Pre­cious metal

The Everest’s sticker puts it at the peak of Ford’s price range — it’s big money for a ute-based wagon

The Advertiser - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD BLACK­BURN

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?

DE­SIGN

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 push­but­ton 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.

ABOUT TOWN

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 re­al­time 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 U-turns and carparks.

As with all big off-road

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