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 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.
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.
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
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.