Car reviews - Ford - Everest
Finally a 3500kg braked towing capacity, V6 diesel is a beast, technology-rich interior, sharp handling
Room for improvement
Pricier than outgoing model, hefty wait times, 21-inch wheels on Platinum hinder off-road ride
New generation Everest brings tough visuals, V6 grunt, SUV-like refinement, and strong off-road potential
13 Sep 2022
FORD found success in its previous-gen Ranger-based Everest wagon, a sales slow burner that picked up pace in recent years, but the new model takes the fight to both unibody SUVs and dedicated 4x4 wagons, while leaving the rest of the body-on-frame seven-seat pack in its dust.
The range hits showrooms this month, but starting from $52,990 before on-road costs – a $2900 increase over the previous base model. Does it represent good value? Based on our two-day stint in the various models, the answer is yes.
While ute-based wagons have seen strong sales success in Australia, the segment has operated downwind of dedicated 4x4 wagons like Toyota’s wildly popular LandCruiser.
That was, until Ford Australia threw its best engineers and plenty of development dollars at an all-new Everest that feels more SUV than ute-based wagon, while still offering serious off-road performance and, finally, a full 3500kg maximum braked towing capacity for all 4x4 models.
Ford Australia’s chief platform engineer for the Everest, Ian Foston, summed it up when talking about his objective for the next-generation range: “Tough on the outside, a sanctuary on the inside, amazing capability underneath.”
It means something coming from Foston, too, an avid overlander himself who’s travelled the world opting for the path less trodden.
“When we started imagining the next-gen Everest, we started not at the beginning but at the end: with our customers,” said Mr Foston.
“They’re people who like adventure, recreation and being able to go out with family and friends. Whether they’re conquering sand, rocks or city life, these customers appreciate the utility, capability, and spaciousness of an SUV.”
Keen adventurers, for the first time, are afforded a viable Toyota LandCruiser or Nissan Patrol alternative, with comparative luxury, ride, refinement, and grunt.
The new Everest range consists of four models, with the base Ambiente, mid-range Trend and Sport, and top-spec SUV-rivalling Platinum models offering a range of options for buyers.
Ambiente and Trend models score the proven 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel engine, mated to the same 10r80 10-speed the previous generation used, and are available in both 4x2 and 4x4 guise.
Ford made tweaks to the Bi-Turbo unit, now producing 154kW/500Nm, which is still healthy in its output but down on grunt and refinement compared to the new diesel V6.
The tough-looking Sport and luxurious Platinum models get the new 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel, which produces 184kW/600Nm, and they’re only available with constant four-wheel-drive.
The move to a constant four-wheel-drive system on all 4x4 variants, which features an electronically controlled transfer case for off-road duties and various drive modes, brings the Everest up a class in terms of performance and safety.
From the outside, the new Everest is a far more confronting beast compared with its predecessor, with similar C-clamp headlights and grille to the new Ranger and stronger lines from front to back.
A wider track and longer wheelbase were adopted for the new Everest, requiring a “more dramatic swell” over the wheels, contributing to its dominant stance but also improving its ride on- and off-road.
It’s the Sport and Platinum models that scored the full gamut of exterior styling goodies, with the Sport offering the closest thing to a beefed-up off-roader and the Platinum setting a new style standard with its luxury SUV looks.
The Sport scores 20-inch black alloy wheels (available in 18-inch for eager off-roaders), with blacked out trim pieces to match, and tough ‘SPORT’ badging, while the top-spec Platinum goes even further with massive 21-inch alloys, a unique premium grille, Matrix LED headlights, and premium chrome accents that set it apart from other 4x4 wagons.
Inside the new Everest, the technology-rich interior is substantially more modern than the outgoing model and feels more spacious too.
A modular layout features various premium soft- and hard-touch finishes, and a shallow, stout dash left us feeling like we could spread out more.
Ford Australia says it took inspiration from modern home design, which we can understand given the luxurious yet functional layout, which is premium without feeling out of place in a 4x4 wagon that’s likely to see some rugged use.
Large vertical centre-mounted screens running Ford’s latest Sync4A system take care of infotainment duties, with 10.1-inch for the Ambiente and 12-inch for the rest of the range, as well as 8-inch digital clusters for the all but the Platinum, which boasts a massive 12.4-inch digital dash.
The Sport and Platinum also get heated and ventilated front seats with 10-way power adjustment. In fact, even the second-row occupants get to enjoy heated seats in the Platinum – fancy.
The Ambiente model comes standard as a five-seater, but can be optioned up to hold seven, while the rest of the range comes standard with a full three rows of seating.
The focus for seating was on accessibility and overall space, making the third-row seats easier than ever to jump in and out of – even for adults – and adding second row legroom through clever design.
The second row also slides further forward than before, and folds flatter, adding space for occupants or seat-down load carrying. We fit a 10-person table in the previous generation Everest Titanium, with the rear two rows folded down, a feat we were proud of, but one the new model would do with ease.
Ford’s detail-focused design team even added a lip to the rear parcel section, to prevent rogue items flying out when the tailgate is up, as well as a nifty underfloor storage compartment for valuable or delicate items.
