able with seven seats, ei­ther stan­dard or as an op­tion. The sec­ond row slides for­ward far enough to im­prove ac­cess to the back row.

Two adults and three chil­dren can travel in com­fort al­though a third adult can get into the cen­tre mid­dle row with a fair bit of el­bow con­tact. The sec­ond row seats have a 60/40 split and the third row 50/ 50. With all seats in place there is a rea­son­able 450 litres of stor­age space left.

Low­er­ing the third seats (there is a power-fold fa­cil­ity) ex­tends that to 1050 litres while with all five rear seats down it can carry up to 2010 litres.

Am­bi­ente and Trend have cloth seats, Ti­ta­nium gets leather trim.

There are air con­di­tion­ing vents and con­trols at the back of the cen­tre con­sole to as­sist rear pas­sen­ger com­fort. All Ever­est mod­els get dual-zone cli­mate con­trol. There's a power-op­er­ated tail­gate in the Trend and Ti­ta­nium.

The twin drink hold­ers be­tween the front seats are far too shal­low to ad­e­quately hold any but the small­est of con­tain­ers – an ac­ci­dent wait­ing to hap­pen.

All Ever­est mod­els em­ploy an 8.0-inch colour touch­screen for in­fo­tain­ment dis­play and con­trol to­gether with a 4.2-inch colour in­stru­men­ta­tion screen for driv­ing data. The sys­tem uses Ford’s Sync3 con­nec­tiv­ity sys­tem with Ap­plink and en­hanced voice con­trol. It syncs with both Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto.

Trend and Ti­ta­nium get satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion with a traf­fic mes­sage chan­nel.

The au­dio sys­tem in­cludes DAB+ dig­i­tal and 10 speak­ers with Aux, iPod, USB and SD card in­put ports. The ports are sen­si­bly lo­cated at the rear of a smart­phone-sized pocket at the base of the dash­board.

Ford Ever­est has been awarded a five-star ANCAP rat­ing.

Stan­dard safety equip­ment in all mod­els in­cludes seven airbags with cur­tain ‘bags cov­er­ing all three seat rows; en­hanced ABS brakes; trailer sway con­trol; re­vers­ing cam­era and rear park­ing sen­sors, the last two fea­tures a bonus in such a big ve­hi­cle.

The mid-spec Trend adds halo­gen day­time run­ning lights; front park­ing sen­sors; adap­tive cruise con­trol with for­ward col­li­sion alert; lane-keep­ing as­sist; and auto high-beam con­trol.

Ti­ta­nium tops off the safety fea­ture list with tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing; blind spot mon­i­tor­ing; ac­tive park as­sist; LED day­time run­ning lights; and, one of our favourites, rear cross-traf­fic alert which warns of approaching ve­hi­cles when re­vers­ing out of front-in park­ing spots.

Our Am­bi­ente used a key-inig­ni­tion en­gine start, which is still my pre­ferred method. No prob­lem dur­ing the day but be­cause the key­hole is lo­cated be­hind the steer­ing wheel and isn’t il­lu­mi­nated at night it fre­quently proved dif­fi­cult to find. We even had to ei­ther turn on the in­te­rior lights or open the front door to lo­cate it.

Ever­est’s Aussie en­gi­neer­ing in­put shows in its ex­cel­lent bal­ance of rugged off-road ca­pa­bil­ity and re­fined on-road man­ners en­hanced by the Ter­rain Man­age­ment Sys­tem.

On the open road our AWD Ever­est proved sur­pris­ingly sta­ble through mod­er­ately sharp cor­ners no­tice­ably less body roll than we found in some com­peti­tors. Steer­ing is pre­cise and re­spon­sive.

We didn’t get the op­por­tu­nity to use the op­tional tow­ing pack but with Ever­est’s peak torque start­ing at 1750 rpm we’ve no doubt that low-down pulling power would have no trou­ble with the typ­i­cal Aus­tralian cargo of horse float or boat.

Ford Ever­est is a com­fort­able ur­ban SUV with se­ri­ous off-road cre­den­tials.

All Ever­est mod­els em­ploy an 8.0-inch colour touch­screen.

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