Ford Everest SUV road test
FORD'S new seven-seat Everest SUV goes on sale this week as one of the most eagerly anticipated models to carry the Blue Oval badge.
Pitching itself with serious off-road credentials - it is underpinned by the ever-popular new version of Ford's Ranger ute - the Everest battles the might of Toyota's Prado in particular, but also the Mitsubishi Challenger, Holden Colorado 7, Isuzu MU-X and HiLux-based Toyota Fortuner.
So while Ford's Territory SUV is well suited to school run life with occasional off-road jaunts, this larger body-on-frame Everest is one for the dedicated wilderness trekking family.
I managed to secure a brief test drive of the Everest in mid-range Trend guise, tackling suburbs and motorways rather than the Canning Stock Route sadly.
Yet its rough stuff talents are obvious. The tried and tested Ranger is a superb tool for off-road work and the Everest no doubt matches it. And cherry picking a few stats, the Everest is more powerful than Toyota's benchmark Prado (143kW/470Nm vs 130kW/450Nm), tows 3000kg (Prado quotes 2500kg), wades in water to 800mm (700mm Prado) and trumps the Toyota for ground clearance by 5mm (225mm).
It features a four-mode terrain select system, electronic rear diff lock and hill descent control too. Lots of serious kit there for adventurous types.
Knowing the Everest will be used for plenty of on-road work too, it has been given its own suspension tune (much of Everest's engineering development was done by Ford Australia) to make it more SUV and less work truck.
On test drive it proved a very adept cruiser, the five-cylinder 3.2-litre diesel (shared with the Ranger) quietly going about its work: refined and smooth, and when stomping on the accelerator giving decent shove.
Road imperfections were absorbed with aplomb, noise cancellation is impressive, and with Ford's superb SYNC 2 voice connectivity system, quality 8-inch touchscreen and the likes of dual zone climate control, the Everest is an excellent long trip companion.
It doesn't handle the turns like some of the less off-road orientated SUVs (think BMW X5 or Ford's own Territory) - there is a good dose of body roll and steering is vague, but pleasingly easy and light to use around town.
And for family life it's a winner inside.
Very spacious, a really good third row of seats that's easy to access, a mighty luggage area and safety and security systems are plentiful.
It's a desirable looking thing too. Striking design and imposing size add to its appeal and will pique the interest of shoppers in this segment.
The big Ford isn't cheap though, so to get real value make sure you're buying for its off road talents as well as its on road presence.
Model: Ford Everest Trend.
Details: Five-door seven-seat four-wheel-drive large SUV.
Engine: 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel generating maximum power of 143kW @ 3000rpm and peak torque of 470Nm @ 1750rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 8.5-litres/100km (combined).
Bottom line: $62,990 drive away from Pacific Ford Maroochydore (Everest Ambiente for $56,990), 5458 9715, pacificmotorgroup.com.au