The new Everest is quieter inside the cabin, too, something Ford focused on to allow first and third row occupants to communicate without shouting. A benefit road-tripping parents will no doubt be thankful for, as their third-row occupants are able to use their ‘inside voices’ to beg for snacks or stops.
Standard safety tech is class-leading, too, with new and existing driver aids across the range, and the entire line-up recently gained a full 5-star ANCAP safety rating thanks in part to its nine airbags.
Enhanced safety aids for the new range include a lane-keep system with road-edge detection to keep the car centred on rural roads with poor markings, evasive steer assist, reverse brake assist, blind sport information system with trailer coverage, and an improved pre-collision assist with smart intersection functionality.
All models also get 360-degree camera functionality which, when used in conjunction with reverse brake assist, makes short work of tricky urban parking scenarios. The reverse brake assist also offers the critical safety benefit of stopping the vehicle if a pedestrian or, god forbid, family member walks behind the vehicle.
On-road the entire range is smoother, quieter, and feels more dynamically capable without impacting ride quality. In fact, it feels both softer and less rollie-pollie at the same time.
The coil-sprung rear with Watt’s linkage makes this a noticeably better handling vehicle than its ute sibling, despite still sharing much of the same body, and Ford has finessed it to achieve almost SUV-like comfort.
All Everest models we drove soaked up road imperfections with ease, and presented little-to-no tyre noise at highway speeds.
The Sport and Platinum models are quieter, quicker, and overall better on-road, somehow making the otherwise great 2.0-litre Bi Turbo feel a bit underwhelming and rather noisy.
In saying that, the lower-spec Ambiente and Trend models still felt good and had improved steering and brake feel over the outgoing models. The front end did feel a little sharper, too, likely due to a lighter donk over the front axle, but it’s only something we noticed because the drive loop was over Brisbane’s snaking Mount Glorious roads.
The constant four-wheel-drive works a treat and leaving the Everest in 4x4 Auto will do just fine for all but the gnarliest off-road work, also offering loads of grip during the rain we encountered while on less than ideal roads.
Comfort on b-roads and highway was exceptional and the technology-rich cabin makes it easy to forget this is a ute-based wagon, at times.
It’s the V6 that comes out on top, for us, without sipping too much more diesel in the process. We achieved between 8.6l/100km (highway) and 12l/100km (urban) in the V6 Platinum and Sport, while the Bi Turbo equipped Ambiente and Trend used 8.5l/100km down the motorway and 9.1l/100km over the mountain.
The V6 will cost a bit more to run, but it doesn’t need to be strained or stressed quite as much and is a significantly smoother operator. We didn’t get to tow with the new V6, but would like to because the extra torque would make short work of larger trailers compared to the smaller engine.
Much of the vehicle’s functionality is controlled via the large vertical touchscreen, with some of the basic vehicle drive modes and 4x4 activation done using a more traditional dial. The rear diff lock, for example, is activated on the touch screen, but you quickly get used to the immense functionality of that huge screen.
And while on the topic of the diff lock, we spent quite a bit of time off-road in the various model variants – all of which ate it up with ease. Even the Platinum did surprisingly well, with its not so off-road focused 21-inch wheels.
We were taken on a low-speed off-road track that wasn’t particularly demanding, but did require low-range and in one or two spots the rear diff locks were activated.
It’s as capable as the previous Everest off-road, but does everything a bit easier and makes you look far better than you are – whether an experience adventurer or novice sand slinger. We fall into the latter category.
The various cameras, activated in off-road mode, offer a clear view over blind crests or into sharp downhill turns, effectively providing an onboard ‘spotter’.
While the Platinum did surprise us off-road, it’s the Sport that is likely to tickle the fancy of adventure-hungry buyers.
In terms of value, there is certainly a lot to consider across the four variants – or six when you consider the 4x2 options – but our picks are the Trend 4x4 with Bi-Turbo for outright value at $65,290, or the beasty Sport 4x4 with the torquey new V6 at $69,090.
The top-spec Platinum 4x4 does represent strong value, considering its ‘Cruiser-rivalling levels of refinement and luxury, but at $76,880 is a fair hike more than a Sport. It’s still a fair chunk of change cheaper than the 90-odd-thousand dollar LandCruiser 300, though, which may explain why Ford has seen such strong demand for the top-speccer.
If a 4x2 Everest, sending drive to the rear treads only, satisfies your urban needs, the Ambiente starts at $52,990 and Trend at $60,290, but for only $5,000 more you can get the 4x4 version of either variant and know you can go off-road should the opportunity arise.
Servicing costs are relatively similar for the two diesel engine options, at $329 for the first four services, but the V6 will cost $400 for the fifth while the Bi Turbo is a tad cheaper at $383. It’s a negligible difference, really.
If shopping at the higher end of the Everest line-up, our pick is definitely the Sport 4x4, and with a meaty 600nm on tap, it’ll do a better job of towing. You couldn’t go wrong with any variant, though, given the impressive step-up in refinement and overall package the Everest now offers.
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