MOUN­TAIN MA­CHINE

Ford Ever­est

NZ Autocar - - Contents -

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.

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