Ford, maker of New Zealand’s most popular vehicle, will be hoping the sales success of Ranger will rub off on its SUV cousin, the new Everest.
You’re looking at the latest take on the great Australian family car. That it happens to be a whopping great truck shouldn’t surprise, given market trends. Previously, Ford’s Aussie engineers would have spent the last few years knocking out a new Falcon but they’ve instead been working on vehicles that sell, like Ranger and this, a Ranger-based SUV.
The Everest uses Ford’s ‘T6’ platform with its fullframe chassis but with different suspension bits. There’s still a solid rear axle but it’s located by trailing arms and a Watts linkage while the leaf springs make way for coils and there are angled dampers and a sway bar too. The five-cylinder is all but the same as Ranger’s though is down slightly on power (143 vs 147kW) due to its EuroV emissions gear, different injectors and lower compression ratio. The six-speed auto has the same ratios and final drive as Ranger but it runs through a variable centre diff
providing constant all-wheel drive. This is usually split 40/60 but can vary according to traction requirements.
Everest is shorter overall than Ranger (4892 vs 5351mm) and in the wheelbase too (2850 vs 3220mm). It makes for a more nimble truck, and one with a tighter turning circle (11.7 vs 12.4m). And with active noise cancellation and added sound deadening, the Everest is more cultured on the move than the rambunctious Ranger. The ride is impressive for a full chassis rig; it isolates most of the bumps, with only the bigger shocks shaking things up.
Everest by name and nature, it’s a big mountain of a machine, weighing every bit of the 2495kg that Ford claims, making it almost 250kg heavier than Ranger. While the torque provides a decent shove, the Everest ain’t quick, taking 11.7sec to hit 100km/h (Ranger 10.4sec), and nine seconds for the overtake. Still, it’s comfortably quicker than the diesel
Prado (13.1 and 10.5sec) but you need to pick your overtaking opportunities carefully. Performance is alright around town as turbolag is minimal and it reaches 50km/h quickly enough, without the wheelspin to trip you up. The consumption is rated at 8.5L/100km overall, but it’s more like 12 around town.
We like the way Ranger drives, and that the Everest proved quite as adept on the move was no surprise. The steering gives away just enough info when it needs to in the bends, with the steering assistance decreasing to help guide you accurately. An added feature for Everest is curve control which sees the ESP curtailing any understeer. It seems to cut in prematurely at times but given the nature of the front end feedback you can drive up to that point to keep things tidy and avoid it intervening. Body roll is reasonably well contained given its lofty ride height and it’s generally stable provided you brake in a straight line, but there’s simply no disguising its weight.
The off-road creds include lo-range, a locking rear diff, 225mm of ground clearance, 29.5 degree approach angle, 25 departure, and 800mm wading depth, though we wouldn’t be game enough to try the latter. There’s also Ford’s ascent and descent control systems, as well as a terrain setting for the traction control, none of which we tried out on this particular test. It’ll tow up to 3000kg too. Practical it certainly is then and Ford got the
styling right too; Everest looks unstoppable. As if to highlight the ground clearance, there’s enough dead cat space under the wheel arches to fit a family of Maine Coons.
While Everest is equipped to scale mountains, the biggest hurdle for it to overcome is the price tag it’s been lumbered with. The start point is $75,990 for the Trend variant while this Titanium is a full $87,990. Other body-on-frame type SUVs (of which there seem to be increasingly fewer) are the Colorado7 with an RRP of $67k (on sale currently for $48k), the five-seat Pajero Sport ($59k-$64k), the Defender 110 at $66k, and soon the Toyota Fortuna ($71k - $79k). Ford calls out Prado as the main competitor which ranges from $79k to $100k and might explain the pricing strategy. We guess there’s lots of fat in these prices as a quick internet search found a Trend for $67k, on roads included, with a few Titaniums to be had for $80k. Shopping on RRP, you could also get a base model Touareg or Disco4 for $90k, while the Grand Cherokee starts at $70k.
We’d prefer Everest to Prado as it drives better, and actually looks good. The interior quality of the Prado is superior, but that’s about where it begins and ends. And we’d opt for the Trend variant over Titanium as we could live with 18s, and make do without powered, heated seats, self-parking, blind spot monitoring, the glass roof, the powered third row, leather, and tyre pressure monitoring, knowing we’d saved $12k. The Trend model has everything that really matters with all the active safety kit which includes auto emergency braking, active cruise and lane keeping, along with auto high beams, a powered tailgate, rear air con, front and rear parking sensors and the Sync2 system with sat nav. This features every form of connectivity you could want, and a reversing camera. According to the brochure, the tow pack, with the removable tow hitch, is standard too.
The aspect that’s not quite up to scratch is the interior. At the price asked there are too many hard bits about the place, and the steering column doesn’t adjust for reach. There’s no smart key either. I pushed what I thought was the start button only to have the tailgate open. Yep, you even have to put the key in the slot to make it go, which is quaint. While Isofix is a surprising omission from the rear seat, it’s otherwise pretty good with width enough for three, and good leg room too. The bench is split 40/60 and can slide forward a little to give those in the third row more leg room, and it folds flat(ish). The seats in the boot are best for young’uns, head and legroom both being tight, while the access is also average. The Titanium model gains a powered third row, and the two seats split 50/50 folding into the floor at the touch of a
While Everest is equipped to scale mountains, the biggest hurdle for it to overcome is the price
button (provided the second row isn’t too far reclined). The boot is big enough too, though the load height is lofty given the ground clearance and the inclusion of the third row.
Usually we can’t wait to hand them back these sorts of machines as all the rugged 4x4 bits make them lumbering, unwieldy vehicles in urban environs. But as city slickers, we could live with the Everest day-to-day. The ride is agreeable, there’s no real need to slow for speed bumps, the steering is light, and the turning circle is car park friendly. And being an SUV you can park however and wherever you like, or use the self docking feature which manoeuvres you into some fairly tight spots without worry.
With all the big sedans being culled and replaced with yet more softroading crossovers, what is a man supposed to drive these days? The Everest isn’t for those who lick the froth of craft beer from their manicured beards, but it isn’t the dinosaur you might think it is either.
And now for more on this modern family machine, I pass on to Tom, who enjoyed the Everest over the holiday break.
Back seat looks much comfier than that of the Ranger, which uses the same platform, but is a very different machine says Ford. Ride comfort and refinement levels are impressive. Should be at the price too.