FORD EVEREST ROAD TEST
Dean Evans checks out Ford’s ute-based seven-seater SUV and his wife Arna gives a mother of young children’s verdict on the vehicle.
BY NAME AND BY DESIGN, THE EVEREST IS THE TOP OF THE Ford range. At $75,990 for the entry level Trend model, it’s still $6350 more than the top-spec Ranger Wildtrak ute, the vehicle upon which the Everest is loosely based.
And the $87,990 price for the range-topping Platinum model we tested widens that gap even more.
That’s the price – we’ll get that part out of the way first, because it’s arbitrary and objective.
LCV magazine last sampled the Everest in the April/may 2016 tow test, and the blue Platinum capably pulled 2.7 tonnes of horse float, a weight well below its 3000kg limit.
But we needed to spend some time with the Everest, to assess its other virtues – and there are many.
In blunt terms, the Everest is a refined Ranger with a rear body and improved rear suspension that uses coil springs instead of leaves.
The engine is the same 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel that’s found in the Ranger. It’s full of torque (470Nm), and though it’s a little noisy, it’s quieter than the Ranger due to active noise cancelling, which we noted doesn’t just reduce cabin noise, but improves conversations between front and rear seat passengers.
The transmission slides like butter on a hotplate through the six gears, and it’s a package that works really well together, whether it’s on the open road or crawling in traffic.
That’s partly because the gearbox software “learns” a driver’s style, and alters the shifting characteristics accordingly, biasing them towards performance or economy.
The cabin has a real qualify feel, and lacks none of the expected features, except for telescopically-adjustable steering.
The heated electrically-adjustable front seats are supportive and comfortable, all-around vision is great, and along with Ford’s improved Sync3 voice-control system, there’s also Appleplay and Android Auto, which transfer and replicate an iphone/android phone’s basic functions to the central touch-screen. The glovebox is also designed to store a laptop of up to 16-inches.
Automated parallel parking and active cruise-control are two big convenience items. And along with the ‘normal’ luxury trappings you’d expect, there are blind-spot warnings, a panoramic two-panel sunroof, and lane-assist which vibrates the steering wheel and very gently tugs it back into line if the vehicle inadvertently strays towards a painted line.
There’s also Curve Control, which warns the driver if a turn is approached too quickly – and all these warnings are heralded by a strip of red lights that flash-up on to the windscreen in front of the driver, head-up’ style. They’re accompanied by an audible warning when the caution increases, which certainly grabs a driver’s attention.
The middle row seats split 60/40 and both slide and recline, with both fan controls and 12 volt and 230v outlets, for things like camping fridges or laptop chargers…now that glovebox feature starts to make sense.
In the third row, things become much tighter and the seats are best suited to kids; adults can fit, but the second row needs to slide forward to provide kneeroom.
In the boot, storage changes from handy to huge, depending on the status of the third row seats, and stored underneath is a full-size
alloy spare, an impressive feature given the 265/50 20-inch tyres.
On the road, the driving experience is all-around impressive. The suspension is a little floaty at times, but very comfortable and despite the 20-inch wheels, the Everest rides very well.
The Duratorq engine is strong and pulls solidly from low revs, never feeling off-boost or out of breath throughout the rev range.
We put our timing gear on to the Everest, and recorded 0-60km/h in 5.0 seconds and 0-100km/h in 11.9 seconds, reasonable numbers given its considerable 2457kg heft.
The torque makes it feel quicker and, the motor is always smooth with ample power on tap.
What suffers, however, is the economy. Though Ford quotes 8.5 litres/100km on the combined cycle, and 11.2 litres/100km on the urban, our mix of urban and motorway driving resulted in 10.5 litres/100km.
We kept our test route to on-road, but the Everest also features the same 4WD Terrain Management System as the Ranger, with snow/mud/grass, rock, and sand and rock pre-set options.
Though some people might perceive it as a big, lumbering behemoth, the Everest is anything but.
It feels 500kg lighter than its specifications suggest, it’s loaded with technology, features, electronics and safety. It isn’t cheap, or particularly economical, but it’s sharp on-road, is highly practical and is a fitting summit to the Ford range.
Ford Everest is a handsome SUV based on the Ranger ute. This is the top of the range Platinum.
1 4 2 5 3
Above: 1. Dashboard and console design is uncluttered; 2. With third row seats folded, there’s a useful amount of cargo space; 3. Everest shares its five-cylinder turbodiesel with the Ranger; 4. Everest’s engine meets Euro 6 emission standards, using SCR technology and Adblue; 5. Interior is well-finished and blends luxury with practicality. Below: Ute origins are apparent in Everest’s muscular styling.