Car reviews - Ford - Everest
Versatility, range choice, towing capacity, off-road ability, good spec levels, coil suspension and full-time 4WD compared to Ranger
Room for improvement
Bi-turbo engine performance very similar to 3.2, Titanium price, no AEB on Ambiente, engine noise still intrusive despite improvements
The Ford Everest is a great jack-of-all-trades for families and adventurers
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23 Aug 2018
IN OCTOBER 2015, Ford threw its hat in the ute-based SUV ring with the arrival of the Everest, a seven-seat large SUV based on the same platform as the hot-selling PXII Ranger pick-up.
Fast forward to 2018 and Ford has given the Everest its first refresh since going on sale, after three years of steady sales growth.
Considering feedback from customers, Ford has aimed to improve the comfort and refinement of the Everest to help it better compete against the more passenger-oriented offerings in the large SUV segment like the Mazda CX-9, Toyota Kluger and Kia Sorento.
The result is an offering that proves a better proposition for families – not just off-road enthusiasts and grey nomads – and one that begins to close the gap between ute-based SUVs and traditional monocoque wagons.
Aiming to capitalise on the popularity of pick-ups and their multi-purpose usability, manufacturers such as Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Holden, Toyota, LDV and of course Ford have all brought ladder-frame large SUVs to market in recent years.
While more versatile than traditional seven-seat large SUVs, the disadvantage of ladder-frame vehicles is that they have struggled to hide their utilitarian underpinnings – handling and riding like their pick-up donor vehicles.
With that in mind, Ford has aimed to narrow the gap between the Everest and its comfort-oriented rivals, making a few tweaks to suspension and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.
Specifically, Everest engineers have redesigned the stabiliser bars for greater roll control and lowered spring rates for a softer ride.
The result is a comfortable on-road driving experience – noticeably better than the leaf springs underpinning most pick-ups and softer than other rivals such as the Toyota Fortuner.
It is not a revolutionary change – the Everest still handles like a top-heavy truck around corners, and the steering feels light to the point of seeming lifeless and a tad indirect. However, it is an improvement and may sway buyers who were previously attracted to the Everest’s utility but put off by its dynamic credentials.
For those tossing up between an Everest and Ranger, another bonus for the SUV is the inclusion of full-time all-wheel drive, which aids on-road traction especially in less-than-ideal conditions. The Ranger uses a part-time 4WD system.
Another point of focus for Ford engineers was improving the Everest’s NVH levels, which were poor at best in the previous version.
Officially, the cabin quietness has improved by four decibels, and it is noticeable when cruising. Road and wind noise are well contained, and at low revs, the engines – both 2.0- and 3.2-litre – can barely be heard.
However, the poor starting point is still apparent when the engine is under acceleration – the noisy and gruff diesel note is obviously heard when the tachometer climbs, to the point where occupants have to raise their voices to be clearly heard. Compared to diesel offerings like the Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-8, the Everest’s noise levels reveal its workhorse heritage.
The noise comes from the Everest’s diesel powertrains, which have been expanded in the update to two different engines including the carryover 143kW/470Nm 3.2-litre five-cylinder and the new 157kW/500Nm twin-turbo 2.0-litre four-pot that first debuted in the Ranger Raptor.
3.2-litre versions retain the tried-and-true six-speed automatic transmission, while the new offering gains a fancy 10-speed auto that Ford says helps contribute to a 17 per cent fuel economy improvement.
Driving the two powerplants back-to-back, the 2.0-litre feels more responsive and a little more refined than the older 3.2, however performance is not noticeably different.
The 10-speed auto shifts more smoothly than the six-speed, however for a brand new engine we were expecting a more apparent bump in performance.
Officially, the 2.0 litre sips between 6.9-7.1 litres of fuel compared to the five-cylinder’s 8.4-8.5L/100km, and after a day of on-road driving we recorded a relatively frugal 8.5L/100km figure for the 2.0-litre.
The 3.2-litre was much thirstier at 11.0L/100km, but with a big asterisk – that figure was recorded after a day of low-speed off-roading, which will always inflate the fuel economy figure.
Speaking of off-roading, the Everest is every bit as capable as the Ranger with a terrain response system, low-range gearing, hill-descent control and a rear differential lock for extreme circumstances.
While you are probably more likely to see a Ranger out on the trails, the Everest can hold its own just as well – a skill that the Mazda and Kia cannot claim to match.
A 3000kg towing capacity – up to 3100kg for the 2.0-litre – is also unmatchable by the CX-8 and Sorento’s ilk, and adds another feather to the Everest’s multi-purpose bow.
Stepping into the cabin, the interior of the Everest is much like the rest of the vehicle – not as refined or classy as others, but fit for purpose and extremely functional.
Trimmings of leather on higher grades help hide its basic underpinnings, and the savvy Sync3 infotainment system – now standard on all variants and featuring Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and sat-nav – is a classy unit. It also makes the Ambiente a much more attractive proposition with a system equal to its more expensive stablemates.
Buyers may be scared off the Ambiente due to the absence of autonomous emergency braking, however Ford says this will be amended in 2019.
As expected, head- and legroom is ample for front and rear-seat passengers, and our only real gripe is a steering wheel that features no reach and tilt adjustment.
We would also like to see buyers be able to remove the seven-seat option on variants only offered with a third row.
With a fairly similar specification level inside, we think the Trend, from $56,190 before on-roads, is probably the sweet spot price-wise, and with a $73,990 pricetag, the top-spec Titanium is far too expensive.
The Everest is something of a jack-of-all-trades in the large SUV segments. It does a lot of things well – it has all the capability and functionality of a pick-up (minus the tray and payload), while being a more refined and comfortable driving experience.
It may not have yet caught up to its passenger-oriented rivals in terms of comfort, ride quality and interior layout, but it makes up for it with its excellent utility.
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