It’s got fam­ily ap­peal

The new rear drive Ford Ever­est picks up where the Aus­tralian de­signed and built Ter­ri­tory left off, re­ports NICK DALTON

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - COVER STORY -

THE Ever­est Trend is more truck-like, prac­ti­cal and util­i­tar­ian than the SUV­fo­cused Ter­ri­tory.

De­spite the lack of four­wheel drive the Ever­est will also go much fur­ther off road than a Ter­ri­tory with its high ground clear­ance. The seven seater, which will be gen­er­ally used by mums on foot­ball and ballet runs, will also ap­peal to dads with its no-non­sense truck-like de­meanour as it is based on the hugely suc­cess­ful Ranger four­wheel-drive plat­form.

Tak­ing away the 4WD com­po­nent pro­vides a $5000 sav­ing too.

The 2016 run-out Trend level-only ver­sion at the mo­ment is cur­rently $55,990 drive away at Trinity Ford in Cairns; a sav­ing of about $4500 on a 2017 ver­sion. It is run­ning a bit be­hind the pack with sales down 15 per cent for the year with a to­tal of 567, sub­stan­tially less than the Ranger 4WD (4718), Ford’s best­seller.

DE­TAIL­ING

The rear drive Ever­est is iden­ti­cal to its 4WD brother in looks and di­men­sions. It is 4892mm end-to-end, 2180mm wide, has a wheel­base of 2850mm and stands 1837mm tall. It also has the same 225mm ground clear­ance as the four­wheel drive, so even with just rear-wheel drive you’ll be able to cross some fairly rough ter­rain. It has the same 800mm wad­ing depth.

The Trend is the pick of the range and comes with an 8-inch dis­play with Ford’s lat­est SYNC 3 me­dia sys­tem. There’s also sat nav, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, auto wipers, power tail­gate and 18-inch al­loy wheels.

The rear-wheel drive Ever­est has the same 143kW/470Nm 3.2-litre five­cylin­der turbo diesel and six speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion as the rest of the line-up, but in the case of the rear-wheel drive power is sent to just the rear wheels.

DRIV­ING

The Ever­est is not as smooth to drive as a Ter­ri­tory be­cause it is based on a truck (the Ranger).

So in­stead of a mono­coque there’s a lad­der frame chas­sis and in­stead of an in­de­pen­dent rear-end it’s a live axle.

Like other lad­der frame ve­hi­cles the Ever­est has its lim­i­ta­tions. Push too hard and the front will widen the cor­ner­ing arc with pre­dictable un­der­steer.

Fire out of a tight cor­ner with the full 470Nm for what is a ro­bust five-cylin­der diesel and the nicely cal­i­brated trac­tion con­trol will be busy keep­ing the rear in check.

On re­ally rough roads the Ever­est RWD is a win­ner. The stout body and tough sus­pen­sion deals well with big hits and it gives the im­pres­sion that full of peo­ple it won’t change the equa­tion dra­mat­i­cally. It’ll also tow up to three tonnes. If you want to tackle fast, rough dirt roads with the oc­ca­sional chal­lenge that doesn’t re­quire 4WD it’s well set up for it.

The rear-driver is bet­ter than the reg­u­lar Ever­est when it comes to driv­ing manners, mainly be­cause there’s less weight. It lum­bers along quite nicely, a lit­tle bit of jud­der now and then, but a run up the Ku­randa Range, to Ma­reeba, across to Ather­ton, Her­ber­ton, Raven­shoe and out to In­not Hot Springs was all done com­fort­ably with no dra­mas.

In­side there are no changes, right down to the quar­tet of roof mounted vents that feed air to the sec­ond and third rows and the mix of grey trims, from the seats to the dash.

Grab han­dles near each door make it eas­ier to leap up into what is a high cabin, while the higher mid­dle row seats pro­vide a bet­ter back seat view for lit­tlies.

An elec­tric tail­gate as part of the mid-level Trend pack (the only spec the RWD is avail­able in) and Sync 3 con­nec­tiv­ity (with dig­i­tal ra­dio) off­sets the omis­sion of smart key en­try.

Other Ever­est com­pro­mises re­main, such as the lack of reach ad­just­ment for the steer­ing.

The cruise con­trol on the steer­ing wheel was frus­trat­ing to op­er­ate as it is also tied to a speed limit de­vice.

It’s noisy while ac­cel­er­at­ing but rel­a­tively quiet at 100km/h.

I used 9.7L/100km of fuel. Ford sug­gests 8.4

DE­CID­ING

The rear-drive Ever­est is more about tow­ing and gen­eral rugged­ness than pam­per­ing.

It’s not a SUV and is about prac­ti­cal­ity and tough­ness.

Its wagon rear and tail­gate will ap­peal more to fam­i­lies than the dual cab Ranger pickup it is based on.

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